Talking up the written word

A Night in the Writers' Room 2012

There are very few more highly valued commodities in Hollywood than the TV scribe and Variety gives them their due in tonight’s second annual presentation of “A Night Inside the Writers’ Room” at the WGA. As these pros can attest, finding the right words to fill blank pages for a single episode, or 22 of them, can be both an exhilirating and excrutiating process.

We’ll have an engaging conversation with those who serve in the comedy and drama trenches — both newbies and vets and talk about what’s most difficult about the job, but also what is most rewarding. In addition to those whose comments are mentioned here, others taking part in the panels are Steve Molaro (“The Big Bang Theory”), Mike Schur (“Parks and Recreation”), Vince Gilligan (“Breaking Bad”) and Jonathan Nolan and Greg Plageman (“Person of Interest”).

Was the tone of “Enlightened” cemented in the pilot, or was it a work in progress?
” ‘Enlightened’ was designed to have a fluid tone. We wanted to do a show that could transition from overtly comedic to satiric to dramatic to even mournful. Most of the things I have written have blended comedy and drama, and Laura, as an actress, is so facile at both that it seemed exciting to us to create a series that could allow for a complex emotional spectrum.”

“Rescue Me”
What will be the legacy of “Rescue Me”?
“If ‘Rescue Me’ is remembered in years to come, I hope it’s seen as an audacious, hilarious, touching mess that tried to accurately and compassionately capture life in the city and in the FDNY during the years after 9/11. … We lost many brave souls and innocent people on that day, but the damage from the attacks reached out and damaged countless other lives. Tommy Gavin’s anger, his questioning and denial of faith, his self-loathing and embracing of death; we all felt these conflicted, dark emotions in the wake of the attacks. But like Tommy, we ultimately — while never forgetting — moved forward.”

What did you learn from your first season on “Suits”? Did the season go as expected?
“The biggest thing I learned on my first season was that I should have stayed in investment banking. Seriously, from a showrunner perspective, I learned that there really is no right answer to most creative questions that arise in the course of making television, despite the fact that everyone is going to have an opinion on what they think is the right answer. Therefore, you have to really go with what appeals most to you and have faith that it will work out well. This goes to questions of writing, casting, editing, hiring, etc. I really had no idea what to expect, so it is very difficult to say whether or not the season went as expected. It was extremely difficult physically, mentally and emotionally and I am constantly wondering how we did it. Though not as much these days, since we’re in production and I’m back to wondering how the hell we’re going to do it.”

“The League”
The premise of “The League” is based around fantasy football, but it appeals to non-sports fans alike. How do you write to keep all audiences interested?
“We’re not writing a sports show, we’re making a comedy about a group of old friends whose favorite sport is picking on each other. To enjoy ‘The League’ you don’t have to know anything about fantasy football, you just have to have friends that you hate. Honestly, we write the show as if there’s no audience but us. And being a low-budget half-hour on basic cable, it’s probably not that far from the truth.”

From a writer’s standpoint, what aspects of the eight-season run of “House” are you most proud?
“What every writer I suspect is most proud of: exploring the character, exploring his relationships, exploring his choices and what they reveal about who he is and who we all are.”

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