Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Letterman Writer Claims Sexual Favoritism Was Rampant


Nell Scovell wrote an article for Vanity Fair about her experience working for David Letterman and it is really good. She used to be a writer on Letterman back when he was still on NBC. She decided to use the forum offered to her at Vanity Fair not so much to hammer Letterman, but to hammer an entire industry. Late night writing staffs. She claims that with the exception of Jimmy Kimmel (and we know about that female writer) the rest of the late night staffs have zero women writers. None.

Although Nell does trash Letterman, she admits that she doesn't want him to go down or get fired. She has no interest in suing. She shares her experiences to show what it is like for any female writer that does somehow get hired for a late night show writing job. It's powerful.

"Without naming names or digging up decades-old dirt, let’s address the pertinent questions. Did Dave hit on me? No. Did he pay me enough extra attention that it was noted by another writer? Yes. Was I aware of rumors that Dave was having sexual relationships with female staffers? Yes. Was I aware that other high-level male employees were having sexual relationships with female staffers? Yes. Did these female staffers have access to information and wield power disproportionate to their job titles? Yes. Did that create a hostile work environment? Yes. Did I believe these female staffers were benefiting professionally from their personal relationships? Yes. Did that make me feel demeaned? Completely. Did I say anything at the time? Sadly, no."

Writing for Letterman was her dream job but she quit after just a few short months because of what was going on there. She does admit though that recently she tried to get hired again on Letterman as a part-time writer so it is obvious that she was willing to throw herself back into the situation. I admire her for that disclosure because it would have been very easy for her to say nothing, but at the same time I wonder why if it was so awful would she subject herself to it again. True, the job was working from home rather at the studio, but why would you ever want to go back to work for the same employer that you couldn't wait to leave before.

22 comments:

Rickatoo said...

Am I the only one that remembers Merrill Markoe?

Wikipedia - In 1980, Merrill Markoe was original head writer for The David Letterman Show, a short-lived live NBC morning show whose writing team was recognized with a Daytime Emmy Award. She may be best known for her work on Late Night with David Letterman (a show for which she shared in three Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing). She engineered most of the original concepts and architecture for the ground-breaking late night talk show, along the way creating the segment "Stupid Pet Tricks",[3] as well as "Stupid Human Tricks" and "Viewer Mail." Many of the ideas behind the remote segments outside the studio came from Markoe, who also won a Writer's Guild award for her writing/performing work on HBO's late-1980s hit Not Necessarily the News. She and Letterman were also involved romantically from 1978–1988, after which Markoe moved to California to pursue a writing career.

Quintessential Southerner said...

maybe she really needs a job and when you have a mouth to feed, you tend to do what ya gotta do?

damn, david. i wonder if cbs has the grounds to fire him. i would assume they would still have to pay him.

i would not be surprised if by next summer's end he 'retires'.

Pookie said...

"...why would you ever want to go back to work for the same employer that you couldn't wait to leave before."

rent is due.

mortgage is due.

baby is due.

it's all about the $.

Little Miss Smoke and Mirrors said...

No, Rickatoo. When the story about Letterman broke, I posted on this site that somewhere, Merrill Markoe was laughing her ass off. She's probably the female writer Nell Scovell is referring to, but I think Regina Lasko was also a staffer on Dave's show. In fact, I think Dave was screwing around on Merrill (his long-time live-in gf) with Regina. Don't think Regina was a writer, though, not that it matters.

Lil said...

Pookie and the Quintessential Southerner summed it up perfectly. When you've got bills to pay and not enough income coming in, selling your soul to the devil (even if only part-time) sometimes is a necessary evil. Been there, done that.

Isabel said...

"I admire her for that disclosure because it would have been very easy for her to say nothing, but at the same time I wonder why if it was so awful would she subject herself to it again."

Because the economy sucks, especially for writers. I guess she just grew accustomed to eating.

Megan said...

wow I feel stupid all those times watching Letterman being dirty old man with young starlets he was actually being himself a sexist pig. I thought it was a gag to make the interview seem light. Don't think I can watch his show again looking back at some of his comments. I feel dirty enabling him by giving him ratings.

Anonymous said...

I always thought Dave was/is a perv.

Lisa (original) said...

I was going to write the same thing Pookie :-)

Reese said...

Merrill Markoe sued Letterman for palimony and got his Malibu beach house in the settlement.

A Pimp Named DaveR said...

@ Rickatoo & Little Miss S&M:

Read the article. Nell started in '88, well after Markoe had left the show ('86), and about when Markoe broke up with Letterman.

So I'm not sure what she has to do with this.

@ Reese: No she didn't.

pomme said...

Letterman is a prick in clear!

anonymous said...

http://merrillmarkoe.com/okay-here-it-is-my-big-comment-on-mr-letterman

Judi said...

Like others wrote before, because it was a job.

NYC2008 said...

Please do not portray these women as innocent victims.

I believe these women were over the age of 18.
Women sleep with powerful men to get to the top all the time in this country.
The women can say no. If you get fired than sue.
I'm tired of reading about these awful men. Please.
The men wanted sex, and the women wanted to move up.

anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mama Theresa said...

amen NYC!

Jasmine said...

but you know what nyc and mama theresa? These men were in HIGHER positions and propostioned these women. THere comes with that a certain level of intimidation as to how you get out of that situation with being fired or harrassed. THe fact is it was wrong, its not so cut and dried to say that men are horny and women take them up on it to be mercenary bitches out for the brass ring. that is simplistic and sexist and does nothing for either sex except set them back to the 50's and all the stereotypes that go hand in hand there.

Jasmine said...

lets keep it in perspective and try not to generalize all situations that take place in the work enviroment like this

Little Miss Smoke and Mirrors said...

Anon - thanks for that link, good to see Merrill as irreverent as ever.

Suck My Balls Bitch said...

I think you have to seriously consider the source of these comments before you believe them. Nell Scovill has been floating around finding sexual harassment wherever she goes for about two decades now. Having known her back in the day, I can tell you that Nell was once hurt very badly by a man and since then has been persecuting whatever man she could. It's hard to call her a liar, because she believes her delusions but that is simply what they are - delusions. Every man Nell knows hits on her, or pays her extra attention. Every man Nell knows wants to fuck her and every other goddamn woman they work with. Every man Nell knows will use anything they can to fuck all the women they can.

In short, she's simply nuts and you should not believe anything she has to say.

Ms. Ramona Narrow said...

Why do we cast these women as victims? What if the women were sleeping with the men NOT because they wanted to move up but because they were interested in these men? I don't think it is so odd that people who work long,long hours together in intense work environments would sleep together. Who else would they be meeting? Happens all the time with people working on political campaigns. Also, while it may not be fair or professional, don't you tell the person you are sleeping with secrets or do them favors when you can? There may have been a lot of monkey business going on at Letterman but women are not always the victims they are made out to be

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