WGA East, NYC Mayor's Office Launch Local TV Fellowship Program

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Lee Daniels

The Made in NY Writers Room is a six-month fellowship for NYC-based scribes whose perspectives are currently underrepresented in TV writing.

The WGA East, New York City Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment and NYC Department of Small Business Services have joined forces to launch a new fellowship program designed to increase the number of TV productions written in New York City.

The Made in NY Writers Room is a six-month fellowship program to which New York City-based writers can apply from Sept. 15-Oct. 20 or once 500 applications have been submitted, whichever occurs first. The program, for up to 12 applicants, is expected to begin in June 2017 and continue through December of that year. Writers can apply as individuals or as a writing team of two.

While the number of scripted TV shows filming in New York has increased in recent years, with a record 52 series filmed in the city during the 2015-16 season, the number of series written there has not kept pace with that, and writing opportunities for women, people of color and various minority backgrounds are more limited. The fellowship program is designed to provide intensive support to writers of diverse backgrounds and perspectives and amplify their voices in the industry.

Established to help talented writers whose perspectives are currently underrepresented in TV writing, the fellowship will pair participants with mentors who are established showrunners based in New York. Confirmed mentors include Sarah Treem (The Affair), Lee Daniels (Empire), Beau Willimon (House of Cards), Julie Klausner (Difficult People), Julie Martin (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit), Brian Koppelman (Billions), David Levien (Billions) and Richard LaGravenese (The Divide). Participants will work to develop an original drama or comedy pilot and get it ready for production by the end of the fellowship period.

“Increasing access to opportunities for people from all backgrounds in New York City’s thriving entertainment industry is one of our agency’s top priorities, and the Made in NY Writers Room program is an important initiative in furtherance of that goal,” MOME commissioner Julie Menin said Thursday in a statement. “Recipients of this fellowship will receive unparalleled opportunities to learn first-hand from leaders in the entertainment world, and receive useful feedback on their works-in-progress. I look forward to seeing terrific results from this strong and groundbreaking partnership.”
 
Added WGA East executive director Lowell Peterson: “As a matter of social justice and industry self-interest, it is imperative that stories told on television — and its digital equivalent — reflect the diversity of audiences. The best way to do that is to have diverse voices in writing rooms. We are deeply pleased that WGAE showrunner members are committed to sharing their experience, their wisdom and their industry chops with the Made in NY Writers Room fellows. The six-month fellowships will give a dozen up-and-coming writers unparalleled insight in how to finalize production-ready scripts and how to bring them to fruition on the small screen."

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