Beverly Hills, CA (The Hollywood Times)
What a night! This was my very first red-carpet assignment and let me tell you, it was not only fun but who can say that on their first assignment, they got to interview the legendary Glenn Close? More on that later.
The event was hosted by Patton Oswalt. He has been headlining at comedy clubs all over the United States since 1996, as well as appearing in his own standup specials on Comedy Central and HBO. He was chosen as Entertainment Weekly’s “It” comedian in 2002. He is a regular on Late Night with Conan O’Brien (1993). His other television credits include appearances on Seinfeld(1989) and NewsRadio (1995).
As a writer, Oswalt spent two seasons on MADtv (1995) and has also written for the MTV Music Video Awards. He is currently writing screenplays and has appeared in the feature films Starsky & Hutch (2004), Man on the Moon (1999) and Magnolia (1999).*
*directly taken from Patton’s IMDB Profile.
THE ENVIRONMENT AT THE WGA
The fever in the Red-Carpet room was riveting and cheers came as a famous star appeared on the red carpet: Sir Patrick Stewart, Jane Lynch, Guillermo Del Toro, Daniel Kaluuyah and more! We waited on the other side of the red carpet as they made their approach to catch a picture, or, if we were lucky, to get an interview jockeying with the other press folks who were doing the same thing.
The THT Team found better coverage as the stars were departing the red carpet towards the ballroom. This year, the Writer’s Guild decided to put both the Red Carpet, in an “L-shape” with the winner area adjacent to the long side of the red carpet. It was a new idea instead of having two rooms. This reduced the length of the red carpet hence, the press was positioned on 8×11 pieces of paper on the floor in one of three rows.
It didn’t work out but some of us found a way to work together, get the interview and pictures and get ready for the next celebrity. We couldn’t go into the grand ballroom for the event but were corralled into another room called the Bloggers room. There, we gathered up a “box meal”, one of 4, Vegan, Roast Beef, Turkey, Ham, and get our drink, sit down and start blogging immediately, “IF” you could find your space, again marked with an 8×11 piece of paper, which was already taken by others.
The THT team decided it was better to go out to the Lobby, eat and then go back to the red-carpet room to take pictures of the winners, which was more organized and relaxed. The food was incredible for a box meal. This was a meal that gave us reason to celebrate by serving up a Sliced Red Potato Salad, featuring crisp-cooked bacon and tender red potatoes, this potato salad was truly celebration-worthy! Couple that with a half sandwich, cookie, kettle cooked chips and crisp red Washington Apple, our meal was a great addition to our press credentials.
The nice part was that the WGA had two large monitors on either side of the winners walk, a 20-foot length, with three microphones, another red carpet, and WGA background. Here, the WGA announced the winner, they made another grand but quiet entrance, received their award, a second time, then headed to the winner’s walk. At each microphone, some chose to answer questions, or they posed with their proud award, turning to the left, moving to the center, then to the last microphone, turning to the right, then exiting where they did on the original red carpet.
Let’s get into the interviews:
- Debra Dean Davis (The Monster Project, Star Trek the Next Generation)
- Karen Harris (The Bay (2017), The Incredible Hulk (original series in the 1979))
- Nina Fiore (A Handmaids Tale)
- Brendan McCarthy (Grace and Frankie)
- Jim Clemente (Manhunt: Unabomber)
- Glenn Close (Basic Instinct)
I was so impressed with all these wonderful people as well as what they had to say. For example: Debra Dean Davis who has written for Knight Rider (1982), The Incredible Hulk (1979), Star Trek the Next Generation as well as so much more is paying it forward by working with graduate students whose she’s teaching how you must write about what’s going on, write about what your passionate about. You don’t just chase ambulances, get to the next gig to just make the money but rather, as Debra puts it, “Usually if you’re passionate, you make more money, right?”
Karen Harris who wrote for General Hospital and a new show called: “The Bay”, who was with Debra, says, “My very first show was the Incredible Hulk and I was very conscious of the fact that I was writing for 10-year old’s and 11-year old’s…” Debra wrote for the Fall Guy with the late Lee Majors (The Six Million Dollar Man) and when I mentioned my friend, Bruce Reisman, she remembered him as the first 13-year-old to ever write for an episodic series, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, by Irwin Allen.
Karen has a show going to Broadway called: Part of the Plan, which just had it’s premiere in Nashville, TN based on Dan Folgelberg’s Music and an original story.
Let’s go through the folks that I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing.
Nina Fiore, up for her first nomination for A Handmaids Tale, which won told me that, “When you’re a writer, you want to tell stories that you bring a different awareness to people, to bring a consciousness to how to think about something or how they think about themselves. Also, how you can inspire people to dig in deep to; I don’t know maybe have some change in their lives? I don’t know, there are some many reasons why I write. For the show, just bringing the awareness of control, the control of a woman’s body, of the humanity that we have within us that you can’t stamp out, no matter how hard you try, especially if you’re a female and for women all over the world, that are going through horrific things.
