090 – Ken LaZebnik (A Prairie Home Companion, Touched By An Angel)

Ken LaZebnik is the founder and director of the Master of Fine Arts in TV and Screenwriting program at Stephens College, a low residency program based in Hollywood, which aims to increase the number of female writers working in Hollywood.

Ken writes for television, film and the theater. His work includes collaborating with Garrison Keillor on Robert Altman’s last film, A Prairie Home Companion, and many years of writing and producing for hour-long television dramas, including seven years of writing and producing the drama Touched By An Angel. Two of his plays have won citations from The American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA). His first book, Hollywood Digs: An Archaeology of Shadows, was published in 2014 by Kelly’s Cove Press – a collection of essays about personal encounters with Hollywood history.

LaZebnik’s feature work includes the Lionsgate film Thomas Kinkade’s Christmas Cottage, released in 2008, starring Peter O’Toole and Marcia Gay Harden. His television writing has also included Army Wives, Providence, Star Trek: Enterprise, and the new series When Calls The Heart on the Hallmark Channel.

Ken’s plays have frequently been premiered at The Mixed Blood Theatre in Minneapolis, directed by Jack Reuler. The most recent of these collaborations was On The Spectrum, which premiered in November, 2011. On The Spectrum was awarded a Steinberg Citation from the American Theatre Critics Association, and had a successful run in Los Angeles at the Fountain Theatre. Other plays Mixed Blood has premiered include Vestibular Sense, League of Nations, and Calvinisms.

His play Rachel Calof, adapted from the memoir of a Jewish homesteader in North Dakota, is a one-woman show starring Kate Fuglei. His play Theory of Mind, commissioned for young audiences by the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, has also been produced in Minnesota, Hawaii and Michigan.

Follow Ken on Twitter: @KenLaZebnik.

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Hosted by Gray Jones, the TV Writer Podcast is devoted to interviews with working TV writers. It is brought to you by Scriptmag.com, the leading source for scriptwriting information on the web.

074 – Beau Willimon (House of Cards)

From never being on a TV staff, to becoming the creator and showrunner of “House of Cards,” Netflix’s original foray into dramatic television and the corrupted world of politics… this week’s interview with screenwriter, painter, and playwright Beau Willimon is sure to inspire you!

Beau Willimon is a screenwriter, playwright, producer and most recently, an executive producer, showrunner and creator of Netflix’s original series “House of Cards,” a wicked one-hour drama, from Media Rights Capital, that slithers behind the curtain of power, sex, ambition, love, greed and corruption in modern Washington D.C.

His play “Farragut North,” became the basis for the motion picture screenplay “Ides of March,” which he co-wrote with George Clooney and Grant Heslov. “Ides of March” earned Willimon Academy Award®, Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay, and it won The Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Award for Best Screenplay.

Other plays include “Lower Ninth” (Flea Theater, 2008; UK premiere, Donmar Warehouse, 2010), and “Spirit Control” (Manhattan Theatre Club, 2010). Subsequent productions of his plays have been mounted across the U.S. and overseas. Willimon was a recipient of the Lila Acheson Wallace Juilliard Playwriting Fellowship, named 2008 Playwright-in-Residence at the Donmar Warehouse, and he is a two-time winner of the Lincoln Center Le Comte du Nouy Award. Current theater commissions include works for the National Theatre of Great Britain, South Coast Rep, and the Flea Theater.

His most recent play, “The Parisian Woman,” premieres at South Coast Repertory in the spring and will star Dana Delany, Steven Culp, Linda Gehringer and Rebecca Mozo. The play was inspired by Henri Becque’s “La Parisienne.”

Recently Willimon co-founded Westward Productions, a film and television production company, with co-founder Jordan Tappis. Among Westward Production’s current projects is the forthcoming “Wally and Andre Shoot Ibsen” – a film adaption of Ibsen’s play “Master Builder” developed by Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory, directed by Jonathan Demme. Willimon is an Executive Producer on the film. Other projects in development include a documentary about adventure traveler Karl Bushby’s quest to circumnavigate the globe on foot over the course of two decades, and a documentary about Westerly Windina, a transgender Australian woman formerly known as legendary pro-surfer Peter Drouyn.

In addition to his career as a writer and producer, Willimon served on a number of political campaigns, including Chuck Schumer’s 1998 senate race, Bill Bradley’s 2000 presidential race, Hillary Clinton’s 2000 senate race and Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential race.

Willimon graduated with a B.A. from Columbia University in 1999 and an M.F.A. in Playwriting from Columbia University’s School of the Arts in 2003. A St. Louis native, he now resides in Brooklyn, NY.

Beau’s Twitter: @BeauWillimon

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Didn’t get your questions asked? Make sure you follow Gray on Twitter (@GrayJones) so you can get the scoop on who is being interviewed and how to get your questions in. Also check out our TV Writer Twitter Database to find Twitter addresses for over 1,000 TV writers. Find our previous episodes and other resources at www.tvwriterpodcast.com or on Gray’s YouTube channel.

 
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Hosted by Gray Jones, the TV Writer Podcast is devoted to interviews with working TV writers. It is brought to you by Script magazine and Scriptmag.com, the leading source for scriptwriting information in print and on the web.

016 – Ellen Sandler (Author, TV Writer’s Workbook)

This week we have an absolute treat… a 46-minute interview with Emmy-nominated writer-producer, playwright, director, and author of the TV Writer’s Workbook, Ellen Sandler!

Entertainment Today calls Ellen Sandler the Dalai Lama of television writing… her “TV Writer’s Workbook” is used by the top film schools in the world, including USC, UCLA, and NYU. The praise is well-deserved… like “Save the Cat” by Blake Snyder does for feature writing, Ellen’s book comes from a writer’s approach, telling you in very simple, easy to understand terms, virtually everything you need to know to be a successful TV writer.

Ellen is a seasoned writer — she was nominated for an Emmy for her work as a Co-Executive Producer of the CBS hit series, Everybody Loves Raymond. She has written for many other prime time network television comedies, including ABC’s Coach, and has created original television pilots for ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox Family, Oxygen Network, and the Disney Channel.

Both a teacher and a consultant, Ellen provides script development and career coaching for professionals and emerging writers in the entertainment industry, as well as writing workshops and seminars at conferences and universities both in the US and abroad.

Do we need to tell you she has a ton of wisdom to share? Even if you haven’t read her book, you’ll benefit greatly from the interview. If you have, you’ll get a lot of extra depth.

Follow Ellen on Twitter: @sandlerink — or visit her website at www.sandlerink.com.

There’s a new homework assignment: To buy Small Screen, Big Picture, by television producer, bestselling author, and award-winning playwright Chad Gervich, and send your questions for the author to mail@tvwriterpodcast.com by April 22nd.

Buy Gray’s book for only $4.99! How To Break In To TV Writing: Insider Interviews.

Didn’t get your questions asked? Make sure you follow Gray on Twitter (@GrayJones) so you can get the scoop on who is being interviewed and how to get your questions in. Also check out our TV Writer Twitter Database to find Twitter addresses for over 1,000 TV writers. Find our previous episodes and other resources at www.tvwriterpodcast.com or on Gray’s YouTube channel.

 
Subscribe: iTunes (Video)iTunes (Audio)PodBean (Audio)
Hosted by Gray Jones, the TV Writer Podcast is devoted to interviews with working TV writers. It is brought to you by Script magazine and Scriptmag.com, the leading source for scriptwriting information in print and on the web.