Wednesday, September 30, 2009

BBC Blast and BAFTA Screen-Skills bursary

From BBC Blast:
We've partnered with BAFTA to give you the chance to learn the skills to make TV happen.

If you are 16-19 you could win £3000 towards your next venture, get help from BAFTA mentors, and then have it showcased on BBC 2. You could even be in with a chance of winning a "Screen-Skills" award from BAFTA themselves! Get involved by submitting a video (no more than 5 minutes long) by 7th October 2009 that shows your skills in any of these categories [Director of Photography, Composer, Scriptwriter, Editor].
Full details are on the BBC Blast website. The deadline is 7th October.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Screenwriters' Festival 2009

Just a quick reminder that the fourth Screenwriters' Festival will be running from Monday 26th October to Thursday 29th October this year.

The full programme has now been announced, and here's a list of just a few of the confirmed guest speakers:
  • Ollie Madden - Vice President of Production, Warner Bros. 
  • Steven Moffat - Lead Writer, Doctor Who
  • James Schamus - CEO Focus Features
  • Christine Langan - Creative Director of BBC Films
  • Simon Beaufoy - Writer of The Full Monty and Slumdog Millionaire
  • Phil Collinson  - Head of Drama, BBC North
  • Kenton Allen - CEO, Big Talk Productions 
  • Tessa Ross - Controller of Film and Drama, Channel 4/Film4 
  • Ben Stephenson - Controller of BBC Drama Commissioning
  • Kate Harwood - Controller of Series and Serials, BBC Drama
  • Armando Iannucci - Writer/Director of The Thick of It and I'm Alan Partridge
  • Ashley Pharoah - Writer of Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes
  • Tony Grisoni - Writer of Channel 4's recent Red Riding adaptations

Tickets are still available for either two or all four days.

Original Sin

On the WGGB website, Guild member Steve Hawes tells the story behind his new play, Original Sin, which opens at the Haymarket, Basingstoke on the 16th October.
My new play, Original Sin, was prompted by a decree issued by Pope Boniface VIII in 1298, Periculoso, which required the perpetual enclosure of all nuns.

Boniface (whom, incidentally, Dante consigned to Hell before he died) declared that he wished “…to provide for the dangerous and abominable situation of certain nuns, who, casting off the reins of respectability and impudently abandoning nunnish modesty and the natural bashfulness of their sex, sometimes rove about outside of the monastery.” His provision was to lock them in.

He concluded a wonderfully circular argument with the supposition that nuns would be thereby “… able to serve God more freely, wholly separated from the public and worldly gaze and, occasions for lasciviousness having thus been removed… most diligently safeguard their hearts and bodies in complete chastity.”

In other words they were to be sheltered from those very perils that they otherwise brought on themselves. They couldn’t get out but men could get in. Well, certain men - priests, church officials, inquisitors - usually with the aim of bossing the nuns about, some with more obviously nefarious purpose.

Roman Polanski held in Switzerland

From BBC News:
Film director Roman Polanski has been taken into custody in Switzerland and faces extradition to the US for having sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977.

Mr Polanski, 76, was detained in Zurich on Saturday as he travelled from France to collect a lifetime achievement award at the Zurich Film Festival.

He is being held under a 2005 international alert issued by the US.
As well as a director, Polanski is also a screenwriter, with credits including Rosemary's Baby (from the novel by Ira Levin).

France 24 (by AFP) reports on opposition to his arrest:
Government ministers, movie directors, writers and intellectuals expressed shock and outrage Sunday after the detention of Oscar winning director Roman Polanski in Switzerland on three-decade-old child sex charges.

France and Poland are to ask the United States to drop the charges and consider a presidential pardon over the case, Poland's PAP news agency said, though Polanski has already acknowledged he had sex with the 13-year-old girl in Los Angeles in 1977...

The Swiss film screenwriters and directors association, the ASSR, called the arrest "a judicial scandal which will tarnish Switzerland's reputation around the world."
Update: From The New York Times - In France, a debate about the case.

Andrew Davies defends 'bonnet dramas'

In the face of plans by Ben Stephenson, the controller of BBC drama commissioning, to cut back on period dramas (known as 'bonnet dramas') Emmy award-winning adaptor, Andrew Davies, has defended the genre in the Radio Times.
"It's the revenge of the controllers. The new breed don't have anything like the power [they used to have]. So there's an element of slate-wiping and territory marking.

"I think, in terms of doing the classics, their position is somewhere near what ITV's was ten years ago. Which is, 'yes, we'll do them, but only if they're big, popular warhorses'. So it's going downmarket, I guess.

"I remain, however, fairly optimistic for the future of period drama because it's just such a popular thing. People like bonnets. I don't think you can underestimate that."

Monday, September 28, 2009

Birmingham Book Festival

The Birmingham Book Festival runs from 3rd-29th October.

Events include one run by the Writers' Guild:

Difficult Teenagers: Writing For The Teenage Market

Friday 9th October 7pm

Fazeley Studios, 191 Fazeley Street, Digbeth, Birmingham B5 5SE

Three practitioners share their experiences and discuss the issues around writing for teenagers.

Chris O’Connell from Theatre Absolute, Coventry, author of the award-winning Street Trilogy and the recent plays Hang Lenny Pope & Zero, will talk about the connections the company's work has made with teenage audiences.
David Calcutt has recently written two critically-acclaimed novels for young people, Crowboy & Shadow Bringer and will talk about his writing for this age group.
Marcus Romer of Pilot Theatre Company (winner 2008 TMA Best Show For Young People Award for Looking For JJ), will look at the use of digital media alongside theatre to appeal to a teenage audience.

Free to Guild Members, otherwise £5 (£3.75)

Members please reply to to say you’re coming.

Non-members book through the Festival website or on 0121 303 2323

Another event to highlight:

David Edgar – How Plays Work

Tuesday 13th October 7:30pm

Birmingham Conservatoire

David Edgar, President of the Writers’ Guild, pioneered the teaching of playwriting in the UK, founding the first Playwriting Studies course at Birmingham University twenty years ago. This event celebrates the publication of How Plays Work, a book that offers a masterclass for playwrights and playmakers and is a fascinating guide to the anatomy of drama. It also gives an opportunity to discuss the wider implications of teaching playwriting studies in terms of quality, quantity and the expectations of writers.

£3 for Guild members, otherwise £5 (£3.75)

Members please email to say you’re going & then pay on the door. Please say you’re a Writers’ Guild member in the email.

Non-members book through the Festival website or on 0121 303 2323

Finally, another event in which the Guild is involved:

The Writers’ Toolkit – Writer Networking Conference

Saturday 21st November 10am-4pm

South Birmingham College, High St Digbeth, Birmingham B5 5SU

The Writers’ Toolkit is an annual gathering for emerging and established writers and anyone working in the writing industry. It offers a unique opportunity to learn about aspects of the business of being a writer and to network with others writing and working in literature development through a mixture of panel discussions and Q&A sessions.

