Monday, July 27, 2009

A books revolution

In The Sunday Times, Victoria Barnsley, chief executive of Harper Collins, says that we're living through a revolution in book publishing.
“Consumers now want images, music, video as well as words. It is no longer enough to say to authors you have to produce text. We need things to go with that text. Our business is not just about words, but content in all its guises. Not many authors are engaging with this yet.”

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Penelope Lively interview

In The Guardian, Sarah Crown talks to novelist Penelope Lively.
It's the disjunction between time and memory that intrigues her; the irreconcilability of the calendar's steady forward march with the extempore jumble of shards and fragments that we carry around in our memories, encapsulated in the heroine of her 1987 novel Moon Tiger, who declares from her deathbed: "There is no chronology inside my head." Now 76, Lively finds that her own experience of ageing has deepened rather than resolved the paradox. "In old age, you realise that while you're divided from your youth by decades, you can close your eyes and summon it at will," she says. "As a writer it puts one at a distinct advantage. When writing Moon Tiger from the point of view of an old woman, I kept worrying: would she really think like this? Now I've experienced every age, and can fish back."

Nick McCarty on BBC radio changes

Further to BBC radio's decision to change its process for commissioning independent producers, in The Stage Guild member Nick McCarty has written to complain about the way that both producers and writers are treated.
How on earth can Jeremy Howe (Commissioning Editor for Drama at BBC Radio 4) claim that over the next two years writers, producers and actors will have “an unparalleled opportunity for creative endeavour”? The writers, producers and actors will, in the vast majority of cases, be left dangling while the BBC drama department will have “scope to build more creative relationships with suppliers”. Who with? Not the writers. Nor with most of the indies who have been hung out to dry by this policy that gives batches of work to a favoured few.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Media for all? The challenge of convergence

A one day conference organised by the Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom.

Saturday 31 October 2009 School of Pharmacy, 29-39 Brunswick Square, London WC1N 1AX
Registration and networking from 9 am. Conference 10 am - 5 pm.

The Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom presents an international conference on the challenge of achieving a high quality, diverse and democratic media with John Nichols, Ray Fitzwalter, Natalie Fenton, Arun Kundnani, Nick Jones, Sylvia Harvey, Tony Lennon, Carole Tongue, Andrew Currah, Bob Franklin, Alison Harcourt, Christine Payne, Jeremy Dear, Greg Philo, Graham Murdock, Alexander Stille and many more …

  • Media ownership and democracy in the age of convergence
  • The media as a public service?
  • Protecting and campaigning for high quality, diverse media in a digital age
Plus a wide variety of workshops.

Cost: Corporations £150, Not for profit and Trade Union organisations £25, Individuals £20, Concessions: students, unwaged, retired £10. 25% discount for bookings before 15th September

Book online at:

By post: CPBF, 23 Orford Road, London E17 9NL 0208 521 5932

Lords censorship amendment withdrawn

The House of Lords amendment on extreme pornographic writing has been withdrawn, reports John Ozimek in The Register.
Censorship of written material is off the agenda – for now: and for that we may need to thank Lord Falconer’s intense interest in suicide.

This week in the House of Lords, an amendment to the Coroners and Justice Bill, put forward by Baroness O’Cathain, was withdrawn at the last minute. This amendment was designed to make possession of extreme pornographic written material an offence, in much the same way as extreme pictures are now.

It was what is known as a "christmas tree" amendment, in the sense that it did not relate directly to the text of the bill, but used the Bill as a convenient hook on which to hang. It was the third in a series of such amendments due to be debated on Tuesday night: the first two were in respect of assisted suicide abroad, proposed by Lord Falconer, and genocide.

Such was the interest in the suicide amendment that debate dragged on well past the point when their Lordships usually adjourned for their supper. House business, which usually takes place at half seven, was delayed until twenty past eight, when a stampede of hungry Lords headed for their canteen. Debate on the Coroners’ Bill did not resume until an hour later.

Friday, July 24, 2009

What Guild members are getting up to

GUY JENKIN co-wrote Outnumbered, being aired on BBC1 on Saturday at 9.30pm.

MICHAEL RUSSELL wrote the "Mind Games" episode of A Touch of Frost showing on ITV1 on Saturday at 8.40pm.

ANN McMANUS and MAUREEN CHADWICK wrote (with Liz Lake) Sunday's instalment of Hope Springs, to be shown on BBC1 at 8pm.

SUSAN WILKINS wrote The Royal, going out on ITV1 on Sunday at 7pm.

PAULA MILNE wrote the drama Whatever It Takes, about the transience of modern celebrity, going out on ITV1 on Sunday at 9pm.

ROB KINSMAN wrote the "Toys" episode of Doctors being shown on BBC1 on Monday at 1.45pm.

SALLY ABBOTT wrote the episode of EastEnders being shown on BBC1 on Monday at 8pm.

JIMMY McGOVERN and ESTHER WILSON wrote the episode of The Street going out on BBC1 on Monday at 9pm.

PETER WHALLEY wrote the episode of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 on Monday at 7.30pm, while JONATHAN HARVEY wrote the one being aired at 8.30pm.

STEPHEN MOLLETT wrote the episode of Doctors being shown on Tuesday on BBC1 at 1.45pm.

EMILIA DI GIROLAMO wrote the episode of EastEnders going out on Tuesday on BBC1 at 7.30pm.

PETER LLOYD wrote the episode of Holby City being shown on Tuesday on BBC1 at 8pm.

PETER BOWKER's series Desperate Romantics continues on BBC2 on Tuesday at 9pm.

DAVID McDERMOTT wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 on Tuesday at 7pm.

TOM NEEDHAM wrote the "Die by the Sword" episode of The Bill being shown on ITV1 on Tuesday at 10.35pm.

MICHAEL AITKENS wrote the "Secrets and Spies" episode of Midsomer Murders going out on ITV1 on Wednesday at 8pm.

CHRISTOPHER REASON wrote the episode of EastEnders going out on BBC1 on Thursday at 7.30pm.

LISA HOLDSWORTH wrote the "Fresh Starts" episode of New Tricks being shown on BBC1 on Thursday at 9pm.

PAUL ROUNDELL wrote the episodes of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 on Thursday at 7pm and 8.30pm.

MATTHEW BARDSLEY wrote the "Cry Wolf" episode of The Bill being shown on ITV1 on Thursday at 9pm.

