HBO has announced the eight writers chosen to participate in its 2019 HBOAccess Writing Fellowship, an eight-month program offering master classes and mentorship with an HBO executive as the writers develop a pilot script for HBO.
This year’s participants are:
This is the third year for the HBOAccess writing program, which is held in conjunction with the Writers Guild of America and runs every other year.
TVWriter™ congratulates all the fellows. We look forward to seeing you follow in the footsteps of previous fellows who have worked on HBO series run by David Simon, Joss Whedon, and others.
Russell T Davies, AKA RTD, is one of this TVWriter™’s writing heroes. Without him, we wouldn’t have had the “New Who” to love for the past 14 years.
He’s no unsung hero by any means, but as far as I’m concerned his song hasn’t been played loudly enough. This interview is mostly about his upcoming BBC series Years and Years, starring Hugh Grant, but what we enjoyed most was the chance to visit a brilliant writer who honestly feels that:
“Caring for my husband is the greatest work I’ll ever do”
by Ginny Dougary
Russell T Davies arrives slightly breathless and immediately friendly. He is tall (6ft 6in), dressed in a plaid shirt, jeans and hiking boots with a rucksack slung over one shoulder. In a single bound, he enfolds me in the warmest of hugs and pours himself a cup of tea.
It’s intended to be set in a dystopian future but feels anxiously all too recognisably like today. Did he feel that he could write quickly enough about the future to be ahead of the material he was creating?
“The world is now so mad that it’s faster than my imagination,” he says. “I mean, at no point could I have imagined Donald Trump standing in a gold room full of hamburgers. It’s impossible to predict.”
With the exception of Thompson, who plays populist celebrity-turned-politician Vivienne Rook – think Katie Hopkins meets Nigel Farage – the others are members of the Lyons family who live in Manchester. It’s an epic drama, with a shocking finale in the first episode, but at its centre lie the ties and tensions of family life.
As Davies says, it’s quite tricky to describe, “which is almost a worry when you’re pitching and selling to people because I like a one-line pitch”. I say it’s Peter Watkins’s 1965 The War Game meets Davies’s own Queer as Folk meets Doctor Who… “meets Cold Feet,” he adds. “The nice Manchester happy people. I love Cold Feet. Please bring back Cold Feet. PLEASE! This year was SO brilliant. Do I write a letter? Do I join that bandwagon?”
The futuristic elements in episode one of Years and Years are tweaks of what exists now. Mobile phones are not triangular or circular or crazily different, but you can just tap one to another and contacts are miraculously transferred. The family talks regularly to one another in a big simultaneous conversation, walking around the house – not trapped by a screen on their mobile phone – “It’s a conference call, in a sense, but an updated one….”
Speaking of the Writer-Agent War, did you know that David A. Goodman, President of the Writers Guild of America West is also David A. Goodman Executive Producer of The Orville? And that’s a subject on which he also has a lot to say?
by Anthony Pascale
The second season of The Orville concluded last week with the time-bending episode “The Road Not Taken.” TrekMovie had a chance to talk to executive producer David A. Goodman who wrote the episode and we walked about the finale, the second season in general, and what’s next for the show. We also talked a bit about Star Trek as Goodman is a former writer/producer on Star Trek: Enterprise and he has also written a number of Star Trek books.
What goals did you have going into the season that you feel the second season of The Orvilleachieved?
We had a couple of goals at the beginning of the year. Seth [MacFarlane] really felt strongly – and we all agreed – that even though Seth’s brand is comedy, people who tuned in to this show were okay with this show being serious. There were obviously light character moments throughout, but we definitely went away from the harder-edged humor. There are always comedic elements of humor in our show. There is always strong character comedy in the show and how people relate. But now, we really felt that this show lives in the space of doing serious drama and serious issues with this light touch in it, but that we don’t need to lean into the comedy as heavily as we might have earlier in the first season.
The other big takeaway after the first season was that we set up this universe, it is our own universe, and people like to play in that universe. People like to have continuity from one episode to the next and build out our alien species. So, for instance, we went back to the Moclans a couple of times this season and really explored stuff that we started early in season one. And we got to see our Union Council chamber and our Union president and built out the admirals. We had these great guest star admirals: Ted Danson, Ron Canada, Kelly Hu, and of course Victor Garber, who has been our central admiral. This season really filled in the details of our universe.
And then it was really getting into nuts and bolts of where our characters really lived. So, Ed and Kelly and making sure we kept that central dynamic fresh and alive and fun and interesting. So, we have Kelly with a boyfriend and Ed dating younger Kelly. That was what I think fans and what we as writers really enjoy about these characters. We also felt like Gordon needed more screen time this year. We really didn’t give him his own episode last year, so Scott [Grimes] got two really big episodes and he is a terrific actor and that character is so much fun. And I think the Claire/Isaac relationship was something we started talking about at the beginning of the season and we wanted it to play out the way it did and we were so happy getting to watch Mark Jackson and Penny [Johnson] act with each other, and her boys, who are both such terrific child-actors. In all of that way, we are filling in the details of our universe both in a broad sense and in a small sense.