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Award Season 2017: And The Nominees Are… Split & No Director-ess?

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent

During Award Season when Hollywood has the limelight, and this includes every major guild and member-based award show up until the 89th Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, there is a shopworn practice of splitting the Nominations announcements in the news, setting up anticipation for several different dates for the same organization. DGAlogo17For example, today Jan. 11, the Directors Guild of America (DGA) announced its TV, Commercial and Documentary Nominees, with Feature Film category to be announced later in the week. That’s a minor inconvenience if you’re covering this major award show, but events such as this year’s 22nd Critics Choice Awards announced their TV Nominations on Nov. 17, 2016, followed by Film Nominations on Dec. 1. However vast the Critics Choice Awards audience may or may not be, the bisection of news announcements cuts into coverage for higher profile shows right in this key period during award season. WGAlogo

The Writers Guild of America (WGA) splits screenplay and new media nominees on different dates as well, with TV, New Media, Radio, News, Promo Writing as well as Graphic Animation nominations on Dec. 5, 2016, with WGA features film and documentary screenplay noms on Jan. 4, 2017.  While this almost makes sense for the WGA to highlight the inherent pay and status difference between full blown Hollywood films as opposed to New Media webisodes, the bifurcation distracts from other breaking news.

Morgan Freeman feted at PGA Produced by Event (credit: Mark Gordon)

Morgan Freeman feted at PGA Produced by Event (credit: Mark Gordon)

The Producers Guild of America (PGA) announced nominations for Documentary on Nov. 22, 2016, with TV and Digital Media on Jan. 5, followed by headliner PGA suite of awards for feature films on Jan. 10. The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) on the other hand, made only one major announcement on Dec. 14, 2016.

During the official start of award season in November through the official end with the Oscars in February, the slate of news items include – roughly in order of nominations announcements – Critics Choice Awards, the Gotham Awards, British Independent Film Awards (BIFA), European Film Awards, AMPAS Governors Awards, Independent Spirit Awards, Golden Globe Awards, Annie Awards, National Board of Review, New York Critics Circle Awards, WGA Awards, SAG Awards, DGA Awards, PGA Awards.

Vintage Golden Globes signage.

Vintage Golden Globes signage.

Add the Art Directors Guild Awards, Visual Effects Society Awards, Eddie Awards, also for make-up and costume, along with other regional critics award shows. It’s exhausting.

When you divide up Nominations Announcements for the various organizations as they break down the press releases for certain categories, an already packed agenda becomes almost unmanageable.

So why all the split news releases? Especially when the window for world news, post-election news, and general global events is so crowded right now? The positive spin is extra media attention for lesser known categories. A negative spin is that this fragmentation of press alerts drags down the entire award show season, which results in award show fatigue.

How did this practice get started? Look to the Academy with its Oscar presentation and various life achievement awards. Without exception, all on-the-map events during award season follow the AMPAS leader here. But let’s be realistic, the Academy Awards presentation is a singular and storied event unmatched by any other ceremony in Hollywood history.

Oscar for Hattie McDaniel (Gone With The Wind) in 1940 ceremony, just a few years after Supporting category established.

[Oscar for Hattie McDaniel (GWTW) in 1940, after Supporting category est. 1937.]

After 1928 when the Oscar was known as The Award of Merit, presented in only 12 categories as decided by only a seven-member committee, the first Academy Award ceremony happened May 16, 1929 with a 270-person audience in the Blossom Room of the Roosevelt Hotel. It wasn’t until 1930’s that the show was broadcast on radio. In 1935, Film Editing, Music Scoring and Song as a category was added, even before Best Supporting Actor and Actress in 1937.

Visual Effects was added to the statuette column in 1939 with 20th Century Fox as the first winner. The Thalberg Award was created the previous year, 1938. Foreign Language Film as an accolade debuted in 1947, with Italy the first country to win this Oscar.

The picture that emerges here is the scope of the Academy Awards and the necessity of splitting the news as it details the history of Hollywood’s film industry itself. The same can not be said for the plethora of award shows that followed. LeoAcademyMemeSo, during award season 2017, maybe we’ve reached critical saturation of the so-called breaking news snippets. Additionally, not to harp on it, but when the incoming US President career-shamed legend Meryl Streep as an “overrated actress” it became clear that this issue of gender in nomination categories needs to be addressed once and for all, by the Academy on down. We don’t say “director-ess” or “producer-ess” — so we might as well call everyone Actor. The new categories should be established as Best Lead Actor (Female); Best Lead Actor (Male); Best Supporting Actor (Female), and on throughout the acting categories.

Consider this putting the shows on notice, in the nicest way, on the heels of a very contentious award season in 2016, hoping for better things from 2017 and beyond.

[Editor’s Note: (More history of the Academy Awards can be found on http://www.oscars.org/academy-story.]

SCREENMANCER is a gathering place for people who make movies and write about movies, TV, New Media, and announce it all only once.

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25 Clues Meryl Streep Is Not Overrated: Out of the “Sandra Dee Box” & Into A Twitter War

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent

So, here’s the story, as they say in the movies… Sunday night Jan. 8, at the Golden Globes hosted by Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), award-winning actor/legend Meryl Streep stepped in it by “calling out” the new US President-Elect with a pointed speech on bullying as an undesirable trait. Long story, short, the soon-to-be-installed President Donald J. Trump, ignited a Twitter firefight in which he dubbed Streep as among the most “overrated” actors in Hollywood.

