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January 25, 1995

Auditorium with Winnie Holzman and Scott Winant, Co-Producers, "My So-Called Life"

OnlineHost: Good Evening Everyone! Our auditorium with Winnie Holzman and Scott Winant will begin in a few minutes!

OnlineHost: Born in New York City, and raised on Long Island, WINNIE HOLZMAN graduated from Princeton University, where she majored in English with a concentration in creative writing. While at Princeton, she was the recipient of numerous poetry awards, including the Academy of American Poets Prize.

After college, Holzman moved to New York City to study acting at The Circle in The Square Theater School. There she met three other writer-performers who collaborated on "Serious Bizness," a comedy revue which was eventually produced off-Broadway.

WINNIE HOLZMAN met Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick, executive producers for "thirtysomething" in 1989 and was immediately welcomed into their writing staff after submitting a spec script. In her two seasons with the show, she wrote nine episodes and received a WGA nomination. After "thirtysomething" ceased production, Herskovitz and Zwick asked Holzman to collaborate on a new series- the result of which is "My So-Called Life."

OnlineHost: SCOTT WINANT worked his way up through the business starting off as a CBS page and eventually came to produce and direct industrial and documentary films. He also worked for a while as a film editor, cameraman, and special effects coordinator. While working in development at Universal Studios, he produced the NBC mini-series, "World War III," and has been associated with numerous series, pilots, and movies of the week.

SCOTT WINANT's association with Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz resulted in the pilot for the series "thirtysomething." Scott was the exclusive supervising producer of the series for its entire four year run. He was instrumental in establishing the show's unique style of cinematic story telling, which earned him an Emmy for best directing.

Other awards include another Emmy for producing, a Golden Globe, three Humanitas awards, the Monitor award, Peabody Award, New York Film Festival's Gold Medal (for directing) and the Television Critics Award. In addition to another Emmy nomination for directing, he was nominated for DGA's best TV director award.

ABCPrimeSC: Good Evening Everyone! Thanks for coming! I am your host for tonight's event with WINNIE HOLZMAN and SCOTT WINANT, Co-Executive Producers of "My So-Called Life!" Welcome Winnie and Scott! We're happy to have you here tonight!

MSCL PROD: Winnie: Hello Everyone! Scott: Hello

ABCPrimeSC: Our first question tonight is something on EVERYONE's mind...
Question: I love My So-Called Life! What do you think are the chances that ABC will pick it up next season?

MSCL PROD: Winnie: I think there's a chance. But there's no way for us to really know right now. I just want to say right off the bat, that the support and the encouragement and the incredible passionate response from all of you has meant so much to us.

ABCPrimeSC: The next question tonight comes from Bozwood...
Question: I thought I'd get my question. in early. This is to Scott: I am aspiring to be a director, and you are my mentor. Where did you go to school, and who or what is your greatest influence?

MSCL PROD: Scott: I went to both UCLA and USC film schools. My influences are many...David Lean, Fellini, John Ford, and Frank Capra. And I still believe that television can provide a type of filmmaking that has died at the movie theaters, basically in ability to tell, smaller, more intimate stories.

ABCPrimeSC: A question from KoriG...
Question: Hi there! Kori Gerland, MSCLifer here. We fans know the issues we have commented on positively to you all, but have you all received any negative feedback or complaints on any of your controversial issues?

MSCL PROD: Winnie: The really interesting thing is how positive the feedback we've received has been. It's truly inspired us. I have personally had like one hate letter, which is so incredible considering. The response has been amazingly positive.

Scott: Sometimes I wonder if we did receive more negative feedback whether we would be more popular. Somehow we've managed to avoid controversy, and in a strange way I think that has hurt us.

Winnie: In a sense, people have possibly not known enough about us to become controversial.

ABCPrimeSC: A question from Holbee...
Question: Winnie, What is happening with LIFETIME network. Are they still thinking of taking over the show if ABC declines?

MSCL PROD: Winnie: I never say never. But I think that that is an unlikely scenario.

ABCPrimeSC: Girl This has a question about the creative origins of MSCL...
Question: How did you come up with the idea of creating such a brilliant show, which no own else has attempted before?

MSCL PROD: Winnie: I guess we got the idea for a teenage girl and then said how can we make this really interesting. And I guess the answer seemed to be to me to make it as personal as I could and to avoid what I consider to be a typical approach of television. And to a great extent, I think by acting as if we weren't even going to be on television, I let myself simply imagine what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it without trying to make a "television" show.

