Dennis O’Neal Watches His Character’s Translation from Comics to TV


Gotham’s Doctor, Batman’s Saint
by Dennis O’Neal

You may have seen it yourself: the scene a while back in which James Gordon and Dr. Leslie Thompkins stand in front of their police department colleagues getting very well acquainted. It happened during an episode of Gotham and although the television Leslie wasn’t the Leslie Dick Giordano and I introduced in Detective Comics #457, I didn’t mind. I know that television shows are not comic books: they have different techniques, strengths, weaknesses, and that the story being told there on the tube wasn’t our story and that serialized characters have to evolve if they are to survive for decades, as Leslie has.

In the weeks since the television Leslie was introduced, we’ve seen her become her own person – witty, intelligent, feisty. Independent. I’d happily watch her if her name were Honorifica Flabdiggle, especially if Bertha, like Leslie, were played by the talented and truly lovely Morena Baccarin.

She was created – Leslie, not Honorifica- to serve the plot of the particular story we were working on, to supplement Bruce Wayne’s biography, and to add an element to the Batman mythos.

I had a real person in mind when I was writing Detective #457, someone I’d once met named Dorothy Day. Dorothy began her professional life as a journalist, wrote a novel, lived the Greenwich Village life. In 1939, she cofounded The Catholic Worker, an organization located in a section of lower Manhattan not much frequented by the white shoe crowd. The Worker had three missions: to serve the poor by providing food, shelter and clothing; to help drunks get sober; and to protest war – all war, any war, and any violence.

We incorporated Dorothy’s pacifism into Leslie. There wasn’t much; I can’t recall any particular story in which it was a major element. But look for it and you could find it.

What the fictional Leslie did for Bruce Wayne was to serve as a surrogate for his murdered mother and to give him information; she told him that not everyone believed that violence solved problems. If Bruce had existed – these are fictions, remember – he might have been sympathized with Leslie’s convictions and regretted his own dependence on violence, while having nothing he considered to be another viable modus operandi.

I don’t expect to hear Dr. Leslie Thompkins endorsing Dorothy Day’s convictions. Gotham is a venue for action/melodrama, after all, and not a pulpit. And there are reasons why we respond to this sort of entertainment and they’re not too distant from the reasons our wonky species hasn’t gone the way of the dinosaurs. But still…what would be wrong with giving the video Leslie a pacifist leaning or two? She could maybe slip them into a subordinate clause where nobody would notice them anyway. And they would give the character Ms. Baccarin and her cohorts are so ably creating a nuance uniquely her own.

Just asking.

Rerun Century is the Classic TV Site We’ve Been Looking For
Free Videos and Twentieth Century Television

We got this email just the other day and found it fascinating:

Dear TVWriter™,

I run a site documenting free classic TV videos in the public domain. The videos are those in the massive catalog at Internet Archive. Videos are browsable by title chronologically and by genre, with thumbnails & episode summaries. EZ to binge-watch the classics!

Over 170 shows + over 1,300 classic episodes are indexed, including rarities.
No registration, no video advertising. All available free.

Bob Poulson

We’ve checked out the site, and it’s loaded with links to TV shows from the 1950s through the 1990s.

Basically, it’s an index to the  Internet Archive Moving Image Library Classic TV Sub-Collection. This means that the files have been virus-checked (although you should still scan everything before you open it cuz you can never be too, you know, clean) and that after downloading or streaming you won’t be receiving any valid “we gotcha now pay up” blackmail letters from the various trolls licensed by certain TV and film studios.

All in all, everything seems to be on the up and up at Rerun Century. The selection is excellent, and the Internet Archive makes it easy to embed material on your website if you want to. We’ll probably take them up on that embedding thing someday. Meanwhile – as in on this day – TVWriter™ would like to thank Bob Poulson for all his work, and for contacting us about it. What a great find.


Have you got an online treasure trove you’d like to tell TVWriter™’s visitors about? Give us a SHOUT.

2014 PEOPLE’S PILOT Finalists!

For contest ending June 1, 2014



ANGEL RADIO by Keith Davidson

BAZAAR by Lilly Slaydon

BLACK SHEEP by Shaleatha Palmore

BODIES OF WORK: NYC by Jorge Perez

EIDOLA by Robert Herold

FACING NORTH by Jorge Perez

PURITY by Jery Rowan

QUITO by Ben Streeter & Mark Curtis

RAT CITY by Robert Herold

RESERVE JUDGMENT by Darrell Dennis & Katya Gardner


STEAMPUNK WONDER by Tony Cammarata

THE PITS by Katie Hennicke


9-1-1ERS by Nadia Madden

BEST SELLERS by Michael Sumner

BITCHSLAPPED by Jonathan Eid

HORNY by Eugene Ramos

INCONCEIVABLE by Erica Slutsky



THE ANGRY GUY by Eric Fischler & Ami & Michael Goldwasser

THE SPYDERS by Vesta Giles


TOROBLU by Julie Livingson

WAKING GAIA by David Perlis

Congratulations from TVWriter™ to an impressive collection of People’s Pilot Finalists. We think that each and every one of the writers in this group has performed above and beyond the call of duty. You guys are awesome wordslingers indeed.

