From the campus of Yale University, a new conversation every week with some of the brightest names in TV and Screenwriting. Join Yale lecturer and screenwriter Aaron Tracy as he investigates the mysteries of dramatic writing, talking to his guests about what, how, when, where and why they write what they do.
Terence Winter Redux! – The Sopranos 20th anniversary
In honor of the 20th anniversary of one of the greatest TV shows ever made, we’re replaying our very first episode of the podcast with a new introduction.
Terry Winter worked his way up The Sopranos writing staff to become one of the three key contributors to the series. Terry went on to a 20 year career at HBO, creating and showrunning two additional series after the end of The Sopranos. He was also nominated for an Oscar for writing The Wolf of Wall Street.
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Dale has written some of the most memorable and enjoyable comedies of the last few decades, including two of the WGA’s 101 Funniest Screenplays Of All Time. From My Cousin Vinny to Dirty Rotten Scoundrels to Ruthless People, Dale’s scripts poke fun at the class system, and champion the underdog against whatever ruling system is in place. These are laugh out loud comedies that aren’t afraid to be smart. Join Aaron and Dale for a wide ranging conversation about Dale’s process and career.
To Live & Dialogue’s first-ever returning guest! Join Aaron and Michael in front of a packed crowd in New Haven to discuss Michael’s prolific career. A successful TV Creator and Showrunner, Michael’s current series is the CBS drama “Instinct,” starring Alan Cumming, which returns for its second season next month. Michael speaks about the nuts and bolts of running a network show, his thoughts on directing, casting, and much much more.
Emily Nussbaum – Pulitzer Prize Winning TV Critic at The New Yorker
Emily is one of the sharpest, most innovative, most influential TV critics working today. She’s the TV critic at The New Yorker, and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for criticism.
Emily was kind enough to shlep up to New Haven where she spoke to Aaron’s class, then did a larger Q&A on stage, answering questions about her career, her process, her run-ins with the TV creators she’s reviewed, and her thoughts on the current state of TV writing.
Cinco Paul – Screenwriter (Despicable Me, The Secret Life of Pets)
One of the biggest names in animated movies, Cinco Paul has co-written the screenplays for Despicable Me, Despicable Me 2 and 3, Horton Hears A Who, Hop, The Lorax, and The Secret Life of Pets, among many others. Cinco and his writing partner, Ken Daurio, are giants in the field, who have now turned their eye on TV, while continuing to write blockbuster films. Join Aaron and Cinco for an in-depth convo about how to write with a partner, how to pitch comedy vs. drama, and where those damn minions come from.
Nell Scovell – TV Creator/Writer (The Simpsons, Late Night, Sabrina)
Nell Scovell has written on some of the most iconic TV comedies of the past few decades, including The Simpsons, Late Night with David Letterman, Murphy Brown, Coach, The Muppets, Monk, and she’s Creator and Executive Producer of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.
In books, Nell collaborated with Sheryl Sandberg on Lean In, which resulted in a worldwide movement. And Nell’s memoir about her career, Just the Funny Parts, has recently come out in paperback.
Gavin is an incredibly talented non-fiction writer. Prolific on music and movies, he’s written entire books on Bill Murray, Tom Hanks, and River Phoenix. This last one brought Gavin’s well-researched and insightful work to Aaron’s attention. Gavin’s writing has been published in Rolling Stone, The New York Times, and Wired, among other outlets. Aaron is excited to talk to Gavin about his writing process, interacting with his famous subjects, and finally solving the mystery of how one gets in touch with Bill Murray.
Paul Attanasio – Oscar-nominated Screenwriter, TV Creator
Live on campus, Paul Attanasio, one of the most respected and successful TV/screenwriters of our time. Paul has created four TV series that have gone to air…and counting. One of ’em is Homicide: Life on the Street, a forebear of our current golden age. Paul was also behind House MD, one the most popular shows in the world for a time. Paul was Oscar-nominated for Donnie Brasco, a favorite among screenwriters. But throw all those other projects out, and Paul would still be one of Aaron’s heroes thanks to Quiz Show, the brilliant, layered, morality tale about the rigged game show scandals of the 1950s, directed by Robert Redford.
Join Aaron and Paul in front of a live audience at Yale for a fascinating conversation about Paul’s movies, shows, and craft.
One of the most brilliant writers, reporters, and commentators on film, Mark Harris joins Aaron for the hour. Mark’s book, Pictures at a Revolution, about the Best Picture nominees of 1968 as a lens through which to view a cultural revolution and shift in filmmaking, is one of Aaron’s all-time favorites. Mark’s follow-up, Five Came Back, about the iconoclastic directors whose work and lives were forever changed by their experiences in World War 2, became a Netflix series, narrated by Meryl Streep, and starring 5 of their filmmaking descendants: Coppola, del Toro, Greengrass, Kasdan, and Spielberg.