Scott: I also think it's important to know that we did not attempt to in any way reflect contemporary trends or try to mimic what we believe teenagers are like. But we spoke from our hearts and we told stories that we believe are universal.

ABCPrimeSC: LesPhyl has a question about "Rickie"...
Question: I love Rickie as a truly breakthrough character. But what was the thinking behind the artistic decision not to show more of the specifics of his home situation before he was kicked out? I, for one, would have liked to have seen more.

MSCL PROD: Winnie: I think we made a leap and the leap was that the audience was going to put that together for themselves, and I still think that that's a very interesting way to tell that particular story. That doesn't mean that if the series continued, I wouldn't introduce people, possibly Rickie's aunt and uncle, maybe his missing mother, but that is another story.

Scott: And unlike other shows, we chose to talk about the person, not about the issue.

Winnie: Scott had a vision about the beginning of the episode right away, and it was a gripping image of Rickie bloody, alone at Christmas time in the street, and sometimes when you get an image that gripping, you just simply start from there.

ABCPrimeSC: Another question on everyone's minds from Debi8...
Question: Is there anyway we can help save the show?

MSCL PROD: Winnie: First of all, you all have done so much and we really are grateful. We can never express how much.

Scott: For the last few months, Winnie and I have been making the show almost exclusively for those of you who have been posting on-line and writing to us at the office. It's been a great comfort to us and a great encouragement.

Winnie: I always say it's worth it to write to the network, primarily because I think people have a basic need to express themselves. I always think it's worth it to try.

Scott: Possibly a more public forum may make a difference. Writing your local newspaper starting a dialogue in your community.

Winnie: There's been a lot of publicity and a lot of it is thanks to you. So you really have made an impact, whatever happens.

ABCPrimeSC: A question about MSCL cast members online...
Question: I know the cast members have been told not to sign on the computer online services and chat about the show. Is this a request (order?) from the network or the producers?

MSCL PROD: Winnie: First of all, what you're probably referring to is a request I made early on for people not to talk about plot details and inside details of what was coming up in scripts. And that of course is to make the show more enjoyable for everyone.

ABCPrimeSC: Your thoughts about your "target audience"....
Question: Who do you see as the show's target viewer--teenagers or adults? Or both?

MSCL PROD: Winnie: I think the whole interesting thing about the show is that it's meant for several generations. And there is no one target audience. It's a show that can be enjoyed in different ways by different groups of people who can get different stuff out of it depending on what stage of life they're at.

Scott: I also think that one of the most appealing aspects of the show is how we have the opportunity to see how much alike we all are. For instance, we did an episode about self esteem. And I think it is reassuring to see that the same issues that we deal with in highschool are issues that we deal with in our adult life as well. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

ABCPrimeSC: Another question from KoriG...
Question: Kori again. Do you all ever play "Suggest A Tino!" like we do? You wouldn't believe some of the ideas we've come up for actors to play this phantom character, even though, honestly, we'd prefer to maintain the mystery, and never see him.

MSCL PROD: Winnie: We have never played "Suggest a Tino" although it sounds like fun, although we have made many Tino jokes. In fact Tino still may show up tonight, he seems to be stuck in traffic as usual.

Scott: I hope he does. He owes me money :)

ABCPrimeSC: LOL! A question from KyleNK....
Question: Hi from Maine. We love your show. What is Claire Dane like in real life?

MSCL PROD: Scott: It's hard to describe. Claire Danes is a talent that is truly transcendent, and I know that everybody who has worked with her feels the same way. It has been a tremendous privilege to have her as a collaborator, and I think she's going to be a great star.

ABCPrimeSC: A "trivia" question from RndallPink...
Question: What is Ms. Kryzanowskis favorite flavor of lollipop?? :)

MSCL PROD: Winnie: :) Chocolate. Her favorite flavor of everything. Also, Its neat to see names that I recognize from reading your on-line messages. You guys have really helped me through some moments. You have no idea.

ABCPrimeSC: Another question about "MSCL"'s future....
Question: I would like to ask is ABC at least thinking of a day or time change before pulling the show?

MSCL PROD: Scott: I think they're definitely thinking about it. What they will do is still to be seen. One thing I should explain is that we have satisfied what is considered a full order of episodes -- 19 all together, a regular season being 22 episodes. The only reason we are going off early, is because we started early.

Winnie: And because ABC isn't sure they want us back...

ABCPrimeSC: A question from Grifter50...
Question: With all the critical success the show has received, why do you think the show has done so poorly in the ratings - usually in the bottom 10?