Subjects covered include Understanding Publishing, Pitching Ideas, Social Networking for Writers, Working with the BBC, Writing with Communities, Promoting Poetry, Working with Agents and Writing in the Digital Age. Other individuals and organisations involved include Arts Council England, Writers’ Guild of Great Britain, Arvon Foundation, National Association of Writers in Education, BBC Radio Four, The National Academy of Writing and Bloodaxe Books.

£29 (£23) Including Buffet – book direct with the festival on 0121 246 2770.

Joe Godwin to run BBC children's

From Katherine Rushton for Broadcast:
Joe Godwin has landed the most powerful job in British kids TV, after being named the new director of BBC children’s.

Godwin is currently head of news, factual and entertainment at CBBC but will replace Richard Deverell in November, when he relinquishes his controller of children’s post to become chief operating officer of BBC North full time.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Trevor Rhone 1940-2009

Jamaican playwright and screenwriter Trevor Rhone has died at the age of 69.

Best know for co-writing (with Perry Henzell) the film The Harder They Come, Rhone studied drama in London in the 1960s before returning to Jamaica to write and teach.

His contribution to the country's cultural life is recognised by his friend Guerney Beckford in the Jamaica Observer:
"He was really an icon," Beckford said. "His contribution to theatre cannot be measured. He found Jamaica to be a stage and we were are all actors. He loved Jamaica. His other love was Bella's Gate. He recently built a school and training centre there, and established a trust fund to run the institution. Another side to Trevor Rhone that people don't know is that he helped a lot of people. He would help in small ways, maybe a school fee here, a weeks salary that could last a month there - no one that came to him with open arms would be turned away. But that story he never wanted told."
There are obituaries in The Times and by Rob Kenner in The New York Times: was the 1972 film “The Harder They Come” that made his name. Directed by Perry Henzell, who also had a writer’s credit, and shot in the gritty streets of Kingston, the movie starred the reggae singer Jimmy Cliff as Ivan, a boy from the country who comes to Kingston with dreams of making it big as a singer but instead becomes a notorious outlaw and dies in a hail of bullets. It became an international cult classic and introduced reggae music to the world before Bob Marley became a household name.

“Trevor’s big contribution was the film’s dramatic structure,” Mr. Henzell’s daughter Justine Henzell said.
The LA Times also has an obituary:
"As a drama school student in London, I had visions of myself as a great tragedian," he told the reference guide Contemporary Authors. "I quickly learnt, however, that classic roles available to black actors were few and far between. And such parts as there were, were invariably written by white authors with little understanding of the black experience.

"My first acting jobs in the professional theater saw me perpetuating negative and stereotyped images of blacks," he added. "My first effort at writing a play was an attempt to find something worthwhile to perform."

Friday, September 25, 2009

What Guild members are getting up to

RANCES BRODY'S crime novel Dying in the Wool, A Kate Shackleton Mystery, will be published in paperback by Piatkus on 1st October. Visit for details. There is a lunchtime signing at Waterstone's, Albion Street, Leeds on Friday 23rd October and a talk and signing at Waterstone's, Bradford Wool Exchange, on Thursday 29th October at 6.30 p.m.

AMELIA BULLMORE'S radio series Craven begins on Radio 4 at 7:45pm on Monday 28th September

ANNA CLEMENTS wrote the episode of Hollyoaks going out on C4 at 6:30pm on Friday 2nd October.

KATE DELIN wrote the episode of Doctors "Wake Up Call" going out on BBC1 at 1:45pm on 28th September.

TIM DYNEVOR wrote the episodes of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm and 8:00pm on Thursday 1st October.

RACHEL FLOWERDAY wrote the episodes of EastEnders going out on BBC1 at 7:30pm on Thursday 1st and at 8:00pm on Friday 2nd October.

JEREMY FRONT'S dramatisation of fellow guild member SIMON BRETT'S A Charles Paris Mystery: the Dead Side of the Mic concludes on Radio 4 at 11:30pm on Wednesday 30th September.

CHRISSIE GITTINS'S first children's poetry collection Now You See Me, Now You... is now available to buy on Amazon (isbn 9780954328801). The book was shortlisted for the CLPE Poetry Award. It includes two Belmont Poetry Prize winning poems and twenty five credits for poems which have been anthologised. Sample poems and illustrations can be found on the children's poetry page of my website

TONY GREEN wrote the episode of Hollyoaks going out on C4 at 6:30pm on Wednesday 30th September.

ANDREW HOLDEN co-wrote the episode of Waking the Dead "End Game" going out on BBC1 at 9:00pm on Sunday 27th September.

JULIE JONES wrote the episode of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 8:30pm on Thursday 1st October.

JOHN KERR wrote the episode of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 8:30pm on Monday 28th September.

NICK KING wrote the episode of Doctors "The Black Widow" going out on BBC1 at 1:45pm on Tuesday 29th September.

ROB KINSMAN wrote the episode of Doctors "Nobody" going out on BBC1 at 1:45pm on Friday 2nd October.

ANDREW KIRK wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Tuesday 29th September.

CAROLINE MITCHELL wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Wednesday 30th September.

ROLAND MOORE created the period drama series Land Girls and wrote the episode Codes of Honour going out on BBC1 at 6:10pm on Sunday 27th September.

P.G. MORGAN won the Emmy for Outstanding Writing in Documentary for the HBO/BBC film ROMAN POLANSKI : WANTED AND DESIRED. The award was shared with director Marina Zenovich and editor Joe Bini.

DAVID NOBBS'S radio comedy The Maltby Collection concludes on Radio 4 at 11:30am on Monday 28th September.

SHARON OAKES wrote the episode of Doctors "Billy Boy" going out on BBC1 at 1:45pm on Thursday 1st October.

HOWARD OVERMAN wrote the episode of Merlin "The Once and Future Queen" going out on BBC1 at 6:40pm on Saturday 26th September.

COLIN WAKEFIELD will be reading from his Verse History of England at an event organised by Poet in the City entitled HEROES AND HEROINES at the National Portrait Gallery on National Poetry Day, Thursday October 8th, at 7:00pm. ( (

SUE WALKER has her fourth psychological thriller, The Burning, published by Penguin, coming out on October 1st. Set in Edinburgh, it centres around a couple, Rowan and Murray Shaw, and their new home. All seems well until Rowan discovers that the house has a dark past. Forty years earlier, Murray’s school friend lived in the house – until his shocking death in an unexplained arson attack. So, what has drawn Murray back to the scene of such terrible memories and what else is he hiding from his wife? Soon, Rowan finds herself investigating her husband's dark past, wherever it may lead....

LAURA WATSON wrote the episode of EastEnders going out on BBC1 at 8:00pm on Monday 28th September.

VICTORIA WOOD's play Talent is being revived at the Menier Chocolate Factory in London SE1 until 14th November(Box Office 020 7907 7060). Set in the world of a talent contest, it was her breakthrough play, first performed at the Sheffield Crucible in 1978.

