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NUEA Program Updates  

Writer’s Spec Polishing Workshop Has Another Successful Year

Outgoing NUEA Co-President Laverne McKinnon hasn’t completely removed herself from the NUEA fray. For the third consecutive year, Laverne has organized and hosted our annual television spec-polishing seminar at the Writer’s Guild of America. This year’s workshop, which began in January and is running for three weeks, is designed to give NUEA members unprecedented access to high-level working television writers in both comedy and drama who will help them buff their latest specs to a professional gloss. The following members participated: Anne Cofell, Benjamin Meyer, Shaun Zaken, Maria Elana Ferrari, Jenee Giles, Owen Hammer, Kellie MacDonald, Carrie Seim, Dani Shear, and Dave Wiemer.

This unique seminar is divided into two components - one for drama and one for situation comedy. Each writer was given feedback by a seasoned television writer/showrunner. This year's workshop speakers included NU alums Perry Rein (Married to the Kellys, Becker, Friends), Michael Markowitz (It's All Relative, Becker, Duckman), and Jeff Pinkner (Alias, Early Edition), as well several non-alums who generously donated their time including Lawrence Broch (George Lopez, Roseanne), Susan Dickes (Nicole Sullivan Pilot, Just Shoot Me), and Anne McGrail (Boomtown, The Guardian).

As a new element to the seminar this year, participants in both comedy and drama met with an agent, manager, cable executive and network executive to discuss general industry issues (i.e. how to get an agent, pitching stories, meeting with showrunners, become a member of the Writers Guild, etc.). This year’s participating professionals included UTA Agent Elana Barry, Blueprint Entertainment Managers Terry Norton Wright and Alex Hertzfeld, USA Network Executive (and NUEA member) Lindsay Sloane, and FBC Executive (and NUEA member) Steffani Relles.

Laverne has been very impressed with both the quality of the spec scripts and the attention given to them by the professional speakers: “This has been an incredible opportunity for new writers to receive feedback on their material in an intimate, non-threatening forum which helps them hone their craft. It's very rare to receive this level of critique at such an early stage of a writer's career."

If you’d like to participate in next year’s workshop, have your spec script ready for submission next fall.

Mentors Wanted for Peer Group Program

The NUEA Peer Group Program is looking for accomplished writers and actors to be mentors to lead the Peer Groups. The goal of the peer group is to give NUEA members who are new to LA or new to their field of entertainment a support group. Each group of 6-12 mentees will be lead by two mentors. They will meet regularly for several months (schedule is set by the mentors of each group.)

Please note that this is different from the Writer's Group. The goal of this group is not to get feedback on scripts, but to have an open forum to get business advice and hear about the mentors and fellow mentess individual experiences - and to form lasting relationships. If you are interested in joining the group and particularly in leading one, please email Damona Resnick at .

Internship Program Going Great

by Heidi Heller

Remember when the “year” began in September, not January? By the year, of course, I mean the school year. Those were the days: sitting in Norris, sipping a beer, envisioning a career in the entertainment biz. Oh wait. For many of us, Norris was lame, Evanston was dry and Hollywood seemed a million miles away.

Not anymore. This Winter Quarter, instead of braving the wind chill, 10 Northwestern students find themselves in 70 degree weather working 50 hour weeks at such diverse internships as Chasen and Co. (public relations), The Gersh Agency (in the stand-up comedy department), Larger Than Life Productions (anyone heard of Seabiscuit?), and Athletes In Motion (a South Bay high school sports show). With full time employment, they hardly find time to enjoy the benefits of Southern California’s weather, but they are learning about the industry and trying to determine if it is for them – before renting the U-Haul after graduation. Many alums have generously donated time and money to the program – did you know that it costs the average student close to $5,000 to spend a Quarter out here PLUS tuition? – not to mention letting us know about intern opportunities at their companies.

If you are interested in joining them to support the program, please contact Peter Miller, the Assoc. Dean for External Programs at or Heidi Heller, the Los Angeles coordinator, at . Keep an eye out for the interns at upcoming events and introduce yourself if you are so inclined. They don’t bite and are quite keen to hear about how all of us made the transition to a sweater-less society.


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