“I mean, the things that happen in the show; Margaret and I took great care that the things that happen to the women… that they ‘happen’ either that they’ve happened in the past or they are happening now. They’re real, they’re not like made up crap!”
In speaking to me, I could feel her passion in the way she spoke. I felt that passion too, with the upcoming statement she made which I will not HIDE or mask.
“The fact that systemic rape is still happening, that we still live in a ‘rape’ culture that is not acceptable. So that being a part of a show that brings that to light, in the time that we’re in… I don’t know, it’s kind of mind-blowing. They’re really are no words to describe what that feels like to be a part of that, that swirl of energy fighting for change and that, TIME’S UP!”
“It’d better! It BETTER!”
Then came this from Nina which we absolutely LOVED!
“It’d better if I have anything to say about it! I mean, F***” cracked up as Nina continued with her passionate speech! “I’m a fighter. I’m a lover and a fighter and I’m a New Yorker and I don’t take shit. I want to keep fighting in anyway that I can, because you know, the stuff that goes on is bullshit.”
Audrey and I and Dawn Noel, (Actress and Producer, 22 Years, Project Abaddon, NCIS, NCIS: LA) was also very impressed with this wonderful, passionate lady who spoke her mind and told us exactly how she felt.
Then we had the pleasure of speaking with Brendan McCarthy, (“The Burglary” (Grace and Frankie), Written by Brendan McCarthy & David Budin; Netflix). I was standing right next to his father and so Audrey took the lead on this one.
He spoke about his father, Mike McCarthy. “My dad, a bleeding heart, union side labor lawyer that has spent his profession protecting and defending labor unions. And to be here as a member of this Guild and to be recognized by my brother’s and sisters is such an honor and makes me very proud. You know, every meal I had as a child, was at ‘labor’s’ table, so to be a part of a vibrant and boisterous of an organized wing of labor in America, is a unique source of pride for me.”
Audrey then asked where he draws his inspiration for his writing for the show from. “My writing partner, David Budin and I were hired by Marta Hoffman and Howard J. Morris for the show and we really just their lead as well as the Executive Producers, Billy Finnigan and John Hoffman. We’re lucky to learn from and be inspired by such a creative group of people. It worked out!”
We then spoke to Jim Clemente, former FBI Profiler and creator of Manhunt: Unabomber. He was dressed in a conservative suit, complete with a brimmed hat to complete his outfit. He goes on to tell us a little bit about that. “I wrote and created Manhunt Unabomber, a series on Discovery, now on Netflix, with my partner who worked with me side-by-side for 22 years in the FBI.” Then I asked him how he can be a positive influence for people today seeing what’s happening in the current environment in the world.
“Sure,” Jim started. “I think that what’s really important, what my goal is, is to bring authenticity to Hollywood, depictions of crime and everyday life! The fact is, because I’ve lived this experience, I can actually tell about it in a truthful way, what the FBI does, what the FBI is like and the kind of investigations that they do.”
I like Jim, he’s a sincere man, a man of honor and integrity, and someone we need to be watching as he grows his career as a writer.
Ms Close was dressed in a very lovely, black, full-length dress accented with a lovely brass-flowered pin on the left. We had a brief discussion as she was moving from person to person, and yes, I was slightly nervous, but I believe I got the essence of what she was trying to say. Although she said that she doesn’t wake up every day thinking how I’m going to be an influence on the world, but rather how to be true to oneself and in what you value. She joked that we’re always trying to figure out who we are which drew a healthy laugh from her. She concluded that we have a visceral connection with the projects we do and that the support from her family is most important.
What I found in the event was that everyone was pleasant, excited and cordial but all were being interviewed by the many news organizations that were in attendance. All the nominees are talented and have proven themselves in their craft. I was most impressed with Nina Fiore. She was bold in her statements and yet wasn’t afraid to speak her mind. I liked that about Nina. As I walked out in the lobby of the Beverly Hilton, there she was posing with her colleagues from, A Handmaids Tale. She was elated, grinning from ear to ear, and looking great in her suit and purple bowtie. Nina exemplifies the pride and love that has for her craft as well as the same determination and pride being a part of the LGBT Community. I like that and wish her the very best.
In closing, this was my very first of what I hope will be many more assigments like this to come. I truly hope that I have been able to give you some insight into some of the nominees and how they think about writing, life and their passions.
Watch this space!
For a list of all the nominees and winners, please click here to view on the WGA Website: http://awards.wga.org/wga-awards/nominees-winners
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