Stella Duffy interview

On the WGGB website, an interview with Guild member Stella Duffy by Zoë Fairbairns.
It surprises her when she hears people say they like writing. “I don’t, and neither do most of the published writers I know. I like having written. I don’t go, ‘what a glorious sentence!’ I sit there going, ‘is this good enough, will it sell, does it make me happy and can it make them happy too?”
Photo credit: Geraint Lewis

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Tom Stoppard honoured in Japan

Guild member Tom Stoppard has been named as one of the 2009 Praemium Imperiale Laureates by the Japan Arts Association, reports

The award is worth 15 million yen (approximately $163,000).

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Court asked to delay Google Books hearing

From Cade Metz in The Register:
US authors and publishers have asked a federal court to postpone an upcoming hearing set to examine its $125m book-scanning settlement with Google, requesting additional time to address Justice Department concerns over the pact...

The Open Content Alliance - a group of organizations that oppose the project, including Amazon, Microsoft, and the Internet Archive - views today's news an important win.

"This is a huge victory for the many people and organizations who raised significant concerns that this settlement did not serve the public interest, stifled innovation, and restricted competition," reads a statement from the group. "It’s also an enormous loss for Google, which had been saying for months that no changes were necessary to the settlement. Now, that settlement, as we know it, is dead."

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Jana Bennett sees 'market failure' in comedy, children's and drama

From Broadcast:
BBC Vision director Jana Bennett has claimed the economic downturn has turned comedy and drama into “market failure” genres.

Speaking at the BBC Vision Forum for in-house and indie producers, Bennett said the crisis in commercial TV funding meant BBC needed to take extra responsibility in previously buoyant genres.

She said: “We used to think of religion, current affairs, and music and arts as the classic market failure genres – areas of output in which the BBC had a special responsibility. To those, we could now legitimately add children’s, comedy, specialist factual and drama. All these genres could be endangered in this tougher commercial world.”
Update: Bennett also said that BBC Children’s budget is set to increase by at least £25m over the next three years thanks to cost savings at the corporation.

Update (24.09.09): Here's the BBC Press release
Jana Bennett also confirmed that BBC Two's drama spend would increase by 50% over the next three years and that the channel would become the home for BBC Films, "to create a core of distinguished fiction on the channel".
And here's the full transcript of Jana Bennett's speech.

John Collee on Creation

In The Scotsman, screenwriter John Collee talks about his new film about Charles Darwin, Creation, which has already provoked controversy in America.
"I love the notion that there's controversy about it or that it's inspiring debate," says John Collee, who, like Darwin, studied medicine at Edinburgh University and went off on a series of exotic adventures, before pursuing a career as a film writer. "Public acceptance of a scientific truth always lags behind the scientific proof itself."
Creation is released in the UK on Friday.

Diablo Cody 'will sizzle again'

After the worldwide success of her first film, Juno, Diablo Cody became one of Hollywood's best known screenwriters. Now that her second feature script, Jennifer's Body, has fared less well at the box office and with critics, Steven Zeitchik on the Risky Biz blog, warns against writing her off too soon.
There are reasons why the young ones tend to ignite, then flame out (but then sizzle again). Some of it is screenwriters getting so hot they can get anything sold and greenlit. Some of it is about writers drawer-diving for a screenplay that wasn't good enough to get made before their stock rose. And some of it is just about a writer taking a little time to find their voice.
Jennifer's Body is released in the UK on 6th November.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Simon Van Booy wins O'Connor short story prize

From the Irish Examiner:
A British writer Simon Van Booy has won the Frank O’Connor Short Story Award for his collection, Love Begins in Winter. The €35,000 prize is the richest in the world for a short story collection.

Speaking at the award ceremony, held at the Stack Theatre at the Cork School of Music, Mr Van Booy said he was surprised and "very, very grateful" to have won.
Van Booy's debut novel will be published next year.

Emmy Award for Andrew Davies

Andrew Davies's adaptation of the Charles Dickens novel Little Dorrit won seven awards at the American Emmy awards last night, including the prize for Outstanding Miniseries and Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special.

The winners of the Outstanding Drama Series and Outstanding Comedy Series awards were the same as last year - Mad Men and 30 Rock, respectively.

Update: From Wales Online, Guild member Andrew Davies on winning the award:
“Winning an Emmy is very important as it means people really take notice,” said Davies, whose previous credits include Pride And Prejudice, Tipping The Velvet and Bleak House.

“It’s good for the reputation of British drama and all the people who work in the industry.”

Saturday, September 19, 2009

John Wells elected WGAW President

From the Writers Guild of America, West:
The Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) has announced the final results of its 2009 WGAW Officers and Board of Directors election.

The following members were elected to serve as Officers: President – John Wells; Vice President – Tom Schulman; Secretary-Treasurer – David N. Weiss.

"I'm remarkably humbled by the membership returning me to the Presidency of the Guild. I look forward to working with the Board again and to working with David Young and his talented staff to meet the many challenges that lie ahead,” said Wells.
John Wells is a producer and director as well as a highly successful writer. He is best known for his role as executive producer and showrunner of the television series ER.

Wells takes over from Patric M. Verrone as President of the WGAW, a role that he held before from 1999-2001.

Misreading fiction as fact

In The Guardian, following the failure of the case against two Manchester schoolboys based on their diaries, Guild President David Edgar argues that the right to free speech in fiction must be preserved.
A conceptual confusion which has hitherto provided a politician with a populist soundbite, or a tabloid newspaper with a day or two's headlines is now informing the actions of the CPS. Once again, infringement of the principle of free speech has consequences way beyond its presumed constituency.

Mike Stott 1944-2009

Playwright and scriptwriter Mike Stott has died at the age of 65. He wrote stage plays including Funny Peculiar and Ducking Out, TV scripts including Pickersgill People and radio plays and series including Bunn & Co.

There is tribute in The Guardian from Mike Leigh, alongside an obituary by Michael Coveney.
He was best known for one of the most uproariously funny plays of the last half century, Funny Peculiar (capsule summary: "fellatio in the Pennines"), which premiered in a German production in 1973 at the Bochum Schauspielhaus, where the director Peter Zadek was in charge, before storming the Liverpool Everyman in 1975 and then the Mermaid Theatre and the Garrick in London the following year. The play gave riotous expression to Stott's main comic theme, both absurd and liberating – the idea that the permissive society might penetrate the outer reaches of northern, provincial humdrum existence.

No one who saw the 1975 production, directed by Alan Dossor, will forget the sight of Richard Beckinsale as the sexually inquisitive grocer Trevor Tinsley, having fallen into his own cellar while pursued by a village widow, being lovingly serviced under the bedclothes by his wife (played by Julie Walters) while trussed up like a plaster-cast chicken in hospital.

Friday, September 18, 2009

What Guild members are getting up to

JESSE ARMSTRONG and SAM BAIN wrote the episode of Peep Show going out on C4 at 10:00pm on Friday 25th September.

