WRITER-DIRECTOR JOY LUSCO KECKEN ON HOMICIDE, THE WIRE, BEAT SHEETS, RESEARCH, AND CAREER BUILDING (MF GALAXY 076)
HOW BEING A SCRIPT COORDINATOR BUILT HER WRITING CAREER + MESSED WITH HER DIRECTING, RESEARCH WITH RIDE-ALONGS AND IN JAILS, DRAWING ON LIFE EXPERIENCE FOR POWERFUL SCENES
Joy Lusco Kecken began her professional screenwriting career as an intern and script coordinator for NBC’s Homicide: Life on the Street, and went on to freelance for the show. She served as a script coordinator for HBO’s The Wire, for which she also directed one episode and wrote three; she served as a story consultant on the 50 Cent bio-pic Get Rich or Die Tryin’, wrote for Standoff and The Division, directed the documentary We Are Arabbers, and wrote and co-directed the award-winning short film Louisville starring Andre Braugher.
- In this episode of MF GALAXY, Lusco Kecken discusses:
- How the multifaceted role of script coordinator on Homicide and The Wire helped her build her writing career
- How her experience as a script coordinator partly interfered with her work as a
- director for The Wire
- How a teleplay “beat sheet” works
- The research she conducted with police, in the community, and even in jails, in
- order to serve her material faithfully
- How she used her own life experiences in some of the most powerful moments of her scripts, and
- Why a beloved character from The Wire was slated to die and who stopped the killing
Along the way, Lusco Kecken cites Wire series co-creators and writers David Simon and Ed Burns, both of whom I’ve interviewed about their work on The Wire. Keep listening for those conversations on upcoming episodes of MF GALAXY. She also cites The Corner, the controversial collaboration between Simon and the late David Mills whom I also interviewed, the miniseries that depicts the miseries of people with addictions on a Baltimore street corner.
Lusco Kecken spoke with me by telephone on January 25, 2008. She begins by discussing the work of a script coordinator and how it shaped her career.
To hear 40 minutes of the patrons-only extended edition of my conversation with Joy Lusco Kecken,become a sponsor for a dollar or more per week. This extended edition includes Joy Lusco Kecken discussing:
- Gender imbalance in Hollywood screenwriting
- The multiple dramatic and social significances of The Wire’s Detective Kima Greggs, as played by Sonja Sohn
- The research into LGBTQ issues that Lusco Kecken performed to write for Greggs, a character who was part hero, part role model, and part scoundrel
- A scene from The Wire in which Detective Greggs manhandles a fratboy for Driving While White, and the reasons why Lusco Kecken says she would never have written the scene
- How novelists such as Dennis Lehane, George Pellecanos, and Richard Price wrote teleplays differently than TV writers would, and
- How close The Wire comes to being cultural appropriation and anti-Africanpathology porn