Mark’s upcoming book, the definitive biography of Mike Nichols, has Aaron counting the days till its release.
Coming to you live and in person from the Upper West Side of New York, Aaron joins screenwriter Eleanor Bergstein for an intimate chat about one of the most beloved movies of all time, Dirty Dancing. Eleanor is the screenwriter, producer, and principal creative force behind that movie, which she has since adapted into an internationally successful stage show. Hear gripping behind-the-scenes stories about the screenplay and production.
Larry Karaszewski — Screenwriter, TV Creator (The People V. OJ, Ed Wood)
This week, Larry comes on the pod to talk about the craft of writing about real people. He and his partner Scott Alexander have written some of the biggest biopics in Hollywood, including Ed Wood, The People vs. Larry Flynt, Man on the Moon, The People V. OJ, and many others. They’ve written for Jim Carrey, John Travolta, Ed Norton, Amy Adams, Johnny Depp, Sarah Paulson, often giving that actor the best role of their career.
Gina Gionfriddo – Playwright, TV writer (Law & Order, The Alienist, Cold Case, House of Cards)
Award-winning playwright and TV writer Gina Gionfriddo joins Aaron for an extensive discussion about TV and theatre writing. They talk Law & Order, the politics of TV writers’ rooms, and how to tackle a scene. Gina is a recipient of a WGA award, an Outer Critics Circle award, a Guggenheim fellowship, and she’s a two-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama.
Ken Levine — TV writer (Cheers, Frasier, MASH, The Simpsons)
Join Aaron for his in-depth convo with the man who co-wrote 36 episodes (!) of Cheers, the greatest sitcom of all time. Behind the scenes stories, memories from production, and what made the show such a classic. Stick around for stories about working with Tom Hanks, rewriting Mannequin, and Ken’s love for The Producers.
Nancy Meyers — Oscar-nominated Screenwriter, Director
In her debut podcast, Nancy joins Aaron for an in depth conversation, covering her entire legendary career. As the most commercially successful female filmmaker in history, Nancy is one of the rare directors to be a household name. She’s also one of the last filmmakers standing who gets to tell original stories for adults about recognizable human beings, starring A-list actors. From Private Benjamin to Baby Boom to Father of the Bride to Something’s Gotta Give…hear Nancy and Aaron discuss her truly remarkable and unique career.
Dave Itzkoff – Journalist, The New York Times. Author, “Mad As Hell” and “Robin.”
Celebrated journalist for The New York Times, Dave Itzkoff joins Aaron to discuss the life and work of Screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky. Dave wrote an extraordinary book about Chayefsky, “Mad As Hell,” which goes in depth on the making of Chayefsky’s most celebrated film, “Network.” Aaron and Dave discuss Chayefsky’s impact on film, his naturalistic stories, his great farces, and why he’s often regarded as the greatest screenwriter of all time. Dave is also the author of the bestseller, “Robin,” a biography of Robin Williams.
Curious about how Pixar movies are written? Aaron welcomes Stephany Folsom onto the podcast to discuss her work as sole screenwriter on the 4th installment of the Toy Story franchise. Stephany explains the multi year process, working with animators, what’s it like on the Pixar campus, and the responsibility she feels to the billion dollar franchise. They also discuss Stephany’s writing for Marvel, and how she was ready to quit Hollywood before her spec script landed her on the Black List.
Ed Solomon – Part 2 – Screenwriter (Men in Black, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, many more)
Join Aaron and Ed — in person at the Yale Broadcast Studio — for the conclusion of their conversation about Ed’s incredible screenwriting career. Ed was catapulted onto the A-List with Men in Black, starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. Ed co-wrote the blockbusters, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, and Now You See Me, among many others. On TV, Ed was on staff for the ground-breaking series, It’s Garry Shandling’s Show, and, this year, after decades writing mega-budget studio films, Ed turned to TV drama, teaming with director Steven Soderbergh for the original interactive long-form branching narrative Mosaic, starring Sharon Stone.
Ed Solomon – Part 1 – Screenwriter (Men in Black, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, many more)
Join Aaron and Ed — in person at the Yale Broadcast Studio — as Ed discusses his incredible screenwriting career. Ed was catapulted onto the A-List with Men in Black, starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. Ed co-wrote the blockbusters, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, and Now You See Me, among many others. On TV, Ed was on staff for the ground-breaking series, It’s Garry Shandling’s Show, and, this year, after decades writing mega-budget studio films, Ed turned to TV drama, teaming with director Steven Soderbergh for the original interactive long-form branching narrative Mosaic, starring Sharon Stone.
Brian Koppelman — TV Creator, Showrunner, Screenwriter, Podcaster
Brian’s podcast, The Moment, has been a big influence on To Live & Dialogue. Join Aaron and Brian as they dive into the kinds of issues facing screenwriters that Brian talks about on his pod, including the importance of morning pages, and tuning out the Hollywood gatekeepers. The wide-ranging discussion also touches on Brian’s Showtime series, Billions, as well as his many screenplays, most notably, Solitary Man. In addition to breaking down a scene from that movie, Brian also talks about the craft behind one of his all time favorite film moments, from Donnie Brasco.
