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Posts Tagged ‘Nell Scovell’

Letterman Adds A Female Staff Writer

late show pic.jpgOne upside from the David Letterman extortion/sex scandal: a woman has been added to the late night comedian’s writing team.

The New York Times reports that longtime staff member and writers’ assistant Jill Goodwin has been hired as a staff writer on CBS’ Late Show with David Letterman.

Amid the Letterman scandal that emerged last fall, it became known that the writers’ rooms of late night comedy shows like Letterman’s, as well as those of Jay Leno‘s show and Conan O’Brien‘s Tonight Show, were occupied entirely by men. “At this moment, there are more females serving on the United States Supreme Court than there are writing for Late Show with David Letterman, The Jay Leno Show, and The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien combined,” former Letterman writer Nell Scovell wrote for Vanity Fair in October. “Out of the 50 or so comedy writers working on these programs, exactly zero are women. It would be funny if it weren’t true.”

There seems to be a dearth of women in comedy writing in general, so the hiring of Goodwin is a huge coup for funny women everywhere. In December, we interviewed Onion editor Joe Randazzo, and he talked to us about why there are no women on his writing staff. “I wish that there were more active funny ladies out there,” he said. “There are more and more as time goes on, and more women do emerge in the comedy world. It’s definitely not true that women are not as funny as men are, but because that is the social perception, maybe women are more tentative. It’s a tough world to break into; everyone is very insecure and people can be tough and mean.”

Read more: Letterman Show Adds Female Staff WriterNew York Times

Related: Former Letterman Writer Reveals Late Night’s Dirty Secret: No Women Writers, So What Do You Do, Joe Randazzo, Editor of The Onion?

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Former Letterman Writer Reveals Late Night’s Dirty Secret: No Women Writers

late show.jpgToday’s Vanity Fair article by former “Late Night with David Letterman” writer Nell Scovell starts out with some pretty pitiful statistics:

“At this moment, there are more females serving on the United States Supreme Court than there are writing for “Late Show with David Letterman,” “The Jay Leno Show,” and “The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien” combined. Out of the 50 or so comedy writers working on these programs, exactly zero are women. It would be funny if it weren’t true.”

Scovell is not shy about equating this dearth of the fairer sex to the scandal that erupted earlier this month that revealed Letterman’s proclivity for hooking up with female staffers. But what’s unique about her perspective is that it’s one that has been lacking from the whole Letterman debacle: the view of a woman on the inside. While we may not yet have heard the story from Letterman’s former assistant and reported lover Stephanie Birkitt (we’re waiting for exclusive primetime interview with her for sure) or any of the other women Letterman is said to have bedded, we at least have Scovell’s take:

“Did Dave hit on me? No. Did he pay me enough extra attention that it was noted by another writer? Yes. Was I aware of rumors that Dave was having sexual relationships with female staffers? Yes. Was I aware that other high-level male employees were having sexual relationships with female staffers? Yes. Did these female staffers have access to information and wield power disproportionate to their job titles? Yes. Did that create a hostile work environment? Yes. Did I believe these female staffers were benefiting professionally from their personal relationships? Yes. Did that make me feel demeaned? Completely. Did I say anything at the time? Sadly, no.”

Would more women on writing staffs have curbed Letterman’s actions? Maybe, maybe not. But Scovell does make a case for including more women on the writing teams, and offers some good ways to do it, too. Now head writers and producers: what are you going to do about it?

Letterman and MeVanity Fair

Related: CBS Tries To Remove Unauthorized Videos Of Letterman’s Extortion Explanation