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Published on Mommy Tracked (http://www.mommytracked.com)

Patricia Resnick


 

What do Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda, Shirley MacLaine, Joan Collins, Rick Schroeder and Nick Jr's "Olivia" have in common?

 

They've all been supplied with wise and witty banter by screenwriter par excellence Patricia Resnick. Are you workin' 9 to 5? Take a little break and listen in as Patricia Resnick generously shares her words with us.


 

 


As a mom of imaginative, visionary children, I — and no doubt countless others — want to thank you for bringing to life Ian Falconer’s porcine heroine, Olivia [1], in a television series. Could you tell us a bit about how that came to be? Were you in close communication with the author? How has response been so far?

 

A couple of years ago my agent sent me the Olivia books and asked if I could come up with a way to turn them into a series. Although I found the books delightful, they were light on plot, so it took some thinking to come up with a way to make Olivia work as a series. After adding some characters to broaden her world and setting the structure to include fantasies that would amplify the real world story, I was hired. Ian Falconer, the author, and I had a few meetings; but since he is in New York and I am in L.A., the rest of our communication took place via email. So far, the reviews I've seen have been terrific. I haven't heard about ratings yet — hopefully they will be good, as well.

 

Olivia envisions herself in so very many roles . . . as Maria Callas, a dancer in a Degas, a drum major. Who did you see yourself becoming as a child?

 

When I was a young child I wanted to be an archeologist, mainly because I liked the look on the faces of adults when I said the word! At some point I thought of being a simultaneous translator primarily because that's what Audrey Hepburn played in Charade. I was always crazy for theater and movies so I thought I would be an actress. I took one acting class which cured me of that idea. The funny thing is, all along I was madly writing and voraciously reading; so when as a teen I figured out there were jobs in show business other than acting, writing was the area that immediately drew me.

 

You also happen to be the author of the iconic, female-unifying, 9 to 5 [2]! Could you tell us a bit about your role and emotions as an author when your work goes film with such great success and longevity?

 

I was the original writer on 9 to 5. Jane Fonda wanted to make a statement about clerical workers and women in the workplace, and she wanted to make a comedy with Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton. I had worked with both Lily and Dolly before, so I campaigned for the job and got it. I don't think any of us I had a clue how iconic the movie would become. For awhile it became an albatross around my neck everyone wanted me to write something else like 9 to 5, but eventually I was quite moved by how beloved it had become and how much it meant to a lot of people (not just women)!

Speaking of art forms evolving, 9 to 5 goes Broadway musical [3] in April! Any skinny to share?

 

9 to 5 will begin previews on Broadway on April 7th. Writing something for Broadway has been a dream of mine for many, many years and I can't believe it is finally coming true. The creative team is also a dream Dolly Parton has written the songs, Joe Mantello who directed Wicked is our director; Robert Greenblatt, the genius behind Showtime, is producing; and Andy Blankenbeuhler, who won the Tony for the choreographing In The Heights, is doing the choreography. Our amazing cast is headed by Allison Janney (Juno, West Wing) and Megan Hilty and Stephanie J. Block, who have both appeared in Wicked. The sexist-egotistical-lying-hypocritical-bigot-of-a-boss is being played by the hilarious Marc Kudisch.

 

Which of the 9 to 5 characters do you most identify with, and why?

 

Wow, no one has ever asked me that. I guess I most identify with Violet. She is a single mother, as I am, and is smart, but a little distanced from her emotions but she can type a lot faster that I can.

 

Do you find there are special challenges to being an openly gay parent, or do you feel as a society we’re moving past that? Any related stories you’d like to share?

 

In the world in which I live, Los Angeles and Hollywood, we haven't run into too many problems as a family headed by a gay mother. Sometimes people will say things like "Where did you get your kids?" (from my uterus) or " What do you tell them about not having a father?” (I tell them the truth . . . that I used a sperm donor to have them, and that if I was going to wait for them to born with a father I was married to, they simply wouldn't be here. Which is not to disparage the role of a father I think fathers are wonderful and I loved mine, but it just wasn't an option in our family.)

 

Which Hollywood parents do you admire, and why? Which Hollywood kids do you admire, and why?

 

The majority of my friends these days are not in the business but I admire all parents. It's a tough job. I won't let my kids anywhere near acting until they can drive themselves to auditions, so I don't really know much about Hollywood kids.

 

How do you find balance between your professional life and your personal life? What do you do to relax? Do you ever find yourself a victim of “Mommy guilt?”

 

I ALWAYS am a victim of Mommy guilt. If I am working I think I should be with my kids and if I am with my kids I think I should be working. I do work at home, which makes things a little easier, but it also makes it harder for my kids to take what I do seriously. I try to the majority of my writing when they are in school so I can be available to pick them up and take them to their various activities. For my son especially, his life doesn't exist unless I am there every moment watching him, so that means I have to leave plenty of time free. The other problem is the telephone. My kids absolutely hate when I am on business calls. And they are 12 and 14 years old! Inevitably, if I am on the phone they will find it necessary to mouth things to me, write me notes, etc. To relax, I start most weekdays by dropping the kids at school and then meeting up with other parents for coffee. I really enjoy this time to share feelings with other moms and dads. I also still love to read and watch movies with my kids. Walking the dogs and going to the gym also helps get rid of stress.

 

To date, what is your proudest professional moment? Proudest Mommy moment?

 

Hmmm, proudest professional moment . . . I guess it had to be taking the stage with Dolly Parton on the opening night of 9 to 5: The Musical in Los Angeles and thanking Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Dolly and Dabney Coleman, who were all there!

 

Mommy momen . . . there are soooo many. I think for my daughter, it was when she started her own charity, inviting underprivileged girls to spend a day working with horses at the barn where she rides. For my son, seeing him cook a five course meal from scratch for a group of adults, knowing that I can't boil an egg, makes me shine with pride. A personal moment of pride: in the past year I have lost over 100 pounds with a fabulous food service called Nutrifit [4]. Although it is currently only available in L.A., a shelf stable version will soon be offered country wide. They've been wonderful to me and for me and I'd love to get a plug in for them because it really works.

 

Of all your achievements, which one makes your children the proudest?

 

According to my son, he is most proud of the fact that I am a single working mother raising two children. My daughter is most proud of the movie 9 to 5 because she says I was very young when I wrote a very special movie.

 

So what’s next on your plate?

 

I am getting ready to head to New York for rehearsals of 9 to 5: The Musical and I am also writing a pilot for an hour-long show dealing with a family battling addiction. I also hope to write a series for Allison Janney following her run in 9 to 5.

 

Learn more about Patricia Resnick’s recent work by visiting:

 

The 9 to 5 The Musical website [5]

 

Olivia The Series on Nick Jr. [6]

 

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Screenwriter Patricia Resnick was interviewed by Cheryl Lage: The author of Twinspiration: Real-Life Advice from Pregnancy through the First Year [7], Cheryl Lage is a freelance writer/editor and a full-time mom. Her twin-centric perspectives have appeared in a wide array of print, web and broadcast media including: MSN.com, TWINS, Pregnancy, AmericanBaby.com, Parents.com, ePregnancy.com, Martha Stewart Living Radio, iVillage.com, People’s Celebrity Baby Blog, Richmond Parents Monthly, and her own web support site, Twinsights.com [8].

 

Currently, Cheryl lives with her family in Richmond, Virginia, where she is an elementary school room mother times two! Learn more about Cheryl by visiting her blog, Twinfatuation [9].

 

If you liked our interview with screenwriter Patricia Resnick, you won't want to miss our chat with Grey's Anatomy writer Krista Vernoff [9]!


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