The original post for this episode can be found here.

John August: Hey this is John. So, today’s episode has some strong language and a discussion of sexual violence and related topics, so you might want to consider that before listening.

Hello and welcome. My name is John August.

Craig Mazin: My name is Craig Mazin.

John: And this is Episode 367 of Scriptnotes, a podcast about screenwriting and things that are interesting to screenwriters.

Way back in October 2017 revelations about sexual harassment and assault by Harvey Weinstein kicked off the Me Too and Time’s Up movements. Now nearly a year in we want to take stock of where we’re at and there is no human being I want to talk to more about this than Aline Brosh McKenna. Aline, welcome back to the show.

Craig: Welcome back, Aline.

Aline Brosh McKenna: Thank you for having me.

Craig: Oh.

John: So, we’re catching you on a hiatus week, so you’re busy doing Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, but this week you’re not shooting.

Aline: We’re down from production, but we’re writing a ton.

John: All right.

Aline: So we get to write without the drumbeat of shooting.

John: That’s great. So, when do we get to look forward to the first episode of this new season? The new final season?

Aline: I think it’s October 12. If it’s not, it’s very near October 12.

John: Fantastic.

Craig: That’s close enough.

John: That’s close enough. We have so much follow up to get through and you can help us get through this.

First off, just today as we are recording this on Thursday, the Academy bailed on the Popular Film category.

Craig: Weird.

John: Weird. Can’t believe it. The quote was that “while remaining committed to celebrating a wide spectrum of movies, the Academy announced today that it will not present the new Oscars category at the upcoming 91st awards.”

Craig: Yeah. Because it was a bad idea. So, they bailed on it. I give them credit. They waited a respectful amount of time and it was a well calibrated amount of time. Not so soon that they would be open to charges of just responding to Twitter, but you know, not so long that it seemed like maybe they weren’t responsive at all, or it was too late before the awards came around. They timed it beautiful. It was inevitable. It was a terrible idea.

John: Aline, you write popular movies. I mean, what is your feeling about this kind of award?

Aline: Look, I think that the Academy has done a great job with opening up the membership, trying to stay relevant, and you know they want people to watch the Oscars frankly. They just want people to pay attention to it. And I think they’re looking for ways to make it more compelling for people. And the Oscars are a big part of the excitement of being an Academy member and watching the Oscars. And they’re trying to draw more people and get more people excited about movies. I’m not mad about that.

I think they floated it. They got feedback about it. They responded to it. I find them to be very classy in the way they communicate. They were trying I think further study, maybe there’s something they can come up with. I don’t really know what the answer is to get people to really dig in and watch award shows. This one or any other one. I think we’re just moving in a direction where people don’t sit down and watch/consume those things in the same way. And I don’t know how you make it the Super Bowl. It just may never be.

Craig: It’s never going to be the Super Bowl. You’re right. I’m certainly with you 100% on the motive here, because I consider myself a pretty average person when it comes to watching the Oscars. I don’t particularly care, I’m sorry to say, when the big categories are dominated by movies that are little seen. I work in Hollywood. I don’t work in not-Hollywood so I want the Oscars – when you look at the history of Oscars and you see who you used to win it was – so I get that.

You know, my dorky idea is to limit the best pictures to movies that have had a release that is above a certain number of screens. Just say, look, this is for movie movies. It’s not for movies – also just I find the whole like we put our movie out on one screen on December 20th. It’s just so dorky and annoying.

Aline: But the flip side of that is those movies need that. Black Panther doesn’t need the Oscars and those little movies do and there’s a whole economy, rightly or wrongly, there’s a whole economy that has sprung up around those small movies and they live and die by that award season.

Craig: I think it’s wrongly. I do. I’m concerned that what’s happened then is that that has back fed into the way independent movies are made also. Once again, the Weinsteins unfortunately and their corrosive influence on our business in so many different ways. They kind of did it. They were the ones that sort of warped both the awards and the movies through the way that they began to game the system and the whole experience of being in Hollywood when these movies come around and it’s award season and the whole thing. It’s a little gross.

Aline: Isn’t it interesting also though in television now there are these debates about these categories, comedy and drama, and it’s like, well, but you know a lot of the dramas now are comedic and the comedies now are dramatic. And so there’s a little bit of a tussle with that.

Look, it’s not an exact science really and merit in an artistic enterprise is, you know, a little bit of a fool’s errand anyway.

Craig: Yep.

Aline: But I really can’t fault the Academy for trying to get people excited about mainstream Hollywood movies because, you know, It Happened One Night swept.

John: Yeah.

Craig: That’s right.

John: Could not be a more popular movie.

Craig: That’s right.

Aline: And that would be on Netflix 100%.

Craig: And even if it were in theaters, and were a massive hit, at no point would it ever even be considered. It would be foolish. They’ve already kind of tried this in the way that they expanded the amount of movies that could be nominated for an Oscar. So you can get movies like The Blind Side nominated, but everyone gets it. It’s like, oh, you could draw a line here. These are the five that would have been nominated had this system not been expanded. These are the ones that wouldn’t have been. So that stuff is sort of fakey.

I just wish that the Academy would come at this from the point of view of, look, we have a priority and the priority are movies that people know. Instead of saying our priority is – or like let’s just create a side kind of carved off thing of like here’s your pity award, popular movie. But I don’t know the answer. And the good news is I’m not in the Academy like you guys, nor will I ever be.

Aline: Oh that’s baloney.

John: That’s such baloney.

Aline: Oh, oh Craig.

Craig: You watch what happens.

Aline: I’m very excited for Craig to get inundated with Emmys and have been because I can’t – it’s just going to create such an existential–

John: Absolutely. Like who is Craig if he’s not a person who complains about this?

Aline: Mobius loop that’s going to cause his brain to explode.

Craig: I will be there at any award show – any award show that dares have me. I will – it’s like Jerry Seinfeld’s award speech is the greatest. Have you ever seen that?

Aline: No.

Craig: OK. That will be my One Cool Thing. We’ll get to that.

Aline: Oh, OK. I have a writer’s award speech that I love, too.

John: All right. Second piece of follow up is IATSE. So we talked about the Editors Guild, which is part of IATSE. IATSE has a new basic agreement. They’re trying to get their members to vote for it. One of our listeners tweeted at us the link to the website for the IATSE basic agreement which is basically sort of this big, shiny kind of propaganda site saying like here’s why the basic agreement is so great. Here’s why you should vote for it.

As I look at this I can see sort of why they have this site they want all their members to vote for it. But I noticed as I looked through it like there are a bunch of photos. There’s no photos of women. It’s all photos of men outside working at sunset. It sort of looks like it’s an ad for lens flare. So, I just want to – I will put a link to this in the show notes. It’s probably going to pass, but if I were a member of IATSE or one of these guilds that’s not sort of represented in these photos, like for instance a woman, a costumer, an editor.

