Rassie to be England’s next head coach?

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IN THE SPOTLIGHT: A photograph snapped in Murrayfield of World Cup-winning Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus has set the England coaching job rumour mill alight.

Erasmus was snapped in the stands and it was posted to Twitter by Telegraph journalist Charlie Morgan.

South Africa play Scotland this July in a two-match series and the argument could be made that the Erasmus was in town on a run of the mill reconnaissance mission. The series kicks off in Cape Town and culminates a week later at Jonsson Kings Park in Durban.

However, Rapport in South Africa are reporting that the coach is in the UK to discuss a possible move to takeover from incumbent England head coach Eddie Jones next year.

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Erasmus has already taken a back seat with the Springboks, with Jacques Nienaber taking over with the Springboks.

Jones’ contract also expires in 2021 and he and the RFU have remained coy about whether or not he will sign beyond that date.

Speaking earlier this month, Jones said: “I heard Pep Guardiola talking about whether he’s going to re-sign at Man City. It’s a bit like that.

“The players tell you whether you should continue or not and that’s what I’m looking it. The players will let me know.

“If the players play well and the team is going well, then maybe you should continue. If the team’s indifferent then maybe they need a change.

“The only reason I’m continuing is because I think this team can improve. Over the next period of time I think we can become the best rugby team ever and that’s the exciting bit.

“The RFU only want me to continue if they think I can improve the team. The contract is important from a legal point of view but they want to win and I want to win.”

It is also reported that there are clauses in Erasmus’ contract which could see him exit South Africa if certain conditions were met.

By Ian Cameron, @RugbyPass

Additional source: Rapport

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Shooting at Florida Naval Base: 3 other Saudi students film it all | P.M. News

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Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani the Saudi shooter at Florida naval base

Shocking revelations have emerged in the aftermath of the shooting at a Florida Naval base by a Saudi military student Mohammed al-Shamrani. One of the surprises was that three other Saudi students filmed the entire attack.

A total of six Saudis have been detained over the shooting, in which four persons were killed, including al-Shamrani. Eight others were wounded in the shooting which took place in a classroom building at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida. Among the wounded were two sheriff’s deputies who responded to the attack.

According to the New York Times, the Saudi gunman was armed with a Glock 9mm handgun that had been purchased locally. The gun had an extended magazine and the shooter had four to six other magazines in his possession before he was himself gunned down by Florida policemen.

Al-Shamrani reportedly condemned America as a “nation of evil” in an online manifesto prior to opening fire Friday at a US naval base, killing three people before being shot dead by police.

The Florida Naval Air Station

The SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist media, said he had posted a short manifesto on Twitter that read: “I’m against evil, and America as a whole has turned into a nation of evil.”

“I’m not against you for just being American, I don’t hate you because your freedoms, I hate you because every day you supporting, funding and committing crimes not only against Muslims but also humanity,” he wrote.

ABC News reported that investigators were working to determine if it was in fact written by the shooter.

The Twitter account that posted the manifesto — which also condemned US support for Israel and included a quote from Al-Qaeda’s deceased leader, the Saudi Osama bin Laden — has been suspended.

DeSantis told a news conference that “the government of Saudi Arabia needs to make things better for these victims. And I think they are going to owe a debt here given that this is one of their individuals.”

Commanding officer Captain Timothy Kinsella said the shooter was an aviation trainee, one of “a couple hundred” foreign students at the base.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman telephoned US President Donald Trump to denounce the shooting, affirming that “the perpetrator of this heinous crime does not represent the Saudi people,” according to the official Saudi Press Agency.

Saudi Arabia has long been a major US ally in the Middle East, thanks primarily to security considerations and oil.

Trump said King Salman “called to express his sincere condolences and give his sympathies to the families and friends of the warriors who were killed and wounded in the attack that took place in Pensacola, Florida.”

There was a deja vu about the Florida attack. Shamrani shares the nationality of 15 of the 19 men involved in the 9/11 attacks, some of whom attended civilian flight school in Florida.

Police were first called about the shooting shortly before 7:00 am (1200 GMT), Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan said.

“Walking through the crime scene was like being on the set of a movie,” Morgan said. “You don’t expect this to happen.”

Only members of the security forces can bring weapons on base, Kinsella said, and it was not clear how the shooter got the gun onto the premises.

