Striking writers turn to child's play

Thu Jan 10, 2008 7:30am EST
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By Steven Zeitchik

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - With the Hollywood writers strike putting the brakes on film and TV writing, a group of scribes has found an unusual mode of creative expression: children's books.

Writers with credits ranging from "The Simpsons" to "Shrek 2" to "That's So Raven" are picking up their pens to write fictional stories -- only instead of sitting in meetings coming up with punch lines, they're at home dreaming up frogs with big appetites and boys who fight with their sisters.

"It's kind of a nice way to do something creative at a time when we're having a hard time doing our bread-and-butter work," said David N. Weiss, a "Shrek 2" and "Rugrats" writer who recently turned in a first draft of "Carl the Frog," about a cannibalistic amphibian.

Then there's former "Raven" executive producer Dava Savel and former "Simpsons" and "Malcolm in the Middle" writer David Sacks. Savel is writing about a boy who creates his own town because his sister is hogging space. Sacks is finding time between his current executive producer duties on Comedy Central's "The Root of All Evil" to pen "Vigfus," a parable about Vikings who end up in modern-day New York and find the city too gentle.

"It has been a great outlet during the strike," said Sacks, who with his writing partner Brian Ross recently turned in a second draft.

The titles are part of Worthwhile Books, a new imprint at the telco-cum-entertainment company IDT/IDW. Although the unit was conceived and a number of the deals were signed ahead of the strike, Worthwhile is benefiting from the added time writers suddenly find they have on their hands -- when they're not picketing, of course.

"We're a small publishing house, so we're not a struck company, and these writers can write as much as they want," said Robert Kurtz, vp and creative director of Worthwhile Books and a veteran of shows including "Boy Meets World."

David Steinberg, a producer on "Meet the Robinsons," also has been signed up by Worthwhile. Kurtz also is penning his own title for the imprint. The division plans on five to 10 books in its first year.   Continued...

<p>Picketers from the Writers Guild Of America demonstrate in front of the studio where "The Daily Show" is filmed in New York, January 7, 2008. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>