It was “A Night in the Writers’ Room over at Variety the other day, and here’s what some top TV writers had to say:
by Elizabeth Wagmeister
Comedy scribes Adam F. Goldberg, Mike O’Malley, Jennie Snyder Urman and Jill Soloway gathered for a panel at Variety‘s A Night in the Writers’ Room event Tuesday evening at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills Calif.
With so many examples of television comedy represented — “The Goldbergs,” “Survivor’s Remorse,” “Jane the Virgin” and “Transparent” — moderator Cynthia Littleton, Variety‘s managing editor of TV, asked what makes up the varied genre nowadays.
“I feel like the 30 minutes thing seems to be the main delineater now,” Soloway said, referencing the new Emmy rules, and then quickly correcting herself as she looked at Urman, creator of the hourlong “Jane the Virgin.” (The CW series successfully appealed its drama categorization so the show will beconsidered a comedy for this year’s awards.)
Emphasizing the importance of storytelling, Soloway continued, “I’ve always sort of considered myself both a comedy and a drama writer. For me, I’m always just going for the real moments. I try to cast people who make me laugh. And then when I’m directing and writing, I try to make it feel real.”
Urman, who also focused on character-driven storylines, never even considered “Jane” being an half-hour series. “It was always an hour because of the amount of storytelling we wanted to do. I always wanted it to be a really sort of meaty, emotional journey that the character would take on, and the whole area would be wacky and whimsical.”
The panelists who represent all TV platforms — broadcast, cable and streaming — spoke to network notes. Each has had very different experiences.
“I set out to do a network family comedy,” Goldberg said. “As far as constraints, I’m on ABC. They have a Disney-friendly brand. I’m not looking to reinvent anything. I want to be family-friendly, but also push it a little bit.”