BUZZ: April 2016 

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Co-creator of Broadway and international hit, Jekyll & Hyde, The Musical and writer of over 90 animated teleplays, Steve Cuden will speak and sign books this spring at Writers Store, Burbank, on Saturday, May, 21, 2016, 3‑5 p.m. Cuden shares wisdom and masterful tips in his just published BEATING HOLLYWOOD: Tips for Creating Unforgettable Screenplays, 40 Classic Movies Analyzed. An intended triple entendre, Cuden encourages his readers to “beat” the odds in Hollywood to achieve success; Hollywood is the “beating” heart of movies around the globe; and Cuden breaks down stories of 40 beloved, classic Hollywood movies into narrative “beats”. Cuden’s Beating Hollywood is a sequel to his popular Beating Broadway: How to Create Musicals that Get Standing Ovations (2013). Beating Hollywood is available at Amazon, and Samuel French Bookshops.

Co-EP of USA’s hit series Necessary Roughness, writer, consultant and psychotherapist Dr. Donna Dannenfelser invites you to join her 4-week online course beginning April 14 through The Writers Store’s Screenwriters University, “How To Develop Psychological Backstories For Your Characters.” Successful TV series, movies, and novels have one thing in common: relatable and believable characters. Creation of these characters all begin with well thought out psychological back stories. This course will help you find and identify the best character flaws needed in enabling your characters to jump off the page and onto the screen. Visit Dr. Donna’s website and check out her book, “Game On! What I Learned During my Time as the Shrink to the NY Jets”.

Walter Davis invites all WGAW members to Santa Barbara for monthly “First Fridays” networking lunches. Email Walter directly to check whether a gathering is scheduled in the upcoming month, time, location (usually Wine Bistro in Montecito), and to be added to the email reminder list.

Kuang Lee’s feature film debut as writer and director of Buddy Solitaire (linked trailer) makes its SoCal premiere at 2016 Newport Beach Film Festival (NBFF). An indie film funded via Kickstarter and shot in 17 days, Buddy Solitaire features Academy Award nominee/Golden Globe-winning actress Sally Kirkland, and reveals the trials of a struggling stand-up comedian on the late night circuit who has trouble connecting with his audience. The only job he can get is teaching comedy to the mentally ill, where he gains a new audience of hypochondriacs, nervous wrecks, and bipolar adults. Buddy discovers, however, that by helping these patients, he gets closer to healing himself. To purchase NBFF tickets, click on screening date/time: Sat., 4/23, 1:15 p.m. Regency South Coast Village (Santa Ana); OR Wed., 4/27, 7:45 p.m. Island Cinemas (Newport Beach). This follows Buddy Solitaire’s recent world premiere at 2016 Cinequest in Northern California.

David Misch’s sitcom pilot "The Hole" is part of the Whitefire Theatre's "Dead Pilots Society", 5 Mondays starting April 18 in Sherman Oaks. He also presents his seminar "How Comedy Works" -- what comedy is and what makes it funny -- at Flappers in Burbank, Sat. April 30, 3-6 PM. Industry-discount $39 available by clicking Flappers link.

Ken Pisani will be signing his debut novel AMP’D on May 11, 7 p.m. at Book Soup (8818 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood). In the tradition of Jonathan Tropper's This is Where I Leave You and Matthew Quick’s Silver Linings Playbook, AMP’D features the darkly comic trials of a man forced to return to his boyhood home after his arm is amputated, where he tries to make the world around him disappear in a haze of Vicodin and medical marijuana while his reptilian brain falls in love with a voice on the radio. “Complete with painfully wry observations and delightfully caustic wit, this novel is a gritty exploration of what it's like to feel incomplete in the world. All five fingers up for this bitterly satisfying tale.” ~Kirkus Reviews (starred)

Short film Speedwriting, written, directed and starring former WGAW Board member Michael Russnow, was just announced as a 2016 Rising Star Award Winner in Short Film Competition at the Canada International Film Festival, after recently being named an Official Selection of New York Film Week to be held October 2016. The film was also among the Official Finalists of the 2015 London Film Awards. This is in addition to its prior 2015 festival selections for the Orlando Film Festival, Temecula Independent Film Festival, WMM Fest (WeMakeMovies collective) and Honorable Mention at the SaMo Indie Festival (1:26 on Vimeo reel).

In the spirit of fostering creativity, building friendships, and maybe lowering BP by venting industry frustrations, Fred Shafferman invites all writers to join a weekly indoor full-court WGA basketball game. Wednesdays 6-8 p.m. in Hollywood and Sundays 9:30 a.m. in North Hollywood. Email Fred for details.

Alan Swyer's comic novel The Beard has been published by Harvard Square Editions. Set in the world of a Santa Monica-based internet giant, it tells the story of interns vying for a life of glory and riches.


Diversity Attribute Directory
It is now possible to search for a WGA member according to self-identified diversity attributes. The information is available through the WGAW website using this link: This online directory of writers from diverse backgrounds can be used as a resource for producers, executives, directors and other industry professionals. To be included, members must grant permission for publication of their diversity attributes. Sign in or create your MyWGAW Account via: Go to the "change attributes" link on the left side of your myWGAW homepage, and click Yes under each “OK to publish”. For technical support with your My WGAW Account, call (323) 782-4885, M-F, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.

WGF: Share Your Expertise with the Community!
The Writers Guild Foundation offers volunteer opportunities throughout the year for all WGAW members who want to connect with the writing community, particularly with youth and military veterans who aspire to tell their stories. Opportunities range from one-time guest lectures to longer term mentorships--we work with members' levels of time commitment and availability. For more information, visit or call the Foundation at (323) 782-4692.