Aline: It’s amazing how much–

Craig: A grip.

Aline: That still happens where you’ll see a panel that’s all women or sorry, no women, or all white, no people of color, or you know in this day and age you’d think that people would be examining the optics a little bit.

John: Another company that could have examined the optics a little bit better was Final Draft this last week.

Craig: Oh yay.

John: So this was tweeted at us late last night, on Wednesday. It was a Final Draft Guide to Formatting and–

Craig: First of all, can we just stop right there, before we get into the meat of it. The Final Draft Guide to Formatting. Oh my god, is there anything they won’t do? The point of the software, the point of all screenwriting software is to format for you. Now they’re going to – do they sell that thing?

John: No, no. It’s a free–

Craig: It’s free. So now they’re just doing more promotional stuff. It’s their Guide to Formatting. You don’t need it. The software does it. It’s not that exciting. Ugh.

Aline: So they made this thing look exactly like the Scriptnotes logo.

Craig: Exactly.

Aline: My question is: were they trolling you guys?

John: They were not trolling us apparently.

Craig: Yes they were.

John: We complained on Twitter.

Aline: Hundo P.

John: We complained on Twitter. The new head of Final Draft, who is not the same head of Final Draft who came to talk to us on the podcast a zillion years ago.

Craig: Did the old guy – did he finally get brought up on RICO or something?

John: We have no knowledge of anything related to that. It was not an insinuation. It was just a question.

Aline: Does he swim with the fishes?

John: But I talked to the new person who is in charge who apologized and so they’re changing their artwork and that’s water under the bridge. But thank you to all of our listeners who pointed this out to us.

Craig: And you know what? To be fair, they did the right thing here. So, you don’t get credit for doing what you were supposed to do in the first place, but it’s at least fair to acknowledge that they didn’t fight you on it.

John: Uh-uh. No.

Aline: It made me happy.

Craig: Well, of course, me too. And this followed the natural order of things, which is somebody winds me up on Twitter. I go running to podcast daddy. And then podcast daddy handles it. Perfect.

John: All right. A few episodes back I spoke in this very room to Kate Hagen about why some movies aren’t available to rent or buy online. So I’d been looking for The Flamingo Kid. I couldn’t find it. A listener Matt wrote in with some helpful insights into these hurdles for releasing old titles. He used to work in home video. And he says, “A decision to release these older titles comes down to risk. And it rarely makes sense on an individual title basis to take the risk. The risk is either financial, spending money to clear a song or a piece of stock footage, or legal when there’s an unclear chain of title, either for an entire TV series or licensed media within an episode or a movie.”

So I’ll put the full response he had up on the blog so you can read it. But it’s probably true. So he’s making the point that it might take $30,000 to clear that one song in a movie and like you’re not going to make the $30,000 out of it. So–

Craig: Yeah.

John: It’s going to have to be a more systemic process to try to get those movies back online.

Craig: You know, right now there’s too much stuff for me to watch. So, I mean, I love Flamingo Kid and it would be great to see it again, but every day someone says to me, “Oh, have you seen blah-blah-blah?” No. “Oh my god, Craig.” Sometimes they’ll say my name three times. Tess Morris did it to me, just today. “Craig, Craig, Craig.”

Aline: Yeah. People freak out about stuff.

Craig: I’m like, oh god, I’ve got another thing?

John: But I mean you can’t find Cocoon. You can’t find True Lies. There’s some big titles that are unavailable.

Craig: Do you know that crazy fact that’s been going around about Cocoon recently?

John: Tell me. Oh, Wilford Brimley and Tom Cruise.

Craig: Yeah. Which is incredible. Wilford Brimley in Cocoon, turns out he was 23 years old.

Aline: He was 18. He was graduating.

Craig: He was just graduating. He had to actually have a teacher on set.

John: Now, Aline, we’ve not discussed this ahead of time, so I need to know whether you’re on my side or Craig’s side, because a recurring feature we’ve added to the podcast is Change Craig’s Mind, and specifically on ventriloquism. How do you feel about ventriloquism? Is it an art form or is it terrible?

Aline: I think it’s both.

John: OK.

Craig: That’s me. I think she’s siding with me.

Aline: It’s an art form. I think it’s extremely hard to do. I think it’s not for everyone.

John: It’s certainly not for Craig. So we’ve been trying to change Craig’s mind and make him appreciate–

Craig: It’s so dumb.

John: The great things about ventriloquism. So–

Craig: Look at me. Look at me. I’m not opening my mouth. I’m just talking like this. I’m not even opening my mouth.

Aline: I mean, the people who are good at it are really amazing at it.

Craig: I guess so. But congrats.

Aline: They are.

Craig: Ish.

John: All right, so–

Aline: Some people feel that way about magic.

John: Yeah. I have brought up magic right from the very start. So, I want to pitch three things that listeners have pitched towards me about trying to change your mind on ventriloquism. Emily Fortuna tweeted a clip of Shari Lewis and Lamb Chop. How do you feel about Shari Lewis and Lamb Chop?

Craig: There’s a little bit of nostalgia for Shari Lewis and Lamb Chop, although now that I think of it the one ventriloquism act that I really enjoyed was Wayland Flowers and Madam because Wayland Flowers–

Aline: It’s a comedy act.

Craig: It’s a comedy act. And Wayland Flowers and Madam–

John: As opposed to all the serious ventriloquism. All the dramatic ventriloquists.

Craig: OK. Fair.

Aline: Well it’s not like little kidsy.

Craig: Yeah. But so it was on Solid Gold and it was my first introduction, I guess that’s inherent in introduction, it was my introduction to campy queer humor. And I was too young to understand what was going on–

Aline: You know what was that for me?

Craig: What?

Aline: Match Game.

Craig: Well, sure, of course, Charles Nelson Reilly.

John: Hollywood Squares and Paul Lynde.

Craig: And Paul Lynde. Exactly. Like we all had our way in, but I remember Wayland Flowers and I’m just thinking this guy is hysterical. And the puppet is hysterical. I don’t know why, but I’ve never quite seen anything like it, and I don’t really understand. But it made–

Aline: It can be the vessel for something wonderful. How about that?

Craig: That was it. I will salute Wayland Flowers.

John: Listener UC tweeted a clip of 12-year-old Darcy Lynne on America’s Got Talent. She’s a ventriloquist who sings. Her puppet sings. You’re not buying that?

Craig: I mean, just sing then. Is she a good singer?

John: She’s a good singer.

Craig: Lose the puppet. Let’s do it.

John: Finally, I bring out the big guns here. Avenue Q. So I know how much you love a musical.

Craig: It’s not ventriloquism.

Aline: It’s puppetry.

Craig: They’re not even trying. That’s puppetry. Exactly.