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Well, in this tiny press window before the 89th Oscar ceremony on Sunday, Feb. 26, let’s get one thing straight: there are many overrated actors in Hollywood, but New Jersey-native Streep is not one of them. Without naming names, those actors know who they are – but do we really know who Meryl Streep is?

Just look at the interwebs traffic spikes since the Trump Twitter war started, then scroll below for the real deal on America’s (Elder) Sweetheart.

25 reasons Streep isn’t just hype… some obscure & just plain fun ones

1. Was inspired mostly by Mary, her mother, “who lit up a room” and was of Irish extraction. Also wished “my mother and father were alive to hear” the news of her Kennedy Center honor.

2. Streep’s Aunt Jane apparently didn’t think Meryl was an attractive child, also too bossy. It took years, but Meryl finally won her over. Family first focused Streep strikes again.

3. Wanted to be an opera singer, thought better of it, but fell in love with Ethel Merman, Carol Channing and Georgia Brown, iconic crooners on Broadway.

4. Claims she never wanted to be inside the “Sandra Dee Box,” meaning Streep always looked at widening acting for women in strong lead roles.

5. Even though she was Homecoming Queen – and a cheerleader – Meryl still wanted to be the female Spencer Tracy acting-wise.

6. Thumbed her way out of her small Jersey town, hitchhiking with a total stranger at age 21.

7. The legendary Joe Papp, of New York theater world fame, pegged Yale graduate Streep as  a “pure actor.” Going on the record with the quote “There are only a few people I would call pure actors. Meryl is one.”

8. Her first TV screen appearances included a part in breakthrough mini-series Holocaust in 1978, which by its overseas air date in 1979, was said to have “captured the imagination of Germans” in translation. Meryl’s later role in Sophia’s Choice, also translated into German, came with a built-in audience.

9. When TIME magazine published a cheeky article entitled “What Makes Meryl Magic” on Sept. 7, 1981, she confounded the hype by actually pulling off the magic trick of being one of the most nominated actors in Hollywood History.

10. Although “Meryl Streep: A Critical Biography” was published by Eugene E. Pfaff and Mark Emerson in 1987, she managed to build a remarkable career for the next three decades that defied all expectations.Streep17

11. When Newsweek Editor Jack Kroll died in 2000, he was still being credited as one of the first to recognize Meryl Streep’s considerable talents with a full-blown cover story photo and headline of the newcomer that read: “A Star for the ’80’s.” Little did he know this trend would continue today.

12. Has had her share of career disappointments. Meryl even got jealous of Jessica Lange when she landed the part in Sweet Dreams, Patsy Cline’s biopic, but never held it against Lange.

13. Calls the thinspiration sexy ingenue craze in Hollywood the “Victoria Secret Syndrome.”

14. Survived the nadir of her career when she played the Australian woman heard around the world with the phrase “dingo got my baby” in A Cry in the Dark (1988). Incidentally, the “Dingo Baby” cold case was revisited 24 years later because of this film.

15. Nicked the part of Italian lover to Clint Eastwood’s character in Bridges of Madison County from Sophia Loren by accident, but balances that out by the fact her husband was dumb-struck as a young man by Sophia Loren emerging from the sea in 1957’s campy flick Boy on A Dolphin. They’re great friends now.

16. Has stayed substance abuse free, and according to one magazine writer, Meryl Streep orders drinks for friends as “two waters, please.”

17. Wanted her daughter Mamie to study nuclear physics rather than acting, but later admitted she was kidding about the nuclear physics part – though initially seriously against acting.

18. Told Esquire magazine’s writer in 1984 that the problem with baby strollers in Manhattan is that they are at the level of car exhaust pipes, cementing her status as a truly caring mother.

19. Meryl Streep claims she does not have a favorite director. Implying many things about her diplomacy skills.

20. Has encouraged Martin Scorsese to feature a balanced, strong female lead character but doubts he will do it during her lifetime.

21. Admitted she was a below average cook while playing Julia Child in Julie & Julia.

22. Inspired a young Brittany Murphy with her performance in “Crayon versus Crayon” – before Murphy could pronounce the title. Sadly Murphy didn’t live to see her mentor continue to flourish.

23. Though inexplicably disliked by Katharine Hepburn, who may actually have sensed a threat to her own legacy in Hollywood, Streep didn’t let it phase her.

24. In 2003, when the reasons for Katharine Hepburn’s dislike of Streep were made public in the Scott Berg book “Kate Remembered,” the deceased Grand Dame labeled Meryl too technical as an actor and too cerebral — two traits Hepburn was famous for in the industry. Uh, Hepburn was also revealed to be a huge fan of John Travolta and enchanted with Michael Jackson. Streep: 1, Hepburn: 0.

25. Mary Louise “Meryl” Streep championed Patricia Arquette at the 2015 Oscar ceremony when Arquette demanded “equal pay for equal work” about women’s compensation in the industry. Not just talk, Streep has always championed the word “actor” for women instead of the throwback term “actress,” and in 2015 began funding a Women over 40 Screenwriting Program through New York Women in Film & Television to give unsung mature women a chance to shine in writing.

