Wednesday, March 25, 2009

In The Motherhood

In The New York Times, Brian Stelter reports on how an idea started online by a marketing company became In The Motherhood, a network sitcom that will debut on America on ABC tomorrow - and why the Writers Guild of America has got involved...
On the edition of “Motherhood” (since discontinued), short segments about funny, frazzled mothers were inspired by the real-life stories that viewers submitted via an Internet forum. ABC, similarly, asked for story submissions on its Web site ( and said that they “might just become inspiration for a story by the writers.”

But ABC’s call for ideas from moms drew the attention of the Writers Guild of America, which said this type of request for submissions was “not permissible” under its contract with the network. This week ABC abruptly removed the language about “inspiration” from its Web site, effectively saying that the writers may not be listening to viewers’ ideas, after all.

The last-minute changes are a telling demonstration of the differences between the Web video world — a mostly low-budget, short-form medium — and the traditional television industry. Just as most publishing companies don’t accept unsolicited manuscripts, most TV and movie studios don’t accept scripts, ideas or jokes submitted by viewers. Unless the proper waivers are signed in advance, something as innocent as a fan e-mail message with a suggested joke can provoke a copyright-infringement lawsuit later.


  1. Anonymous12:54 pm

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  2. Anonymous12:55 pm

  3. Thanks for the link to the story -- this is great news for writers:

    Not because of the spat between abc and WGA, but because it's a sign that writers have the ability to create shows where the audience can contribute content and community activity.

    A marketing team happened to create this show
    - but there are other writer-led genre defining series such as The Guild or lonelygirl15.

    Very few writers are making this leap for themselves, despite the software and hosting being provided for "free".

    It's terrifying putting "work", "out there", for "free", but those writers who do are already reaping the biggest reward of all: building an online community around their work.

    I link to web shows and news stories on my online drama blog

    Feel free to drop by some time to have a look around!

    All the best,


  4. Thanks Neil - I enjoyed looking at your site.


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