RICHARD BURKE wrote the episode of Hollyoaks going out on Channel 4 on Thursday at 6.30pm.

SIMON WARNE wrote the "Dolly Mixtures" episode of Doctors going out on BBC1 on Friday at 1.45pm.

CHRISTOPHER REASON wrote the episode of EastEnders being shown on BBC1 on Friday at 8pm.

LESLEY CLAIRE O'NEILL wrote the episode of Emmerdale being shown on ITV1 on Friday at 7pm.

MARTIN ALLEN wrote the episode of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 on Friday at 7.30pm, while MARK WADLOW wrote the one being shown at 8.30pm.

JESS LEA wrote the episode of Hollyoaks going out on Channel 4 on Friday at 6.30pm.

IAN POTTER wrote the Afternoon Play: Antimacassars and Ylang Ylang Conditioner, being aired on BBC Radio 4 on Monday at 2.15pm.

DAVID ASHTON wrote the Afternoon Play: McLevy, the Chosen One, being aired on BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday at 2.15pm.

MIKE HARRIS wrote the Friday Play: The Prospect, being aired on BBC Radio 4 on Friday at 9pm.

ROBERT FORREST's dramatisation of John Le Carre's The Spy Who Came in from the Cold concludes on Classic Serial: The Complete Smiley on BBC Radio 4 on Saturday at 9pm.

GRAHAM LESTER GEORGE, former Guild Chairman, wrote Washdays, a short film officially selected for the Rushes Soho Shorts Festival, and one of the finalists. It can be viewed as part of the Rushes Short Films programme at The Institute of Contemporary Arts on Saturday 25th and Wednesday 29 July at 9pm.

MIRANDA WALKER co-wrote the play Coronation, a comedy set in 1953, which will be performed at Cheltenham's Everyman Studio Theatre from
22nd-25th July. Box office:

EMMA REEVES' adaptation of Carrie's War continues its run at the Apollo Shaftesbury.

TONY READ's latest book in his Baker Street Boys children's novels, The Case of the Haunted Horrors, was published on 6 July, by Walker Books. This is the sixth and final book in the series, which continues to sell well both in the UK and overseas, and has been translated into seven different languages.

SUE TEDDERN has three of her short stories read by Lynda Bellingham on BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday 28, Wednesday 29 and Thursday 30 July from 3.30 to 3.45 pm. The stories, about three women who take a short but eventful trip in a mobile home, are written to mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of Jerome K. Jerome.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Advising Hollywood on policing

For the Writers Guild of America West, Denis Faye talks Randy Walker about advising filmmakers about depicting the police.
What they get wrong, in my opinion, is the demeanor or the character of the officers. Captains of police, or sergeants or lieutenants or supervisors don’t scream at policemen. In my 28 years, I never had anyone yell at me to do my job properly or that I had done my job improperly.

When I see the big captain come into the room and say, “I want this homicide solved in three days!” I mean, please. Give me a break. And I think the general public is much more aware of how these investigations go. A lot of these shows like 48 Hours have enlightened them that most of these cases don’t get solved in three days.

BBC planning Cardiff 'drama village'

From Katherine Rushton in Broadcast:
The BBC is planning a new drama village in Cardiff Bay that is likely to become the cornerstone of a “Salford for Wales”.

The waterfront Roath Basin location is the BBC’s preferred option for a site that is intended to house Casualty’s new studios when they move from Bristol in 2011, plus production on all dramas made out of BBC Wales such as Doctor Who.

Five cuts budgets

From Leigh Holmwood in Media Guardian:
Channel Five has cut its programming budget by 25% this year – the biggest reduction of any major UK broadcaster – as it battles declining advertising revenues.

The commercial broadcaster has a programme budget of £165m this calendar year, down from £220m last year – a fall of £55m.

Five's budget is now just ahead of Sky1's, which is understood to be about £140m, although executives at the BSkyB-owned channel have said it is due to rise slightly.

European Union Prize for Literature

The names of twelve authors to receive the first ever European Union Prize for Literature (EUPL) have been announced by the European Commission, the European Booksellers Federation, the European Writers' Council (of which the Writers' Guild is a member) and the Federation of European Publishers.

An initiative of the European Commission, the EUPL will award emerging talents in all of the 34 countries taking part in the EU Culture Programme between 2009 and 2011. Prizes for the first twelve winners will be presented during an Award ceremony in Brussels on 28 September.

The 2009 winners are:
  • Austria - Paulus Hochgatterer
  • Croatia - Mila Pavicevic
  • France - Emmanuelle Pagano
  • Hungary - Szécsi Noémi
  • Ireland - Karen Gillece
  • Italy - Daniele Del Giudice
  • Lithuania - Sintija Černiauskaitė
  • Norway - Carl Frode Tiller
  • Poland - Jacek Dukaj
  • Portugal - Dulce Maria Cardoso
  • Slovakia - Pavol Rankov
  • Sweden - Helena Henschen
Writers from other EU countries will be recognised over the next two years.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Peter Bowker interview

In The Guardian, Stuart Jeffries talks to Peter Bowker whose new series, Desperate Romantics, starts tonight on BBC Two.
What's especially unusual is that he is writing across a lot of different genres. "It is unusual," Bowker agrees, "but my TV writing heroes are Alan Plater, Jack Rosenthal and Dennis Potter, and they did just that with great confidence in their careers. It's less common today but it's what I want to do."
Thanks to Robin Kelly on Twitter for the link.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Christopher Hampton video

The Screenwriters' Festival have put online the video of Christopher Hampton's talk about scripts that never made it to the screen from their launch event last month.

The first part is below. Then there's part two and part three. Well worth watching.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

World Screenwriters' Conference - Athens

The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain will be taking part in the first World Screenwriters’ Conference, which is being organised jointly by the Fédération des Scénaristes d’Europe and the International Affiliation of Writers’ Guilds in November.

About 200 writers and representatives of guild, unions, etc are expected to attend and they will consider globalisation and the impact of multinational media corporations; the future of scripted drama in the digital revolution and other issues. Delegates from countries including America, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and elsewhere will join representatives from around 28 European countries.

There doesn't seem to be any written information online at the moment but there are two videos introducing the Conference:

Imison and Tinniswood Radio Awards shortlists

The shortlists have been announced for this year's Imison and Tinniswood Radio Awards.

