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Sexism Watch: The Hollywood Reporter Writer's Roundtable 2012

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by Marian Evans
November 20, 2012 6:45 AM
4 Comments
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L-R: Mark Boal, Michael Haneke, John Krasinski, Judd Apatow, Chris Terrio, David Magee

I’m a scriptwriter who writes scripts that tell stories about women. Scriptwriting’s a solitary activity most of the time and it’s arduous, but the voices of other scriptwriters talking about writing nourishes me and my work. Often it doesn’t make a lot of difference if I hear a woman’s voice or a man’s. I need them all. But I was very unhappy when The Hollywood Reporter claimed that its annual writers roundtable “…typically draw a diverse groups of talented people. But the six men who gathered Oct. 2 … might be among the most eclectic bunch we've ever assembled”.

It’s not true that the annual roundtable is diverse and that this is an eclectic bunch. Last year it was all-male and all-white too, even though women wrote screenplays that were eventually Oscar-nominated – Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig’s Bridesmaids and Bridget O'Connor with Peter Straughan for Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. This year there are more women who would have shined at the roundtable, like Ava DuVernay whose Middle of Nowhere script must be a serious contender for a Best Original Screenplay nomination and Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens who wrote The Hobbit alongside Peter Jackson and Guillermo del Toro. Maybe the Reporter is saving Ava for the best director roundtable.  (One can only hope.)

What about Rashida Jones who co-wrote Celeste and Jesse Forever or Vanessa Taylor’s Hope Springs? Or Sarah Koskoff who wrote Hello I Must Be Going? Or Melissa Rosenberg, screenwriter of the Twilight films, who is the highest grossing female screenwriter. And yes, Mark Boal’s there as the writer of Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow’s latest, but does the gender of his director make a difference? Not to me.

Who are the other women who could have been there this year?

THR's Writer Roundtable: Osama bin Laden, Why 'Schindler's List' Is Irresponsible and When Judd Apatow Was a Dishwasher (Hollywood Reporter)

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4 Comments

  • Alan | November 27, 2012 1:58 AMReply

    Oh, for the love of ... I'm sorry, but this just sounds like diversity for its own sake, not because you want to celebrate the achievements of female writers. I agree with you that Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig should have been there last year (Bridget O'Connor, too, SHOULD have been there but COULDN'T because she lost her battle with cancer) because they ACHIEVED something with their scripts: 'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy' is a beautifully executed adaptation of very difficult material, whilst Mumolo and Wiig took material that has been done a thousand times and executed it better than any romantic comedy in recent memory. Those are actual achievements. But Rosenberg, a writer who consistently rewrites the rules of screenwriting ... and fails, do you really think she deserves to be in the same room as Haneke? Should the writer of 'Hello I Must Be Going' be there over the writer of 'The Hurt Locker'? Should Judd Apatow - the man who has defined American comedy over the past five years - step aside in favour of Vanessa Taylor? This is hysteria over a non-story (Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens are the only writers you've mentioned that deserve a place at that table): I'm sorry you thinks it's sexism because the guy who did 'The White Ribbon' and 'Hidden' beat out the likes of Rosenberg. It's clearly "sexism".

  • BECCA | November 21, 2012 10:22 PMReply

    I am agreeing with both below. The slap in the face is calling it "the most eclectic bunch we've ever assembled." That's what we call laughable and inept analysis. Furthermore, with Duvernay, Shelton and Rashida Jones all with movies that are worth talking about, how on earth are they not talking about them and thinking that's okay. Phewy!

  • SARAN | November 21, 2012 5:26 PMReply

    Great post. Ava DuVernay should have been there without question and didn't Lynn Shelton write her wonderful film?

  • Jen | November 21, 2012 1:12 PMReply

    I felt the same way when this issue came into the house. I'm so sick of this crap! The group consisting solely of white men was one thing. Then they made it worse by calling the group "diverse" and "eclectic". That photo looks like (a modern) Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Price. Not only is THR out of it and sexist, but don't ANY of the men at the round table look around and say, "Hunh. I wonder why there are no women here. Or people of color."? Doesn't Judd Apatow work with women writers a lot of the time (Diablo Cody & her Fempire)? Women get one issue a year (coming out in December) so is that it? THR is off the hook? I think not! Shame on them.

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