Inside the Archive: Meeting Millie

We imagine, perhaps a tad too idealistically, a simpler life where milk was delivered to your doorstep and a loaf of bread went for only a dime. While this era, now fifty or sixty years removed, seems somewhat ancient and unrecognizable, it would be remiss to say that today’s human experience is significantly unique or singular—because it’s not. Why else do timeless classics such as Casablanca or North By Northwest still enthrall and captivate audiences around the world? Don’t we all still wish to love, live and, of course, laugh?

Case in point: Meet Millie (1952-1955), is a TV series the WGF Library recently acquired through the family of Howard Leeds, one of the show’s main writers. It hysterically follows the life and exploits of Millie Bronson (played by Elena Verdugo, who sadly passed away last week) as she attempts to make her way in New York City while living with her wisecracking mother and trying, albeit sometimes hopelessly, to gain the affection of her boss’s son.

Meet Millie is a remarkable comedy in that it stands the test of time and can truly hold its own with even its strongest contemporary, I Love Lucy. Even though six-plus decades have passed since the show’s end, Millie constantly finds herself in gut-busting situations that are still quite relevant today, such as returning unwanted Christmas gifts for much more useful cash, and trying, unsuccessfully, to sneak out of work on a Friday afternoon. So come in, sit back, and enjoy a blast from the not-so-long-ago past in Meet Millie, a little known gem and remnant of the Golden Age of Television.

Stop by the library and peruse the countless award winning scripts. If you watched it, we almost certainly have it. 

WGF Exhibits: The Life and Legacy of Mary McCall, Jr.

Debuting this week in the WGF exhibition cases at the WGAW Headquarters is a look at the life and legacy of screenwriter Mary McCall, Jr., the first woman president of the Screen Writers Guild.  The exhibition traces McCall’s story from her college days as editor of the student newspaper at Vassar through to her early success as a novelist and her career as a screenwriter in the 1930s and 1940s on such movies as Craig’s Wife, Maisie, The Sullivans, and Dancing in the Dark.

The exhibition also shines a light on McCall’s commitment to fighting for the rights of Hollywood’s writers.  Items on display include a ballot, photos and correspondence from the 1940s, when McCall was twice elected president of the SWG, and material from her controversial third term as president in 1951-52, at the height of the blacklisting era.  The exhibition explores how McCall stood up to studio head Howard Hughes when he insisted on denying credit to a writer who had appeared as an unfriendly witness before HUAC, damaging her own career in the process.

Included in the exhibition are rare photographs and personal items on loan from the Mary McCall, Jr. family, as well as materials from the WGF Archives and the Margaret Herrick Library.

Behind the scenes of the set of the film CRAIG’S WIFE (1936). From left, editor Viola Lawrence, star Rosalind Russell, screenwriter Mary McCall, Jr., and director Dorothy Arzner.

Last week, we celebrated women in writing

Last week we held a gathering in the library to celebrate women in writing – from the early days, when writers like Anita Loos, Dorothy Parker and Frances Marion reigned, to modern times, when writers like Robin Swicord (MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA, LITTLE WOMEN) and Winnie Holzman (WICKED, MY SO-CALLED LIFE), Veena Sud (THE KILLING), Michelle Ashford (MASTERS OF SEX) and Terri Edda Miller (CASTLE) actually joined the celebration.

We’re always proud to celebrate the milestones made by writers of all stripes. In today’s industry climate, women are underrepresented in just about every profession, so it’s vital that the conversation continue.

And we were thrilled that so many writers and industry professionals showed up to help us celebrate. Take a look:

Georgia Jeffries, associate professor at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and a member of the WGF board of directors, speaks to the crowd.

Georgia Jeffries, associate professor at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and a member of the WGF board of directors, speaks to the crowd.

Robert Nelson Jacobs, WGF Board President, also addressed the crowd...

Robert Nelson Jacobs, WGF Board President, also addressed the crowd…

 

...as did WGF Executive Director Katie Buckland.