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said he is “considering several steps to ensure the security of our military installations and the safety of our service members and their families,” but did not provide details.

Just two days earlier, a US sailor fatally shot two people and wounded a third at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard in Hawaii before taking his own life.

“This has been a devastating week for our Navy family,” Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Michael Gilday said. “When tragedy hits, as it did today, and Wednesday in Pearl Harbor, it is felt by all.”

The Pensacola naval air station hosts 16,000 military personnel and more than 7,000 civilians, and is home to a flight demonstration squadron.

It is an early training centre for naval pilots, and is known as the “cradle of naval aviation.”

The base is the centre for the US Navy foreign military training programs, established in 1985 specifically for Saudi students before being expanded to other nationalities.

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Hotel Owners Look To Bring In Local Restaurateurs To Boost Revenue

Want to get a jump-start on upcoming deals? Meet the major D.C. players at !

Hotels in D.C. have struggled to increase revenue from rooms as a surge of incoming supply adds competition to the market, and hoteliers are increasingly focusing on opening quality restaurants that appeal to locals as a way to bring in more money. 

GKA’s Sarah Vining Crisafulli, Dream Hotel Group’s Judy Chen, Chef Robert Wiedmaier and Streetsense’s Jay Coldren

“Our food and beverage in most of our properties contributes a bulk of total revenue,” Dream Hotel Group Development Director Judy Chen said Wednesday at Bisnow’s Hotel Leadership Investment & Management Summit in D.C. 

Dream’s Hollywood Hotel, for example, brings in about 75% of its revenue from its restaurants and nightlife offerings, she said. The company does not own a hotel in D.C., but Chen said Dream has been touring the city and is actively seeking to open one.

Chen has spent time visiting D.C. hotels with strong food and beverage components to find out what type of demand exists in the market. She said she was impressed with the crowded food and drink offerings at Adams Morgan’s Line Hotel, and thinks there is room for more similar concepts in the District. 

“There is clearly a demand for something of a certain caliber, and clearly the demand is under-met,” she said. “We love the [D.C.] market, and I think there is a lot of room for opportunities.” 

CSI DMC’s Amberlee Huggins, EDSA’s Ryan Clifton, Forrest Perkins’ Deborah Lloyd Forrest, Trump Hotels’ Kathleen Flores and Papadopoulos Properties’ Tom Papadopoulos

While it has come under scrutiny since its founder became president, The Trump Organization’s Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue has also brought in significant revenues from its food and beverage offerings, Trump Hotels Executive Vice President Kathleen Flores said. 

The hotel, a redevelopment of the Old Post Office Building, features a BLT Prime by David Burke, Sushi Nakazawa, Benjamin Bar & Lounge and a Starbucks, all of which Flores said have been successful. 

“Most of what we do maximizes guests experiences and revenues from locals,” Flores said. “The lobby programming is robust, and there is something going on in the lobby every afternoon and every night.”

Flores confirmed last week’s reports that the company is exploring a sale of the hotel, but she did not discuss it in detail. 

Dream Hotel Group’s Judy Chen and Chef Robert Wiedmaier

RW Restaurant Partners Executive Chef Robert Wiedmaier said the D.C. restaurant scene has shifted in recent years to have more high-quality dining options in hotels that bring in customers that are not staying at the property. 

“Now you’re seeing a change that a lot of the good restaurants are in hotels,” Wiedmaier said. “Hotels have spent the money to bring in talent to give their guests, and the outside guests more importantly, a good dining experience.”

Wiedmaier, who has opened several restaurants in D.C.-area hotels, said attracting locals is critical to making them successful. 

“The key is to open restaurants that aren’t considered hotel restaurants and are going to drive people into the hotel,” he said. “If you have to rely on people staying in the hotel to make a restaurant successful, you’re going to lose.” 

Big-name celebrity chefs can add a level of cachet to a hotel, but Wiedmaier said he is seeing a shift toward more local operators. 

“What happens is a lot of times you bring in a celebrity chef and then see them four times; I think that’s going to die out a bit,” he said. “Local chefs from the area that are in hotels will drive more business than bringing somebody from across the water.”