MSCL PROD: Winnie: First of all, it's a cliche, it's been said before, but we really are in the time slot of death for a sophisticated drama. Beyond that, we are obviously not going to be the most popular show in all the world. We didn't set out to be, and we're just never going to be that. We're kind of too individual for that. I think that in another time slot with a lead-in, at a time when people want to watch complex drama, we could easily get a much higher ratings number. But obviously, that's just my humble opinion.

Scott: I agree. We work very hard to defy category when conceiving this show, and I think that is why so many of you are attracted to what we do. But I think it also gives the network a real challenge in fitting us into their programming. A challenge, however, I believe they must rise to if network television is to reflect a truly diverse range of entertainment.

ABCPrimeSC: SinSin4343 wants to know...
Question: Will you expand the Sharon/Kyle relationship next year?

MSCL PROD: Winnie: I haven't really sat down and thought about next year in any serious way, so I can't say for sure. But I know that you haven't seen the last of that relationship if we come back, and I know that in general there's a lot more to do with all the characters. Sorry that sounded so lame. I think I need dinner or something.

ABCPrimeSC: A question from Cannell..
Question: Who does the writing for the episodes. Is it a team effort?

MSCL PROD: Winnie: It's mostly me. But obviously, not all by myself. Different writers I work with have made different contributions. Jason Katims and Jill Gordon have made the most significant contributions to the show, but I do work to some extent on every episode, and some much more than others.

ABCPrimeSC: A question from ViolntFem....
Question: Thank you so much for this wonderful show. it has helped me and many others get through really hard times. we feel less alone. Will ABC look at the ratings of this final episode to decide whether it comes back? Also, how much do you think O.L.S [Operation Life Support] will help?

MSCL PROD: Winnie: ABC will be looking at numbers, no question. If the numbers were to go up, that would be a good thing -- even a little. As I've said before, I think everything helps, although we must accept the fact that on some level, this decision is out of all of our control. By the way, thanks for your great postings.

ABCPrimeSC: A question from Mastrose...
Question: I loved "thirtysomething." Any chance of a reunion movie?

MSCL PROD: Winnie: It's funny...that actually came up for 2 seconds in a conversation with Ed and Marshall recently. I personally don't think it's a great idea, but that's just me. I believe in going forward. But that doesn't mean it couldn't happen.

Scott: But Winnie, think of the potential. We could do something like they did on "Petticoat Junction" when the Beverly Hillbillies visited. The Steadman's could spend the weekend with the Chases.

Scott: :)

ABCPrimeSC: A question from Bilbo...
Question: Does anyone from either the show or ABC read the MSCL board here on AOL?

MSCL PROD: Winnie: All the time!

Scott: It's everything I can do to pull them out of Winnie's hands to get her to go back to work.

ABCPrimeSC: A reminder for those of you who may have joined us late-- we will be giving away 10 CD's from the show, and 30 exclusive ABC "MSCL" posters at the end of the hour...

ABCPrimeSC: Trustan O has a question that everyone asks online...
Question: Is there a way to purchase the shows you have filmed on tape or something? I'd love to watch what I missed earlier in the season!

MSCL PROD: Winnie: Not yet. Maybe some day.

Scott: We have had preliminary discussions with ABC Productions about the possibility of putting the shows out on cassette. The requests to the show have been overwhelming, both by individuals and by organizations such as schools and churches.

ABCPrimeSC: A question about online...
Question: Winnie, were you aware of the online following early on?

MSCL PROD: Winnie: For a long, long time I was completely unaware because I was so totally busy writing and also because I'm not really computer-savvy to say the least. In fact I'm an idiot. But around October, I started to become aware and it absolutely blew my mind.

ABCPrimeSC: A question about "Rickie"
Question: Is there a chance that ABC would allow Rickie to have a boyfriend, if the show came back?

MSCL PROD: Winnie: Absolutely. It's not really a question in my mind of what ABC would allow. Once we're back, we're going to do the show our way, just like we did it this year. We don't really go to ABC for permission to give anyone a boyfriend or girlfriend. That's a creative decision. Whether they'd have a problem with it or not, I couldn't predict.

ABCPrimeSC: A good follow up question from CHHSchult...
Question: Anything from the far right about showing a mascara-wearing gay adolescent in the "family hour?"

MSCL PROD: Winnie: It's so important that people know that there has not been anything from the far-right in response to our show. And whether that's partly because we are a "well-kept secret" I think part of the reason is that Wilson Cruz played the character with so much dignity that people accepted him.

Scott: We have been informed, however, that advertisers have been upset with some of our sexual content. This has been brought to our attention through the broadcast standards people here at ABC.