BONUS Points: As of Jan. 9, 2017, Meryl Streep, 67 years wise, refuses to respond to a Trump Twitter war slamming her speech denouncing bullying at the 2017 Golden Globes, held Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017.

So there’s 25 clues for Streep fans, as well as Mr. President-elect. While there is no Oscar for The Peaceful Transfer of Power in a Democracy, let’s all act accordingly. With Meryl Streep as a shining example of grace under pressure.

[Editor’s Note: Sources for this list include GOOD HOUSEKEEPING, TIME, Newsweek, book references as indicated, and archival interviews. Visualization from GRAPHIQ. The views expressed here are not designed to start a Twitter war with the incoming US President, God Bless America.]

SCREENMANCER is a gathering place for people who make movies, and are patriotic supporters of Meryl Streep.

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Recap: What We Love About WGA (West & East), Oral History & Agency List

LOS ANGELES, CA (Jan. 5, 2017): Yesterday when The Writers Guild of America (WGA) released its Nominations list for 2016, for the 2017 WGA Awards presentation on Feb.19, and DEADPOOL’s adapted screenplay stood right alongside legendary playwright August Wilson’s opus Fences, it reminded everyone why the WGA is not only still relevant, but groundbreaking. The WGA recognizes that movie-writing is not playwriting, and that screenplays in all their ever-changing forms are what drive the stories we see on screen. Yes, Screenwriting, with a capital “s,” is its own art form.

Even though the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), the Directors Guild of America (DGA), and the Producers Guild of America (PGA) would put forth actors, directors, and producers as the key factors — as the late Garry Marshall always said “it comes down to the writing. It’s always about the writing.”

Unlike other guilds, the WGA’s history is preserved in oral history interviews on their website (see link below). The video clips are excellent, but we once had a rare opportunity to publish an interview with the legendary WGA past President Del Reisman (born: April 13, 1924), who died on Jan. 8, 2011.

Although it’s the sixth anniversary of Del Reisman’s death next week, he will live on indefinitely as a chronicler not only of the WGA’s backstory, but of his own parallel path as a “studio brat” from Hollywood’s Golden Era.

This interview is from 2007. He was interviewed by Screenmancer Founder & Exec. Prod., Quendrith Johnson. We’ve included the current Agency List for screenwriters looking for representation as an incentive to read through to the end to discover the whole story of the WGA as we know it today.

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Photo Credit: Joe Rubalcaba

FOREWORD

[WGAw provided this introduction when the interview first appeared.]

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The following is a brief look at the early days of writers’ struggles in the Studio System, and later in the explosive growth of television. Some of these comments are based on frequent conversations with many of the prominent users of studio-owned Underwoods and Royals, during these dynamic days. Del Reisman’s mother, an employee of the great majors, was an additional source of attitude and opinion. Del Reisman himself wrote scripts and story-edited in the last years of the system and in the formative years of television. As a WGAW activist of many years, elected President from 1991-93, he knew the industry in both full shot and close-up.

DEL REISMAN: The Screen Writers Guild was founded in March 1933 at the absolute depths of the depression when America was on its heels. The industry was in turmoil. The studios were all declaring cuts in fees. There was a famous meeting at MGM, which was the giant studio at the time, in which the head of the studio, Louis B. “LB” Mayer, presided. All employees were there: movie stars, grips, everyone. Mayer announced there would be a salary cut of 50 percent. Those earning less then $50 a week would get cut less, and those earning above $50 a week would be cut [back] more. in those days $50 a week was a very livable income. There was a popular star, a great character actor named Wallace Beery sitting in the back, he said: “LB are you going to take the cut too?” And LB said: “Well, no. We plan to restore the cuts in six months.” And Wallace Berry walked out of the meeting.

QUENDRITH JOHNSON: This was really in the swing of the Great Depression. I mean the Stock Market crashed in October 1929, but the general public really felt it hit throughout the 1930’s.

DEL: There were salary cuts all over. Earlier, some of the writers under contract went to see the creative head of MGM, Irving Thalberg. [Thalberg] said: “I can’t do anything about this.” And the writers said: “You raised the regular salaries of the [below-the-line] people on the set. “And Thalberg said: ” Well, they are represented by unions.” The writers left and said: “I think he just told us what to do.” The connection that I make, just a personal reaction, is this — there was a tremendous earthquake in Hollywood [at this time], and it shook down most of Long Beach and Compton — [but] there were faults that came up into this area. A lot of the office buildings downtown lost their decorative statuary and miles away at Hollywood High School, where I attended years later, were, were damaged. There was some death and some injury… terrible property damage. Then a month later the Writers Guild was founded. I always make the connection there were two great shakes of the earth that historic month.

Studio-contract writers, which is to say virtually all screenwriters, joined the new organization, many of them under front-office threats to fail to renew their contracts at option time. A significant number chose not to join, some of them very prominent writers. They formed a rival group, Screen Playwrights. The new Guild was not officially recognized as a bargaining unit by the Federal Government; so the whole thrust of the Guild was to get recognized so they could negotiate with the companies.

In 1938, there was an election held at the old Athletic Club on Sunset. The Guild won over Screen Playwrights, a company-supported group, frequently called a sweetheart union. The Guild thus became the official bargaining unit for the writers, recognized by the Federal Government.