…as did WGF Executive Director Katie Buckland.

The crowd in question. The library was packed from wall to wall!

The crowd in question. The library was packed from wall to wall!

Everyone came to celebrate women in writing.

Everyone came to celebrate women in writing.

Drinks were served by scotch ambassador Martin Daraz.

Drinks were served by scotch ambassador Martin Daraz.

We were also joined by Miranda Banks, assistant professor at Emerson College's department of media and visual arts. Miranda is author of the book THE WRITERS: A HISTORY OF AMERICAN SCREENWRITERS AND THEIR GUILD, and performed much of her research for the book in the WGF Archive.

We were also joined by Miranda Banks, assistant professor at Emerson College’s department of media and visual arts. Miranda is author of the book THE WRITERS: A HISTORY OF AMERICAN SCREENWRITERS AND THEIR GUILD, and performed much of her research for the book in the WGF Archive.

We also featured an exhibit of archival materials spotlighting women in writing - like Lillian Hellman's original application to the Screen Writers Guild.

We also featured an exhibit of archival materials spotlighting women in writing – like Lillian Hellman’s original application to the Screen Writers Guild.

...And this letter to Mary O'Connor from the office of Cecil B. de Mille.

…And this letter to Mary O’Connor from the office of Cecil B. de Mille.

 

The Linda Woolverton Collection

Over the past year, we’ve been spending quite a bit of time with Linda Woolverton. We interviewed her at the 2014 Newport Beach Film Fest, then again at the 2014 Austin Film Fest, and she’s helped us give writing instruction and opportunities to deserving kids through Ghetto Film School. Oh, and she recently donated a screenwriter’s ransom in great materials to our archive.

If her name doesn’t ring a bell, Linda has written and contributed to many of Disney’s most enduring modern classics, like BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, MULAN, THE LION KING and more. She also wrote live-action Disney flicks like MALEFICENT and ALICE IN WONDERLAND (as well as its upcoming sequel).

The Linda Woolverton collection includes a wide array of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST materials, including handwritten notes from Jeffrey Katzenberg, a beat outline, character notes, and, presented here in part, an outline of the entire script.

Here are the final three pages of that outline, beginning with Beast’s efforts to woo Belle once he’s realized he’s in love with her, and including Belle’s release and the final battle between Beast and Gaston.

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To learn more about how you can view items the archive – and, remember, anyone can view these, not just WGA members – click here to contact our team.

Our Online Exhibits: BROADCAST QUALITY

In the days before our entertaining and information-rich blog – which you’re reading right this very second – we commonly posted collections of artifacts from our archive in online exhibits organized around a given theme. We’d focus on things like the early history of the Guild, or the long process of turning a set of notes scribbled on a legal pad into a final draft. We even designed a whole new way to flip through the images – all hi-res, of course – and annotate them.

Those exhibits were pretty cool, and we’re very proud of them.

But guess what? Through the magic of the internet, you can still visit those exhibits right here on our website. Because we still have them! See? Told you we were good at archiving.

Over the next few weeks we’ll take a look at each one in turn. This week we’ll focus on BROADCAST QUALITY, an exhibit that offers a look at scripts, pitches, notes and treatments from the top 20 shows in the WGA’s list of the 101 best-written television shows of all time.

Click here to just go on ahead and check out the exhibit. Once you’re in there, use the navigation arrows to flip between pages, and the little magnifying glass tool to zoom in and out.

Everything in the exhibit is just a sample of the physical items we have in the archive. From story notes for ALL IN THE FAMILY…

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..to the show bible for THE WIRE, where McNulty is referred to as McArdle…

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To script pages for amazing shows like ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT…

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…BREAKING BAD…

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…THE SIMPSONS…

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…and THE WEST WING.

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Want to see more? We’ve got stuff from THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW, M*A*S*H*, SEINFELD, HILL STREET BLUES, and much more.

Click here to check out the exhibit. Questions about our archive? Contact our archivists!