Forrest Perkins’ Deborah Lloyd Forrest, Trump Hotels’ Kathleen Flores and Papadopoulos Properties’ Tom Papadopoulos

Papadopoulos Properties principal Tom Papadopoulos, a broker who has worked on restaurant deals in hotels, also sees the trend toward more local chefs.

“The celebrity chef thing may be coming to an end in some respect,” he said. “Just because somebody puts his name on the door and you don’t see him again, it doesn’t really work out. Here in town some of the hotels with the most successful F&B have well-known local guys.”

Streetsense Managing Director Jay Coldren said hotels are increasingly searching for restaurants that create buzz throughout the city that will keep them crowded. 

“The way to think about it is ‘how do I create a local base of business first, and make amenities for travel guests second,'” Coldren said. 

The retail amenities that can bring money into hotels are not just limited to bars and restaurants, Forrest Perkins founder Deborah Lloyd Forrest said. Retailers like bookstores, such as the one that opened at a Dallas hotel her company designed, can also bring people in and create activity throughout the day. She said hotels are increasingly looking for concepts that can bring in revenue outside of the rooms. 

“The rooms are not secondary, but they are less important in a way,” she said. “You have to sleep, but we want you downstairs spending money.”

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British royals deny vetting Netflix series ‘The Crown’

'The Crown:' British royals deny vetting Netflix series 'The Crown' - CNN

London (CNN)The British royal family has denied any involvement with the Netflix series “The Crown,” which depicts the life of Queen Elizabeth II, after writer Peter Morgan claimed to meet regularly with “people who are very high-ranking and very active within the organisation.”

In an interview with the Guardian published last week, Morgan said he met four times a year with members of the royal household in order to brief them on the contents of “The Crown.” Ahead of the release of the third season, starring Olivia Colman as the Queen, Morgan told the newspaper, “Respectfully, I tell them what I have in mind, and they brace themselves slightly.”
After Morgan’s comments were republished in the Times, McCabe wrote that the article “may have the unfortunate consequence of leading (the newspaper’s) readers to believe that the television series The Crown is made with some sort of endorsement by the Royal Household, or an acceptance by the Royal Household that the drama is factually accurate.”
    “We appreciate that readers of The Times may enjoy this fictionalised interpretation of historical events, but they should do so knowing that the Royal Household is not complicit in interpretations made by the programme,” McCabe continued.
    CNN has contacted Morgan for comment.

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    Rosanna Arquette: They said I was a pain in the ass. Its not true

    Ever since she was abused by Harvey Weinstein, Rosanna Arquette says she has lived in fear. She talks about harassment, the collapse of her career and the thin line between caution and paranoia

    Celebrity

    Rosanna Arquette sounds panicked. She thinks someone wants to stop our conversation taking place. For 30 minutes, a BBC publicist has tried to patch us into a conference call; now, Arquette has taken matters into her own hands and phoned me directly. This is what happens! All the time! she says, her voice rising. There are no pleasantries. Its as if we were already talking before I picked up.

    Why is it disconnecting every time? she asks. There is something strange here. Really strange. I dont understand whats happening. Why cant we get on the phone with each other? She laughs, a nervous sort of placeholder laugh.

    I hesitate before going along with her idea that we have been sabotaged. I had assumed a minor technical hitch. Who would want to stop her talking to me? About a Harvey Weinstein documentary? she scoffs. A lot of people!

    It would be easy to put Arquettes panic down to paranoia. But as the BBC documentary Untouchable: The Rise and Fall of Harvey Weinstein shows, paranoia is an utterly reasonable response to what she has been through. Directed by Ursula Macfarlane, the film explores how Weinstein deployed power, right back to his school years. Along with fellow actors and former employees of Weinstein, Arquette contributes her own experience of his alleged sexual abuse. I guess you have to say allegedly, she says. Weinstein denies any non-consensual sexual encounters.

    What Arquette didnt know, until one of the producers took the finished film to her house, was that the Israeli intelligence firm Black Cube had put together a profile of her for Weinstein. Phones and getting into computers and emails disappearing that stuff continues, she says (she doesnt suggest Black Cube is involved). She is grateful to Macfarlane for a great job. But a lot of people have made a lot of money on the backs of our pain, she says, with the same sad laugh. I think the word pain has triggered the laugh, and she could be crying.

