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Elizabeth Craft & Sarah FainSarah Fain - "Women’s Murder Club" Tv Series - Womenandhollywood.blogspot.com Interview
Tuesday 11 December 2007, by Webmaster
Interview with Sarah Fain, Executive Producer of Women’s Murder Club
Over the last six weeks of the writer’s strike most of the voices have been male since they do make up 80% of the writer’s guild. Women & Hollywood asked Sarah Fain, Executive Producer of the new ABC drama Women’s Murder Club (ABC, 9pm) to talk about being a female writer in the TV business and how the strike has affected her and her show.
Women & Hollywood: You’re in the middle of your first season on the Women’s Murder Club and you are now on strike for the foreseeable future. How do you think this will effect the momentum of the show?
Sarah Fain: It’s hard to say. At this point, there are so many possible scenarios. The strike could hurt us, it could help us, it could have a totally negligible impact, depending on how long we’re out and what ABC’s development looks like. It’s something I really try not to think about (which doesn’t mean it’s not a good question— I’m just trying to live in a certain amount of denial). I can tell you that we have a really great fan base, which pleases me to no end. And we all love working on the show. I’ve worked with some pretty fantastic groups of people, but our team on WMC is something special. So I hope we all get at least five years out of it.
W&H: Women are 20% of the writer’s guild membership, and in TV they make up about 27% of the writers. Why do you think it is still so hard for women writers to break into Hollywood?
SF: Depressing numbers. Yikes. Liz (my writing partner) and I talked a little bit about this whole woman-writer thing in Written By a couple months ago. It was a bit of a relief, because it’s something we’ve been hesitant to talk about with any degree of candor for a long time. And I’ll still be somewhat restrained, because we’re not sitting in my living room bullshitting with martinis and cigarettes. Although I don’t smoke anymore. And I don’t drink nearly enough. And my living room’s a mess.
Anyhoo— there’s no question that there’s a certain amount of sexism in this town. Probably in every town and every industry. For the most part, we just let it roll gracefully off our backs. I think if you’re not willing to do that, it’s harder to succeed. Which is screwed up and sad, but true. It’s just harder for women— and it’s not like it’s easy for men. Why is it harder for women to break in? I wish I had a good, specific answer for that. But it’s all so subtle. I will say that I think it’s getting easier. There are great men out there who really don’t operate that way— like Joss Whedon and Shawn Ryan, both of whom we’ve been fortunate enough to work for. And there are a lot of amazing women role models. People like Dawn Prestwich and Nicole Yorkin, Barbara Hall, and Yvette Lee Bowser. They made it easier for us, and hopefully we’ll make it easier for the folks who come around next.
W&H: Most of the voices we’ve heard about the strike has been male comedy writers. Can you let us know why you support this strike? Since women have fewer positions as writers do you think the strike will have a more adverse effect on women?
SF: This strike sucks for everyone. I think most of the voices out there have been male comedy writers because there are just so MANY of them. Throw a dart in this town and you’ll hit a male comedy writer. Or the model/actress he’s standing next to (read: hitting on). And I say that with love. There are many male comedy writers I adore. But you’re seeing them on the news because... well, they like to talk. A lot. It can be annoying. But the issues are the same for all of us. We all have a lot to lose— as do the actors, directors, and crews.
W&H: Most people don’t know the term showrunner. Can you explain a bit about what you do and how in TV the Executive Producers are writers where in film they are not.
SF: Showrunners are basically the people who carry the vision of the show and make sure that vision is being implemented throughout the process of creating a series— in the scripts, in casting, in the directing, editing, music, etc. Since Women’s Murder Club is our first show, we’re lucky to have Scott Gemmill as our co-showrunner. Which is extremely handy, because there’s a lot to do, and we can all split things up when it gets nuts. On any given day, a we’ll be in the writers’ room (hopefully) approving story ideas, giving notes on outlines and scripts, re-writing, sitting in casting or approving casting tapes, making notes on cuts or sitting in editing, taking notes calls from studio and network executives, approving production choices in any number of arenas (sets, wardrobe, props, etc.), toning directors, and managing whatever crisis happens to arise. It’s pretty much the best job there is— never boring, always engaging, creative, and of course insanely stressful.
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