 

 

Writing About Writers: The First Ever History of the Guild

Congratulations to Miranda Banks, assistant professor of visual and media arts at Emerson College, on the release of her book The Writers: A History of American Screenwriters and Their Guild. This marks the first published history of the Writers Guild of America and is based on painstaking research conducted in the Writers Guild Foundation archive and library over the last six years. If you’re curious about “the thorny tale of the union that has represented [writers] for more than eighty years,” we’re proudly displaying our copy in the library for your perusal. Congratulations, Miranda!

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Our Amazing Historical Find: THE PHOTODRAMATIST

Here’s one for the Hollywood history geeks out there. We recently discovered this remarkably pristine copy of the first issue of THE PHOTODRAMATIST from July 1921. THE PHOTODRAMATIST – and we wouldn’t blame you for not knowing this, for reasons that’ll become clear soon – was the official publication of The Screen Writer’s Guild, or the organization that would later become the Writers Guild of America. It’s not in mint condition, but considering it’s nearly a century old, it’s pretty astonishing how well it still hangs together.

But the book’s condition pales in comparison to its role in the history of screenwriting. Prior to discovering this book, we believed THE SCREEN WRITER, which began publication in 1945, was the first official publication of the Guild. We also used to believe that the Guild only existed as a social club, and not as a professional organization for writers, before 1933 – but the existence of THE PHOTODRAMATIST proves otherwise.

Our library and archive director – herself an expert in Guild history – didn’t even know that the Screen Writer’s Guild was referred to as such before 1933. And then we discovered THE PHOTODRAMATIST. Here it is:

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And here’s the proof, right on the second page, that it was the “Official Organ of the Screen Writer’s Guild of the Author’s League of America.” No giggling at the word “organ,” please:

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Like most trade publications, PHOTODRAMATIST was packed with articles about the craft, as well as resources for writers looking for work, like this “photoplay market” listing:

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And, of course, ads for courses and tools to make you a success in Hollywood:

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…But unlike, say, Plumbing & Heating Contractor News, the Guild’s trade publication had poetry in it:

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It even had a gossip section:

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If you’re interested in learning more about the history of the WGA – and of screenwriting as a job, an industry and a craft – check out our archive.

The David Fury Collection

Last week’s GENRE SMASH! featured TV writer extraordinaire David Fury, who’s written for groundbreaking shows like BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, 24 and LOST – not to mention other great stuff like FRINGE and BUFFY spin-off ANGEL. We’ll have a podcast posted soon, but in the meantime, take a look at some of the incredible materials David donated to our library and archive! (UPDATE: Click here to listen to that podcast!)

Major and minor spoilers abound for BUFFY, ANGEL and 24: LIVE ANOTHER DAY here, so as our friend Walter White might say: Tread lightly. 

First off is a draft of “Lies My Parents Told Me,” the 17th episode of the final season of BUFFY, featuring more of Spike’s backstory. Here are some images of the first page.

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David also gave us his copy of “Parting Gifts,” the tenth episode of ANGEL’s first season. In the episode, Cordelia learns that the recently departed Doyle has passed on his clairvoyant abilities to her.

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Note the silver brads. The BUFFY and ANGEL writers’ rooms used exclusively silver brads as an homage to the supernatural subject matter. No word on whether Seth Green had a problem with this.

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David was invited to work on 24: LIVE ANOTHER DAY, the recent chapter in the story of Jack Bauer’s series of terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days. Here are some notes he put together at the beginning of the writing process for the show – note the early stages of modeling Chloe O’Brian’s character development after real-life hacker/journalist/political asylum enthusiast Julian Assange:

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Finally, we have pre-production materials for “Walkabout,” the fourth episode of LOST, in which we learn that John Locke… well, if you’re still here, you know that Locke was in a wheelchair before his time on the island.

Locke hunts boar in that first episode, so David provided us with his research.

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Here’s the first page of the outline.

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Finally, here’s the episode’s reveal – again from the outline.

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All these items are available in our archive.

