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March 15 2011

On "Wonder Woman" TV Series: Talk to Joss Whedon! Michael Lee of The Wrap writes an open letter to David E. Kelley about his developing "Wonder Woman" TV pilot, and his first two suggestions concern our very own "strong female character"-engineer.

Well, on the one hand it's not bad advice for the most part, on the other it's obviously pretty insulting to say to a showrunner "Let's face it, you're not up to this, you need - among others - Joss Whedon's help" before you've seen a single frame of the show.

That said, though i'll very probably check it out if it goes, from the little i've heard so far, this has potential disaster written all over it (like the worst elements of 'Ally McBeal' and 'Smallville' combined).
Wonder Woman heading up a company which sells WW merchandise. Liz Hurley on the cast list. I have a hard time believing this show will be anything less than awful. Bionic Woman awful
I love the Joss, but his comments while slaving away on the movie script have always made me think that he didn't have a good handle on the character, and didn't have a good understanding of what made her work, and what didn't.

That's not saying that Kelley is any better, but other than Joss's expertise in writing good female television characters (and the very low key superheroine, Buffy), he's failed at this job already.
Bathoz -

I'm not sure he had failed, and no one can be until they read the script. What we do know is that for a long time prior to his involvement, and a long time since, Silver/DC/WB have all failed to get a Wonder Woman movie off the ground, which speaks to a problem far deeper that Joss Whedon's creative contribution.
Joss Whedon? David Kelly? Why arn't names like Marti Nocon and Jane Espenson being banded around?

Can't they find a good female writter? What does this say about the industry that every time they need a femenist writer to handle a screenplay about an action woman, Joss is the first name that gets thrown around by the press?

I'm not having a go at Joss, whose work I love, but I have found this situation not only ridiculous, but pretty offensive to women as a whole. Imagine if Hollywood decided to make a series about a black action hero, and then hired a white writter "Who got black people!" We'd all be so offended by such condecending racism, but similar treatment of women is A-OK!

I was working with several very talented female film makers over the weekend, who told me just how there are zero opportunities for women as writers or producers in Hollywood.
I have seen a lot of criticism like this throughout the fan community, and it all smacks of arrogance and presumption. To address the column specifically referenced here, if Joss Whedon had decided to create a weekly legal procedural and someone wrote this kind of article, I would say the same thing. David E. Kelley knows something about how to make a hit TV series, and doesn't need advice from another showrunner (and that's not to say I don't love all things Joss.)

Mr. Kelley has also demonstrated an ability to write strong female leads (I'm not talking about Ally McBeal), and an ability to adjust a TV series rapidly on-the-fly to correct flaws. The last season of The Practice and particularly the first season of Boston Legal were very instructive to me on how he shaped that program with casting changes, plot variance and character modification over a short period of time.

Much has been made of the switch of putting Wonder Woman in a corporate environment. That storyline has been playing out quite successfully in the current Power Girl comic book run, and it's actually helped cement the image of a woman of substance who is powerful not just because she was born with certain abilities. Yes, it is a switch from the traditional Wonder Woman path. But the general public that made a financial hit out of the tragically clownish reworking of the originally serious Green Hornet should not posture about tradition now. (In case it isn't clear, that film really ticked me off ... and no, I won't watch it.)

I'm not bothered by the casting choices. The lead looks to have the looks and talent to pull it off, and Elizabeth Hurley has the one thing a good villain really needs: she's already disliked by the public at large. Is her casting an indication that the bad guys will be played broadly or over-the-top for laughs. I don't know - too soon to tell. But David E. Kelly has pulled good acting out of what I considered bad actors in the past, so I'm willing to wait and see.

So we can't know if the show will be a success or not at this point. And we won't know that after the script is completed or after the pilot is shot or after the network green-lights the series with their inherent laundry list of change requests (because most pilots never actually get broadcast.) Once David E. Kelley makes those adjustments, plus any others he feels he needs to make to polish the final product, and it gets on the air that first night, only then will we be able to tell if it is going to be a success or not.

But if I was going to give Kelley one piece of advice, it would be this: don't deviate far from the traditional Wonder Woman costume. I just like the look.
SeanHarry, I totally agree with you. If people really wanted to promote feminism with Wonder Woman, why aren't they suggesting female writers for the project? Because it doesn't matter if every show had Buffy as their main character if only 7% of tv-pilots are written by women.
Given that WW is going to be an executive and that the characters around her are going to try and make money off of her WW persona, this seems to be a possible real life Wonder Woman T.V Series product tie-in. (Better pics here.)