SARAH BAGSHAW wrote the episodes of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm and 8:00pm on Thursday 24th September.

MATHEW EVANS'S dramatisation of Rebus begins on ITV1 with "A Question of Blood" going out at 9:00pm on Friday 25th September.

JEREMY FRONT wrote the episode of A Charles Paris Mystery: the Dead Side of the Mic" going out on Radio 4 at 11:30pm on Wednesday 23rd September.

HENRIETTA HARDY wrote the episode of Doctors "Teotwawki" going out on BBC1 at 1:45pm on Thursday 24th September.

DAWN HARRISON wrote the episode of Doctors "Harry - the Arrow Files" going out on BBC1 at 1:45pm on Wednesday 23rd September.

JONATHAN HARVEY wrote the episodes of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm and 8:30pm on Friday 25th September.

LISA HOLDSWORTH wrote the episode of New Tricks "A Face for Radio" going out on BBC1 at 9:00pm on Thursday 24th September.

TRISTAN LORAINE co-wrote 31 North 62 East which has its theatrical release in the UK on Friday 18th September. Full details on:

NICHOLAS MCINERNY and JONATHAN MYERSON'S radio play Blame the Parents is going out in two parts on Radio 4 at 2:15pm on Monday 21st and Tuesday 22nd September.

DOMINIQUE MOLONEY wrote the episode of Land Girls "Secrets" going out on BBC1 at 6:15pm on Sunday 20th September. The series was created by ROLAND MOORE.

DAVID NOBBS'S radio comedy The Maltby Collection continues on Radio 4 at 11:30am on Monday 21st September.

DEBBIE OATES wrote the episode of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 7:30pm on Monday 21st September.

CHRIS PARKER wrote the episodes of EastEnders going out on BBC1 at 7:30pm on Thursday 24th and 8:00pm on Friday 25th September.

JULIE PARSONS wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Friday 25th September.

JEFF POVEY wrote the episodes of EastEnders going out on BBC1 at 8:00pm on Monday 21st and at 7:30pm on Tuesday 22nd September.

MARC PYE wrote the episode of River City, going out on BBC1 Scotland at 8:00pm on Tuesday 22nd.

MARK RAVENHILL appears with Bette Bourne in A Life In Three Acts at the Soho Theatre from 21 - 27 September 2009

MICHAEL RUSSELL wrote the episode of Midsomer Murders "The Glitch" going out on ITV1 at 8:00pm on Wednesday 23rd September.

STEPHEN RUSSELL wrote the episode of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 7:30pm on Wednesday 23rd September.

ALISTAIR RUTHERFORD has a new play, The Lazar House, in the St. Ives September Festival. Performed by Hydrae Theatre and directed by Steve Tyrrell it will run on Sat 19th and Sun 20th at the St. Ives Theatre, Cornwall.

SHELLEY SILAS'S radio play I Am Emma Humphreys is going out on Radio 4 at 9:00pm on Friday 25th September.

CATH STAINCLIFFE wrote the episode of Blue Murder "Tooth and Claw" going out on ITV1 at 9:00pm on Monday 21st September.

BILL TAYLOR wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Monday 21st September.

ALINE WAITES'S Supernatural: A Journey into Unbridled Terror is being performed by the Giant Olive Theatre Company from 24th till 28th November at 7:30pm, with a matinee run on 28th and 29th November at 3:30pm. Then from 5th December till 10th January, Saturday matinee at 3:30pm and Sundays and Mondays at 7:30pm. to book: go to or call 08444 771 000.

ED WHITMORE so-wrote the episode of Waking the Dead "Substitute" going out on BBC1 at 9:00pm on Sunday 20th September.

Frank Deasy 1960-2009

Screenwriter and Guild member Frank Deasy has died at the age of 49.

Born in Dublin, Deasy's credits include the miniseries Looking After Jo Jo, Real Men, England Expects and the final miniseries of Prime Suspect.

There's a report by Jason Deans in The Guardian containing tributes to Deasy.
[Actor Dougray Scott said]: "He was quite simply the most extraordinary and brilliant writer I have ever worked with and one of the most extraordinary and beautiful men I was blessed to have met. Whenever I spent time or talked with Frank I always felt the warmth, wisdom and sheer joy of life that I remember getting from my own father. That's how special he was to me."
Deasy wrote about his liver cancer in The Observer last Sunday.

Obituaries to follow.

Update: Tributes on the RTÉ website.
Jane Gogan, Commissioning Editor for Drama, RTÉ Television, said: "Frank Deasy was a writer for television and film who brought a tremendous honesty and passionate intensity to his work. Professionally Frank was coming into his own, working on a range of projects that were all major subjects: the 'Medicis' with BBC, a film project with Ridley Scott based on Philip K Dick's 'The Man in the High Castle' and, closest to his heart, was 'Gaza', a film that will star Helen Mirren. He was also preparing to start on a project for RTÉ following a family across 100 years.
Update: More from BBC News and The Scotsman. Tributes on Twitter.

Update: Obituary by Ronald Bergan in The Guardian.
The Passion, the gospel according to Deasy, which the BBC screened at Easter 2008, seemed in contrast to his other work, except for the strong human values. "What I personally was fascinated by was the duality of Jesus in his divinity and his humanity," Deasy told Christian Today. "This is essentially a mystery, but his humanity has to be total, otherwise he is somewhat of a tourist in his own Passion. I've tried to find a human truth that feels real and that is not always the same as a theological truth, and so I would hope that people would be open to the fact they are watching a piece of drama rather than a theological treatise."

Top-slicing debate

In The Guardian, Jeremy Dear of the National Union of Journalists, argues that rather than top-slicing from the BBC's licence fee, additional revenue for public service broadcasting could be raised from a levy on commercial companies.
We are told these levies are politically impossible and would drive up the costs of services. Yet in countries where they are imposed, we find that the cost to the consumer is often lower.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Tough market for filmmakers in Toronto

By Michael Cieply at the Toronto Film Festival for The New York Times:
Mr. [Dean] Zanuck, speaking by telephone at noon on Monday, said he was standing outside the Ryerson Theater, watching for potential buyers who might be attending a screening. “We’ve all realized gone are the days of the overnight sale,” he said. “Everyone is coming in with great caution.”

In fact, the cocktail party chatter here has been less about the big score than about so-called service deals (in which the filmmaker pays to put a movie in theaters) or, in the latest catch-phrase, do-it-yourself distribution.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

First-time showrunners

In The Hollywood Reporter, Nellie Andreeva talks to showrunners on American TV series about taking on the role for the first time.
While TV series continue to be dominated by "name" showrunners with years spent in the trenches, increasingly networks -- particularly on the cable side -- are rolling the dice with first-time creator-showrunners. The two most-nominated series at this month's Emmys, AMC's "Mad Men" and NBC's "30 Rock," are run by newbies Matthew Weiner and Tina Fey, respectively. Sure, Weiner had deep roots at HBO's "The Sopranos" and Fey ruled NBC's "Saturday Night Live," but they also hadn't run series before.

