My THE NEWSROOM spec, "Brothers in Arms" won 1st Place in Drama, in TVWriter™'s SPEC SCRIPTACULAR.
"The judges had their usual tough time, but all of them agreed on the 1st Place finishers." - TVWriter.com™
Yes, I'm happy. It's always nice to be noticed, especially because writing can be rather a solitary activity.
But, in a way... this is also a tough one to celebrate.
The germ of this particular spec came from my husband, Warren, who suggested I try to write about the untimely deaths of two photojournalists, Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros, who were killed while covering the bloody conflicts in Libya, in 2011. As soon as Warren suggested it, I felt something stir; they were the same age as Warren, all born in 1970. Still so young. So much brilliance, so much promise, so much left to do and say, and show. The initial stirring turned into snippets, then into some dialogue, bits of a monologue... and a story began to take shape. A story not just about journalists, and conflict, and death.. but a story about family.
Bear in mind... this thing would never be shot. My spec would never be sold to THE NEWSROOM; it was already too late in the show's timeline for it even to have been considered. But... the act of writing about these me called me, so I listened.
I often felt helpless. I routinely felt stupid, and naive. HOW, how on EARTH, could I possibly tell their story? How could I do them justice? How could something so insignificant, as a spec ...honor them? I felt impossibly small. Then, Warren introduced me (via email) to photojournalist Nicole Tung, who was with Tim and Chris when they died. I told her what I was trying to write about, and asked for her first-hand account... if she could, if she could bear to recount it. Amazingly, profoundly, graciously... she obliged. Nicole told me everything - everything she could remember, for which I am so grateful. Sometimes, when we come at things feeling small and helpless... beautiful people emerge, to help us understand.
But that's what journalists do, isn't it? Especially combat photographers... not only do they stare down danger with their lenses, watch horrific events, often put their lives at risk... they document it, and then they share what they have seen. They bear witness to it all. They do so, because they want you and I.. to understand, and to feel it, too. And, maybe... maybe, to be moved enough to change it. (This is why Warren and I continue to watch THE NEWSROOM - it seems to us that the writers, producers, cast and crew all very much want to honor this particular, journalistic spirit - Quixotic, though it might seem).
In the end, I changed Tim and Chris' names, and several key details. I imagined that some of the journalists at the fictional "ACN" had known them. The place where they died, and what they died trying to do... remained. I guess, out of respect. I knew I could never do their story justice, but... I told a version of it, the best I could. I tried to honor them. The trying, I suppose, is what matters most.