John: OK. So that is the distinction you’re willing to make. So puppetry, yes.

Craig: Yes. Because you’re literally seeing them on stage singing out loud. They’re not trying to hide that they’re – that’s the part of ventriloquism. Like open your mouth and do the jokes. Get rid of that thing. Yes, no, Avenue Q totally different.

John: So Craig likes ventriloquism as long as they’re not actually doing ventriloquism.

Craig: I like puppetry and I like gay ventriloquism.

John: All right. I feel like, I don’t know if we changed Craig’s mind, but we’ve actually opened up—

Aline: You’ve gotten some tiny concessions, yeah.

John: Yeah. We’ve poked some holes in his–

Craig: You’ve found some subtlety in my position.

John: All right. I’ll take it.

Craig: Minimum. Minimum subtlety.

John: Minimum. Let’s get to our feature topic. So, prepping for this episode I made a list of at least 30 men and one woman who did really shitty things. And today I want to focus on what it’s like to be on the receiving end of this behavior and the systems and belief that sort of lead to that. So, Aline, maybe you could get us started. As you look back at what’s happened over the course of this past year where do you think the film and TV industry has made some progress and where has it fallen short? What are you seeing and feeling?

Aline: We’re really focused on the individual incidents. And we’re really parsing them. And that’s important for victims and it’s important for people to get the legal system if necessary, or also for people to be heard and I understand that. But I thought it was a good opportunity in a podcast that deals more generally with the business to take a little bit more of a bird’s eye view because to be honest I don’t often follow the exact fine points of every single case. I have in some, and some more than others. But one thing I’ve sort of been yearning to hear a discussion of is the fact that this has been, if you take a broader view away from the individuals, this is something that’s been happening since the day I got here.

And what I would love to see and the point that I would love to get to is where we change the conversation and we change the norms so that individuals have something to conform to which is consistent. And what’s interesting is I have also had to confront the ways in which I was part of the problem. In the years that I came up I experienced, especially when I was younger, I joined the Writers Guild in 1991. I was 23. And so I was a very young woman when I started working and as you might imagine I’ve had every variety of weird thing said in front of me.

And what I developed was a system of like hey this is going to happen. You’re going to go into a meeting. They may talk about your tits. You need to have a strategy for what you do. So much so that that’s something that as I got older I would impart to younger female writers. And what I realized that instead of coming up with ways to change the system what I was basically saying to them is, hey, it’s a jacked system. And here are ways that you can moderate your behavior to not put yourself in those situations, respond when it happens, and triumph regardless.

And I now sort of feel bad about that because I never really would say to young women or to myself, OK, here’s how you stand up for yourself. I took it as a given that you’re going to be in these meetings and weird things are going to happen and you just have to figure out a way to deal with it. And what I think is a huge opportunity now is to change the rules overall so that everybody knows there are certain things you don’t say or do. And we can do that as a culture. There are words we know you just don’t say anymore. You know, words that you and I – all three of us grew up hearing and no one says them anymore. You would not say them in polite – obviously in impolite company people might – but in polite company you don’t.

For many years, you know, my husband works at a corporation and I was working in Hollywood and I would tell him stories of things people said to me. And he would say if that happened at my company the sprinklers would go off and somebody would come out and cart that person away.

John: Yes.

Craig: Yeah.

Aline: And I don’t want to give you like tons of – we all have anecdotes. I don’t want to give you tons of stories. I can tell you a couple of like – a very brief one. One is I had a writing partner. We went to a meeting. In the meeting, while I was looking away, there were two men. One of them asked if we were fucking. He went like, he made a gesture and did the fist pump. While I was sitting there.

Craig: Like a silent check in with the guy?

Aline: Yes. Silent check in with the guy while I was slightly looking the other way. I had a very big meeting on a very big movie and it was a meeting with a director. And there were nine men in there. And it was a huge opportunity for me. And I was still in my 20s. And I walked in and I met the director and we had never met before. And the first thing he said to me in front of everybody was, “Oh, no, you’re engaged. Oh.” That’s the first thing he said. And I responded with, I said, “Fuck you.” Because that’s what came out of my mouth.

I wouldn’t advise that. I thought it was a mistake at the time. One person maybe laughed. But it wasn’t a very diplomatic way to do it. I’ve also had – I went to a meeting very pregnant and the male executive, again, there were about seven or eight guys there, and the male executive said, “I guess today would be a bad day to punch you in the stomach.”

Craig: What?

Aline: Yeah. So what I did was I developed a whole way of like making it OK for myself. Making it a funny story or calling my girlfriends. I never would call my agent and say, “Hey, this shitty thing happened to me. You’ve got to call this person. This is not OK.” Because this is the thing I really just want to get across. When people say, “Someone whips out their dick, why didn’t you walk out of the room?” Somebody says, “You’re not getting out of this room. I’m in my bathrobe with my balls hanging out. You’re not getting out of this room.” People say, “Why didn’t you walk out? Why didn’t you speak up for yourself?”

And that’s what I really most want to speak to. You have to understand as a young writer and as a young woman the number of times that you get in a room like that where you have an opportunity, where you’re with a big boss, where you’re with a big executive, or the big director, they’re so rare. So to be confronted right away with, “Oh, you’re engaged, blah-blah-blah,” is like you have now been reminded that you wanted to come in and be seen as a writer and a creator and you’re seen as a girl to date. And you get paralyzed. And the best example I can give for this is I have twice had massages with male masseurs.

Craig: Masseurs.

Aline: Where I was uncomfortable. One was when I was in my 20s and one was a couple of years ago. A couple years ago it got uncomfortable. I stood up and I was like, hey, I don’t think the side of my breast is really, not a lot of muscles in there that need to be massaged. But when I was twenty-something and the massage was a little bit more up the thigh than necessary I did nothing. But not only did I do nothing, for the next 20 years I told people the story that I had gotten off the table and walked out. Because it’s so – you’re ashamed. You’re embarrassed. You’re paralyzed. You’re afraid. That’s what fear is. You are paralyzed.

So you’re afraid and you’ve just been told we don’t take you seriously. You’ve worked so hard to be here. You’ve written this script. Or you’ve gotten this meeting. And this person has just said, oh, I see you as a sexual object. I don’t see you as a writer. I don’t see you as a creator. I look down on you. So that’s a combination of the shame and the fear.

I’m now 51 years old. I might be able to say, “Hey, screw you buddy. That’s not OK. Do not say that to me. And do not say it to anyone else.” But when I was 24 years old, no. And you should not be asked to do that. So we need to stop asking women why they didn’t behave in the way you think they should have behaved.

Craig: Yeah.

Aline: And I just think some people do not understand what it – I want you to really put yourself in those shoes of needing a job and being afraid and being told I see you as a receptacle for my jizz. And how that feels when you’re trying to respect yourself as a human being.