And they're not alone. This year's drama series Emmy category features a majority of first-time showrunners, including Weiner; Mark V. Olsen and Will Scheffer (HBO's "Big Love"); Glenn Kessler, Todd Kessler and Daniel Zelman (FX's "Damages"); and Damon Lindelof (who co-runs ABC's "Lost" with veteran Carlton Cuse).
See also the associated special report on showrunners(pdf)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Troy Kennedy Martin 1932 – 2009

Troy Kennedy Martin, one of the most influential British screenwriters of all time, has died at the age of 77.

He co-created (with Allan Prior) the classic police series Z-Cars in 1962 and wrote The Italian Job for the big screen. Other credits in a varied writing career included TV series Edge Of Darkness and feature film Red Heat (with Harry Kleiner & Walter Hill).

Obituaries and tributes to follow.

Update: Troy Kennedy Martin was a long-standing member of the Guild and, from 1980, Chair of the Guild's Censorship Committee.

In 1963, at the Writers’ Guild Awards, he was joint winner (with Allan Prior and John Hopkins) of the award for Best British Dramatic Series/Serial Scripts – for Z-Cars.

Update (16/09/2009): Articles in The Guardian and Netribution, and an obituary in The Times.
He wrote the first episode [of Z-Cars], which went out in January 1962, when he was not yet 30. It immediately signalled a new departure for police TV series, introducing a degree of realism never before seen. The police were seen as fallible, smoking and gambling while on duty and being violent towards their wives, He wrote several more of the early scripts and supervised others. But while the series was critcally acclaimed, and drew large audiences, Kennedy Martin soon became disillusioned and left. He felt that Z-Cars had moved away from his original intention of using the police as a device to explore people’s lives.

From The Telegraph:
Kennedy Martin's next large-scale series for the BBC [more than 20 years after Z-Cars] – hailed by Sean Day-Lewis in The Daily Telegraph as a masterpiece – was Edge of Darkness. Frustrated that "at the BBC there was no political dimension to drama whatsoever", Kennedy Martin fashioned the original eco-thriller, starring Bob Peck as a Yorkshire detective searching for the killer of his beautiful daughter (Joanne Whalley), who had been shot dead in front of him in the opening episode.

With the detective becoming drawn into the murky worlds of nuclear power and secret intelligence, Kennedy Martin skilfully captured pre-détente fears about nuclear warfare. He infused his script with a dark, Gothic feel which The Sunday Telegraph critic John Preston acclaimed as "the most gripping thing I've ever seen on television". It won three Baftas.
Bob Peck in Edge Of Darkness

And an obituary in The Guardian:
"Very often he wrote 'spec' – uncommissioned – scripts," recalls his agent, Elaine Steel. "With Edge of Darkness, the BBC didn't know what they were getting. It started out as a thing about the Knights Templar. When he was talking to aspiring film writers, he would say that you shouldn't write to a formula. You should start writing where you felt like writing, and that might mean starting in the middle of the script, as he sometimes did."

TV repeats strategy 'is flawed'

By Chris Curtis in Broadcast: Broadcasters are employing “20th century tactics with 21st century technologies” such as +1 channels and failing to capitalise on ad sales around repeats, a report has claimed.

According to research house Digital-i’s Strategies for Maximising Audience and Advertising in a Time-Shifting World, broadcasters are failing to exploit the significantly increased audiences that repeats generate.

Digital-i managing director Ali Vahdati said broadcasters were “still living in the 70s” and not thinking enough about the life cycle of their programming.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Larry Gelbart 1928-2009

American writer Larry Gelbart, best known as one of the main creators of the TV series M*A*S*H and for co-writing the hit film Tootsie, has died at the age of 81.

There are numerous obituaries, including in The Telegraph and The New York Times.

There are also articles by those who knew and worked with him, including actor Alan Alda and writer Ken Levine:
Larry always sent thank you notes. Larry always dropped you a line wishing you well on your upcoming project. Larry always returned phone calls. Larry always emailed you right back. Larry even left comments on my blog. I half expect a thank you note for this essay.

His legacy will last forever. His work was timeless, universal, steeped in humanity, and brilliant. MASH will always air eight times a night, TOOTSIE and OH GOD! will forever be on your screens (be they 64” plasmas or 2” iPods), FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM, and CITY OF ANGELS will be revived as long as there are stages...

Enjoy the work of Larry Gelbart. You will laugh until you hurt. And for those of us who were blessed to have known him, we will hurt until we laugh.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Arts Council England recruiting Artistic Assessors

From an Arts Council England press release:
Arts Council England is recruiting 150 people with knowledge and understanding of the arts to carry out assessments of the work of its regularly funded organisations.

The assessors will report on the full range of artforms – music, literature, dance, visual art, theatre and combined arts – including specialisms such as work for children and young people, culturally specific arts and disability-led arts. They are expected to come from a diverse range of backgrounds and practice, and may include artists, arts managers, academics and critics.

Their reports will feed into the Arts Council’s ongoing artistic evaluation of regularly funded organisations, providing a broader evidence base to help inform its funding decisions. The new assessors will begin work in January 2010.

Andrew Nairne, Executive Director Arts Strategy for Arts Council England said:

“The new Artistic Assessors will enrich and broaden our views about the artistic excellence of the organisations we fund.

“We want to appoint people with knowledge and understanding of the arts, who will value the opportunity to see a wide range of work. We expect their assessments will benefit the organisations whose work they see and encourage more discussion about artistic quality.

“This is an important step forward in the Arts Council’s plan to work more closely with artists and arts organisations to ensure that audiences experience art of the highest quality.”

Assessors will be awarded a two-year contract for services. They will be asked to write between 10 and 14 reports a year and will be paid a flat fee of £1,000 a year plus expenses.

Assessors will be eligible to apply for a second two year contract, but must then stand down for a period of at least two years before they may apply again. This is to help ensure that there is a reasonable turnover of assessors and that work is assessed by a variety of qualified people.

The aim is to appoint 150 people this year and a further 150 in 2010, so that 300 assessors are ultimately available, with half of them being replaced or re-appointed each year.

The Arts Council’s proposal to introduce the new scheme of artistic assessments was the subject of major consultation exercise at the end of 2008. The proposal was broadly welcomed and, in spring 2009, the new system was piloted in the South East and North West and revised using feedback from the pilot assessors and organisations.

The new scheme will roll out across the country from January 2010.

Further information about the Artistic Assessment scheme and how to apply to become an assessor can be found at The closing date for applications is 9 October.
In The Guardian, Lyn Gardner is unconvinced about how well this system will work for theatre.
Who will assess these theatre assessors? My concerns are that they will inevitably be a self-selecting group, that it will take time for their individual foibles and interests to emerge and so will be hard to judge the reliability of their reports.