A lot of the members of the Screen Playwrights joined immediately. The job then was to negotiate with the major studios — there was no television.

It took the Screen Writers Guild until 1942, the first big war year, to get their first contract, which was I think was five and a half pages long. (Today, in 2007, it’s close to 500 pages, covering every aspect of writers’ activity, except the new so-called reality shows. [By 2014 the WGA’s Minimum Basic Agreement (MBA) was 671 pages, and is in force until May 1, 2017]).

The one thing they got was the right of the new guild to the exclusive determination of the onscreen writers credit. That was a huge gain. And we still have that. (The companies can recommend what they think the credits should be, but the determination is made by the Guild.) So the founding years were very difficult; there were a lot of writers signed up, and there were only [the] major studios to deal with. There were virtually no independent production companies. And that was the world as it was before TV.

There were a lot of great writers working in those tough years, many of them brilliant. Their work still being studied in film schools throughout the world. To name a few: Ben Hecht, Charles MacArthur, Philip Dunne, Herman Mankiewicz, Lester Cole, John Howard Lawson, Dalton Trumbo, Jules Furthman…

QUENDRITH: What about Lenore Coffee? The other female writer…

DEL: I know who you mean, Mary Pickford’s writing partner.

QUENDRITH: Yes. Frances Marion.

DEL: Right. Frances Marion, Lenore Coffee, Anita Loos. Anita Loos was a very famous writer. Frances Marion was at one time the highest paid screenwriter in Hollywood; she was Mary Pickford’s writing partner.

QUENDRITH: So these big names were behind the crediting process?

DEL: Again, I’m giving you a point of view gathered from many conversations with many writers. I could quote those who believe the system works, and those who believe it should be changed radically; suffice to say, the old system of awarding writing credits was very casual. It was done by the studios. Sometimes the studios would award credit like “well, we owe this guy something” — the proverbial nephew.

In 1942 when the first contract was signed, the contract went for a period of something like three years. That became true for all unions, both above and below-the-line. Negotiations, however, became complicated for all unions when television came in. Coast-to-coast broadcasting was engineered in 1948.

I may be jumping ahead, but I wanted to tell you this: television developed seemingly overnight. All of a sudden, people were staying home and watching whatever was on the tube. They’d see commercials done visually and it was the ‘new medium,’ meaning [audiences] stayed away from the theaters. There was a tremendous reaction from the studios about this. One studio, 20th Century Fox — not related to the present FOX — [in which] the head of the studio was a man named Darryl Zanuck. [He] brought back [a specially designed lens] to America from France in the 1950’s developed by the Ingenue Company, I believe.

The lens became what he [Zanuck] called, or 20th Century Fox called Cinemascope, which projected a widescreen image. Philip Dunne [whose portrait and brief bio adorn the walls of the WGA] wrote the first movie in this new aspect ratio, “The Robe,” based on a best-selling book by Lloyd C. Douglas. It was a big biblical epic. It brought people back into the theaters just to look, and say: “What’s going on here?”

QUENDRITH: It was a different aspect ratio?

DEL: The normal projection was more of a square, so when this came along, it was big. It had a huge curiosity factor. It instituted a lot of widescreen films. People began to return to theaters. But parallel to this, television continued to simply expand. By the time of early 50’s TV audiences were enormous all across the country. There were the two basic networks, NBC and CBS. Then they split off, and ABC was formed. That was the world in which writers functioned. Seven majors and three networks, hardly any independent productions. Then in the mid 50’s, RCA which owned NBC, developed color for television.

QUENDRITH: Where were you in your own career at this time?

DEL: I was working at NBC as a story editor. They developed a show called NBC Matinee Theater that was done in color. It sounds incredible now, but there were 5 shows a week, 1 hour. It was an anthology of new stories. It was in NY and here, but it was shot here in Los Angeles. NBC opened its new studios in Burbank, which they still have, to accommodate everything they were doing.

QUENDRITH: So it must have skewed female?

DEL: Not only that, but it gave the appliance places something to show in the middle of the day. You’d walk past a window full of TVs and see color televisions.

QUENDRITH: And their advertisers?

DEL: Exactly. I think Matinee went on the air in ’54 or ’55. It was on the air two or three years. I was on the very first GI bill at the end of the war. How I get there, how I ended up in the new ‘medium.’ When I was discharged, honorably discharged. I went to UC Berkeley on the GI bill and kind of rushed through. I found it very difficult to adjust [back to civilian life] — I was a bomdardier in a B17. If you ever say the movie “The Best Years of Our Lives”? Dana Andrews went into the nose — that’s it. These planes were prop-driven. No jets. So I flew 35 missions.

QUENDRITH: Did you go into the Pacific Theater of Operations?

DEL: No, just the “ETO,” the European Theater of Operations. The name of the outfit was the 381st Heavy Bombardment Group, Eighth Air Force. France was occupied by Germany. We bombed some targets in occupied France, but most if it was Germany itself. The Ruhr Valley with Essen and Dusseldorf , Cologne — that was the manufacturing world. I went to Berlin six times. I can tell you that was not fun…

QUENDRITH: It was complete devastation, I’m sure…

DEL: They lost a lot. We lost a lot of planes. We went as far as Munich and in the north, Hamburg, Peenemunde, where they launched the V-2s over London.