Jack Epps Jr. — Screenwriter, Top Gun, The Secret of My Success, Dick Tracy.
This week, Aaron welcomes into the studio one of his all-time screenwriting heroes, Jack Epps. Along with his partner Jim Cash, Jack wrote some of the biggest movies of the 1980s, including Top Gun, The Secret of My Success, Turner & Hooch, and Legal Eagles. Jack currently teaches screenwriting at USC.
Aaron is thrilled to welcome Craig Turk onto the show. Craig has written some of the best series on broadcast networks in recent memory, including Cold Case, Boston Legal, plus Private Practice and The Good Wife, both of which he ran. Aaron and Craig talk about the pain of produced pilots that don’t go to series, working with Dick Wolf, writing the penultimate Good Wife episode, and Aaron pumps Craig for anecdotes about his old boss, David E. Kelley.
Bobby Moresco — Oscar-winning Screenwriter, TV Creator
Aaron is thrilled to welcome Oscar-winning screenwriter Bobby Moresco onto the show. Aaron and Bobby discuss how training as an actor can help one’s writing, the TV project they collaborated on together, Bobby’s unique method of breaking story, and Bobby goes deep into the genesis of some of his most acclaimed works, including Million Dollar Baby.
Donald Margulies — Screenwriter, Pulitzer Prize Winning Playwright
Aaron is thrilled to welcome acclaimed screenwriter, and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, Donald Margulies, into the broadcast studio! Aaron talks to Donald about the brilliant structure of his great screenplay The End of the Tour, the creation of his many plays, and how he deals with the highs and lows of the life of a Hollywood screenwriter. They also gush over their shared love of Broadcast News.
Brian Greene — best-selling author, theoretical physicist, dramatic writer
Aaron is thrilled to have theoretical physicist and best-selling author Brian Greene on the pod to discuss a host of subjects, including Brian’s works of dramatic writing, Light Falls, and Icarus at the Edge of Time. Aaron tries not to embarrass himself when he asks Brian about the big questions of the universe, like why there’s something rather than nothing, and the current thinking about the infinite universe. They discuss their favorite movies about science, and the similarities between Hollywood and Theoretical Physics (there are more than you’d think!).
Michael Rauch joins Aaron in person at the Yale Broadcast Studio to discuss the latest show he’s created, CBS’s Instinct, starring Alan Cumming. They discuss Michael’s extraordinary career in TV, from getting his first two series picked up on the same day, to his work creating and running Life is Wild, Beautiful People, Love Monkey, and serving as co-showrunner on USA Network hit Royal Pains. Aaron also wants to hear about working with 80s superstars Molly Ringwald and C. Thomas Howell, and the two of them geek out on William Goldman and the craft behind Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
TV Creator and Showrunner Dana Calvo joins Aaron to discuss her expansive writing career. Dana was the Creator and Showrunner on the beloved Good Girls Revolt on Amazon. She’s written on some of Aaron’s favorite shows, including Narcos, and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Aaron geeks out with Dana about Aaron Sorkin, her writing routine, and the lonely life of a writer who’s selling pilots.
TV Creator and Showrunner Andrew Lenchewski joins Aaron to discuss his long-running, hit USA Network series, Royal Pains, as well all his many collaborations with Aaron. They mourn their recent pilot, The Tap, which was shot by USA, but very sadly never got ordered to series. On a happier note, they discuss their ongoing partnership with one of their heroes, Rob Reiner.
Screenwriter and director Billy Ray joins Aaron to discuss his extraordinary Hollywood career. From writing and directing his first feature, Shattered Glass, which Aaron is obsessed with, all the way through Breach, The Hunger Games, Captain Phillips, and his Amazon series The Last Tycoon. They also discuss Billy’s all-time favorite scene from The Godfather.
Terence Winter – Creator, HBO’s Boardwalk Empire; Oscar-nominated screenwriter, The Wolf of Wall Street
Terence Winter joins Aaron at Yale to discuss being one of the key writers on The Sopranos, then following that up as Creator and Showrunner of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire. His next job led to an Academy Award nomination for writing The Wolf of Wall Street for director Martin Scorsese. They also discuss Terry’s early days writing for Flipper and The PJ’s, pretending to be his own agent, and some of their all-time favorite screenwriters.
Join Aaron on the campus of Yale University, as he previews his upcoming conversations with fellow TV and screenwriters. Aaron will go deep into craft with the creators and writers behind series such as Narcos, The Good Wife, Boardwalk Empire, Royal Pains, House of Cards, and The Sopranos, as well as the screenwriters behind Top Gun, The Hunger Games, Shattered Glass, The Wolf of Wall Street, Men in Black, and many, many more.