Arts and Entertainment

Television writer continues Hedgebrook lit series at WICA

Winnie Holzman will be part of the Hedgebrook Lit Series conversation at WICA at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 27. - Photo courtesy of Winnie Holzman
Winnie Holzman will be part of the Hedgebrook Lit Series conversation at WICA at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 27.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Winnie Holzman

She’s got that sensibility for writing great characters and story lines that end up on television and Broadway. Now she comes to the island to share her knowledge with other women writers.

Winnie Holzman, author of the hit television series “My So-Called Life” and the book writer for the wildly popular Broadway musical “Wicked,” is at Hedgebrook next week teaching other writers a few tricks of the trade.

Everyone has the chance to meet Holzman at “An Evening with Winnie Holzman” at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 27 at Whidbey Island Center for the Arts in Langley.  The public is invited to sit in on a conversation with Hedgebrook director Amy Wheeler and Holzman as they continue the series that brings together writers and book-lovers. The Literary Series offers intimate conversations with bestselling authors who are involved with the writers’ retreat, and also a chance to hear excerpts of the authors’ work in short, staged readings.

Holzman won an Emmy Award nomination for writing in 1995 for  “My So-Called Life” and also wrote for the shows, “Thirtysomething” and “Once and Again.” She won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Book of a Musical for “Wicked,” which was based on the novel of the same name by Gregory Maguire. Holzman was also nominated for a Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical.

Holzman credited Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick, the creators of “Thirtysomething,” as her mentors. They asked her to write a pilot that they could produce and suggested she write about a teenage girl from her own perspective.

When asked what magic makes one show or play work better than another, Holzman had no definitive formula.

“It’s really difficult to explain why something works when it does,” she said, referring to the success of “My So-Called Life,” the series drama that follows the life of a 15-year-old girl and the trials and tribulations of being a teenager.

Holzman said it was the perfect storm of various factors coming together to make the show work.

“It was the chemistry of everyone involved,” Holzman said.

“It was Claire Danes and her great depth as an actress, and how well she understood what I was writing.”

At Hedgebrook this month, Holzman will lead a workshop to introduce six women to writing for television.

Over the course of a week, she’ll give the writers a taste of what it’s like to be part of a staff of a one-hour TV drama, how to plan a season, develop characters, pitch ideas for episodes, break down a story, and craft a memorable scene. There’s still one space left for that class. Visit for details.

Ultimately, Holzman said the most important thing a script writer can remember is to be true to oneself, write about the thing that interests you and take a few risks.

“It’s good to write something that matters to you; that you really care about,” Holzman said.

Tickets cost $8 for “An Eveing with Winnie Holzman.” Call 221-8268 or visit for more info.


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