The Tinniswood Award honours the best original radio drama script broadcast during 2008. It is administered jointly by the Writers' Guild and the Society of Authors. The prize of £1,500 is donated by the ALCS and judges are Kate Chisholm, Roger Elsgood and Colin Shaw.

The shortlist is:
  • The Switch by Ali Smith (David Jackson Young, BBC Scotland)
  • Goldfish Girl by Peter Souter (Gordon House, BBC Radio Drama)
  • The Heroic Pursuits of Darleen Fyles by Esther Wilson (Pauline Harris, BBC Radio Drama, Manchester)
  • Far North by Louis Nowra (Judith Kampfner, Corporation For Independent Media)
The Imison Award honours the best original radio drama script by a writer new to radio, broadcast over 2008. The prize of £1,500 is donated by the Peggy Ramsay Foundation and judges are members of the Society of Authors Broadcasting Committee (David Docherty (Chair), Mike Bartlett, Nazrin Choudhury, Joe Dunlop, Alison Joseph, Nell Leyshon, Karen Liebreich, Sue Limb, Anne Sebba and Nick Warburton).

The shortlist is:
  • Flaw in the Motor, Dust in the Blood by Trevor Preston (Toby Swift, BBC Radio Drama)
  • Girl From Mars by Lucy Caldwell (Anne Simpson, BBC Northern Ireland)
  • Cobwebs by David Hodgson (Gary Brown, BBC Radio Drama)
The presentation of the awards, by Mike Hodges, will take place on 27 October 2009.

PEN/Pinter prize launched

AS BBC News reports, Enlgish PEN has launched a new literary prize in honour of Harold Pinter.
The PEN/Pinter prize will be presented at the British Library on 14 October, with the British or UK-based writer receiving a cheque for £1000.

Their work must fulfil the vision for writing that Pinter set out in his 2005 Nobel acceptance speech - turning an "unflinching, unswerving" gaze upon the world, and showing a "fierce intellectual determination ... to define the real truth of our lives and our societies".

Friday, July 17, 2009

What Guild members are getting up to

MARTIN ALLEN wrote the episode of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 7:30pm on Friday 24th July.

SIMON ASHDOWN wrote the episode of EastEnders going out on BBC1 at 7:30pm on Tuesday 21st July.

DAVID ASHTON'S radio play McLevy is going out on Radio 4 at 2:15pm on Tuesday 21st July.

SARAH BAGSHAW wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Tuesday 21st July.

LUCY BLINCOE wrote the episode of Doctors "History Repeated" going out on BBC1 at 1:45pm on Friday 24th July.

TONY BASGALLOP wrote the episode of Moonshot: the Flight of Apollo 11 going out on ITV1 at 10:50pm on Monday 20th July.

PAUL COATES wrote the episode of Hollyoaks going out on C4 at 6:30pm on Tuesday 21st July.

Congratulations to ANDREW DAVIES for his nomination for an Emmy Award for his adaptation of Charles Dickens's Little Dorrit for the BBC. It has been nominated in the Outstanding Miniseries category.

SARAH DEANE wrote the episode of Moving On "Drowning Not Waving" going out on BBC1 at 10:35pm on Monday 20th July.

DAVID EDGAR'S new book How Plays Work examines the mechanisms and techniques which dramatists throughout the ages have employed to structure their plays and to express their meaning. Written for playwrights and playgoers alike, Edgar’s analysis starts with the building blocks of whole plays – plot, character creation, genre and structure – and moves on to scenes and devices. He shows how plays share a common architecture without which the uniqueness of their authors’ vision would be invisible.

ARNOLD EVANS wrote the episode of Doctors "Gentlemen's Excuse Me" going out on BBC1 at 1:45pm on Tuesday 21st July.

JOHN FINNEMORE wrote the episode of Cabin Fever "Gdansk" going out on Radio 4 at 11:30pm on Friday 24th July.

JULIA GILBERT wrote the episodes of EastEnders going out on BBC1 at 7:30pm on Thursday 23rd and at 8:00pm on Friday 24th July.

ROB GITTINS wrote the radio play, Investigating Mr Thomas, which goes out on Radio 4 at 2.15pm on Friday 24 July. The play is partly based on Rob's award-winning film, The Far-Ago Land, which won the documentary prize at the Celtic and San Francisco Film Festivals.

JONATHAN HARVEY wrote the episode of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 7:30pm on Monday 20th July.

EIRENE HOUSTON wrote the episode of EastEnders going out on BBC1 at 8:00pm on Monday 20th July.

PENNY LEICESTER'S adaptation of "The Help" is beginning a ten episode run on Radio 4 at 7:45pm on Monday 20th July.

HILARY LYON wrote the episode of Baggage "The Father, The Lover, the Dead Friend and her Mother" going out on Radio 4 at 11:30pm on Wednesday 22nd July.

BILL LYONS wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Wednesday 22nd July.

ANDREW MCCULLOCH co-wrote the episode of The Royal "Counting Chickens" going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Sunday 19th July.

JIMMY MCGOVERN and JAN MCVERRY wrote the episode of The Street going out on BBC1 at 9:00pm on Monday 20th July.

PAULINE McLYNN'S latest novel, Missing You Already, is now out in paperback, published by Headline Publishing.

TOM NEEDHAM wrote the episode of The Bill "Live by the Sword" going out on Thursday 23rd July.

DEBBIE OATES wrote the episode of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 8:30pm on Thursday 23rd July.

HEATHER ROBSON wrote the episode of Hollyoaks going out on C4 at 6:30pm on Friday 24th July.

CAROLE SIMPSON-SOLAZZO wrote the episodes of The Archers going out on Radio 4 at 7:oopm from Sunday 19th till Friday 24th July with each episode being repeated the day following its original broadcast.

DAVID STAFFORD co-wrote the episode of Hazelbeach going out on Radio 4 at 11:30pm on Monday 20th July.

BILL TAYLOR wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Monday 20th July.

MIRANDA WALKER co-wrote the play Coronation, a comedy set in 1953, which will be performed at Cheltenham's Everyman Studio Theatre from 22nd-25th July. Box office:

JOY WILKINSON wrote the episode of Doctors "But for the Grace of God" going out on BBC1 at 1:45pm on Wednesday 22nd July.

Authors reject school vetting laws

From BBC News:
Several high-profile authors are to stop visiting schools in protest at new laws requiring them to be vetted to work with youngsters.