So, there’s that. And then I also want to say there are obviously individuals who are bad actors, but there’s also a system in place where those people do not get moved, do not get replaced, and I never told my agent because I didn’t want my agent to go say to them, “Hey, Aline was really uncomfortable. You can’t say to someone who is 8.5 months pregnant that you’re thinking about punching them in the stomach. That’s not OK.” We’re all trying to get our stuff made and be successful. And we shouldn’t have to be in situations where there’s no one you can tell.

So now that I’m an old bat, we had a situation where somebody came to interview for the show and was very harass-y to Rachel. Said – I won’t tell the whole story but was very disrespectful, making jokes about the fact that she had slept with a friend of his, which she hadn’t. And she is an improviser so she Yes-Anded him and tried to make it funny and make it OK. And I called his agent and I said, “Not only does he not have this job, he will never work anywhere where I am. And you need to speak to him, OK?”

But that’s not the way things work. And that’s the way things should work. It should be as unthinkable – if you walk in and someone approaches you sexually, and I’m talking about do not mention you think they’re cute, or dateable, or you’re sad they have a boyfriend, or do you have a boyfriend, or gee I love your hair. Like just don’t. That’s not the place to do that. Do not remind women, men, anyone. Do not remind people of their sexual value in the workplace. Just don’t do it. It’s optional. Don’t do it.

And if it happens we need to make sure that those people are not afraid to then go tell their agent or tell the executive or tell that person’s boss to say, hey, that was a weird moment for me. It’s not OK. Can you talk to that person and let them know that that’s not OK. We don’t have those systems in place.

John: No.

Aline: There’s nothing like that. And as a young writer I would often say – my agent would say, “Oh, this person…” Like I was in a meeting once and somebody came in and said, “Here’s the coverage for Aline’s script.” And my agent got all mad and wanted to scream at them. And I was like don’t scream at people. Please. I don’t have a career yet. Right? So as a young writer you don’t want to put up impediments. But certainly in this situation the last thing you want to do is say, hey, this person is a creep.

And so in all of those instances what I just developed was a thing of like I’m going to make a joke in the moment, get past it, tell my friends, and nothing actionable.

John: So in most of these circumstances you were doing what Rachel did which is that you were just Yes Anding. You were just trying to get through the circumstance. That’s why you weren’t running away and stopping the moment from happening. But now you can see that in doing that it was a natural reaction, but then in then telling other people like, oh, this is how you have to behave, it’s almost like you were helping maintain this system, this corrupt system.

Aline: Right.

John: By not speaking out about it—

Aline: You walk into a meeting, a guy pulls out his dick. It’s not incumbent upon you to say, “Hey sir, this is not a meeting for dick pulling out.” Just be safe and get out of the room. You need to then be able to call somebody. And what we need to work on–

John: Is the somebody.

Aline: Who is the somebody? OK? Because when you’re a successful writer and you have a fancy agent, great. But when you’re starting and you have a manager who needs these relationships too, is that going to work? So that’s one thing. We need to have a way for women, men, anyone who feels like they’ve been harassed, who are they talking to? How is it being addressed? And then the other thing is we need to understand what it feels like and how bad it feels. And we are scaring people out of the business.

So, you guys know me. I’m a tough lady. And I was tough when I was 23. I was like fuck – that’s literally – I said to that guy in a meeting in front of all these people, “Fuck you,” and then I went on with my life. He did not bother me anymore. You can’t ask that of people. Writers are sensitive people. You can’t ask them to start their career and say, “Hey,” you know, one time I went into a meeting and a man took my picture. Before I sat down he took my picture and put it up above his desk. We shouldn’t have to say to women, “You need to have strategies.” It should be not acceptable. Just culturally not acceptable.

If you – and people are like, “Well what about office romance, blah-blah-blah,” if you have a legitimate love feeling for this person and they do for you, you guys will sort out an appropriate moment. That’s not what we’re talking about. None of those, by the way, none of those guys who said those things to me wanted to sleep with me. One of those guys was married to a very beautiful movie star when he said that to me. It is not about sex. It is about saying, “You are less powerful than me. I want to remind you of it. I do not see your work primarily and I know there’s no one for you to tell.”

And that’s what I would love for the conversation to be about as opposed to I understand we need to have the conversation about individual instances, and they need to be adjudicated, but I would love to broaden it out so that there’s action items for all the people who want to change the culture. And I think one thing we could talk about today is how do we do that.

Craig: Well, I mean, so much to say. First of all, beautifully put. And I feel strongly that whatever people did back then, we’ll call it before Harvey, BH, it’s hard to blame anybody for any of it. And I certainly would hope that you don’t blame yourself for what you did. You actually did what made sense. The system was jacked. There was no effective way to I think protect each other from that sort of thing without bringing down some kind of incrimination or retribution. And so you would have been I think doing people a disservice in that environment. The environment has changed. Now we do have the possibility, I think, of justice. So the question is how do we go from the possibility of justice to actual justice.

And I would say – and I try and say this to men all the time now – anybody who is a writer, it’s easy to talk to writers about this. You’re a writer. That means therefore when you started in this business you were pissed on. So, guys, remember that feeling? Right? Now, we didn’t even have the sexual component. Add that on top of it, just for extra humiliation. But you remember how they made you feel small? That, but worse all the time.

Aline: And someone saying, “Your dick must be small. You must have a big – what’s your dick like?” And the other thing that men want to – they want to talk about what they like sexually. I would say a huge percentage, especially when I was young, oh, so I just came away from that meeting knowing that that gentleman likes 69. I don’t know why that was being discussed. But what you said is right. We’ve opened the door. I want to make sure that there’s a little bit of a thing of like we’ve opened the door, let’s round up the 12 people who are doing this.

Craig: No, it’s not 12.

Aline: And we’ll get rid of them. And then we’ll be fine. It’s not that.

Craig: It’s not.

Aline: It’s a systematic way that we communicate with people, and it’s exactly what you said. It’s with people who are less powerful. We need to teach people how you communicate with people who are less powerful than you.

Craig: And the this part – see, we concentrate on the most violent and horrifying of the this’s. Rapes. And full on sexual assault. But every day people are being made to feel small in a way that isn’t illegal, it’s just wrong.

John: It’s just shitty.

Craig: It’s just shitty. And it’s hurting people.

John: So, my initial question to you Aline was in what ways has this year brought progress and what ways have we really fallen short. And I was trying to answer that question for myself. Some of the things I felt like we made some progress on is, yes, we’ve called out some of the worst offenders. And we’ve acknowledged that there’s writer on writer harassment happening, too, which in some cases, especially in writers’ rooms, that’s been really one of the biggest problems. And we’re also taking these claims more seriously. So, when a claim is made we take it at face value. This is a person saying that this is a thing that happened. We’re not immediately dismissing those.