Picking winners from these entries isn’t going to be an easy task. You’ll probably hear the arguing of our Skype discussions ringing – or burning – in your ears.  But pick winners we shall, which means:

COMING NEXT TUESDAY – The People’s Pilot Winners.

Be here.

Want to See Some Commissioned Professional Pilot Scripts?

We’ve talked about the Google TV Writing site as one of the major interweb resources for professional pilot scripts, many of the  for our favorite shows, before. But now, thanks to FOTV (friend of TVWriter™) James Kelly, we’re here to tell you that there are even more – and newer scripts than  before.

Including these, from 2013-14:

How cool is all this?

Oh, c’mon. It’s even cooler than that. Right? Right?

Read and learn and write and prosper, gang!


Motion Picture Academy Announces 2013 Nicholl Fellowships

Nicholl Award Director Greg Beal – cuz it’s always good to personalize these things

by Team TVWriter™ Press Service

Ooh, a press release. And from the Motion Picture Academy!

It doesn’t get much better than this. Especially when the release is about a group of people very near and dear to TVWriter™’s heart: The finalists in the 2013 Nicholl Award Competition.

Take it away, MPAS:

Nine individual screenwriters and one writing team have been selected as finalists for the 2013 Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting competition.  Their scripts will now be read and judged by the Academy Nicholl Fellowships Committee, which may award as many as five of the prestigious $35,000 fellowships.

This year’s finalists are (listed alphabetically by author):

Scott Adams, Menlo Park, CA, “Slingshot”
William Casey, Los Angeles, CA, “Smut”
Frank DeJohn & David Alton Hedges, Santa Ynez, CA, “Legion”
Brian Forrester, Studio City, CA, “Heart of the Monstyr”
Noah Thomas Grossman, Los Angeles, CA, “The Cupid Code”
Patty Jones, Vancouver, BC, Canada, “Joe Banks”
Erin KLG, New York, NY, “Lost Children”
Alan Roth, Suffern, NY, “Jersey City Story”
Stephanie Shannon, Los Angeles, CA, “Queen of Hearts”
Barbara Stepansky, Burbank, CA, “Sugar in My Veins”

The finalists were selected from a record 7,251 scripts submitted for this year’s competition.

The 2013 Academy Nicholl Fellowships will be presented on Thursday, November 7, at a ceremony in Beverly Hills.

More about the Nicholl Award:

The Nicholl competition is open to any individual who has not earned more than $25,000 writing for film or television or received a fellowship prize that includes a “first look” clause, an option, or any other quid pro quo involving the writer’s work.  Entry scripts must be feature length and the original work of a sole author or of exactly two collaborative authors.  The scripts must have been written originally in English.  Adaptations and translated scripts are not eligible.  The earnings limit for 2013 is an increase from the $5,000 limit in previous years.

Fellowships are awarded with the understanding that the recipients will each complete a feature-length screenplay during their fellowship year.  The Academy acquires no rights to the works of Nicholl fellows and does not involve itself commercially in any way with their completed scripts.

The Academy Nicholl Fellowships Committee, chaired by producer Gale Anne Hurd, is composed of writers Naomi Foner, Daniel Petrie Jr., Tom Rickman, Eric Roth, Dana Stevens and Robin Swicord; actor Eva Marie Saint; cinematographer John Bailey; costume designer Vicki Sanchez; producers Peter Samuelson and Robert W. Shapiro; marketing executive Buffy Shutt; and agent Ronald R. Mardigian.

Since the program’s inception in 1985, 128 fellowships have been awarded.  Several past Nicholl fellows have recently added to their achievements.  Destin Daniel Cretton wrote and directed “Short Term 12” from his Nicholl Fellowship-winning script; the feature has received tremendous critical acclaim this year at screenings at international festivals and in theatrical release.  Creighton Rothenberger co-wrote “Olympus Has Fallen,” which opened in theaters this past March.  Several fellows currently have projects in post-production: Cecilia Contreras and Amy Garcia wrote “Dear Eleanor”; Anthony Jaswinski wrote “Random”; Karen Moncrieff wrote and directed “The Trials of Cate McCall”; and James Mottern directed “God Only Knows.”  Rebecca Sonnenshine is a writer and executive story editor on “The Vampire Diaries” on The CW.  Andrew Marlowe is a writer and executive producer, and Terri Edda Miller is a writer and consulting producer, on “Castle” on ABC.