Philip Pullman, author of fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials, said the idea was "ludicrous and insulting".

Former children's laureates Anne Fine and Michael Morpurgo have hit out at the scheme which costs £64 per person.

Officials say the checks have been misunderstood and authors will only need them if they go to schools often.

The Home Office says the change, being introduced from October, will help protect children.
New Children's Laureate Anthony Browne takes a different view, however..
"I feel that as writers we shouldn't necessarily be granted an exemption," he said. "If all people who work with children have to be vetted by the police then we shouldn't be an exception. It seems a bit odd that we have to pay for it, though."

Emmy nomination for Andrew Davies

The BBC adaptation of Charles Dickens's Little Dorrit by Guild member Andrew Davies has been nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Miniseries. Its only rival in the category is Generation Kill by David Simon.

Davies's work on Little Dorrit has also won him a nomination for Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special.

30 Rock dominates the Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series category with four of the five nominations (Flight Of the Conchords gets the other), while Mad Men has a similar stranglehold over the Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series category.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Out with the 'new'

On The Guardian Theatre blog, Max Stafford Clark calls for the media to get over its obsession with hyping a succession of new female playwrights.
Let's face facts: journalism has not helped sustain the careers of young female writers. A few years ago, Rebecca Pritchard and Winsome Pinnock shot across the theatrical galaxy like flaming comets. Pinnock was hailed as the first important young black female playwright, while Pritchard began her career with Essex Girls at the Royal Court's Young Writer's festival and was later talked about in the same breath as Mark Ravenhill and Philip Ridley. They are now less visible.

Other writers have spoken to me about the difficulties of living up to the hype. One national paper used to run a feature called The Next Big Thing; while I can see that it would be less appealing to arts editors, a feature called The Next Sustainable Medium-Sized Thing might well be more help. It's also worth noting the particular pressure on female writers to be sexy in a manner that simply isn't there for their male counterparts.

Scotland Writes competition

From BBC Writersroom:
Are you passionate about writing for television? Do you have a series idea that you are burning to tell?

We are looking for new Scottish voices for television drama.

This competition is part of Scotland Writes, a writing initiative created by BBC Scotland. It is for writers born or living in Scotland.

We are looking for a 60-minute pilot episode for an original television series or serial which reflects contemporary Scotland. The script can be in any genre: cop drama, supernatural, science fiction, action, relationship drama, or anything else you can think of.

Whatever genre you choose it should feel original and distinctive, with strong character voices and compelling stories. This should be an idea that has a reason to be told. If it feels as though you've already seen it then the chances are it's the wrong idea. And lastly the series must be suitable to sit on one of the BBC Channels.
The closing date is 5pm, Monday 2 November 2009.

Full details are on the BBC Writersroom website

Tim Berners-Lee and the web at 20

Via the BBC's Digital Revolution blog, this video of Tim Berners-Lee speaking last week. It includes the line: "The concept of a [TV] channel is going to be obsolete on the internet - it's not relevant."

TV writers and Controller defend BBC drama

In The Guardian TV writers Tony Jordan, Billy Ivory, Steven Moffat, Heidi Thomas and Peter Moffat defend BBC drama following Tony Garnett's attack published earlier this week.

Tony Jordan:
Having just read Tony Garnett's email attacking the BBC drama department, I felt like one of our most lauded programme-makers was throwing in the towel, quitting on his stool, blaming his promoter for choosing the wrong opponent.

I like the fact he seems angry – as writers it comes with the territory. At our best we use it to spur on creativity, at our worst we launch our toys out of the pram and become drama queens instead of dramatists, citing conspiracy theories and the powers that be for destroying our work.

Is it tough to get a drama made on the BBC? Yes. Should we as writers be annoyed that the endless nights of staring at a blank sheet of paper until our foreheads bleed come to nothing? Yes. Is it possible that a great idea can be diluted by the process? Of course, but whether you're making television shows or designing tents, wasn't it ever thus?
Meanwhile, BBC drama commissioning controller Ben Stephenson says that he welcomes the debate.
There is clearly more than one point of view in this complex debate. For a lot of people – particularly audiences who recognise the BBC as the home for the best drama in the country – BBC drama is something they love to watch. And for many of those who make the drama it is a great place to work.

But there are a lot of people who don't like what we make and have been caught in development hell. I recognise much of what Tony Garnett says, and am happy to talk to him and anyone else about it. I don't want to list a point-by-point response – that would be reductive – but anyone who knows me will know that I take this very very seriously. My open Friday surgeries are designed for this very reason.

After nine months in the job I have instituted some big changes after listening to criticism – the open door policy, a radically smaller ratio of development to production, one indie department instead of four.

And that's just the beginning. I am going to continue to make changes. So now is the time to come and speak to me. I am an open book and have an open door. I will even buy you a BBC cup of coffee, if you are unlucky. Let's start engaging with each other – not over blogs, or in newspaper, but face to face. That is the only way we will change anything.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Jemma Rodgers to lead BBC Scotland comedy

From the BBC Press Office:
Jemma Rodgers, an independent producer of multi-award-winning comedies such as The League Of Gentlemen, Pulling Special and Wedding Belles, has been appointed as the new Executive Editor to lead comedy from BBC Scotland.

Jemma's production credits include both drama and comedy including Victoria Wood With All the Trimmings, Little Miss Jocelyn and God On Trial.

She will be responsible for all in-house network comedy productions as well as having an overview of radio and local television comedy development and production.

Vince Powell 1928-2009

From Matthew Hemley in The Stage:
Never the Twain writer Vince Powell has died at the age of 80.

The sitcom writer, who also wrote Mind Your Language and Young at Heart, passed away at the Royal Surrey Hospital yesterday morning.

In a statement, Apex Publishing’s Chris Cowlin, who published Powell’s autobiography From Rags to Gags, paid tribute to the writer’s ability to make “millions of people laugh throughout his career”.

Stella Duffy and Mark Ravenhill on Newsnight Review

If you missed it on Friday, you can watch Guild members Stella Duffy and Mark Ravenhill on Newsnight Review on BBC iPlayer until the end of the week. Among other things, they're discussing gay icons.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Tony Garnett on the state of BBC Drama

In a major article on the Writers' Guild website, Tony Garnett gives his assessment of the state of BBC Drama.
Working in art film or commercial cinema is like dancing through a minefield, and every broadcaster is now racing down-market in a desperate attempt to survive. But what is happening at the BBC is the real scandal: it is bigger than all the rest combined, it is free from direct commercial pressure and its public service obligations carry cultural responsibilities. There are no excuses...