Product placement for TV to be approved

From BBC News:
Product placement is to be allowed on British TV shows, in a move due to be announced next week.

Independent broadcasters will be allowed to take payments for displaying commercial products during shows.

The change is intended to bring in extra funds for commercial broadcasters. Experts believe it could raise up to £100m a year.

There are currently strict rules against product placement and this ban would remain in place on BBC shows.

Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw is expected to announce a three-month consultation on the changes in a speech to the Royal Television Society next week.
The previous Culture Secretary, Andy Burnham, had rejected calls for product placement.

Update: The lifting of the ban has not yet been confirmed, reports The Telegraph.
Mr Bradshaw announced a three-month consultation period over proposals to lift a ban on allowing broadcasters to take payments for displaying branded products during shows – but restrictions are expected to remain in force for children's television and BBC programmes.

He told the Royal Television Society Convention: "We'll consult on this shortly and would hope to have any change in place in the New Year."

Friday, September 11, 2009

What Guild members are getting up to

SALLY ABBOTT wrote the episode of Doctors "The Very Thought of You" going out on BBC1 at 1:45pm on Wednesday 16th September.

MARTIN ALLEN wrote the episode of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 8:30pm on Thursday 17th September.

JESSE ARMSTRONG and SAM BAIN'S new series of Peep Show begins on C4 at 10:00pm on Friday 18th September.

MIKE BARTLETT'S new series Liam is going out on Radio 4 at 7:45pm on Monday 14th till Friday 18th September.

RICHARD BURKE wrote the episodes of Hollyoaks going out on C4 at 6:30pm on Monday 14th and Thursday 17th September.

STEPHEN CHURCHETT'S dramatization of Agatha Christie's Marple "Murder is Easy" is going out on ITV1 at 8:00pm on Sunday 13th September.

MARY CUTLER wrote the episodes of The Archers going out on Radio 4 at 7:00pm from Sunday 13th till Friday 18th September with each episode being repeated at 2:00pm the day following its original broadcast.

GREGORY EVANS wrote the episode of The Bill "Trust Me" going out on ITV1 at 9:00pm on Thursday 17th September.

JULIA GILBERT wrote the episode of EastEnders going out on BBC1 at 7:30pm on Thursday 17th September.

EMILIA DI GIROLAMO wrote the episode of EastEnders going out on BBC1 at 7:00pm on Tuesday 15th September.

JAYNE HOLLINSON wrote the episode of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 7:30pm on Friday 18th September.

NEIL JONES wrote the episode of Blue Murder "Inside" going out on ITV1 at 9:00pm on Monday 14th September.

BILL LYONS wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Thursday 17th September.

SUE MOONEY wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Wednesday 16th September.

ROLAND MOORE created and wrote the BBC1 period drama series Land Girls that starts a repeat run on Sunday 13th September at 6.15pm.

DAVID NOBBS'S radio drama The Maltby Collection continues on Radio 4 at 11:30pm on Monday 14th September.

PAUL ROUNDELL wrote the episodes of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Monday 14th and Tuesday 15th September.

DANNY STACK wrote the episode of Roy “On the Run” going out on CBBC on Wednesday 16th September at 4.30pm (repeated on Saturday 19th Sept, 9.30am). Danny’s also in the final stages of post-production on his short film Origin, starring Katy Carmichael and Lee Ross. Watch the trailer here -

JUDE TINDALL wrote the episode of Doctors "The Open Road" going out on BBC1 at 1:45pm Thursday 17th September.

MARK TOUHY'S radio play The Milk Race is going out on Radio 4 at 2:15pm on Friday 18th September.

JOE TURNER wrote the episodes of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 7:30pm and 8:30pm on Monday 14th September.

ANDREW VINER wrote the first episode of My Almost Famous Family, going out on BBC2 at 10am on Saturday 12th September.

KATHARINE WAY wrote the episode of Doctors "Fifteen Minutes" going out on BBC1 at 1:45pm on Tuesday 15th September.

PETER WHALLEY wrote the episode of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 8:30pm on Friday 18th September.

Guild backs BBC independence campaign

From the Guild office:

The Writers’ Guild is joining other entertainment and media unions in a postcard campaign to oppose 'top slicing' of the BBC licence fee. The Government proposes to take a percentage of the licence fee – which goes only to the BBC – to fund commercial broadcasters, but the unions believe this idea threatens to cut funding for BBC programmes and compromise its independence.

Included with the Autumn 2009 issue of the Guild's magazine UK Writer you will find a postcard that you can sign and send to the Culture Secretary, Ben Bradshaw. It only takes a minute of your time and a second-class stamp, so please join in the campaign. If you haven’t received your mailing yet, it should arrive in the next few days.

The other unions taking part are Equity, the Musicians Union, the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) and the technicians’ union BECTU. The Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom is also involved. For more details about the campaign or to sign up for updates please visit the NUJ website.

PLR Ireland

From UK Public Lending Right (PLR):
The new Irish PLR system is being run by The Library Council in Dublin. Further information regarding the Scheme is available on their website.

The Library Council is now accepting applications directly to its office in Dublin. However, we have agreed to offer those authors currently registered with UK PLR the opportunity to have their personal and registered book details transferred automatically to the Irish system.
Thanks to Jason Arnopp for the link.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Google Books metadata problems

Courtesy of Freakonomics, an article by Geoffrey Nunberg about the problems with metadata in Google's Book Search.

There's some pretty hard-core technicalities about the problems of digital cataloguing that went over my head but the article and subsequent comments provide an insight into the scale and significance of Google's Book Search project (regardless of what happens with the Google Books Settlement for books in copyright).

The Language Log blog on which Nunberg's article appears is well worth a look - including a post from the Google Books Settlement conference at Berkeley last month.

James Patterson's $150m deal

By Lauren Streib for Forbes:
When Hachette Book Group announced a landmark deal with author James Patterson on Tuesday, the numbers were stunning. It calls for him to churn out 17 books through 2012, 11 for adult readers and six for young adult readers. A source familiar with the terms estimates it to be worth at least $150 million to Patterson.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

$150 million Rings settlement

By Jenny Booth in The Times:
Time Warner has agreed to pay an estimated $150 million to the heirs of JRR Tolkien after a legal dispute over profits from the Lord Of The Rings films.

Christopher Tolkien, 84, and Priscilla, 80, said they sued the film company after it failed hand over a single penny from the gross revenues of the multi-Oscar-winning film trilogy, which took $2.96 billion at the box office worldwide.
The settlement came out of court, with the case due to go to court in Los Angeles next month.

Tony Kushner on Mother Courage

Tony Kushner's new translation of Mother Courage And Her Children opens at the National Theatre tomorrow.