But I fully agree with you that we’re not setting up the systems to keep it from happening again. It’s like there’s a hurricane. Like each one of these instances is like a hurricane.

Aline: Yes. That’s what it feels like.

John: And so like oh that hurricane passed, but we haven’t actually figured out like, wait, are we rebuilding the city properly so that the next hurricane won’t destroy us? And I don’t think we’re doing that at all.

Aline: Each one now is getting less response because it’s like we’re getting inert to it. And so in a weird way we’re reifying the system. And if I’m a young woman I’m saying – what I’m seeing is like it seems to be not a big deal, so somebody gets accused and there’s an article about it and not that much happens.

John: And they go on kind of a leave but not really a leave. And they come back.

Craig: Well, there’s a certain amount, this is unfortunately a limitation of the human mind, right? There’s a certain amount of signal that we can process before – literally neurologically we become somewhat numb to it. We see that with politics on the grand stage. Something that would have stopped us all dead in our track as a country for a month now goes by in a morning.

Aline: Right?

Craig: So that is a real thing. Two areas where I see hope, and I’m curious what you think and if you agree. The first is that for men I think either they are inherently decent men who now see that they can do better and they just didn’t realize, right? And then there’s the other guy that’s a dick but he’s afraid. In either case maybe they correct their behaviors. And the other area I see hope is just the fact that the generation coming up is different. And so you will not have an agent who upon fielding the call of bad behavior goes, “Don’t rock the boat.”

Aline: Yes.

Craig: Which is the only agents we ever had when we started.

Aline: You just said something really smart, though, which is I don’t actually care if you’re a nice person, or you just know you can’t, as long as you’re not doing it.

Craig: As long as you’re not doing it.

Aline: I don’t really care. And I think you’re right. I think a lot of those people in those stories, they’re actually people that I’ve known for a long time and they’re not evil people. They were reflecting the values of the time which is like I’m going to flirt with this young writer and that’s going to make her feel – I mean, that dumbness.

But the other thing that I see happening with that is so people are trying to put women, people of color forward now. Right? And we’re trying to say, “Oh, we’re so proud. All of our episodes have been directed by women. And look at all the people of color.” And I have had a lot of cis white men say to me, “I’m getting locked out of stuff.”

And what’s interesting about it is they are being told and that’s the funny difference is like I know a lot of cis white guys who someone has come to them and said, “I would hire you if you weren’t a white man, but I can’t hire you because you’re a white man.”

Craig: Right.

Aline: And I know how – or I can’t do your script because it has a female lead and you’re a man. And that must feel horrendous to be told that. However, I’ve confronted that my entire career. I know it feels bad, but no one would admit it. So I also felt crazy.

The one story I will tell in a little bit more detail is I was at a dinner. I was already quite successful. I had very successful movies out. I was a dinner with a bunch of other successful male writers. And they were talking very pretentiously about–

Craig: As they do.

Aline: Like really pretentiously about how they start their movies and what their first scenes are. And it was super pretentious. And it was like eight guys and me, and a couple other of my dude friends, and we were looking across the table like oof. And so these guys were going on and on, really pretentious, and I wasn’t really participating. Pause in the conversation. And one of them turns to me and says, “So, Aline, in the stuff you write do you have to think about those kinds of things, or not really?”

John: Ooh.

Aline: And I was like, no, no, I just makeover first scene, blah-blah-blah, and I just mix them up, and then I just go bum, bum, bum. It was insane.

Craig: Yeah.

Aline: And one of the men came to me and he said, “I am sorry. I am humiliated. I am humiliated to be a white man. I’m so sorry that happened to you.” But what I’m saying is like it’s not OK to say to someone, “We can’t hire you for X.” That’s illegal.

Craig: It is illegal. It’s also happening.

Aline: It’s happening overtly.

Craig: It’s always happened. Yes.

Aline: But what’s so fascinating is people are very upset about it and I completely understand that because I have experienced it, only everyone acted like I was nuts for pointing it out. Hey, why can’t I get a meeting on that? Why is this a nonfiction book about a working mom and you met with five women and one man and you hired the man? Which happened. You’re made to feel like you’re cuckoo. And I understand how frustrating and difficult and painful it must be to be told we don’t have – our shop is not open for you. And people are taking a weird glee in saying it.

Craig: Also just you can really set your watch to Hollywood fucking things up. You know, you can. Because the truth is – there is no way to handle the math easily and fairly, particularly when you’re looking at it as math. Our minds don’t work very well that way.

But, they are so stupid in the manner in which they will just say, “Oh yeah, you’re a white guy, they’re not going to hire you over there. Or you can’t write that because it’s a show about so and so. Or you can’t write that movie.” And really – I mean, if I were running a studio I would have no problem saying to a writer, “Listen, if you write this let me show you what will happen on Twitter. Now, do you still want to write this?” And then we can have that discussion. That’s a reality.

John: So, I’ve been saving a story for the two of you, because I really want to hear your opinions on it. I’m 90% sure neither of you have ever heard this story.

Aline: Great.

John: But I have told it to other people, so there’s documentation out there. And actually one of the things I’ve learned over the course of studying sexual harassment in the WGA is how important it is to document the things that happen. So, if you have this crazy meeting and someone does this stuff, you send yourself an email with all the details so then you can decide later on if you want to report it. So, I didn’t send myself an email, but I know the dates on all this.

So in 2003 I was hired to write Tarzan for Warner Bros. And so the producer on the project was Jerry Weintraub. I don’t know if you guys know–

Craig: Jerry Weintraub.

Aline: I did two projects with him.

John: All right. Part of the reason why I can tell this story–

Craig: Can’t defame the dead.

John: You cannot defame the dead.

Craig: In the United States. Turns out in Russia you can.

John: Very good. So, I was at a meeting at his office on the lot, of the Warner Bros. lot. So in the meeting it was me and Jerry Weintraub, three other people, so there’s a producer–

Aline: Like that dark room with the low couches and the–

John: The low couches, although it’s bright sunlight. So it’s important to acknowledge that it was a bright and sunny day. It was a morning. So it was me, Weintraub, another producer, an executive at his company, and a studio exec. And so they’re all men and me in the room. I think it was a Monday because Jerry Weintraub started off by telling this story about what he did over the weekend. And so his story took about three minutes to tell. I’m going to condense it down and simplify it a lot.

So he’s with two prostitutes. They’re in bed with him. He wants to have sex with them but in order to do so he needed to inject his penis with his medication that would allow him to maintain an erection.

Craig: The Harvey medicine. Apparently Harvey had the same thing.

John: So unfortunately he was so drunk that he jabbed the needle into the wall and broke the syringe and therefore couldn’t use it. And so–

Craig: How do you miss your dick and hit a wall?

John: That’s a great question.

