FOREWORD BY SHERYL SANDBERG
You’ve almost certainly laughed at Scovell’s jokes—you just didn’t know it until now.
Just the Funny Parts is a juicy and scathingly funny insider look at how pop culture gets made. For more than thirty years, writer, producer and director Nell Scovell worked behind the scenes of iconic TV shows, including The Simpsons, Late Night with David Letterman, Murphy Brown, NCIS, The Muppets, and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, which she created and executive produced.
In 2009, Scovell gave up her behind-the-scenes status when the David Letterman sex scandal broke. Only the second woman ever to write for his show, Scovell used the moment to publicly call out the lack of gender diversity in late-night TV writers’ rooms. “One of the boys” came out hard for “all of the girls.” Her criticisms fueled a cultural debate. Two years later, Scovell was collaborating with Sheryl Sandberg on speeches and later on Lean In, which resulted in a worldwide movement.
Now Scovell is opening up with this fun, honest, and often shocking account. Scovell knows what it’s like to put words in the mouths of President Barack Obama, Mark Harmon, Candice Bergen, Bob Newhart, Conan O’Brien, Alyssa Milano, and Kermit the Frog, among many others. Through her eyes, you’ll sit in the Simpson writers’ room… stand on the Oscar red carpet… pin a tail on Miss Piggy…bond with Star Trek’s Leonard Nimoy… and experience a Stephen King-like encounter with Stephen King.
Just the Funny Parts is a fast-paced account of a nerdy girl from New England who fought her way to the top of the highly-competitive, male-dominated entertainment field. The book delivers invaluable insights into the creative process and tricks for navigating a difficult workplace. It's part memoir, part how-to, and part survival story. Or, as Scovell puts it, “It’s like Unbroken, but funnier and with slightly less torture.”
In this illuminating memoir, sitcom writer Scovell (Newhart, Murphy Brown, NCIS) details her career as a highly successful television writer over the last three decades, during which she was usually the only woman in the room. Scovell revised her ambition to become a serious journalist when she landed a job at the satirical Spy magazine in 1986, thereby launching her new career as a master of snark. Scovell's first foray into television writing was a spec script for It's Garry Shandling's Show; the script was killed but it put her on Hollywood's radar. During her tenure at Late Night with David Letterman,which she started in 1990,she worked well with the host, but nevertheless encountered a toxic, male-centric culture. After years of writing jokes and scripts for various shows, she created Sabrina the Teenage Witch. In the 20 years since, Scovell has repeatedly felt the sting of toiling in Los Angeles, "where rejection and failure are the bread and butter of this gluten-free, nondairy town," and in an industry that continually looked for a cheaper, younger version of her. But in working with Sheryl Sandberg as the co-writer on Lean In, she was reminded of a timeless lesson: doing something that is meaningful to oneself might also have an impact on others. Scovell's memoir is wonderfully entertaining and ultimately uplifting. Correction: An earlier version of this review listed an incorrect month of publication.
Resonates with sparks!
This was an eye-opening read into a world that I knew nothing about prior to this book. I did know about my experiences as a female executive trying to climb the ropes while also a mom. I knew about my experiences as a female PhD student after I bailed out of the corporate world thinking that, “Surely, academia will recognize accomplishments over gender”. We have come a long way over time and I am convinced that writers like Nell have been instrumental in our progress. Going behind-the-scenes was so much fun! I can hardly wait to read Lean In.