Rita Lakin interview!
Author of the book, The Only Woman in the Room, Rita Lakin was interviewed by The Globe and Mail. Lakin talked about being a female screenwriter in a man’s Hollywood and about the slight increase in women writers. Read an excerpt of the interview below!
After her husband died in 1961, leaving her with three young children to support, Rita Lakin found a secretarial job at Universal Studios. When the English-lit grad realized screenwriting paid more than the steno pool, she started reading scripts and made her way into the business with a sample script for Dr. Kildare. Over 30 years she worked her way to executive producer, writing hundreds of television episodes, miniseries and movies. Lakin, now 85, has a new memoir, The Only Woman in the Room, that reflects on her Hollywood career during a time when there were few top female writers. The Globe and Mail talked with Lakin by phone from her home in California’s Marin County.
After all this time out of Hollywood, why did you want to write about it?
Somebody said to me I should, because I had such incredible adventures. And to reach out to the women of today, that they should continue to push for equality. I saved everything. Every script I ever wrote. All the TV Guides, reviews, story revisions, back-and-forth memos. … I still have my kiss-off letter from Aaron Spelling, which I had found on my front step in a rain puddle. That’s how it was delivered. And when I started reading that three years ago, it all came back to me.
What do you watch these days?
It runs a gamut – Breaking Bad was an absolute masterpiece. Ray Donovan is one of my favourite shows – it’s Ann Biderman and I wonder how the hell she ever got it made, and that it’s a show I would watch because it’s so filled with unpleasantness. … I used to say that I’m not going to a movie to watch people that I would walk across the street to avoid. That was my rule of thumb, but so many things in television are [unpleasant] now. I see the credits on some of these really tough, tough shows, and women are writing them! They’re not being written as the women of my era – they’re as able to handle an uzi as men. They aren’t just the little wife sitting at home, like I did and every other wife in America did with a cocktail in our hand when he walked in the door.
Streaming and other distribution methods have made it easier for challenging shows and films to find an audience and make it to the screen intact, unlike some of your–
No – oh God, what Aaron Spelling would have done to Ray Donovan! He would have made him handsome and cute and the women would be sexy and gorgeous, and there wouldn’t be anything interesting. But to give the devil his due, he did do a show called Family. It was very un-Aaron Spelling.
Read the entire interview over at The Globe and Mail