Winnie: So you see, the advertisers who have stuck with our show deserve some respect.

ABCPrimeSC: A question from Lymerique...
Question: Was it the ratings...or the advertisers that caused MSCL to be in this predicament?

MSCL PROD: Winnie: The ratings. And, Scott's attitude :)

ABCPrimeSC: A question from Rainmaui...
Question: Why did the characters use the word "like" so much?

MSCL PROD: Winnie: Well, like, I don't know. I guess it's just like how I heard them. But if it's annoying you, I guess I can like, understand that too.

ABCPrimeSC: A question from SinSin434
Question: How did you discover Claire?

MSCL PROD: Winnie: We decided to look for Angela before we cast the rest of the show. The woman who was casting the show at the time had heard about Claire and knew that she was coming to LA to audition for "Schindler's List." We made contact with her and she came in. She was the second person to read the part, and I knew at that moment that it had to be her. P.S. She turned down "Schindler's List" because she preferred to do MSCL. Also it would have meant several months filming at a concentration camp in Europe, and her parents weren't crazy about that idea.

ABCPrimeSC: Justine76 wants to know...
Question: I'm in my forties, a faithful viewer with friends in their thirties who are faithful viewers - my faves are Rayanne and Rickie - what do your demographics tell you as to who is watching?

MSCL PROD: Winnie: Everyone says it's primarily teens.

Scott: But our letters reflect that our audience is much wider and I sometimes wonder if the ratings system is a true reflection of the audience, or merely a reflection of this system.

ABCPrimeSC: Greencrow wants to know...
Question: What happened to the cat?

MSCL PROD: Winnie: The cat is just fine. The cat is shy. :)

Scott: The cat is with Tino!

ABCPrimeSC: Oh! That explains everything! : D A question from Debi8...
Question: Angela is portrayed so realistically do you think people are afraid to look at the truth?

MSCL PROD: Scott: I think it has always been difficult for television audiences to come to realistic drama.

Winnie: I also think that for as many people who are frightened by the truth of the show, there are also people for whom that is refreshing.

ABCPrimeSC: A question from Rizzo2....
Question: What do you say to those who think the show is mainly "teen angst"?

MSCL PROD: Scott: They have to look closer. The show is not about teenagers, it's about life.

Winnie: I think the "A" word has been bandied around a bit too much, and it makes me suspect that people are terrified of feeling anything when they watch tv, which is understandable. But just because something's emotional, doesn't necessarily mean angst, which seems to imply wallowing or a self-pitying person. So many people use television to numb themselves that they are stunned to find something on television that challenges them to feel something.

Scott: I think the television audience has been trained to accept television as something that washes over them and not as something that they must sit forward and pay attention to. We are merely providing an alternative. Not everything has to be about O.J. Simpson.

MSCL PROD: Hi Doover!

ABCPrimeSC: And, unfortunately, we've reached the last question of the evening... BUT, stick around because we'll be having our trivia contest immediately following!!! And, now, for the last question from Osreporte...
Question: How is the music for the show selected? Do you have any "consultants" in Angela's age group?

MSCL PROD: Scott: I pretty much select all the music for the show. And I work every week with the composer Snuffy Walden to compose the underscore. By the way, our soundtrack album was released in the stores yesterday, Jan. 24. And we're about to give a few of those CD's away...

ABCPrimeSC: That ends our Q &A portion of tonight's event... And, now, for our "MSCL" TRIVIA CONTEST! Here are the rules: E-mail your name (not screen name) and address with your answer to "ABC PRESS". The first 10 people to answer correctly will win a CD of the Soundtrack, the next 30 people to answer will win ABC's exclusive "MSCL" poster!!! Once again, e-mail name, address, and answer to "ABC PRESS"....We will notify the winners.

ABCPrimeSC: Ok...Winnie-- go ahead with the question...

MSCL PROD: Winnie: In the second episode, Angela admitted she'd been kissed only 3 times (prior to Jordan). Name the 3 locations of those previous kisses.

MSCL PROD: Jordan Catalano, that is.

Scott: By the way, we prefer to refer to him as Jordan Catalano because that's the way I remember referencing people in high school.

Winnie: And also because he's a legend in his own time....or mind. : )

ABCPrimeSC: Winnie Holzman and Scott Winant thank you for attending and hope you'll watch tomorrow night's episode!! Now we're off to tabulate your responses to the trivia contest. Good night!!!

Copyright: Capital Cities/ABC 1995


“School is a battlefield for your heart.”

Angela Chase, Episode 1: "My So-Called Life (Pilot)"