    Arquette was one of the first women to share details of Weinsteins abuse, with Ronan Farrow in the New Yorker and in the New York Times with Jodi Kantor, in October 2017. When the makers of Untouchable contacted her, Everybody was in so much fear, they didnt want to speak, she says. But how do you not?

    Arquette
    Star on the rise Arquette with Madonna in Desperately Seeking Susan, 1985. Photograph: Allstar/ORION PICTURES

    On camera, she tells of the time in the early 1990s when she arrived at the Beverly Hills hotel in Los Angeles for a meeting with Weinstein. As she does and this is something other interviewees in the film do she grabs her own wrist and jerks her body back, her hands rising defensively as she mimics his voice; acting, in short, as if Weinstein is physically there, and that she must also play his part.

    Thats what trauma is, she says to be recurrently plunged back into the moment that Weinstein, in his white bathrobe, tried to draw her hand first to his achy neck, then his penis. What a relief it must have been to reach the safety of the lift.

    I was never safe, she counters. From the moment I was told that I was supposed to have dinner with him and then I was told: Mr Weinstein will see you upstairs. My heart started racing. Mmmmm. She makes a sound, a sort of verbal malfunction, an alarm that wont stop. Of course she didnt feel safe. She doesnt feel safe now.

    Arquette stayed rooted in the doorway of Weinsteins room. She did not go in. That would have been fucked. Game over! But before she fled, he warned her she says this in a deep voice Rosanna, youre making a very big mistake. She says he named two women whom he claimed had gone along with him in order to advance their careers. One has since told her own story, making it clear that she in fact rebuffed Weinstein, so Arquette sees no harm in naming her.

    Gwyneth Paltrow, she says. He said to me: Look what Ive done for Gwyneth Paltrow. Gwyneth Paltrow was with Brad Pitt! She had a career! Theres no way she made a deal with Harvey!

    But the claim must have weighed on Arquette because, she says, two years ago, when Farrows investigation appeared, she phoned Paltrow.And I said: I just needed you to know what he said to me.

    And what did Paltrow say?

    She laughed. She said: Yeah, Ive heard that!

    Of course, many people had heard many things about Weinstein. Silence was never the problem. I told many people, Arquette says. Who? I told Jane Fonda years ago. She listened to me and she was concerned I talked. I didnt stop talking.

    Weinstein
    Weinstein in court in a clip from Untouchable: The Rise and Fall of Harvey Weinstein. Photograph: Getty/BBC/LT2 Films LTD

    Rose McGowan talked, too, because Arquette heard her account of being raped by Weinstein long before Farrows article in 2017; Arquette shared her own experience with a third party, who shared it with McGowan. All these semi-private conversations built a kind of common knowledge, and that was why Farrow knew to approach her, she says. But we were in such a fearful place. Even as she walked away from Weinsteins corridor and returned to the lobby in the lift, she thought: Hes going to take me down.

    Arquette has appeared in more than 70 films but the notable ones are Desperately Seeking Susan (1985), The Big Blue (1988), Pulp Fiction (1994) and Crash (1996) all long ago. Well, like Mira Sorvino says, [Weinstein] took a big chunk of our time in our lives There was a significant drop in careers. Weve gone from the top of A-lists to bottom of the C-minus list within minutes. Gossip … A dinner party Be careful, shes a pain in the ass People listen to that. And its not true!

    Pulp Fiction (produced by Weinsteins company Miramax) did come two years after the alleged assault; Arquette wanted to work with Quentin Tarantino. But I never made a penny from it, she says. Im the only famous actor who didnt have a back-end deal [a share of the profits]. And this was a time when I should have

    You were A-list, I say. I hate saying that, she says. I suspect she finds it immodest.

    She has no evidence that Weinstein warned others against her (though Peter Jackson has admitted to blacklisting Sorvino and Ashley Judd under pressure from Weinstein). And there was always work. Even if it was a bad television movie shooting up in Canada, she says with that same dry laugh. You have to pay the bills when youre a single mum. (Her daughter, Zo Bleu Sidel, is 24 and, according to Arquette: She can run circles around any Arquette as an actor. Zos father, restaurateur John Sidel, was the second of Arquettes four husbands. She has been married to Todd Morgan, an investment banker, since 2013.)