Some thoughts about female superheros, their costumes, and the effect or message they have here and here (centered around Supergirl, but still relevant to the WW discussion IMO).
Not really new territory but those links were worth reading BreathesStory, ta (presumably they thought discussing Power Girl's costume in the context of sexism in comics would be redundant).

(must admit, I feel slightly stupid for not even having considered the implications of Supergirl flying while wearing a skirt. Of all the various costume stupidities - high heels, lack of 'support' etc. - that should've been a fairly obvious one)
I'm not presuming anything. I've read the script for the pilot. It's crap. Horrifically so.
If anybody hasn't read the script, there are enough reviews of the thing out there to make your mind up already. From what I read, I like a couple of the ideas but apart from the major character issues, I hate how a low-level Diana Prince exists at all.
But the general public that made a financial hit out of the tragically clownish reworking of the originally serious Green Hornet should not posture about tradition now.

How about someone who never saw The Green Hornet film? Am I allowed to "posture" all over the Wonder Woman pilot script and series concept which indeed is horrific crap?
Outside the comic buying fandom, how much does the general public actually know about Wonder Woman?
Depending on age, mainly that she looks a lot like Lynda Carter i'd imagine. WW has name recognition, not much else.
WW has name recognition, not much else.


Which probably means Kelley can afford to take liberties and get away with it. It worked for Smallville.
Yep. Well, 'worked' in the sense that it's been on 10 years anyway. I wouldn't exactly call it a creative triumph.

Ongoing comics are stuffed with multiple continuities/retcons/reboots etc. so to me a few liberties aren't that big a deal (it's different if it's a one-off self-contained story like 'Watchmen' or 'V for Vendetta').
It's the spirit of the thing that's most important in a comic book adaptation and I don't think this has it. (Admittedly, I've read incredibly little Wonder Woman).
I couldn't care less if a TV version adheres slavishly to some sort of continuity. But I'm pretty sure Wonder Woman should not be in a board room wishing she had breasts the size of those on her action figure.
Yeah, that'd be tiny for a grown woman.
No offense, but if I where David E. Kelley and I came across this... article I'd be going out of my way right now to do everything as close to this author's definition of terrible and tasteless as possible.
If I were David E Kelley and I came across this article i'd go out of my way to think "Oh wow, some random on the internet who probably isn't as rich as me and certainly doesn't have multiple critically and commercially successful TV shows on their CV has written something mildly offensive... now, Cornflakes or Cheerios ?".

Only i'd probably think 'resume' because David E Kelley is American.
I'm tremendously conflicted by all I've heard about this WW.

I do count myself a fan of WW and currently have the Straczynski version of the comic as part of my monthly comic book pull.

I was a huge FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS fans and thought Adrianne Palicki the best thing in it. She went from being essentially a background character in early Season One to being one of the second most important female character. Great actress. Someone you might not think is that beautiful the first time you see her, but after you see her in action, all you can think is how stunning she is. And I love the size: 5'11. She definitely has the chops to pull it off.

But I am just not confident that David E. Kelley is up to this challenge. It will stretch him more than any other show he has done and I'm concerned that on all his shows he has taken on the vast majority of the writing. On this I think he needs to bring in a team of writers with some sensibility for how comics work. Geoff Johns has done a surprising amount of TV writing and he is the closest thing that DC has to a dominant voice right now (except for Grant Morrison on Batman). Kelley should hire Geoff Johns as a consulting producer and then listen to him. Then he should see if Brian K. Vaughan is interested and then raid SUPERNATURAL for Ben Edlund. He'd get great writers and he'd gain immeasurably in credibility with the comic book community.
Kelley should hire Geoff Johns as a consulting producer and then listen to him.

Unfortunately, Johns was crowing about the DEK announcement when it was being made/discussed, and that's including in the midst of everyone learning what was in the horrible script.
"Yeah, that'd be tiny for a grown woman."

It would be a little hard to find a bra in a *flea-cup size. Sounds like a custom job. The "support" debate about her costume design would finally be rendered moot though. :-)

*creative hyperbole

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