The trajectory of energy is in the wrong direction. Instead of erupting upwards in ways which surprise, delight and occasionally shock, it travels censoriously and prescriptively down the pyramid. The writer is left to second guess what might please the power at the top in a grotesque game of pass-the-parcel of notes as they travel from hand to hand, changing their meaning on the way....

So the next time you watch a fine piece of TV drama, grateful for the brilliance of the writer, the director, the actors and the crew, remember the aggravation they had to endure and the guile they had to deploy and the energy they had to waste. You will no longer be puzzled at how rare this experience is or be surprised at the formulaic, repetitive, machine made, emotionally dishonest junk food you now get for your licence fee. The people making most of this predictable junk called drama would love to be creating something better and more nourishing. But they are not allowed to.
(Tony Garnett's credits on IMDB)

Jack Thorne: writing Cast-Offs

On the WGGB website, Jack Thorne explains how he came to write Cast-Offs, an upcoming drama series for Channel 4.
Cast-Offs was commissioned by the wonderful Alison Walsh at Channel 4, partially as a result of frustration with what she saw as generic disability programming. Disabled people on TV were allowed to be one of two things: acerbic and sharp and oh so very witty or, you know, tragic and heroic and kind of a bit sad.

With Cast-Offs we’d try and be funny and we’d try and tell some truthful stories. What we wouldn’t do – and couldn’t do – is attempt to tell ‘the truth’ about what disability is. We’d try and be for disability programming what thirtysomething was for thirtysomethings – far from representative, just a teller of decent stories.
(Photo: Dan Outram)

David Edgar: How Plays Work

In The Guardian, an extract from playwright David Edgar's new book, How Plays Work.
There are two chief methods of emplotment: plotting by time (by ordering the events of the story), and plotting by space (juxtaposing its different strands). In both cases, the playwright's decision expresses the meaning. So, although almost all plays start some way into the story, the import of that decision goes way beyond mere storytelling convenience.

One of the best examples is Sophocles' Oedipus, in which the protagonist discovers that his parents abandoned him as a baby in order to evade a terrible prediction that he would eventually kill his father and marry his mother. Having accidentally fulfilled that prediction, the action of the play as written is: "To save his city, the king seeks the identity of the author of a crime, but he discovers in the end that it is himself."

But had Sophocles plotted the story chronologically, the action would be different. The protagonists would be the parents, and the action would be something like: "Threatened with the prediction that their son will commit two terrible crimes, a king and queen decide to take extreme measures; but the fates are too strong for them, and the prediction is fulfilled despite their efforts." Laius and Jocasta's story is about how you can't avoid fate, however much you try. Whereas by starting with Oedipus, Sophocles' play becomes about human volition; the message changes from "you can't win" to "leave well alone".
Link courtesy of @TWPGoSee on Twitter

What Guild members are getting up to

DAVID ASHTON'S radio play "McLevy" is going out in four parts on Radio 4 beginning with "To Keep Him Honest" at 2:15pm on Tuesday 14th July.

SARAH BAGSHAW wrote the first episode of new series of The Royal "Safe as Houses" going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Sunday 12th July.

STEVEN FAY wrote the episode of Hollyoaks going out on C4 at 6:30pm on Thursday 16th July.

JOHN FINNEMORE wrote the episode of Cabin Pressure "Helsinki" going out on Radio 4 at 11:30am on Friday 17th July.

HENRIETTA HARDY wrote the episode of Doctors "Tracing the Lines" going out on BBC1 at 1:45pm on Thursday 16th July.

NICHOLAS HICKS-BEACH wrote the episode of EastEnders going out on BBC1 at 8:00pm on Monday 13th July.

JAYNE HOLLINSON wrote the episode of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 7:30pm on Monday 13th July.

MARTIN JAMESON wrote the episode of Casualty "Ashes" going out on BBC1 at 8:50pm on
Saturday 11th July. His radio play The Night They Tried to Kidnap the Prime Minister going out on Radio 4 at 2:15pm on Wednesday 15th July.

JULIE JONES wrote the episodes of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 7:30pm and 8:30pm on Friday 17th July.

PETER KERRY wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Tuesday 14th July.

JIMMY MCGOVERN'S anthology drama The Street begins it's third series going out on BBC1 at 9:00pm on Monday 13th July. When Paddy Gargan bars Calum Miller from the pub, he evokes the wrath of his gangster father. Staring Bob Hoskins, Liam Cunningham and Timothy Spall amongst others.

ROY MITCHELL wrote the episode of New Tricks "The War against Drugs" going out on Thursday 16th July.

PG MORGAN'S radio drama The Understanding is going out on Radio4 at 2:15pm on Thursday 16th July.

PAUL MYATT wrote the episode of Doctors "Beneath the Surface" going out on BBC1 at 1:45pm on Tuesday 14th July.

JESSE O'MAHONEY wrote the episode of Hollyoaks going out on C4 at 6:30pm on Friday 17th July.

JULIE PARSONS wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Monday 13th July.

PHILIP QIZILBASH wrote Monday's, Tuesday's, and Wednesday's episodes of next week's BBC Asian Network's daily soap, Silver Street. It is broadcast Monday to Friday at 12.15pm, with an omnibus edition on Sunday at 4.30pm.

WIL ROBERTS won the best Welsh-language book prize this year at Wales Book of the Year Awards.

DAVID STAFFORD co-wrote the episode of Hazelbeach going out on Radio 4 at 11:30am on Monday 13th July.

CHRIS THOMPSON wrote the episodes of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Wednesday 15th and Thursday 16th July.

JOANNA TOYE wrote the episodes of The Archers going out on Radio 4 from Sunday 12th till Friday 17th July with each episode being repeated at 2:00pm the day following its original broadcast.

ROBERTO TRIPPINI has written the libretto and lyrics of the new musical Too Close to the Sun (music by John Robinson). This imaginary recreation of the last two days of Ernest Hemingway's life opens at the Comedy Theatre of Panton Street SW1 on July 16th and runs until 5th September. More info at:

AMANDA WHITTINGTON'S radio play Be My Baby is going out on Radio 4 at 2:15pm on Monday 13th July.

