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Women TV Writers: For Some, the Door to Adventure Is Shut

February 25, 1990

"The Women of TV's Vietnam" (Feb. 18) accurately depicts that there are few women writers working in the action-adventure genre but implies this is due to a lack of interest. Not true--it is lack of access.

As a former vice chair of the Women's Committee of the Writers Guild of America, West, Inc., I helped coordinate the Action Adventure Seminar held by that committee and mentioned by Sharon Bernstein in her article and would like to clarify a few points.

First of all, it's important to establish that Babs Greyhosky, then with Stephen Cannell as a writer/producer, did not conduct the evening seminar but was one of a number of speakers on the panel. She was quoted as having said: "There aren't a lot of women in it (action-adventure television writing) because I don't think a lot of women want to be in it."

It was surprising to read this because the room was filled for this panel, and we were turning people away.

Her remark: "I asked the women in the audience who had submitted scripts, and there were no hands." I don't see how she could have missed the sea of hands.

On the subject of access, I'm happy to learn that Toni Graphia of "China Beach" went from opening mail to selling scripts in just a few years under a Writers Guild apprenticeship program. Therein lies a dichotomy: Professional members of the WGAW are ineligible for such programs.

Because of this inequity, as a member of the guild's Human Resources Coordinating Committee, I suggested a program that would provide staff access for our own members. Unfortunately, the guild's Negotiating Committee never presented this idea to management.

In closing, I'd like to quote fellow WGAW member Migdia Chinea-Varela, who was also present for the panel, and who recently quipped in reference to our lack of access: "Apartheid will be abolished in South Africa before it's abolished in the entertainment industry."

I prefer to think, optimistically, that those women who have preceded us to the apex will not use the gangplank theory of "the cream rises to the top" but, rather, will use their positions to cure the access and employment problems, and mentor those coming up behind them.



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