QUENDRITH: May I segue by saying Hollywood and its politics must have been lightweight compared to that?

DEL: Hollywood was nothing compared to that, because nobody was shooting at you. I didn’t come home to become a writer. I had no interest in it. But I thought that somehow, I’d become a part of the studio system. Maybe film editing, maybe camera. I was a studio brat. My younger sister and I were studio brats. My mother was a secretary at the old Universal Studios (Carl Laemmle and all that). We used to, as little kids, go out to see her at Universal, at her office. The family story is an old Depression story… my father kind of took off — so she was it, she was the income for us. If Universal went bankrupt, that was always being threatened there would be nothing for us. You know that the secretaries in those days knew everything that happens and was about to happen. My mother was the production unit’s contact with the Breen office, later the Shurlock office, the administrators of the code. She took down their problems and passed them on to a very angry studio.

My kid sister and I would frequently be on set. They would allow kids on set, if they shut up. The grips, everyone at the studio, had the same problem: kids, baby-sitters cost money. My mother was a member of the SOEG (Screen Office Employee Guild). So the Executive Director was Herbert K. Sorrell. All we did as kids was go in the back row [during SOEG meetings]. There were chairs there; the kids would just flake out and sleep. Usually were a dozen or more children there. SOEG was a guild. A wild union. Years later, after the war, Herb Sorrell, executive director of the union, wrote his autobiography. He had fought hard for the below-the-line people in the industry. He identified himself as a Communist.

QUENDRITH: We’ll lead into the Black List from here.

DEL: Let me leap ahead to the Black List. I was on the Guild’s Black List credits committee.Our job was to check to see the identities of the real writers behind the fronts or pseudonyms. We began this process trying to cut through the fog of memory and the series of obfuscations by the studios. That started in 1996 and went up to 1999/2000.

QUENDRITH: Paul Jarrico, he was one —

DEL: Exactly. Paul Jarrico, and my friend George Kirgo. Both are deceased.

QUENDRITH: Were you ever on the Black List?

DEL: I was never on the black list, and neither was George. But we were both young writers working in the Blacklist years — that tragic time. Well, it left its mark on everyone. It lasted 15 years. Some of those denied work (under their own names) were struggling for the full 15 years. Sure, some were Communists. The Guild’s first President, John Howard Lawson, he is remembered as the first, but he was actually the second President of the new Screen Writers Guild in 1933. People knew of his politics — did I mention the name Lester Cole?

QUENDRITH: Right, the writer?

DEL: Yes, he was a Communist. As were others of great talent and great determination to create and develop the Guild. There was not a great love of their politics across the unions or from Hollywood — most just found them difficult in labor union matters because they were so well organized they controlled meetings by legal parliamentary proceedings. The writers who were around then spoke angrily of their maneuvering, but the Guild was a First Amendment organization above all.

QUENDRITH: So they had political agenda already not connected with anything to do with Hollywood?

DEL: Yes, essentially support of the Soviet Union. Actually, this was before the war, or at least the entrance into war.

QUENDRITH: What an incredible mix of issues for the country and Hollywood!

DEL: I want to mention this date. In 1954 when all of this was developing, the Guild merged with the Television Writers of America, and merged with the Radio Writers Guild of New York and Los Angeles. So that was [this] merger, and under a new name [that is] now Writers Guild of America.

QUENDRITH: Are New York and LA autonomous? If not, which is the controlling body? Or is there a controlling entity?

DEL: For various corporate reasons, there were actually new corporations formed, Writers Guild West and Writers Guild East. Hollywood was the center of moviemaking at the studios. New York, with all of its history in live television, had been the center of TV.

But with the major studios getting into TV, the New York group had fewer and fewer people to represent because writers literally moved here physically.

QUENDRITH: Who is the final arbiter?

DEL: That’s a good question. The leadership is separate, so they have their board and their special needs. For example, in New York they represent many newswriters, so they have special needs. And we [WGA West] continue to represent mostly TV writers, animation writers, and screenwriters because of the huge amount of activity that continues here. Face-to-face meetings, despite email, faxing, even teleconferencing, continue to be critical.

QUENDRITH: Amidst all the technology and other changes, are the majors retaining their loyalty to Hollywood? What I mean is, to clarify, is LA still the magnet for the decision makers in the industry? Is there loyalty to the area, the concept of “Hollywood” as a physical location and a symbolic icon of the industry?

DEL: If you have runaway production with major studios making films anywhere where it is cheaper, literally the Balkans, Bulgaria, Romania, etc. — that means that they are made without our labor union contracts, without labor union protection or [with] different labor union protection.

QUENDRITH: How about all the productions that went to Canada?

DEL: There was so much shooting in Canada because of the currency exchange. The protections can be avoided — like the Black Dahlia story —

QUENDRITH: The recent one with Hilary Swank?

DEL: Yes. I’m pretty sure that was made in Bulgaria. They made the sets, everything; they did not have to pay the standard fees. It is cheaper. To answer your question, they film there because [production costs] are cheaper. And our city, L.A., doesn’t look like the L.A. of the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s, not anymore.

QUENDRITH: What is the net effect on the psyche of the industry — is there still loyalty in LA to Hollywood?