Craig: Wow.

Aline: This is told like what you do this weekend?

Craig: I’ve got a funny story to tell you.

John: And so he tells the women in bed with him like, “Sorry ladies. Just play with each other. I can’t help.” So I remember sitting there listening to this conversation. And you do enter this fugue state. Wait, is this real life? What is happening? And if this conversation was happening in a bar at 10pm, like I’d have a frame of it. But it’s not. We’re all sober and it’s bright sunlight. And what is going on here? And I remember thinking in that moment it was like, oh, this is why they didn’t hire a woman for this – they couldn’t hire a woman for this job because they wouldn’t feel comfortable telling this story in the room and they want to be able to tell this story in the room.

I left the meeting. I called my agent, Kramer. I told him what happened. That was nuts. But in that circumstance I wasn’t sexually harassed. None of this was directed at me. It was kind of a hostile work environment to some degree. But I don’t even know, if this happened today there would be no place for me to kind of report it or acknowledge it. It’s just like what is that? What is it like if there’s—

Aline: So that’s my question. So now you’re a big fancy writer. So you could have called Kramer and say, “Not cool. Can you call Jerry’s executive and say, ‘Listen, not my favorite conversation,’ and just note to self: don’t do that. Like if you’re in the room with a young woman she might feel really comfortable.” Whatever. Like that’s just not a thing, right? So my question is if you’re 24 and this happens to you, what can you do besides telling your friends on a Facebook group this person is a creep? What are we actually offering people?

John: We’re not offering anything yet.

Aline: That’s what I would love. I would love if the Writers Guild or the Academy or somebody had an institution that you could call and say–

Craig: But the problem with–

John: The commission is supposed to be doing that.

Craig: This instance is one of those areas where the inherent limitation of any path is revealed. Because what he’s done there, what he did, is depending on the circumstances either gross or hysterical. And that’s the problem.

Aline: And I think it is, look, boy, it’s funny that that struck because that like wouldn’t even register on the amount of – like I’ve talked to – you know, guys saying dirty stuff or wanting to, it’s trying to determine when it’s just like someone telling some outrageous story about their weekend and when it’s grooming, or testing, or pushing.

John: It wasn’t any of those things.

Aline: And I do think that, again, we’re always saying to the victims of this, “Are you sure? Is that what they meant?” You know, did he just pull his dick out the way friends pull their dicks out?

Craig: Well, that one, there’s a clear bright line there. But the problem is–

Aline: Do you know what I’m saying?

Craig: Any commission will have to ultimately evaluate some things. And this is the worst possible position to be in.

Aline: The tricky thing is, especially when you’re starting, is that their relationship with that executive trumps their relationship with this baby writer who is not making them any money.

Craig: Yes. But I will say, like earlier you said it’s not our responsibility ultimately to explain to a bad actor why they’re doing the wrong thing. It’s the companies that ultimately are liable for all of this.

Aline: That’s right.

Craig: And they need to have a policy in place that they put on their employees and their contractors that says you can’t tell that story. Period. The end. This way we don’t have a burden of figuring it out.

Aline: That’s right.

Craig: And if you do – here’s a person here at Warner Bros. that you call. And then this person gets pulled into an office and smacked over the head. That’s the only way this gets solved. By them. Right?

Now, the danger of course is that sometimes the people that are the bad actors are the ones that are running the freaking company.

Aline: And that was the thing with Harvey’s company.

Craig: With Harvey, and apparently with Les Moonves, where it’s going on at CBS. I mean, my experience with the Weinsteins obviously did not involve any sex, but I will tell you, and I’ve said this before on the show, that what you said about shame resonates completely with me. The one thing I never do, and I’ve never even had the instinct to do, is question why somebody wouldn’t walk out of a room. Because I have been in a room where I have been berated and demeaned and mocked and cursed, things that I should have never–

Aline: Right. And then you have to add onto to that that the person is saying like, “Yeah, you got no tits. So you don’t need to worry about that.”

Craig: Oh no, not even close to that. I’m at level one of that. And I’m stuck in my shoes. I can’t move.

Aline: That’s right.

Craig: And I’m scared and intimidated. And I also have a sense of the structure of the world and me walking out doesn’t fit in that sense of the structure of the world. So, yeah, at level one I’m stuck in my shoes. That’s why I’ve never once questioned why somebody, especially when you add physicality into it. Even beyond the tonation of sexuality, the fact that somebody big and fat and strong and you’re maybe a 110-pound woman. That alone.

Aline: Right. I think people need to take the sex out of these. They need to be thinking in the same way that I’m not going to say certain words, that this is not a forum for sexy stuff. If you have been working on that movie for six months and you guys were buds and you were telling silly stories, that’s one thing. But a preliminary meeting is not your opportunity to tell me about how much you like a finger up your butt when someone is blowing you, which happened. Because even if you think that’s a funny story and you’re a nice guy, if I’m a 24-year-old single gal now I feel threatened. And the funny thing was in that meeting where the guy said to my writing partner “Are you guys fucking” I happened to be wearing a skirt. It happened to be a floor-length worsted wool skirt, but it was a skirt. I did not wear another skirt in a meeting for 20 years.

Because every time I wore a skirt something strange would happen. And I don’t think it’s because like I’m such a hot piece of ass that people needed to get some of that. It’s because I was singling my womanliness. And so it was just like they had to make it text that I was a female.

Craig: Right.

Aline: Don’t talk about it. Don’t talk about someone’s gender. Don’t talk about their orientation. Don’t talk about their race. When you see somebody from another race don’t talk about the fact you like Thai food.

Craig: Food.

Aline: Stop putting those things in play. And I understand we work in a creative business. If it comes up later, when you’re making the movie, or you’re in a writers’ room and you have a relationship with that person and they feel safe, and you can talk about, boy I grew up in a neighborhood where there were a lot of Indian people so I love Indian food, and what are your recommendations? Try not to lead with that stuff.

And I don’t know why it’s so hard for people. And to be honest with you in other businesses it would be absurd. And I wish people would stop saying we’re just in a business where blah-blah-blah. This is not a group of people smoking cigars on a patio who are friends. I’m talking about things where you walk into a meeting.

Craig: That’s right. And I think it’s fair that we start to accept certain limitations. It’s OK to say, “Listen, I’m a straight white male and there are some things that I probably shouldn’t say that other people in this room can.”

Aline: That’s right.

Craig: So I was in a room the other day helping somebody out with a TV show. And it was three or four of us basically. And one of the writers who was a woman told a story that used the C-word. I could start using the C-word there. But you know what? I’m not going to.

Aline: No. That’s not an invitation.

Craig: I can accept a self-limitation. I think sometimes people in a majority position or a privileged position start to rankle the thought that they’re not allowed. You’ve taken a word from me.

Aline: Yes. My god. OK, you know what?