ROGER WILLIAMS wrote the episode of drama series Caerdydd being broadcast on Sunday 14th of June at 9pm on S4C. The episode is repeated on Thursday 18th of June with on screen English subtitles at 9.35pm.

ESTHER WILSON wrote the last episode of Moving On "Butterfly Effect" going out on BBC1 at 10:35pm on Monday 13th July. She has also written the first episode of The Pursuits of Darleen Fyles going out on Radio 4 at 7:45pm on Monday 13th July.

KARIN YOUNG wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Friday 17th July.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Extreme pornographic writing

The Guild has replied to The House of Lords' proposed amendment on extreme pornographic writing. The contributors were Tracy Brabin, Edel Brosnan, Isabelle Grey, Jayne Kirkham, Gail Renard, Robert Taylor, Andy Walsh:
Let us start by saying that the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain is against censorship in general. The existing laws in this area are strict and extensive so that further development seems unnecessary. The proposed wording is also verbose and clumsy.

The Guild remains unconvinced that readers will copy so-called sordid details found in various writings. Or, to put it another way, “The only valid censorship of ideas is the right of people not to listen.” ~Tommy Smothers

Let us share some our writers’ comments with you:

"What is described here means that we have to go back to the days of closing the bedroom door. King Lear will have to be rewritten – no way can the blinding of Gloucester be seen as not being realistic. What about Casino Royale where Bond is tortured – very graphic and that is genitalia bashing."

"I’m sure most adults have imagination enough to come up with cruel and perverted ways of hurting people of their own, without needing a ‘how to’ book. It’s also worth noting that the vast vast majority of people, while having the capacity for nastiness, prefer to be kind."

"That rules out any Irving Welsh, Sarah Kane and I’m sure some of us have ‘enjoyed’ DH Lawrence, Joyce and the New Testament... Seems a retrograde step to me…doesn’t the best writing stir emotions and sometimes the groin? Who exactly would they be protecting when there are already laws in place with regard to pornography? Joe Orton’s battles with the censors are coming back to haunt us."

"[Also ruled out would be] Helen Walsh, Bret Easton Ellis, Nabokov, Valerie Solanas, Catherine Briellat, Chan-Wook Park, Jake and Dinos Chapman. This feels like a Canute-like attempt to stem the tide of internet porn, after the courts threw out a case against a man who'd written violent fanfic porn about Girls Aloud. Unless something contravenes existing hate crime or incitement to violence laws, we should leave well enough alone - creating a new category of thought crime is too Orwellian. We already have laws in place for hate crimes or incitement to violence - surely it makes more sense to enforce existing laws than to create new ones that stifle freedom of speech. Recent American experience has also shown that anti-porn laws designed to 'protect women' have a nasty habit of disproportionately silencing female writers, along with GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people) and other non-mainstream voices."

"Any move into this type of censorship is the start of the slippery slope. We fully back Baroness O'Cathain’s right not to read this material, we fully back her right not to like it and to talk of a higher moral plane, in no way can her attempt to limit freedom of speech be a good thing. These are words, they are ideas, they may not be to our liking, but this harks back to the social and intellectual superiority that some felt over Lady Chatterley’s Lover. The masses are not to be trusted. I am concerned at any attempt to limit the freedom of speech that generations have worked so hard to earn. The current labelling and marking of material to allow audiences to choose what they consume are adequate to allow a protection of freedom of speech and the right of audiences to avoid material that they personally may find offensive."

So we think all can see that the Writers' Guild of Great Britain would be against this amendment.

BBC approach to talent

The Guild has responded to an email from the BBC about their 'approach to talent' with an insistence that writers should not be made to suffer for the extravagance and waste that has led the Corporation to apparent financial hardship.

You can read the full text of the email from the BBC and the Guild's response (by TV Committee Chair Gail Renard and Radio Committee Chair Katharine Way) on the WGGB website.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Indies criticise Radio 4 change

From Matthew Hemley in The Stage:
Independent drama producers have criticised a new commissioning system implemented by BBC Radio 4, claiming it is putting their futures at risk and restricting opportunities for nurturing talent in the industry.
Optical Express

The complaints were made after the broadcaster announced the first set of winners under the new structure, which sees companies invited to bid for a two-year batch of commissions for the channel’s Afternoon Play slot. This replaced the twice-yearly, programme by programme commissioning rounds previously run by the Corporation

Power to the Pixel

The Pixel Pitch is a ground-breaking cross-media pitching forum for up to ten of the best UK and international cross-media film projects.

Power to the Pixel is looking for stories that can span film, TV, online, mobile and gaming to be presented to a select group of financiers, commissioners, tech companies, online portals and media companies in front of an audience of PTTP participants. The selected project teams will compete for the Babelgum Pixel Pitch Prize of £6,000.

The competition will take place on 15 October 2009 as part of Power to the Pixel’s London Forum at the Times BFI London Film Festival 14-16 October.
More information on the Power to the Pixel website.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Vasily Aksyonov 1932-2009

From Radio Free Europe:
Legendary Russian writer Vasily Aksyonov - one of the last Soviet-era writers to endure a ban by Kremlin censors and be stripped of his citizenship - has died in Moscow after a long illness.
More from Associated Press: "Aksyonov's death is the death of an entire era," prominent writer Viktor Yerofeyev told the ITAR-Tass news agency. "And those are not just words — Aksyonov created the literary language of the shestidesyatniki ["the '60s generation"] ... in the '60s he was an idol for the whole country."

Chris Beckett wins Edge Hill short story prize

Remember the surprise expressed in some quarters that a science fiction writer could be shortlisted for a major short story prize? Well now Chris Beckett has actually won the Edge Hill Prize, beating Anne Enright into second place with his collection, The Turing Test.

One of the judges, James Walton said:
"I suspect Chris Beckett winning the Edge Hill Prize will be seen as a surprise in the world of books. In fact, though, it was also a bit of surprise to the judges, none of whom knew they were science fiction fans beforehand. Yet, once the judging process started, it soon became clear that The Turing Test was the book that we'd all been impressed by, and enjoyed, the most - and one by one we admitted it."