DEL: My mother at the old Universal wouldn’t recognize the industry today. Announcements in the trades would baffle her, because there are four or five production entities.

QUENDRITH: They split the costs?

DEL: Right, they split the cost. So the financial partners that split the cost are as much involved as the studio. The authority has changed a lot. Who runs the movie has changed a lot.

QUENDRITH: How does that affect the writers?

DEL: You have many bosses. You will get attitudes and opinions from a number of the financial sources. I don’t think there is any history of them giving notes — “Do this on page 14” — but they wouldn’t put money in unless the project was in good hands [as far as] writers, producers, directors, actors. The only reason they would put money in is “we want more action adventure” — otherwise they won’t put money in.

If it is a big Will Ferrell comedy — “We want big laughs or we won’t put money in.” Well, maybe they leave Will Ferrell alone. Apparently, he can do no wrong.

They have to be secure that it is the film they want, that wherever they are from, they get the movie they want. Take “Mission Impossible: 3,” they pretty much know what kind of movie it will be [with Tom Cruise]. They know the nature of the film they are making.

QUENDRITH: The regular machinery of Hollywood, how writers and actors and directors work, is changing as fast as the technology almost. Non-traditional arrangements are everywhere in the business now.

DEL: I’m thinking of Philip Dunne right now. Phil wrote the terrific screenplay for “How Green Was My Valley” — I think that was ’41, maybe ’40. He had one boss, Zanuck. Then both he and Zanuck sat down with the director, John Ford, and the star, a 12-year-old Roddy McDowall. They made the picture, not layers of authority, not tons of notes.

QUENDRITH: Where is your life now as a writer?

DEL: I’m still in the game. And I’ve been teaching for the last twelve years at AFI.

QUENDRITH: Are you writing a book about your experiences, the history of the business from your POV?

DEL: Up to now, I say no. I’m not writing a book.

QUENDRITH: You are saving that for old age?

DEL: We’ll see.

Del never finished the book he was working on, but he’d have approved of the list below — as promised. He’d be happy to know Will Ferrell has made a few bombs by now, and while Tom Cruise still commands box office results overseas, at home things are different. Because every new audience needs new storytellers, and there can’t be any storytellers without the stories. So in 2017, for those of you with screenwriting aspirations, here’s the WGA’s list of agents. Don’t bother them unless you’ve written something outstanding, have already placed in the Nicholl Fellowship, or are seeking a new agent. But mostly, keep your New Year’s Resolution for 2017 to keep writing.

We took out the phone number contacts, which can only be found at the WGAw website. Here’s a link for the WGA List, also the WGA Oral History project.

THE AGENCY LIST

Above The Line Agency
468 N Camden Dr
Ste 200
Beverly Hills, CA 90210

Agency For The Performing Arts
405 S Beverly Dr
Beverly Hills, CA 90212

Allensworth Entertainment, Inc.
433 N Camden Dr Fl 4
Beverly Hills, CA 90210-4408

Alpern Group, The
15645 Royal Oak Rd
Encino, CA 91436

American Media Artists
4830 Encino Ave
Encino, CA 91316

Annette Van Duren Agency
3810 Wilshire Blvd #1906
Los Angeles, CA 90010-3223

Avail Talent
2990 Grace Lane
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Beth Bohn Management Inc
2658 Griffith Park Blvd
Ste 508
Los Angeles, CA 90039

BiCoastal Talent & Literary Agency
2600 W Olive Ave Ste 500
Burbank, CA 91505-4572

Bobby Ball Talent Agency
3500 W Olive Ave Ste 300
Burbank, CA 91505-4647

Brady, Brannon & Rich
5670 Wilshire Blvd Ste 820
Los Angeles, CA 90036-5613

Brant Rose Agency
6671 Sunset Blvd
Ste 1584 B
Los Angeles, CA 90028

Brogan Agency
1517 Park Row
Venice, CA 90291

Candace Lake Agency, Inc.
1072 Laurel Ln
Pebble Beach, CA 93953-3112

Career Artists International
11030 Ventura Blvd #3
Studio City, CA 91604

Cavaleri & Associates
3500 W Olive Ave Ste 300
Burbank, CA 91505-4647

Chasin Agency, Inc.
8899 Beverly Blvd
Ste 716
Los Angeles, CA 90048

Contemporary Artists, Ltd.
610 Santa Monica Blvd
Ste 202
Santa Monica, CA 90401

CAA: Creative Artists Agency, LLC
2000 Ave Of The Stars
Los Angeles, CA 90067

Criterion
4842 Sylmar Ave
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423-1716

David Shapira & Associates
193 N Robertson Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA 90211

Don Buchwald & Associates
6500 Wilshire Blvd
Ste 2200
Los Angeles, CA 90048

Dravis Agency, The
4370 Tujunga Ave
Ste 145
Studio City, CA 91604

Equitable Stewardship for Artists
6363 Wilshire Blvd Ste 650
Los Angeles, CA 90048-5725

Featured Artists Agency
8844 W Olympic Blvd Ste 200
Beverly Hills, CA 90211-3623

Gersh Agency, Inc.
9465 Wilshire Blvd Fl 6
Beverly Hills, CA 90212-2605

Global Talent Agency
2615 W Magnolia Blvd
Ste 101
Burbank, CA 91505

Grant, Savic, Kopaloff & Associates
6399 Wilshire Blvd
Ste 414
Los Angeles, CA 90048