Like I said, we’ll post the audio of our interview with David soon – he’s hilarious and charming, and if you’re a LOST fan, you’ll learn some pretty amazing stuff. Keep watching this site! And happy holidays!

There are eight million stories in the Naked City. We have 59 of them.

Stark location shooting on the streets of New York City. Ripped from the headlines scenarios written so well that the show attracts a staggering list of prestigious actors as guest stars. Emmy nominations in nearly every category for setting a standard of excellence in police procedurals. Can you name that show?

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Before you guess LAW & ORDER and get “The Clang” stuck in your head, let’s jump back several decades to find the real answer. From 1958 to 1963, ABC aired a groundbreaking crime drama that would serve as a template for every police show to follow, LAW & ORDER included. Shot on location in New York City, NAKED CITY brought gritty realism and moral ambiguity to television. The show was also known for its outstanding writing, due in no small part to Howard Rodman, veteran television writer and future Laurel Award winner, who was brought in as story editor when the series evolved into an hour-long show.

Thanks to a generous donation from the Rodman family, our archive now contains a beautifully bound 10 volume collection of 59 scripts from NAKED CITY’s run.  In addition to serving as story editor, Rodman had a hand in writing 26 episodes, including the highly regarded “Sweet Prince of Delancey Street” included in this collection.  The Howard Rodman collection is on display and available to view in our library, so stop by for a look at the police procedural that started it all.

FAN FOODS: CHOCOLAT Closing Scenes and Historical Hot Chocolate

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It only makes sense that we should end our series on CHOCOLAT in line with the close of the film. And the very last page of the script, the very last bit of chocolate to make it onto the screen is hot chocolate. It signifies the balancing of Vianne’s life, the end of her wandering and the solidification of her and Roux’s relationship.

Hot chocolate also features in Armade’s introduction to the chocolaterie. And even beyond the characters, harkens back to the early Mayan and Aztec cultures – Vianne’s roots – in which chocolate, in its unrefined state, played key roles in ritual sacrifice, mythology, the lives of the royalty, and everyday currency.

It also was most often, in its earliest form, a drink.

Armande Hot Chocolate

“When we modern Westerners think of chocolate, we think of it in its solid, sweetened form, and this is reflected in the undue emphasis which much food writing gives to solid chocolate. Yet during nine tenths of its long history, chocolate was drunk, not eaten,” explains one of the books used in the research and writing process of the screenplay, the charming True History of Chocolate by Michael D. Coe and Sophie D. Coe.

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The decision to infuse Vianne’s background with Central American roots put new emphasis on her character’s journey and her role as a healer. In the writing, Jacobs gave himself “permission to say, ‘well what if the traveling angel needed to change herself? And that she’s not only healing this village but that the village is healing her.’”

This beautiful theme of redemption delivers to us “a lift” just as Vianne promises Armande in her hot chocolate.

Roux Hot Chocolate

We’ve had such a fantastic time diving into the CHOCOLAT materials, which are available here in our very own WGF Archives. We owe a huge thank you to Robert Nelson Jacobs for donating said materials and obliging us in our love of all things chocolate and social media. We also owe huge photographic credit to Garlic, My Soul, their photos being light years ahead of our shaky hands with damaged iPhones.

Stay tuned because we already have another Fan Foods series in the works that we’re completely nerding out about.

And be sure to check out the first and second posts in the CHOCOLAT series.

RECIPE:

Ingredients
2 3oz bars dark chocolate (70% or above)
2 cups 2% milk
1 tablespoon agave
½ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon coriander
½ teaspoon cinnamon
A few drops of vanilla

Directions
1. Roughly chop the chocolate into small squares.
2. Using the double boiling method (mine included a large bowl over a skillet of softly boiling water), melt the chocolate and stir until smooth.
3. Slowly stir in milk until you have your desired texture.
4. Stir in spices and lastly add vanilla.
5. Best consumed at a chocolaterie café counter or with your food blogger friends in the 90 degree LA heat. Still good.

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