Behind the scenes with Paul Mayeda Berges

As part of its unsung heroes of filmmaking series, BBC News goes behind the scenes with Screenwriter Paul Mayeda Berges.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Showcomotion Children's Media Conference

On the Guild website, Jayne Kirkham reports from the sixth annual Showcomotion Children's Media Conference that took place last week.
After the recent years of gloom, especially in children’s television, the conference theme of 'Connect' gave a cautious and practical optimism as it offered bespoke research connecting practitioners with their audience and also with each other as the benefits of cross-discipline learning and partnership became clear.

Free tax guidance

HW Fisher & Company have produced a free tax guide for authors and journalists (pdf) to help you manage your tax affairs and are offering free tax advice to Guild members.

The Authors and Journalists team at HW Fisher & Company have many years’ experience in helping clients minimise their tax liability. If you have a tax query you can call their free tax helpline for Guild members on 020 7874 7876 and quote ‘WG’.

Alternatively, email your query (please quote ‘WG’ in the subject line) to Andrew Subramanian: or Barry Kernon:

Please note: while the Guild believes HW Fisher to be a reputable company, we do not accept liability for any advice given.

Paul Feig on comedy writing

In The Guardian, American actor, director and scriptwriter Paul Feig offers nine comedy writing tips.
4. Cut the jokes

"A script packed full of jokes is what a network executive will sign off because it will seem funny on the page. But it won't work when you shoot it because people don't really act that way. A great comedy is about real characters who make you laugh because you appreciate their personalities and how they react to particular situations. They have to be believable human beings, not just vehicles for gags.

The Brothers McLeod

On the Guild website, an article by Myles McLeod (pictured above, right) about his partnership with animator (and brother, on the left) Greg which has led to success including a BAFTA nomination for their short film Codswallop.
We’ve always tried to challenge ourselves to do new types of story, or to use new techniques in our filmmaking. This is partly where Codswallop came from. It was also a very personal project. When you’re working on a lot of other people’s material there is always a level of compromise that has to come with that process. It can be fun to work with a big collaborative group and you learn so much from that interaction. But sometimes you have to go away and make something on your own, just as a kind of selfish artistic act.

(Photo: © BAFTA)

Saturday, July 04, 2009

What Guild members are getting up to

SARAH BAGSHAW wrote the last episode of The Royal "Compromising Postitions" going out on ITV1 on Sunday 5th July. She also wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Monday 6th July.

RAY BROOKING wrote the episode of Doctors "Crisis? What Crisis?" going out on BBC1 at 1:45pm on Monday6th July.

RICHARD BURKE wrote the episode of Hollyoaks going out on C4 at 6:30pm on Tuesday 7th July.

PAUL COATES wrote the episode of Hollyoaks going out on C4 at6:30pm on Friday 10th July.

TIM DYNEVOR wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Thursday 9th July.

JAN ETHERINGTON & GAVIN PETRIE are holding a rehearsed reading of two new comedy scripts, as part of the Sunbury & Shepperton Arts Festival on Thursday 16th July at 8 p.m. Tickets £10. Box office 01932 782788 (see

JOHN FAY wrote the episodes 2 and 4 of Torchwood "Children of Earth" going out this week on BBC1 at 9:00pm on Tuesday 7th and Thursday 9th July.

RACHEL FLOWERDAY wrote the episode of EastEnders going out on BBC1 at 8:00pm on Friday 10th July.

STEVE HUGHES wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Wednesday 8th July.

MARK ILLIS wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Tuesday 7th July.

JOHN KERR wrote the episode of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 7:30pm on Wednesday 8th July.

MATT LEYS co-wrote "The Great British Foreign Holiday" going out on BBC2 at 8:00pm on Tuesday 7th July.

MOYA O'SHEA'S new play "Room Service" will be performed at the Farnham Rep from 20th till the 23rd of August at 7:30pm with a matinee on 22nd at 3:30pm. For more information please visit

LYN PAPADOPOULOS wrote the episode of Hollyoaks going out on C4 at 6:30pm on Monday 6th July.

JULIAN PERKINS wrote the episode of The Bill "Breaking Point" going out on ITV1 at 8:00pm on Wednesday 8th July.

RHIANNA PRATCHETT wrote the story and dialogue for Overlord 2, Overlord :Minions and Overlord:Dark Legend , now available on Xbox 360, PS3, DS and Wii.

SUE TEDDERN'S radio play In Mates is going out on Radio 4 at 2:15pm on Monday 6th July. The audio pen-friendship of Michelle (Pauline Quirke) in Orpington and Randall on Death Row. Marion and Geoff meets Dead Man Walking. In Mates also stars Gillian Wright, Malcolm Tierney, Annabelle Dowler, Lizzy Watts and Benjamin Askew. Director: Jessica Dromgoole.

JOE TURNER wrote the episodes of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 7:30pm and 8:30pm on Monday 6th July.

ANDREW S. WALSH wrote the dialogue for EA’s Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince available on Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii.

PETER WHALLEY wrote the episodes of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 7:30pm and at 8:30pm on Friday 10th July.

KEN YATES' play 'Dust' is the story of a Leeds woman, June Hancock, and her battle against a multinational corporation whose Armley factory spewed asbestos out onto the surrounding streets fatally injuring her and many others.
The play is on first in Armley on 11th July and then at the West Yorkshire Playhouse from 15th - 18th July.

Friday, July 03, 2009

IMDB credits threat resolved

Earlier this week there were reports that the International Movie Database (IMDB) was demoting writer credits to the 'Additional Details' section.

Fortunately, the situation now appears to have been resolved by the Writers Guild of America, as Craig Mazin writes on his blog:
I just received word from Lesley Mackie McCambridge, who runs the WGAw Credits Department, that the issue with IMDB has been resolved. She and her department were on this one before any of us in the blogosphere even knew about it, and IMDB will not be moving forward with any plan to relocate writers’ credits from their rightful position.