In The Guardian, he presents his view of the play.
Like all great plays, Mother Courage instructs; like all great plays, its instruction flashes forth from a churning, disorienting action. Clarity is intended, but the confusion is no accident. What Courage shows us will escape our judgement – but it remains infinitely available to our struggles to understand.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

EU statement on digital books and copyright

Viviane Reding, European Union Commissioner for Information Society and Media, and Charlie McCreevy, Commissioner for the Internal Market and Services, have made a joint statement setting out some of the issues relating to book digitisation in Europe.

The statement came ahead of a series of workshops and meetings this week considering book digitisation and the implications of the Google Book Settlement.

"Europe is facing a very important cultural and economic challenge," the statement says. "Only some 1% of the books in Europe's national libraries have been digitised so far, leaving an enormous task ahead of us, but also opening up new cultural and market opportunities. A better understanding of the interests involved will help the Commission to define a truly European solution in the interest of European consumers. We believe that such a European solution should breathe fresh life into this issue and could give every citizen with an internet connection access to millions of books that today lie hidden on dusty shelves. Our aim is to blow away stale stereotypes that hindered debate in the past and focus on finding the best approach that today's technology will allow us to take in the future, while giving a new boost to cultural creation in the digital age."

The statement continues: "It goes without saying that digitisation of copyrighted works must fully respect copyright rules and fairly reward authors, who could be the biggest winners from better access to a Europe-wide online audience. However, we also need to take a hard look at the copyright system we have today in Europe."

Responding to the statement Guild General Secretary, Bernie Corbett, said:

"Reding and McCreevy have not been bad commissioners from our point of view (though far from perfect) and I welcome this initiative. I don’t oppose the Google settlement, as it flows from a victory for the US Authors Guild and on the whole seems fair to writers of out-of-print books while also making these books accessible once more.

"There are some vociferous critics of the settlement, but they don’t seem to be suggesting an alternative. I agree there should be more than one such project, including a European one (in fact there is, it is called Europeana, but no one has heard of it).

"I like the idea of using this issue as a peg on which to hang a new attempt at a Europe-wide copyright regime. The last attempt at harmonisation was frankly a failure and has left us with a directive that simply reproduces all the different systems across Europe and permits each member state to pick and choose its own favourite bits.

"If it is possible to have a genuine new law for the digital age, the likelihood is that a European law would be better for UK writers than a UK-only law, which would be likely to lean more heavily to the US model, favouring corporations and consumer interests over creators."

Monday, September 07, 2009

Adapting Where The Wild Things Are

I've read Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak out loud countless times in the past six months and it never loses its magic. In fact, I enjoy it more with each re-telling.

In an article by Saki Knafo for The New York Times, Spike Jonze reveals that he initially rejected an invitation to direct a film adaptation:
Though he loved the book, he didn’t see how he could expand a 10-sentence story into an hour-and-a-half-long movie. As Jonze put it to me: “How do you adapt a poem?”
However, after numerous discussions with Sendak, he changed his mind and, along with Dave Eggers, wrote a screenplay.
In the spring of 2005, Jonze presented the script and his production ideas to Universal. The meeting didn’t go well. One issue was the cost, but the bigger problem, according to Jonze, was with the script. As Eggers explained it to me, the executives were unhappy that there wasn’t “any real easy plot arc: ‘Let’s go find the chalice! Where is it? Here are some people we meet along the way.’ ”
Universal passed, but Warner Brothers took the project on and, after a somwhat bumpy passage to the screen, Where The Wild Things Are (official website with short documentary about the film's origins) will be released in the UK on 16th October 2009.

A novelisation, The Wild Things by Dave Eggers, will be published at on 29th October 2009. An excerpt is available in The New Yorker.

Katherine Butler named Film 4 commissioner

From Chris Curtis for Broadcast:
Film 4 has promoted head of development Katherine Butler to senior commissioning executive.

In her new role, Butler will oversee Film4’s low budget films and work closely with new talent. She replaces Peter Carlton, who recently left the company to join Warp Films.

Free Word Festival

Eight literary and 'free expression' organisations have joined together to create Free Word, "a venue, a meeting place, an office space, a thinking space, a place of debate and risk taking, a window to the world, a robust voice for the word."

The organisations - Apples and Snakes, Article 19, Booktrust, English PEN, Index on Censorship, The Arvon Foundation, The Literary Consultancy, The Reading Agency - have been working together on the project for several years and have secured funding from Fritt Ord and the Arts Council to open premises in Farringdon.

The first Free Word Festival will run from 16 September - 9 October 2009. Full details of all the events are on the Free Word Festival website.

Update: In The Guardian, Ursula Owen introduces Free Word.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Mobilising Land Girls

On the Writers' Guild website Roland Moore explains how he set about writing BBC One's first ever daytime period drama, Land Girls.
I wanted each episode to be set three months on from the previous one (so I could follow one particular story strand to its conclusion). This gave a unique format for the series and really stretched our storytelling – after all, it would be three months on from any cliff-hanger by the time we rejoined the story.
Land Girls starts on BBC One on 7 September at 5.15pm, and will also be available on the BBC iPlayer.

Keith Waterhouse 1929-2009

Keith Waterhouse - journalist, novelist and dramatist - has died at the age of 80.

In addition to his journalism, Waterhouse's range of credits is extraordinary, including Billy Liar (the novel and, with Willis Hall, the play and film adaptations), Whistle Down The Wind (adapted with Willis Hall from Mary Hayley Bell's novel) and Jeffrey Bernard Is Unwell. His TV credits range from contributions to That Was The Week That Was and The Frost Report to episodes of Worzel Gummidge.

There are obituaries in The Guardian, The Times, The Independent, The Times and The Telegraph:
Waterhouse was given his own column by the Mirror in 1960, and colleagues observed that he often had to be sick before he could produce his copy. But once he had started to work from home, he managed to develop a congenial routine. He began with a long perusal of the national papers before setting to work on an old Adler typewriter to the accompaniment of Radio 3. He would then enjoy an expensive champagne lunch (an event of such importance that he wrote a book on the subject).

What Guild members are getting up to

MARTIN ALLEN wrote the episode of Coronation Street going out on ITV1 at 8:30pm on Thursday 10th September.

TRACEY BLACK wrote the episode of Doctors "Hello, Hello, Hello" going out on BBC1 at 1:45pm on Tuesday 8th September.

PAUL COATES wrote the episode of Hollyoaks going out on C4 at 6:30pm on Friday 11st September.

DECLAN CROGHAN wrote the first episode of the new series of Waking the Dead "Magdalene 26" going out on BBC1 at 9:00pm on Sunday 6th September.

KEVIN ELYOT wrote the first episode of the new series Agatha Christie's Marple "A Pocket Full of Rye" going out on ITV1 in four episodes, the first of which is at 8:00pm on Sunday 6th September.

LISA EVANS has been appointed Associate Writer at Theatre by the Lake, Keswick.

ALISON FISHER wrote the episode of EastEnders going out on BBC1 at 8:00pm o n Friday 11th September.

JEREMY FRONT wrote the episode of A Charles Paris Mystery: the Dead Side of the Mic" going out on Radio 4 at 11:30pm on Wednesday 9th September.

