… and New York, for that matter. And I’m talking about WRITERS!
Of course, there are some small roles in film and television that are played by unattractive female actresses (the psychotic neighbor, the diner waitress, the homeless woman, the awkward teen friend, etc.) – and we sort of understand why ‘on-camera’ talent has to have a certain look.
But writers? Why do they have to look a certain way? They just have to be able to write. Right? Quasimodo should be able to make it in this town – that is, if Quasimodo was a really good writer. Is that naive?
Being fairly new to L.A., I was shocked to learn that the new crop of budding female screenwriters (those under 30) are freakin’ hot. And, of the females out there writing (and there are millions), the hot ones seem to be the only ones getting meetings.
There is a very high profile production company down the hall from my office which receives a good amount of foot traffic from writers pitching script ideas. The males that come in are pretty much all unattractive, unkempt and fat (the standard male screenwriter uniform of baseball cap – [Cubs preferably], shorts and a giant t-shirt is a cliche… but in this case, a true cliche). [Note: If the male screenwriter becomes successful, then his body changes - he's still unattractive but now he's 'kempt' and very much in shape. Success leads to getting laid, getting laid leads to getting in shape.]
The female writers that come in are all hot. There’s not one Wendy Wasserstein in the bunch. Some wear glasses to have that ‘smart’ look – but they all accentuate their boobs and have a nice tight ass. Perhaps this current wave of new writers was influenced in some way by Scriptgirl411. Even though ScriptGirl is mostly satire, there is a certain fantasy that male producers have (and have had since Hollywood began) and she hits it right on the head.
Female screenwriters make up a extremely low percentage of screenplays written in this town (oh, let’s say 2%, though accurate data is very hard to come by) – so I suppose when male producers feel they need to hire a female to give the script a ‘certain voice’, being the shallow boys that they are, they would prefer to spend all that time with someone hot. That’s pretty much the way this town works in every area of entertainment (even catering… thank you Giada De Laurentiis!).
I do believe this is just a fad and it will change once some of the beautiful but untalented writers start to get screen credits and the movies fail at the box office. Talent will win the day – much as it did for older male screenwriters who were shut out in the 90s for younger guys right out of film school.
Today, it doesn’t seem to matter how old a male writer is, the quality of the script seems to win out. This is mainly due to the low number of projects being greenlit and the low tolerance for bad writing. Top male executives (and a couple of females) at production companies and studios can no longer take a chance on being the “cutting edge” type or “trend setting”. In today’s economy, their jobs and bonuses are very much on the line – so they’d better get it right (write).
However, it’s funny, but when it’s a hot, young, female screenwriter, film executives have an amazing tolerance for bad writing. This, too, will change.
Talent will win the day – though it’s much easier to get tits in the door than a foot.
Jill Kennedy – OnMedea