    In Hollywood, Arquette always felt isolated. For a long time, she had no agent, though she has a wonderful one now. I never really played the game, doing what it takes to be a star, to keep your mouth shut. I wonder if the other Arquette siblings Patricia, David (whom she says she speaks to most often), Alexis and Richmond shared her sense of isolation? Well, I dont think Patricia does! she shoots back. Shes right there at the top of the field in the game right now.

    The speed of her response makes me wonder if it was a competitive household growing up; all the siblings acted. But she says: Ive never experienced that in our family. Theres a pause. Wait a minute, what am I saying? My dad [Lewis Arquette] had a kind of weird competitiveness with me that I never felt was super-supportive. Everybody would say: Your dad is so proud of you! And Id say: Oh, he is? Well, thats nice! But he was a struggling actor who never really made it and then his kids all became, you know, stars.

    Acting
    Acting is in the family (l to r) Alexis, Rosanna, Richmond, Patricia and David, 2006. Photograph: SGranitz/WireImage

    When her trans sister Alexis wanted to be a woman, I always had a joke. I said: You think you have a hard time getting work as an actor? Wait till youre a woman! We had a big laugh over that.

    A long outward breath ripples down the phone. Im just trying to get my thoughts in order, she says quietly. Its really hard not to be paranoid when you find out that youve been spied on. She goes back to the earlier hitch with the phone call. So what happens is, I realise in myself, you get so triggered. The trauma of it. This high anxiety happens, along with a strong morning coffee, and you feel like: Whats going on here? She laughs again, but sounds more relaxed.

    It was Arquette who, as the eldest sibling, launched the Alexis Arquette Family Foundation after Alexis died from an HIV-related heart attack in 2016. I felt really moved to do something, she says. Patricia contributed, got a couple of good donations. But the family appeared to disagree about which pronoun to use: Richmond chose he in his Facebook post, Patricia she.

    This is whats so great about Alexis, Arquette says. Alexis was a they before the they pronoun existed. So which pronoun does the family use now? I go with what Alexis wanted and that was her choice, and her choice was it didnt matter, Arquette says. So we in our family say she. But at the end, Alexis, you know, had a beard. And I said, because Alexis was very ill, I said: Do you want to be buried in a beautiful, beautiful dress and be made up? Is that what you want? It doesnt matter, Ro. It doesnt matter. Male or female, Im just me. We got to have that conversation. So I know that Alexis would be they now, if she were alive.

    Activism was always central to Arquette family life. Their mother, Brenda Denaut, was an activist. Alexis campaigned for trans rights. Patricia used her Oscars speech in 2015 to call for wage equality. Way back in 2002, Rosanna made a documentary, Searching for Debra Winger, about the shortage of film roles for older women. This is in our DNA, she says. I suspect even those words are part of the genetic makeup, because Patricia says exactly the same.

    Arquette tries not to dwell on the kind of career she might have had. This is my karma. Its for the greater good that it happened to me, because what has become more important in my life is the activism, and being a voice for the voiceless. One of the voices for the voiceless, she amends. She is scrupulously modest.

    The next step is the healing, she says. To this end, she is constantly working on her trauma in therapy, and talking with other women all the time, every day about their experiences. Dont these conversations require her to dwell in the moment of abuse?

    Its not dwelling, she says. Its still really new. And we have to be diligent and on top of it at all times, because I think men think this is a phase women are going through, and were here to tell you, this is never going away. So many women have been abused, and its been normalised. We cant normalise this. Its not normal!

    Still, I worry about the healing part. Arquette seems to feel all allegations of abuse personally. The day after the Brett Kavanaugh hearing, she woke up with shingles. Because the stress was so It was just too much when he got off!

    And she finds it meaningful that Jeffrey Epstein died on her 60th birthday, as if their fates were entwined. Certainly, she spent her whole birthday dealing with a lot of women who were really affected by the fact that Jeffrey Epstein died. Thankfully, she had a total rocknroll love festival in her backyard later, attended by activists including Bamby Salcedo, Doctor Astrid Heger, Monica Ramirez and Joni Mitchell. Ellen Barkin was there in all her glory.