STEVE GRIFFITHS wrote the first episode of the new series Blue Murder "Having It All" going out on ITV1 at 9:00pm on Monday 7th September.

JONATHAN HARVEY wrote the episodes of Coronation Street going out ITV1 at 7:30pm and 8:30pm on Friday 11th September.

COLIN HOUGH'S radio play Meryl The Mounted is going out on Radio 4 at 2:15pm on Tuesday 8th September.

DAVID KANE wrote the first episode of the third series of Rebus "The Black Book" going out on ITV1 at 9:00pm on Friday 11th September.

PETER KERRY wrote the episodes of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm and 8:00pm on Thursday 10th September.

ROY MITCHELL and DOUGLAS WILKINSON co-wrote the episode of New Tricks "Spare Parts" going out on BBC1 at 9:00pm on Thursday 10th September.

ROLAND MOORE created Land Girls and wrote episodes 1,2,3, and 5 going out on BBC1 at 5:15pm on 7th, 8th, 9th and 11th September.

DAVID NOBBS'S radio series The Malty Collection continues on Radio 4 at 11:30am on Monday 7th September.

JANE PEARSON wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Friday 11th September.

CAROLE SIMPSON-SOLAZZO wrote the episodes of The Archers going out on Radio 4 from Sunday 6th till Friday 11st September with each episode being repeated at 2:00pm the day following its original broadcast.

CHRIS THOMPSON wrote the episode of Emmerdale going out on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Monday 7th September.

STEPHEN WYATT'S radio play Farewell Symphony which stars Richard Briers as Joseph Haydn is going out on Radio 3 at 7:55pm on Thursday 10th September.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Dick Berg 1922-2009

American scriptwriter and producer Dick Berg, a pioneer of the made-for-TV-film format, has died at the age of 87.

There are obituaries in The Hollywood Reporter and by Dawn C. Chmielewski in The LA Times:
Berg's son A. Scott Berg, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author, said his father encouraged his children by example. Some of his most vivid childhood memories are of his father, hunched over in his office, writing on a yellow legal pad with a No. 2 pencil.

"I grew up with such a strong image of a writer at work. That's who my father was to me. To my brothers, he was more of a producer at work," Scott Berg said. "He would always say, 'You kids don't want to go into show business.' And there would be a wink of the eye, because we knew he loved it and we saw how well he did it."
Berg's credits include Johnny Staccato, a series he created for NBC.

Mike Judge on his new film, Extract

In The LA Times, Lisa Rosen talks to Mike Judge about Beavis and Butthead, Idiocracy and his new film, Extract.
After his shorts were featured on the MTV show "Liquid Television," MTV then decided to spin one off into a series called "Beavis and Butt-Head," about two head-banging, emotionally stunted teenage couch potatoes who wreak unintended havoc on just about everyone they encounter. Going to New York to work on the show, he felt completely out of his league. "I'm just this guy from Texas sitting in the recording studio doing this dumb laugh, and these people are staring at me not laughing," he says. "It was like 'OK, I have to just believe in this myself.' "
Beavis and Butthead have now returned to give their take on Extract (which, sadly, doesn't seem to have a UK release date yet):

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Writers' Guild membership survey

Guild members are invited to give their views of the services the union offers - from the weekly ebulletin to contract vetting and legal advice.

All current members, whether they joined 30 years ago or 3 days ago, are encouraged to take the survey. It's only short.

You can take the survey online now.

The survey closes on Monday 14th September.

The case against the Google Book Settlement

The fate of the Google Book Settlement is in the balance pending a 'fairness hearing' in US District Court on 7 October but for BBC News, Bill Thompson argues that we should not let Google become the world's digital librarian.
...the project of digitising the information held in the world's printed books is too important to be dealt with purely as a commercial venture between rights holders and a potential supplier of services.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Edinburgh TV Festival: David Simon interview

In The Guardian, video of David Simon (creator of The Wire) interviewed by Charlie Brooker.

"There was always a writer on set..." (30.50)

"Some of the worst arguments I've had have been in The Wire writing room. And every one of them has made the show better." (34.30)

HBO Exec after first episodes failed to bring in large numbers of viewers: "We like the show, don't worry about ratings." (46.55)

International literary festivals

In The Independent, Philip Hensher considers the nature of international literary festivals in general and the Melbourne Writers' Festival in particular:
Bemusing to the participating writer, the international literary festival must present a gripping spectacle to the observing anthropologist. Some writers treat it as a brute Darwinian struggle for survival, and to many participants, the festival is an opportunity for status adjustment and display. There are the local heroes with an international fame, returning like rock stars, arms aloft. But there are, too, the local writers whom not even Melbourne is quite sure about. They have a habit of packing their recitations with nine acolytes bearing pre-prepared questions; they audaciously make a point of disagreeing with larger reputations as publicly as possible.

Italian writers defend press freedom

From Richard Owen in The Times:
Italy’s artistic and intellectual elite was in open revolt yesterday against Silvio Berlusconi’s moves to sue at least three newspapers at home and abroad. More than 120,000 people have signed an online petition defending press freedom.

Umberto Eco, perhaps the country’s leading writer, Dario Fo, the playwright, and Roberto Saviano, author of Gomorrah, the bestseller about the Naples Mafia, were among those signing the petition, started by La Repubblica.

Comedy and drama succeed on iPlayer

As Chris Curtis reports for Broadcast, comedy and drama shows have been among the most-watched on the BBC iPlayer.
BBC Vision controller of multiplatform and portfolio Simon Nelson said: “Comedy is really punching above its weight as people are looking online for something funny. They’re after good snackable content.”

...He added that drama performed well, “arguably better than linear” when it comes to sustaining an audience over a series.

Writing For Games - Leeds

Game Republic in association with BAFTA present:

Writing For Games

Tuesday 8th September, 6pm
3 Albion Place, Leeds LS1 6JL

The games industry was worth £4bn in the UK alone last year, and Yorkshire and Humber boasts some of the world's most successful studios including Team 17 (with Worms and Alien Breed Evolution), Rockstar Leeds (makers of Grand Theft Auto games for Nintendo DS and Sony PSP) and Sumo Digital (creators of Virtua Tennis 2009 and OutRun Online Arcade for SEGA.)

Writing For Games is a free networking event and panel discussion about writing narrative for games, featuring some of the industry's top developers, producers and writers including Charles Cecil, founder of Revolution (Broken Sword, Beneath a Steel Sky), John Dennis, Design Manager at Team 17 (Worms, Alien Breed Evolution), Andy Walsh, Writer (Prince of Persia, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix) and Marek Walton from The Mustard Corporation (Driver, Virtua Tennis 3).

Writing For Games will also introduce the first details of the games strand of Screen Yorkshire's PAGE ONE scheme, that aims to get new writers or writers from different media from the Yorkshire and Humber region into games scripting, complete with mentoring from world-renowned local games company Team 17.