Craig: Good.

Aline: Great.

Craig: You know what? Go ahead. I’m OK with that. I’ve got enough going on that works in my favor.

Aline: You have the right to say everything, tell every story, use every word. Other people don’t. That’s what I’m saying. I’ve been editing myself forever.

Craig: Right. Exactly. So I want to try and sort of spread the gospel of self-restraint here. You’re not ceding power. You’re not losing some sort of thing in the world. You’re not losing your freedom or anything like that. You’re just, I don’t know, being nice.

Aline: But also how can we get it – it’s unthinkable that somebody would walk into a meeting with me and I would pull my undies down and let my vag go flying out. I mean, where is that – is it’s not happening.

Craig: Somewhere. At New Line maybe?

Aline: But somehow the idea that a guy like, I mean, most women I know somehow a dick came flying at them where they didn’t expect it. We’ve just got to say like that’s not OK.

John: That never was OK.

Aline: It never was OK. It’s not OK. It’s not funny. It’s not cute. It’s not flirtatious. And I mean putting aside the fact that like I don’t know who jumps on that offer but–

Craig: It’s also a crime. It’s legitimately a crime.

Aline: And it’s also illegal. But we need to put that into our discourse. And I’m so happy to hear you say that because some stories are not yours to tell in that moment. Some words are not yours to say in that moment. There are some things that if you’re writing about them you should – you know, when we write stories about, like we did a story on alcoholism. We did borderline personality disorder. We get people in who have experienced those things to share their perspective because without that it’s not our story to tell if we haven’t done our due diligence or we don’t have someone who has that experience.

I think it’s just about being a sensitive human. And when people dig in that they have a right to behave a certain way.

Craig: Yeah. Don’t tell me what to do. If you can use the word, I can use the word. Freedom of speech. Yes, you do have freedom of speech. I am free to say the C-word without having to worry about going to prison. However, I work and live in a world where the words I say and use impact the feelings of others. I have friends that I can say that word to freely who are women because it doesn’t upset them. It’s part of our parlance together. And generally speaking anybody from England you’re going to have a little more latitude there, right?

But then I also know that there are other people that I just – and you have to wait and figure that out. Because in the end, what do you need it? Do you freaking need it?

Aline: So how do we get those social mores in place so that those things seem sort of out there to people, with the messaging out there? And I think Craig is right. We’ve cracked the door towards that. And then also who can people turn to? Because I will tell you that what women have been doing as long as I’ve been in the business is, “Oh yeah. You’re going to go into that meeting and he’s going to start talking about his dick.”

Craig: The whisper circle.

Aline: I mean, that’s what happens. That’s not a very good system.

John: That doesn’t help you recover.

Aline: And I know young female writers who have left the business because frankly it’s just too exhausting to deal with. And you know you’re not being taken seriously. So someone assuming that trying to write The Devil Wears Prada is just so way easier – by the way, all these men that I’m talking about in that dinner party all write like action movies and super hero movies. It’s not like anybody in there was–

Craig: Churning out masterpieces.

Aline: It was Renoir that I was sitting with.

Craig: The insecurity of certain people is always shocking.

Aline: But the less than and the othering and the, you know, this is why there’s not enough women writing and directing because you have to be kind of flame proof and we shouldn’t be asking that of people.

John: So discussing solutions, I would say mostly what we’ve been talking about so far has been feature writers going into things which is very much like an actor going into audition, where you’re in a situation. You’re the only person there. A thing which is probably more addressable is TV writers in rooms and TV writers in rooms coming up with rules about how the room is going to be run and so you just don’t – you call out that it’s not permissible to do some of these things. And there’s writers who are running these rooms and hopefully we can get some progress made there. And I’m optimistic that we’ll see slow and steady progress there.

In terms of reporting, there was this grand plan to have like a single hotline. So the commission, which is Kathleen Kennedy and Anita Hill, was going to put it together and there was going to be a single thing industry wide. It hasn’t happened.

Aline: I don’t know what’s happening with that. But I think Craig is right that I would love to rely more on agents and managers, but it really is on companies who are corporations. You’ve got to access people’s greed somehow, I think. And so you’re going to be sued. You’re going to be liable. You’re going to be paying settlements.

John: The challenge is, you know, Weintraub I guess was at Warner Bros., but like he wasn’t an employee of the studio. And so often what’s happening are these producers who are not part of these giant corporations. How do we–?

Craig: I will push back on that. That screws us when we’re trying to do a very legalistic arbitration about producer passes. But in this stuff there is a court of opinion that is so powerful. If Warner Bros., let’s say Weintraub were alive today and he did something disgusting to a woman or said something disgusting to a woman and she fought back and went after Warner Bros. and said you’re allowing this person. And Warner Bros. said, “Well technically,” that’s going to last about four seconds for them before people go bananas. Because we have Twitter and we have the world and people talk. I think in this environment now, and this is my hope, Warner Bros. would say, “He’s got to go.”

Aline: Yeah. Well, the other thing is in some of these instances where there are abusive showrunners in particular, the studio and network executives say they didn’t know. And they may not have known. And I think that there needs to be a more intense training program. When a showrunner gets a show, they just hand you the show.

John: You’re expected to be able to manage a team when you’ve never managed anybody.

Aline: So one thing I have talked to people at studio networks about is when you get ordered to series there’s just a very simple day long orientation that you have to go to because some – you know, you’re responsible for when these people pee and eat lunch and see their families. That’s a huge responsibility. Let’s put aside whether you’re trying to talk about their butts or not. But that’s what I’m saying. If the conversation can be sincere and not the sexual harassment seminar that people roll their eyes at, but really a meaningful conversation about hey this is how we communicate with each other. And so that we really are creating something so that someone whipping their D out is literally unthinkable.

The funny thing is like a lot of the times these things happen and there’s multiple people in the room, or multiple people know about it. Or everyone is like, oh yeah, he always talks about his–

Craig: That’s what he does.

Aline: He talks about his prostitutes in every meeting.

Craig: I have a question for you. In your time running Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, how many guys did you give sort of their first or early writing job to?

Aline: A few. We have the same writing staff.

Craig: So maybe three or four?

Aline: Yeah. Well, new writers was maybe just one.

Craig: OK, but early writers.

Aline: Early writers, yeah.

Craig: Those three or four writers now take what they have experienced and they go forward. If they run a show later, the odds are they’re going to run a show much more like the way you run a show. I think that’s how people learn. Through the success of their powerful mentors. The more women that we get running shows—

Aline: Oh yeah.

Craig: Right? The more the culture – now, this is a long-term thing. It is not a quick fix. And we have to wrap our minds around the fact that people are going to continue to suffer, although hopefully less and less and less and less.

