Shonda Rhimes On Her New Series + Her "Pessimistic" Brand Of TV

by Tambay A. Obenson
May 19, 2011 3:24 AM
8 Comments
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It doesn't have a lot of shiny, happy people. I don't know if that's a real hallmark. I'm always very sensitive to the fact that people somehow think the shows are light and airy or optimistic. I don’t feel like I've ever written anything light, airy, or optimistic, because I'm not that person. People always tell me they associate my shows with romance and funny stuff and happiness, and I always think, I just put a shooter in the hospital that blew someone's brain out."

Top TV showrunner Shonda Rhimes talks to New York magazine about her new show Scandal (which stars Kerry Washington), process, and much more. It's actually a pretty good interview. Revealing... read the entire piece HERE.

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8 Comments

  • Dankwa Brooks | May 20, 2011 2:44 AMReply

    @Jug Good lookin out on that article. Interesting stuff...and just when I thought you were posting another one of your looooong posts. LOL.

    About your favorite quote from the article, Word!

  • Jug | May 19, 2011 9:15 AMReply

    And I think this is my favorite quote from the interview:

    "I am a perfectionist, but I feel like part of being a perfectionist is realizing that you have to decide the decision you're going to make and that's the perfect decision and you move on. Otherwise, I would never get anything done all day."

    Meaning you set parameters that force you to make a decision, and then you make that decision as good, "perfect", as it can be. That's what defines Art, the parameters, without 'em it's just a bunch of masturbating and practicing LOL

  • Jug | May 19, 2011 8:58 AMReply

    And on a semi-related note:

    from today's Variety:

    THE PAY GAP WIDENS IN TV-Minority scribes now worse off

    By Rachel Abrams

    The earnings gap between minority and femme TV writers
    and their white male counterparts has widened in recent years, according to the WGA West's latest report on scribe employment trends.

    In film, however, that gap has narrowed.

    Median earnings for female television writers hit $98,600, $9,400 below that of white male scribes and $13,925 above minority TV writers. TV gender gap is up 84% since the last WGA report, issued in 2009, which found a difference of $5,109 in 2007.

    At $55,653, median earnings for minority writers in film fell below white male and female wages at $76,517 and $62,500, respectively.

    The guild's "Hollywood Writers Report: Recession and Regression" analyzed employment data for writers and earnings by ethnicity, gender and age from 2008 through 2009. While the overall hiring of minority writers in TV has increased since the 2009 survey -- up to 10% of all TV scribes, from 9% -- the earnings gap more than doubled, representing the widest difference in a decade. Minority share of film employment, meanwhile, declined from 6% to 5%, its lowest level in a decade.

    Overall, femme scribes' share of industry employment dropped one percentage point to 24%, in part because of a slight decline in female writers for film from 18% to 17% between 2007 and 2009.

    "White males continued to dominate employment opportunities and earnings in both the film and television sectors," the report concludes.

    Writers between ages 41 and 50 made up the largest group of scribes in the business, although their employment rate remained flat at 61%. Scribes under 31 declined by four percentage points. TV writers 51-60 declined by 1% while writers 61-70 increased by 1%.

    Darnell Hunt, director of the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies and professor of sociology at UCLA, authored the report. "Diversity is not a luxury, not even in tough times," Hunt said in a statement issued by the guild. "The Hollywood industry, in the final analysis, depends on increasingly diverse audiences and on the stories to which they can relate."

    Report reasoned that the financial crisis of 2008 did not help close divisions among writers.

    "The road toward economic justice in America is a windy one, and progress has been most direct in good economic times," the report stated. "As the nation grappled with the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, the few hopeful signs for women and minority writers discussed in the previous report either disappeared or seemed considerably less encouraging by 2009."

    Data showed that the number of produced theatrical films in the U.S. declined by 25.5% between 2007 and 2009 from 909 to 677. WGA saw an increase in unemployed writers from 45.8% in 2007 to 48.4% in 2009.

    WGAW will make the full report, the eighth in a series issued since 1987, available in late summer.

    Org also highlighted its Writer Access Project, launched in 2009. Program aims to address "stagnation" in the increase of diverse television writers. Program is a script-judging contest designed to identify mid-level writers.

  • Jug | May 19, 2011 8:13 AMReply

    @Kia & Dankwa- Indeed. TV is a writer's medium, Film is a Director's medium, & stage is an actor's medium.

    And I've listened to some of the "notes" calls at networks and was floored at how ridiculous some of them were. You have to have a clear vision of what you want for your show, then the presence of mind to take in notes, think of which ones are good & which are not so good & then the ones which you HAVE to do to keep the show on the air.

    A brilliant skill Shonda has (heard it first-hand), is that by the time a notes call happens, she has already addressed it with her writers. That shows A) she's constantly looking at her stuff with a critical eye, totally on her game & B) she understands the tv landscape as well as the network landscape, knows what is coming down the pipe & cuts the bullshit off at the knees. Execs LOVE when that happens LOL

  • Darlene L. Stahl | May 19, 2011 6:59 AMReply

    Need to backtrack to "OFF THE MAP". I feel that it was in fact the best show on television. Close to 6,000 fans signed the petition to help keep OTM on the air, but it did not help. This show was brilliant beyond any show that is on television today. Many viewers do NOT like reality shows and some of us hardly turn our sets on because that has taken over the main portion of television viewing. I just want to say to Shonda Rhimes that we thank her for giving us a chance to see television in a light and hardy good old fashioned drama/way. This show made you laugh, cry and was very addicting and it is sad that it never had the chance to be viewed by more people.

  • Dankwa Brooks | May 19, 2011 5:00 AMReply

    Also from the transcript-

    "Do you care what fans think?
    I care, but any time I've ever sort of stopped and paid attention to what was being said or trying to shift anything based on what was being said, the show just started to suck really bad. It's sort of saying I hand my show over to the fans and it belongs to them. You can't do that if you're going to continue to be creative and create."

    I totaly agree with that. Everybody has an opinion and if you cater to those you can change the show from your vision into someone or a ton of other people's vision(s).

  • Dankwa Brooks | May 19, 2011 4:26 AMReply

    @Kia I agree. Starting out as a screenwriter I transferred schools so I could study directing and film (which I eventually got my degree in) and while I'm in love with directing right now writing is always my first love and I relish the control you have in television.

    I think I would like the freedom of HBO or Showtime, but wherever the opportunity comes along I guess...

  • Kia | May 19, 2011 3:56 AMReply

    Reading that article makes me want to segue into television in the future. I like the notion of harsh criticisms masked as "constructive discussions". :)

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