Deciding to crank out a slew of spec TV episodes with an old college roommate proved the catalyst for Jennie Snyder Urman, who in less than a decade has parlayed credits on “Gilmore Girls” and “90210” into creating and exec producing the CW’s fall medical skein “Emily Owens, M.D.”
Like many tyros, she initially found it hard to stop defining herself by her day job. She says when agents told her “Hope & Faith” was beckoning her east, “I told them, ‘Let me call and see whether I can transfer to Houstons in Manhattan.’ And they said ‘No, you’re going to have to stop waitressing. This is a job.'”
Urman’s entry into the industry coincided with the heyday of TV “dramedy,” an amalgam to which her instincts are particularly suited.
“I learned not to play for the comedy. Play for the heart and let the comedy come out of it,” she explains. “I knew ‘Emily’ wouldn’t get picked up if it just made people laugh, but only if it also made them cry.”
Coming off the bigscreen “Something Borrowed” in 2011, she found she missed television’s creative opportunities as well as writers’ room camaraderie.
“In features you write a thing and you step back. But in TV, you have a chance to keep digging into the characters. You’re not telling a closed-ended story but one that keeps evolving. … You slow down the storytelling and let things breathe. I like the pace of it. You get to write something, see it and move on.”