Hampstead Theatre's future

With aritstic director Anthony Clarke having stepped down, on The Guardian Theatre Blog Michael Billington calls for the next incumbent to programme a mix of new plays and neglected classics.
At the moment, the only two London theatres to mix new plays with revivals of forgotten work are the Orange Tree and the Finborough. Both, I should add, are hugely successful, but inevitably operate on a smaller scale. Hampstead could do a similar job, and I suspect there are some rich pickings to be had from the 20th century repertory. From Britain alone, I can think of a dozen plays from John Galsworthy, Somerset Maugham, Emlyn Williams and Graham Greene right up to Arnold Wesker, David Hare, Howard Brenton and Trevor Griffiths that are worth another look.
In the comments, however, playwright David Eldridge calls for more fundamental change, arguing that whoever takes over at Hampstead should:
Eschew the awful development culture which has grown around our theatre like bind weed, alongside rampant over-commissing, which sees playwrights increasingly infantalised and treated with little respect. The theatre in general has always been most succcessful when canny artistic teams have backed playwrights to persue a vision. How an earth did our new writing culture become so like the bone-headed TV development regimes? The new AD could take a leaf out of the Bush's renewed commitment to being a play house where they put on the plays they like most and only give the writer notes when the theatre is committed to the play. I think Stephen Dadry said in the early 90s we need "to listen to the kids". These days the kids seem to be required to listen to the theatre...

Hanif Kureishi - adapting The Black Album for the stage

In The Guardian, Hanif Kureishi explains how he set about adapting his novel The Black Album for the stage.
We worked on a number of drafts, and it was the usual business of writing: cutting, condensing, expanding, developing, putting in jokes and trying material in different places until the story moved forward naturally. I was particularly keen to keep the banter of students and their often adolescent attitudes, particularly towards sexuality. This was, after all, one of their most significant terrors: that the excitement the west offered would not only be too much for them, but for everyone.
The play opens at the National Theatre later this month.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

The death of Moneyball

As Christopher Hampton proved at the Screenwriters' Festival event a couple of weeks back, Hollywood near-miss stories are strangely fascinating.

The demise of Moneyball, despite the commitment of Brad Pitt, is a case in point. Tough for everyone involved, of course, and it's notable how many times the script appears to have been yanked about. IMDB lists four writers (working on adapting a book by Michael Lewis) and Michael Cielpy in The New York Times says that director Steven Soderbergh also wrote a script.

Cielpy reckons the film being pulled just days before shooting was due to start, could signify a new caution among the studios.
The last-minute demise of a high-profile film project, especially one starring an A-list star like Mr. Pitt, is a rare spectacle in Hollywood — one that is painful, expensive and damaging to all involved. It also happened with “Used Guys,” a high-priced comedy at 20th Century Fox in 2006.

But such disasters — this one is estimated to have cost Sony $10 million in development and preproduction costs — may become more common as an increasingly nervous film business comes to terms with a sharp decline in home video revenue, the diminishing power of even the most popular stars to muscle their projects into production and new uncertainty over complicated bets like “Moneyball.”
Blogging writer Ken Levine, however, reckons the project was doomed from the start.

Update (10.07.2009): Aaron Sorkin to the rescue?

The end of Joost

Eighteen months ago we blogged about the possibility that Joost might be the future of TV.

Using P2P streaming, they looked set to create a new model of broadcasting that would harness the power of file-sharing.

That was then. Now, as Michael Arrington reports for TechCrunch, they've given up.
They over funded ($45 million before they even launched) and they ignored the fact that users were quite willing to sacrifice quality in online video for the convenience of Flash in the browser. Joost waited until late last year to go all Flash - until then users had to use the downloadable Joost software and allow P2P streaming of shows. In the meantime there was no linking to Joost videos. YouTube and Hulu got all that social media and SEO juice that could have gone to Joost.
Not that the traditional media companies will be cracking open the champagne. They've all got their own problems - see ITV's record low-ratings last week, for example.

Update (02.07.2009): Hulu and YouTube home in on landmark UK deals

Angry Robot imprint launches

Genre publishing sometimes falls beneath the mainstream media radar, but Harper Collins seems to be going all out to promote its new imprint, Angry Robot. Well, they've sent me two press releases this week, anyway.
Today marks the launch of HarperCollins' new imprint Angry Robot. We'll be serving up 2-3 red hot novels a month for a new generation of readers who've grown up on Hostel and Hellboy, Battlestar Galactica, Gears of War and World of Warcraft and are now looking for adrenaline-fuelled entertainment in books.
Here's the policy on submissions:
We’re not open to unsolicited proposals at this time. If you’re a budding author and want to get more advice on your work we recommend you check out the amazing on-line novel-in-progress review machine that is Authonomy!

If you have an agent, or you are known to us or recommended to us by someone we know, you are welcome to submit proposals for new novels. We require a brief (two pages max) summary of characters, plot and your intentions/inspiration, in that order — plus the opening five chapters.
And here's some more info from the same page:
We’re publishing novels, either standalone or as part of greater series. We’re not looking to publish novellas, short stories or non-fiction at this time.

All our books are “genre” fiction in one way or another — specifically fantasy, science fiction, horror, and that new catch-all urban or modern fantasy. Those are quite wide-ranging in themselves; we’re looking for all types of sub-genre, so for example, hard SF, space opera, cyberpunk, military SF, alternate future history, future crime, time travel, and more. We have no problem if your book mashes together two or more of these genres; in fact, we practically insist upon it.

We’re publishing books for adults; we’re not looking for any YA or teenage titles to publish. We are happy for our books to cover adult themes, situations and “language”.
They're also on Twitter.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Guild events

A reminder about three upcoming Guild events:

Harold Ramis on Year One

For the Writers Guild of America West, Denis Faye talks to Harold Ramis (co-writer of films including Caddyshack, Stripes, Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day) about his new film (written with Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg), Year One.
What was the genesis of the Year One script?

The influences have been kicking around in my head for my whole life. I include anything that puts characters with a contemporary consciousness in a historical setting, like Mel Brooks – specifically, the 2000 Year Old Man. I thought that was hysterically funny when I was in college. I memorized all that material. And I really admired Life of Brian and Holy Grail.

Then a lot of religious thoughts started kicking around for me as I got older. And then post-9/11, I started thinking about fundamentalism and orthodoxy and the role they play in world conflict. The history of religion seems like an ongoing tragedy of some kind – persecution and injustice, torture, inquisition, and the way religion is used to justify politics.

Then I thought back to an improv that I directed in the ‘70s that had Bill Murray and John Belushi. I had been watching PBS and I didn’t realize that Cro-Magnon – modern man – had co-existed on the planet with Neanderthal. So, I had John and Billy do an improv. Bill played Cro-Magnon like a hipster and John played Neanderthal like a moron. It was very funny, I thought.

So I thought about trying to track some of my religious and political ideas through the dawn of man, and then I thought, Why not Genesis? And I started using the early start of Genesis as a template for these ideas. And it just started coming together in the summer of ‘05.