I remember walking by the Variety building every day with my dog and my picket sign,” reminisces screenwriter Katherine Fugate about the WGA strike, recalling just one memory from an extraordinary year that saw her give birth not once, but twice: to a show, and to a baby.
Fugate’s Lifetime drama “Army Wives” premiered in June 2007 to become the network’s highest-rated show of all time, and the most popular show for young women on cable TV.
Now in its second season, the skein has already been greenlit for a third one for 2009.
“I remember filming the pilot seven months pregnant,” recalls Fugate (pronounced fu-zhey). “The show was picked up, I wrote episode two, and went to the hospital for my C-section.”
Fugate attributes the success of “Army Wives” to its portrayal of a real community, something that’s powerful in a society defined by its lack of community.
“The one thing that moved me during my research among real-life Army wives was the camaraderie between the women,” Fugate says. “They will bake a cake for someone they barely know, and that was so moving for me. We ache for community.”
The niece of “I Dream of Jeannie” star Barbara Eden, Fugate quit her job as a film exec so she could write screenplays.
Dressed as a messenger, she hand-delivered the script for her film “Carolina” (Miramax, 2003) to Shirley MacLaine, who accepted the role a few hours later. “I’ve always had a lot of tenacity,” Fugate says. “I can’t let opportunities pass me by when they present themselves.”
Fugate, now in the final stages of writing “Valentine’s Day” (to be directed by Garry Marshall), always has a project or two on the go because, as she says, “The ability to write is finite to me. Each day is pretty much all you have, so you want to get it done now.”
Role model: “In writing, David E. Kelley. In life, my aunt Barbara Eden.”
Three things in life I can’t do without: “Love. That about covers it all, really. What else is there? And lip balm.”
Most important issue facing Americans in this election year: “To restore America’s vision of equality, democracy and making a difference to our planet.”
Fave leisure activity: “Watching my daughter discover language — even if it means my precious little buttercup is throwing a tantrum.”
Career mantra: “Stay in your light — and leap.”