Aline: Yeah. I just think one of the other interesting things I’ve noticed is when these conversations come up men are really desperate to talk. And I know we’ve all been in situations where the men dominate the conversation. Sometimes with very good intentions. But they don’t really understand why women are just going like, “Oh you know what? I’ll talk to my girlfriends about this later.” And it’s because just the act of talking very loudly about how woke you are and how great your political values are and how you would never do this is kind of – it’s better. But an example is I’ve had so many men my age run over to try and get me to tell them that Nanette is not a comedy special.

Craig: Wait what?

Aline: Yeah. Just sprint across the room. They want to talk to me about Nanette. And they want me to tell them, “But it wasn’t funny.” I’m like, OK, wasn’t funny to you. I thought the first half was really funny and the second half was really interesting. I’m not really looking for more than that. But they want a woman to tell them–

Craig: To like sign off on their opinion.

Aline: Sign off on their opinion. And that’s kind of the flip side a little bit of what’s happening now is men are, I understand, justifiably terrified and somewhat caucusing the group to make sure their current and past behavior is–

Craig: Right.

Aline: And I just have seen like sometimes the men’s well-intentioned voices sometimes get so loud that we’re not letting the women speak for themselves. And then you kind of get back into that zone where they’re like, OK guys.

John: I think we agree that if there’s been some progress is that’s we started to have the discussion. We need to continue the discussion, sort of figure out how we actually make things better going forward. What systems we put in place. What systems we dismantle so that they don’t sort of keep harming writers.

Aline: Yeah. And I also just – I really think it’s important to just try and put yourself in that person’s shoes. When I saw that tape of Ariana Grande, every woman I know when you saw that tape of Ariana Grande with the guy’s hand is almost all the way across her body so that he can touch half her breast, every woman I know is like oh yeah, oh mm-hmm. And did you see the tape of Mel B. where the judge on Britain’s Got Talent is patting her ass, repeatedly patting her ass. She stops the show, moves away, and is like what are you doing. But Mel B. is also in her 40s and worth millions of dollars. And Ariana Grande just leaned as far as a human can lean away without unhinging parts of her body–

Craig: Because she’s on TV. And she’s trying to be a good TV person.

Aline: But what I just want to impress on people is every woman I know is like oh yeah. And a lot of men are saying like, “Oh you know, he just put his arm around her and he was this and that.” The existence that we live in is that women know that they have been touched inappropriately or spoken to inappropriately and sometimes someone is trying to say to you that didn’t happen, or why didn’t you respond differently. Just take a moment to do what Craig suggests which is remember a moment where you felt erased, you felt humiliated, you were afraid, and then add to that the fact that someone has added your sexiness into that discussion where it doesn’t belong.

John: Great.

Craig: Yeah.

John: All right. Let’s go on to our One Cool Things. One Cool Things are simple and non-controversial. My One Cool Thing is this actual iPad holder that I’m starting at. And so we often FaceTime in with one of the people who works with us who is no longer in Los Angeles. I also FaceTime with my mom on this iPad. And so often with an iPad you’ll try to prop it a little bit more forward so you can get the right angle. So it’s this good–

Aline: Do they make them for phones?

John: Yeah.

Aline: I want that.

John: Yeah. So they make this good stand.

Craig: That is a nice stand.

Aline: I’m getting it.

John: I bought it on Amazon. It’s $35.

Aline: Because my son just went to college and I want to be able to FaceTime with him at dinner.

John: Oh yeah. So it’s good for that. It’s good for talking with your relatives at dinner.

Aline: I know. Not that often.

Craig: You’re helicoptering your kid. This is called the helicopter stand?

Aline: Not that often. Not that often.

John: This little stand, it sort of looks like the swing arm on an iMac. It sort of lets you move it around.

Craig: It’s nice.

John: It’s been good. Craig, what is your One Cool Thing?

Craig: So, I referred to it earlier and I pulled it up. The actual title of the speech. So Jerry Seinfeld years ago got the, in 2007 got something called the HBO Comedian Award. And he gave an acceptance speech titled Awards Are Stupid. And it is an amazing speech. And it kind of goes to the heart of what comedy people feel about awards and award shows. And it basically boils down to “I so much would rather be in the back of the room right now making fun of the idiot on stage getting this stupid award.” It’s great. And it’s heartfelt. It’s one of those things where he is both being funny and yet you can also tell believes every word he’s saying. It’s short. I mean, it’s 5 minutes and 23 seconds of absolute brilliance.

Aline: Since you went with a speech I will also go with a speech, but I can’t remember who said it and so I hope the audience will find it for us. Someone gave an acceptance speech at the Emmys for television writing, I think it’s the guy who wrote My Name is Earl. And he gave a speech that was, you know, when I was young and I would watch award shows, and I’m going to mangle it. Someone will find the clip.

And I would watch award shows. Finally get to the writer categories and I would think get these idiots off the screen. I want to see some movie stars. It was something like that. It was much better than that.

Craig: And then did he walk off?

Aline: Yeah.

Craig: Oh, that’s amazing.

Aline: And it made me laugh so much because it’s so true, that even when you’re a writer you’re still like, I am still like what is Halle Berry wearing?

Craig: Of course.

Aline: And then the writer categories come up and it’s like oh yeah, mm-hmm.

Craig: Go faster.

Aline: Great.

Craig: Move along. Well that’s why the SAG Awards are on television.

Aline: Fantastic.

Craig: The idea of the Writers Guild Awards being on TV, first of all, would be so humiliating. I mean, you guys have been to the Writers Guild Awards.

John: Oh yeah. I won one.

Aline: Yes.

Craig: It’s so intensely boring. And inevitably somebody gets like and here’s the altacocker award for somebody and then they talk for like an hour about nonsense.

Aline: I love it though because those are my people. And one year I went and there was a writer who was nominated and he almost didn’t go because he had pneumonia. And he spent the entire time outside smoking.

Craig: Cool guy. Just wanted to end it. Something about the Writers Guild Awards makes you just want to end it.

John: And we’ll end this show to tell everyone that it is produced by Megan McDonnell. It is edited by Matthew Chilelli. Our outro this week is by Luke Davis. If you have an outro you can send us a link to That’s also the place where you can send longer questions, or bits of follow up.

For short questions, on Twitter I’m @johnaugust. Craig is @clmazin. Aline you are?

Aline: @alinebmckenna.

John: Very nice. You can find us on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. Just search for Scriptnotes. Leave us a comment if you’d like.

You can find the show notes for this episode and all episodes at That’s also where you’ll find the transcripts. All the back episodes are at We are going to have a special thing for Scriptnotes premium subscribers through probably next week or the week thereafter, so sign up now.

Craig: Ooh, I wonder what that will be.

John: Aline, thank you so much for coming in. It’s great to have you back.

Aline: Woot! Woot! Woot!

John: All right, bye.

Craig: Bye.

Aline: Bye.


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