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Sheila Callaghan: ‘Dream’ job for playwright

10 Screenwriters to Watch

10 SCREENWRITERS TO WATCH
Travis Beacham | Sheila Callaghan | Adam Cozad | Michael Diliberti | Tim Dowling | Lena Dunham | Seth Grahame-Smith | Mike Jones | Jones & McCormack | Simons & Schoolcraft

Having a child doesn’t typically entail a career and paycheck boost, unless you happen to be Sheila Callaghan.

A downtown New York playwright for the past 10 years, Callaghan was embraced by Hollywood after an article in the New York Times appeared about her Off Broadway play, “That Pretty Pretty; or, the Rape Play,” in early 2009.

“I had been cobbling together a livelihood writing plays and teaching,” Callaghan says. “When I had my son in 2008, the need to have a stable income became a bit greater. Then out of nowhere I got an email from (former “United States of Tara” showrunner) Jill Soloway asking me if I was interested in writing for TV.”

She was. Callaghan, who is now a staff writer for the Showtime skein, recently sold one of her spec scripts, “Over/Under,” to USA and is tackling a task that many scribes have attempted but failed — adapting 1960s TV show “I Dream of Jeannie” for Sony.

“When my agent casually mentioned that there was an open assignment for ‘Jeannie’ I lit up,” Callaghan says. “I loved that show growing up. Also my playwriting tends to be really theatrical, and it seemed like a great opportunity to be theatrical on the screen.”

When it comes to future work, Callaghan knows what she wants: “Offbeat, eccentric, humorous but also widely appealing material.” And what she doesn’t want: “Material that propagates tired female archetypes.

“I always try to keep myself surprised and interested” Callaghan says.

VITAL STATS:
Age: 37
Provenance: Freehold, NJ
Inspired by: “I love people with tenacity who don’t take themselves too seriously — that goes for everybody.”
Reps: Agency: Gersh; manager: Dan Halsted of Management.

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