Campus: San Francisco State University -- March 07, 2003

SFSU Student Wins National Script-Writing Contest


Budding TV writer to be recognized at April broadcasting conference

San Francisco State University senior Mary Sue Woodbury wants to write for national television. Thanks to a recent contest, she may be closer to realizing her goal. The broadcast and electronic communication arts (BECA) major recently won first place in a student competition for her full-length script for a hypothetical episode of the sitcom “Frasier.”

Woodbury’s script, titled “The Manliest Man,” sends two characters, Frasier and his brother Niles, to a logging convention in order to prove their manhood. The story draws on Woodbury’s experiences growing up in Acme, Wash., a small logging town.

The contest was sponsored by the Broadcast Education Association (BEA), a leading professional national association for teachers, students and researchers of electronic media.
Woodbury’s entry was selected as the best television series in the scriptwriting category. She will be recognized in an awards ceremony at the BEA’s annual conference on April 5 in Las Vegas.

“The script-writing award is very prestigious,” says Phil Kipper, chair of the BECA department at SFSU and Woodbury’s faculty adviser. He says the judges include not only professors from top universities, but also industry professionals and Hollywood insiders.
A senior with an emphasis in television writing, Woodbury says being chosen for a “Frasier” script carries special weight among writers because the show, known for its witty and intelligent writing, is “considered the opera of TV sitcoms.”

Peter Casey, executive producer and co-creator of “Frasier,” graduated from the BECA Department and was the 2002 SFSU Alumnus of the Year. Several BECA students have won prizes in previous BEA script-writing contests.

Woodbury’s winning script began as an assignment for a sitcom writing class she took last fall. Although she would be thrilled to see her script get used, Woodbury says there is little chance the episode will actually be produced. Typically, she says, television writers are evaluated on their outside projects before they are asked to write a sample script for a show. Whether or not the episode airs, Kipper is upbeat about Woodbury’s prospects.

“I think she’s going to go far in this industry. She has a great personality and a great zany outlook on life,” he says. “I think she will succeed as a professional writer.”

Woodbury, who lives in Daly City, chose SFSU because of its reputable broadcast media department. After she graduates in December, she hopes to land a job writing and producing sitcoms.

She plans to apply for a television internship this summer. “Inevitably I’ll move to LA,” she says, but for the moment, “it’s pretty open-ended once December hits.”

The Broadcast Education Association’s membership includes about 250 colleges and universities and more than 1,300 individual practitioners. BEA judges student work in six categories: audio, video, interactive multimedia, news, script-writing and small or two-year college work. One of the largest campuses in the California State University system, SFSU was founded in 1899 and today is a highly diverse, comprehensive, public and urban university.

Contact: Matt Itelson (415) 338-1743; (415) 338-1665; matti@sfsu.edu


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