IN DEFENSE OF ELLEN: One Writer’s Experience

[My sweet friend and multi-Emmy award winner Liz Feldman asked if I would post her side of the quite heated Ellen debate. I love Liz and will do all I can for her. Here’s her story. — pamie]

First, let me say that I wish that Ellen hadn’t crossed the picket lines. I wish that she would stop making new episodes in solidarity with her writers. I know she is under intense pressure from her affiliates and production companies. Her show is syndicated, and she faces challenges that her late night compatriots do not. But these are excuses and I cannot defend her actions against the strike.

But I can defend her character. And I feel that I must.

Ellen hired me to write for her talk show even though I had little experience. In fact, several of her writers got their start on her show. She’s not afraid to hire green writers. She certainly took a chance on me. She was always patient and supportive. I never felt like she was mad or disappointed when a first draft didn’t pop. In fact, she often told me she was proud of me. She always challenged me to write better jokes, encouraging me to “beat” a joke that didn’t pack a strong punch. She made me a better writer by not settling for average. And I am grateful.

I wrote for her talk show for two seasons. I also wrote for the Oscars with her last year. Ellen loves her writers, that’s the only reason I got to write for the Oscars. She asked the Academy to hire me and two other staff writers from her show, in addition to the 6 other writers already on board. The Academy asserted that they could only pay us less than half of what they were paying the other writers. We all agreed to do it anyway. Right after the show, Ellen gave us each a check. She paid us the difference out of her own pocket. She said it was only fair and thanked us.

I no longer work on the talk show; I quit at the end of last season to pursue my career as a writer/performer. It was a difficult decision because I really loved working for her. Ellen let me move on with grace and kindness and support. She introduced me to her agent, her managers, and offered to help me in whatever way she could. She wished me luck and success. I was incredibly touched by her generosity.

When she was hiring writers for her upcoming special on TBS, I got a call. I took the job, more than happy to write for her again. Of course, I have stopped working on “Ellen’s Really Big Show”, because I am on strike.

I will admit that Ellen had long been a hero of mine before I ever even met her. And I can honestly say, that after working for her for two years, she still is. She is a kind, generous and caring person. She was wonderful to me, and I am grateful.

Liz Feldman

Comments (