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Former writer for Letterman show reveals charged atmosphere

Late night television has too few female writers, she says


 

Women writers have long been excluded from late night television, writes Nell Scovell in a Vanity Fair online exclusive, so when she was hired to work on David Letterman’s show—which, in 27 years, has only hired seven female writers—she jumped at the chance. But the dream job didn’t pan out. While Letterman, recently in the news for his affairs with female staffers, never hit on her, Scovell says she was aware of rumours he and other high-level male execs were having sexual affairs with other female employees. These female staffers had “access to information and wield[ed] power disproportionate to their job titles,” she writes, adding that this contributed to a “hostile work environment.” Scovell eventually quit the show, returning to sitcom writing. The predominance of male writers, she notes, is a persistent problem: there are currently more females serving on the US Supreme Court than there are writing for shows hosted by David Letterman, Jay Leno and Conan O’Brian combined. In fact, out of the 50 comedy writers working on these three late-night shows, none are women. “It would be funny if it weren’t true,” she writes.

Vanity Fair


 
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