    Patricia couldnt make it she was getting over the flu. But Arquettes daughter Zo gave a beautiful speech about how she appreciated me and I was always there for her, Arquette says. And Susanna Hoff from the Bangles played Eternal Flame and Walk Like An Egyptian and Take Me With U by Prince. Arquette is singing it now, quietly: I dont care pretty baby, take me with you

    Still, the healing process cant have been helped by her recent tweet that she was sorry she was born white and privileged. Afterwards, she received so much abuse on social media that she contacted a really important person who does risk assessments on these sorts of threats. He wants her to be very careful about how I say things, she says, before launching into a clarification. Im defending what I said, and if it pisses people off Yes, just by the nature of the colour of my skin, I was born with privilege. And it is unfair. And thats what I meant to say … Why is it that I was born with privileges just because of the colour of my skin?

    She is fighting on so many fronts. She flits from Weinstein to Epstein to Charles Manson to Kavanaugh, mostly in exclamatory bolts. Bearing in mind the threat specialists advice, I wonder if she ever considers …

    Do I ever feel like I should shut the fuck up? she jumps in. I dont know how to not speak out. I think as a human being, its my job.

    Untouchable: The Rise and Fall of Harvey Weinstein is on Sunday 1 September at 9pm on BBC Two

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    The truth about comedy writers’ rooms

    Grubby banter, sexless flirting and the smell of pizza and ambition … writer Sarah Morgan reveals the funny business that goes on behind the scenes of your favourite shows

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    In the recent movie Late Night, Mindy Kaling plays a naive young comedy writer joining the writing team on a late-night US chat show. The staff are exclusively white, male, expensively educated and surly a running gag is that every one uses the womens restroom to defecate because no women work in the office. Kaling, as a perky diversity hire, shakes up the show and drags it into the 21st century. Its a wish fulfilment comedy: what would actually happen, with just one woman or person of colour in the room, is that the lads would carry on being sexist and racist but would then swivel their heads at her like ventriloquist dummies to check that she was cool with it.

    US writers rooms have a feral romance to them, as seen in shows such as 30 Rock, which was inspired by Tina Feys real time as head writer on Saturday Night Live, when her male peers would pee into jars on their office window sill and call it sun tea. In the UK, were a little more embarrassed at the idea that comedy is written, and feel it should be hidden away, shamefully and quietly. (When a writing partner and I asked for an office at the BBC in which to write our radio series, we were grudgingly offered The Jill Dando room, an 8ft sq office in TV Centre featuring a King-Kong-at-the-window-scale mural of the tragically murdered TV personality. We laughed. Writers are horrible.)

    Recently, ITV announced an initiative to aim for gender-balanced writing teams on its comedy shows, which came as a shock to some people who claim to passionately love comedy but dont know how it is made. People who think Morecambe and Wise came up with all their own material, and Angela Rippon just started doing all that mad stuff with her legs on the day. You know what though? Its sort of OK comedy writers feel deep down we are doing our job properly when you dont know were there, like God. No, not like God: we dont have that level of self-esteem. Were like people who pump out the toilets at music festivals. Thats it. Gag writers are like the portable loo people, quietly keeping your entertainment entertaining. We know that no one at home cares if Simon Cowell is being genuinely spontaneous, or if his quip about David Walliamss trousers was crafted by a sweaty nerd on a 600th of his salary. Were just happy to be in showbiz.

    I love my job. Ive worked in more than 50 writers rooms, not including the shows I helped develop that never made it to air. Some days I pinch myself that Im being paid to laugh my head off. On Horrible Histories you get free lectures from historians its like being paid for school, only youre actively encouraged to make fun of the lesson afterwards. Some shows Ive proudly worked on for decades, some were just a fleeting engagement in a production company office that smelled of pizza and ambition. Food is vital to the workings of a writers room. If a producer offers to buy lunch, everyone will immediately order the most expensive thing possible, because comedy writers are tiny children, and also because you know a free lunch means you are working through lunch.

    The job has changed a lot in 10 years, but some writers rooms do still feel loud and gladiatorial, as in Late Night. Often in the UK they are dominated by male Oxbridge-educated caucazoids (some of my best friends are male Oxbridge-educated caucazoids, etc, etc). Writers are generally sensitive and insecure. If you put us together in a room we will overcompensate like the advice given to someone on their first day of prison, punch the biggest bloke in the yard.