Gregory David Mayo Representing the Performing Arts
10061 Riverside Dr # 242
Toluca Lake, CA 91602-2560

Hollywood View Agency
5255 Veronica St
Los Angeles, CA 90008

ICM Partners
10250 Constellation Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90067

Innovative Artists
1505 Tenth St
Santa Monica, CA 90401

Irv Schechter Company
9460 Wilshire Blvd
Ste 300
Beverly Hills, CA 90212

Jack Lenny Associates
9454 Wilshire Blvd
Ste 600
Beverly Hills, CA 90212

Jim Preminger Agency
10866 Wilshire Blvd
10th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90024

JKA Talent & Literary Agency
12725 Ventura Blvd
Studio City, CA 91604

Kaplan Stahler Agency
8383 Wilshire Blvd
Ste 923
Beverly Hills, CA 90211

Kathleen Schultz Associates
6442 Coldwater Cyn
Ste 117
Valley Glen, CA 91606

Larchmont Literary Agency
444 N Larchmont Blvd
Ste 200
Los Angeles, CA 90004

Laya Gelff Agency
16133 Ventura Blvd
Ste 700
Encino, CA 91436

Lenhoff & Lenhoff
830 Palm Ave
W Hollywood, CA 90069

Lisa Callamaro Literary Agency
427 N Canon Dr
Ste 202
Beverly Hills, CA 90210

Lynne & Reilly Agency
10725 Vanowen Street
Ste 113
North Hollywood, CA 91605

Maggie Roiphe Agency
1721 S Garth Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90035

Media Artists Group
8222 Melrose Ave Fl 2
Los Angeles, CA 90046-6825

Metropolitan Talent Agency
5405 Wilshire Blvd Ste 218
Los Angeles, CA 90036-4203

Michael Lewis & Associates
2506 Fifth Street
Ste 100
Santa Monica, CA 90405

Mitchell K. Stubbs & Associates
8695 W Washington Blvd
Ste 204
Culver City, CA 90232

Nancy Chaidez Agency
6340 Coldwater Cyn
Ste 214
North Hollywood, CA 91606

Natural Talent, Inc.
3331 Ocean Park Blvd
Ste 203
Santa Monica, CA 90405

Pantheon
1801 Century Park East
Ste 1910
Los Angeles, CA 90067

Paradigm
360 N Crescent Dr
North Bldg
Beverly Hills, CA 90210

Paul Kohner, Inc.
9300 Wilshire Blvd
Ste 555
Beverly Hills, CA 90212

Preferred Artists
16633 Ventura Blvd
Ste 1421
Encino, CA 91436

Rebel Entertainment Partners, Inc.
5700 Wilshire Blvd
Ste 456
Los Angeles, CA 90036

Rothman Brecher Agency
9250 Wilshire Blvd
Penthouse
Beverly Hills, CA 90212

RPM Talent
2600 W Olive Ave
5th Floor
Burbank, CA 91505

Sarnoff Company, Inc., The
1600 Rosecrans Avenue
Media Center, 4th Floor
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266

Savage Agency, The
6212 Banner Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90038-2802

Silver Bitela Agency
6612 Pacheco Way
Citrus Hts, CA 95610

Stars, The Agency
23 Grant Ave 4th Fl
San Francisco, CA 94108

Starwil Prods Talent Agency
433 N Camden Dr 4th Fl
Beverly Hills, CA 90210

Stein Agency, The
5125 Oakdale Ave
Woodland Hills, CA 91364

Stuart M. Miller Co, The
11684 Ventura Blvd
Ste 225
Studio City, CA 91604

Suite A Management Talent & Literary Agency
136 El Camino Dr Ste 202
Beverly Hills, CA 90212-2705

Summit Talent & Literary Agency
9454 Wilshire Blvd
Ste 203
Beverly Hills, CA 90212

United Talent Agency, Inc.
UTA Plaza
9336 Civic Center Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210

Nerve Talent & Literary Agency LLC
6310 San Vicente Blvd Ste 100
Los Angeles, CA 90048-5498

Warden Group, The
PO Box 1595
Beverly Hills, CA 90213-1595

William Kerwin Agency
1605 N Cahuenga Blvd
Ste 202
Hollywood, CA 90028

Wilson & Associates
5482 Wilshire Blvd Ste 175
Los Angeles, CA 90036-4218

WME Entertainment
9601 Wilshire Blvd 3rd Fl
Beverly Hills, CA 90210

This original interview can be found in its entirety here. The 2017 Writers Guild Awards take place in LA and NY on Sunday, Feb. 19, 2017, see www.wga.org for details.

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SCREENMANCER is a gathering place for people who make movies and people making a lot of first drafts trying to make movies.

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Slow Clap to Wild Applause: WGA Nom for DEADPOOL is Dead On

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent

Say what you will about “rigged” elections and fixed ways of thinking, voters at the WGA (Writers Guild of America) just went rogue and nominated DEADPOOL. Okay, they didn’t exactly go rogue, they actually went bold by nominating the graphic novel adapt of a Marvel character, from the X-Men series, by 20th Century Fox – a genre often limited to the margins of high art. Why are they right to do so? Because it’s not about the Ryan Reynolds-driven black-eyed-red bodysuit, it’s about the dialogue.

