Friday, May 2, 2014

Why You Should Know the Name, Leslie Linka Glatter, the Rise of Female Directors in Television

In a world dominated by male directors, television has been a shining beacon for women to sit behind the camera more than ever before.  In a male dominated industry, of film and television, women are often critiqued more harshly then men.  In the world of film, Sofia Coppola's career, and the criticism against her is proof of the magnifier on female directed projects .

Coppola was heralded for her great work, and even awarded a screenplay Oscar for Lost in Translation.  I think this happened not only because the film was brilliant, but because old white men (critics) connected with the Bill Murray character.  After Lost in Translation came Marie Antoinette, which was a good film.  Pay attention to the visual story she tells, Roger Ebert said it best "Every criticism I have read of this film would alter is fragile magic and reduce its romantic and tragic poignancy to the level of an instructional film." Coppola  Last year her film The Bling Ring  was seen as vapid, but was an excellent film, and look at the Generation Y, and their celebrity obsession, their need to be bigger, and invincible. On the film side directors are a brand, but in television the brand is typically comes from the actors, or the genre.  This has been a great way for female directors to enhance their visibility in television directing.

Both comedic and dramatic television have utilized more female directors.  In the comedic world you Beth McCarthy Miller who directed 218 episodes of Saturday Night Live from 1995-2006.  It's no surprise that McCarthy Miller directed 24 episodes of 30 Rock, her most recent gig has been with Modern Family (8 episodes).  Gail Mancuso is another big name in comedy directing; she did 51 episodes of Roseanne, 14 episodes of Friends, and has done 15 episodes of Modern Family.  Mancuso won her first Emmy last year for Modern Family. Pamela Fryman has worked on numerous shows like Frasier, but her most impressive feat was directing 196 episodes of How I Met Your Mother, while this is not every episode, this woman's direction set the tone for the entire 9 season run.  These are not all the female directors out there, but these are just a few who have made it big in the world of comedy.

Big name celebrities have stepping behind the scene of television dramas, Jodie Foster has directed episodes of Orange is the New Black (its a drama), and House of Cards.  Robin Wright has also directed episodes of House of Cards.  These are just two recent examples, but there are other women have shaped some of the best episodes of television dramas, like Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and many others.  One of the up and coming names in directing is Michelle MacLaren; she has worked on The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, but her crowning achievements have come from her work on Breaking Bad.  MacLaren has been nominated for two directing Emmy Awards for the series, and they are two of the best, watch for her to get another nomination this year for "To hajiilee."  While MacLaren is a bit newer to the directing game; she is a strong aspect of the growth of female directors in television.

So who is Leslie Linka Glatter?  Linka Glatter got her start on the Steven Speilberg produced Amazing Stories back in 1986, since then she has directed for a wide array of television series, putting her unique stamp on so many different shows.  Linka Glatter's first big television direction was with Twin Peaks, and from there her strong work took her many places.  One of the coolest things about her career is the diverse array of shows she has worked for, from The O.C. to NYPD Blue, The West Wing, Gilmore Girls, ER, The Good Wife, Mad Men, Homeland, and Masters of Sex.  Linka Glatter was not the first female director in television, but her diverse array of work proves to be a strong example of the way in which television has stepped ahead of film, and been good at recognizing a wide array of talent.

While women like Linka Glatter have a strong presence in television direction, there is still little recognition for this growth.  Mimi Leder is the only female who has won a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Direction in a Drama Series for her work on ER (1994-1995).  Ont the Comedy side side two women have won, the legendary Betty Thomas for HBO's Dream On (1992-1993), and the above mentioned Gail Mancuso for Modern Family (2012-2013).

Typical television viewers do not know television directors as much as they film directors.  Hell you even know film directors by their last names alone, Scorsese, Lynch, Spielberg, the Coens, Altman, Coppola (s), and on and on.  It's time you knew the name Linka Glatter, and her female counterparts who are turning the male dominated role of television direction on its side. As more women step behind the camera on television series you need to start knowing these names, and the way they are changing the face of television.

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