    There was one pop-based panel show writers room so notoriously toxic, the survivors talk as though it has been entombed in concrete like Chernobyl. A half-formed idea would get cut short with a Thats shit or Not funny. The writers assistant would get sent out with a complicated sandwich order and a grave warning that the star would lose his shit if she got the order wrong. (Of course, the sandwich shop didnt exist. She was terrified! Lol!)

    Tina
    Tina Fey in US sitcom 30 Rock, which was inspired by her time as head writer on Saturday Night Live. Photograph: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

     

    These rooms are raptor pits, according to Andy Riley, co-creator of Year of the Rabbit, who has compiled a glossary of writers room terms on his website How to Talk Comedy Writer. There is loads of secret lingo, such as Die-dia (from Kat Sadler), an idea that you feel dying in your mouth the second you start pitching. A bad room will crush a die-dia dead (thats not funny), a good room will toss it around a bit to see what other ideas it shakes out. A die-dia is from the same family as the bad version, which is a much derided term that a higher-up might use when pitching the shape of a joke, but not the joke itself. We need a funny reveal for what the dog is chewing. The bad version is a dildo? I dunno, youre the writers. Honestly, pitching the bad version is actually really useful, but its a thing that producers say so writers make fun of it. We dont often get to feel lofty.

    Sam Bain, co-creator of Peep Show, says: Comedy writing rooms should be like improv Yes, and Rather than Thats shit. When a room is good, its heaven, a sort of sexless flirting where colleagues bat ideas back and forth and nothing is off-limits. A certain amount of inappropriateness is actually vital to the health of a room.

    Executives who pop in can be startled by the filth and off-topic banter. Its our way of getting to know each other. Jason Hazeley, co-creator of Cunk on Britain, calls this doing scales the practice gags that warm you up for the real work. Ive also heard it called clearing the pipes or getting the poison out. Its not pleasant, but it is funny, if dead-baby jokes before 10am are your thing. Quite why were allowed to get away with this Im not sure, theres no other job where its expected that you need to be appalling before you can do your job properly. Sure Ill bring in this 747, but I just have to snap the legs off this heron first. Its my process.

    When the Times Up movement hit Hollywood there was concern that some people wouldnt feel comfortable with the anything goes approach. There was a famous lawsuit where the writers assistant on Friends (the only female and person of colour in the room) sued because of the eye-wateringly inappropriate conversation among the chief writers (including speculations about a female cast members genitalia). The decision went in the shows favour, with the judge referring to the Friends room as a creative workplace focused on generating scripts for an adult-oriented comedy show featuring sexual themes.

    Sarah
    Ive been in situations where later Ive pondered the weird nature of my employment Sarah Morgan. Photograph: Karla Gowlett

     

    Ive never felt unsafe or intimidated at work, but Ive been in situations where later Ive pondered the weird nature of my employment. There was a day in a small room where the head writer delivered a monologue about inserting Cadbury Mini Eggs in the non-traditional orifice of a lady friend. I didnt feel especially harassed (I almost certainly yes and-ed with egg puns) but I cant speak for the young woman whose job it was to sit and take notes all day. Crucially, Im not sure it was a super-productive way to write in-house sketches for the website of a luxury car brand.

    While no one wants to think about how the sausage is made, its a fact that most shows have writers rooms panel shows, award shows, sketch shows, topical news shows, a chat show for a popular fake TV judge they are all team written. Though youd be forgiven for not knowing that if you look at the credits. Writers arent much of a thing in comedy, outside sitcoms. They are credited as programme associates (or additional material). Programme associates are the modest heroes thinking of funny captions for a photo of a puffin, or writing questions about Boris Johnsons hair, or coming up with sketch ideas a talk-show host could do based round a giant papier-mache vulva that had been commissioned by the production company for another show but didnt get used. (These are all things that have happened on programmes I have written on, sorry, been associated with.)

    But the title may not be around for ever. The Writers Guild of Great Britain is starting a campaign to scrap positions such as programme associate and credit writers for their writing. Writers should always be credited as writers, says Gail Renard, former WGGB chair and member of the guilds comedy committee, or else they stand to lose their residuals, pension contributions, and other payments theyve rightly earned. Why should we be hidden in the shadows like some dark comedy secret?

    Well, theres lots of reasons why comedy writers should be kept a dark dirty secret see above but a reluctance to give proper credit isnt one of them.

    Late Night is showing in UK cinemas.

     

     

     

     

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