RyanTim17Directed by first-timer Tim Miller, honcho of blur studios, DEADPOOL features a superb script that catapulted a story that took more than a decade to realize on screen.

This is the biggest surprise in this year’s announcement on the finalists for the WGA Awards, to be held in simultaneous bi-coastal joint ceremonies on Sunday, February 19, 2017, in Los Angeles at the Beverly Hilton and in New York City at the Edison Ballroom.

Before you look over the entire selection in features and documentaries, just a quick rule refresher, courtesy of the WGA:
“Feature films eligible for a Writers Guild Award were exhibited theatrically for at least one week in Los Angeles during 2016 and were written under the WGA’s Minimum Basic Agreement (MBA) or under a bona fide collective bargaining agreement of the Writers Guild of Canada, Writers’ Guild of Great Britain, Writers Guild of Ireland, Writers’ Guild of South Africa, New Zealand Writers Guild, Film Writers’ Association (India), La Guilde Francaise des Scénaristes (France), Scriptwriters Guild of Israel, Société des Auteurs de Radio, Télévision et Cinéma (Québec), or Verband Deutscher Drehbuchautoren (VDD/Germany), collectively known as affiliate Guilds. Theatrical screenplays produced under the jurisdiction of the WGA or an affiliate Guild must have been submitted for Writers Guild Awards consideration.”
And, “documentaries eligible for a Writers Guild Award featured an onscreen writing credit and were exhibited theatrically in Los Angeles or New York for one week during 2016. Theatrical documentaries must have been produced under the jurisdiction of the WGA or an affiliate Guild to be eligible for awards consideration.”

No, their award still doesn’t have a name, but it resembles the Winged Victory, for lack of a better moniker, in their logo below.

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So here’s the entire list, and we won’t get into the sins of omission, just the marvel at Marvel’s good fortune. That and Alex Gibney’s ZERO DAYS, which is so relevant in the election-year hacking fracas that it should do well in every award show in 2017.
And the nominees are…

2017 WRITERS GUILD AWARDS SCREENPLAY NOMINATIONS

Los Angeles and New York – The Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) and the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) have announced nominations for outstanding achievement in screenwriting during 2016. Winners will be honored at the 2017 Writers Guild Awards on Sunday, February 19, 2017, at concurrent ceremonies in Los Angeles and New York City.

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Hell or High Water, Written by Taylor Sheridan; CBS Films

La La Land, Written by Damien Chazelle; Lionsgate

Loving, Written by Jeff Nichols; Focus Features

Manchester by the Sea, Written by Kenneth Lonergan; Amazon Studios/Roadside Attractions

Moonlight, Written by Barry Jenkins, Story by Tarell McCraney; A24

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Arrival, Screenplay by Eric Heisserer; Based on the Story “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang; Paramount Pictures

Deadpool, Written by Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick; Based on the X-Men Comic Books; Twentieth Century Fox Film

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Fences, Screenplay by August Wilson; Based on his Play; Paramount Pictures

Hidden Figures, Screenplay by Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi; Based on the Book by Margot Lee Shetterly; Twentieth Century Fox Film

Nocturnal Animals, Screenplay by Tom Ford; Based on the Novel Tony and Susan by Austin Wright; Focus Features

DOCUMENTARY SCREENPLAY

Author: The JT LeRoy Story, Written by Jeff Feuerzeig; Amazon Studios

Command and Control, Telescript by Robert Kenner and Eric Schlosser, Story by Brian Pearle and Kim Roberts; Based on the book Command and Control by Eric Schlosser; American Experience Films

Zero Days, Written by Alex Gibney; Magnolia Pictures

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The Writers Guild Awards honor outstanding writing in film, television, new media, videogames, news, radio, promotional, and graphic animation categories. The awards will be presented at concurrent ceremonies on Sunday, February 19, 2017, in Los Angeles at the Beverly Hilton and in New York City at the Edison Ballroom. For more information about the 2017 Writers Guild Awards, please visit www.wga.org or www.wgaeast.org.

The Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) and the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) are labor unions representing writers in motion pictures, television, cable, digital media, and broadcast news. The Guilds negotiate and administer contracts that protect the creative and economic rights of their members; conduct programs, seminars, and events on issues of interest to writers; and present writers’ views to various bodies of government. For more information on the Writers Guild of America, West, visit www.wga.org. For more information on the Writers Guild of America, East, visit www.wgaeast.org.

SCREENMANCER is a gathering place for people who make movies and keep writing unproduced screenplays.

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Carrie Fisher (1956-2016), Princess Diarist Hits Lightspeed, Ad Astra

LOS ANGELES, CA: Screenmancer salutes Carrie Fisher, (Oct. 21, 1956 – Dec. 27, 2016), who was known as a Princess in STAR WARS, but also a “Princess Diarist” in her latest book. Since words can not express the jump to lightspeed for Leia Organa, Princess, later General Leia Organa of Alderaan in the George Lucas franchise, let’s just tap a symphony for the music of the spheres on her departure.

SCREENMANCER is a gathering place for people who make movies and love Carrie Fisher & STAR WARS.

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