Just the Funny Parts: ...And a Few Hard Truths about Sneaking into the Hollywood Boys' Club

Just the Funny Parts: ...And a Few Hard Truths about Sneaking into the Hollywood Boys' Club


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Just the Funny Parts: ...And a Few Hard Truths about Sneaking into the Hollywood Boys' Club by Nell Scovell


Garry Shandling told her “You write like a guy.” Lena Dunham calls her “a Queen.” Penn Jillette says she’s “one of the funniest people alive.” You’ve almost certainly laughed at her jokes—you just didn’t know it until now.

For over thirty years, writer, producer and director Nell Scovell has worked behind the scenes on some of TV’s most iconic shows, ranging from The Simpsons to Late Night with David Letterman to Murphy Brown to NCIS. Now she’s stepping into the spotlight with an honest, hilarious, and often shocking account of what it takes to make it in Hollywood. Her supporting cast of characters includes Larry David, Mark Harmon, Alyssa Milano, Joel Hodgson, President Barack Obama and Miss Piggy.

With grit and wit, Scovell fought her way up from the lowest-level writer on the final season of Newhart to the creator and showrunner of the hit Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. Just the Funny Parts charts how a bookish girl from New England who loved science fiction, sports and comedy made her way in the entertainment industry which is hard on men and even harder on women.  

In 2009, she spoke out publicly about the lack of gender diversity on late night TV writing staffs. “One of the boys” came out hard for “all of the girls.” Her criticisms ignited a cultural debate. Two years later, Scovell was collaborating with Sheryl Sandberg on speeches and later on Lean In.

Just the Funny Parts offers a candid insider look at a male-dominated industry and how Scovell survived in this highly-competitive environment. As she puts it, "It’s like Unbroken . . . but funnier and with slightly less torture."

Scovell delivers invaluable insights into the creative process, reveals details about well-known stars, and plenty of laughs. 

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062473486
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 03/20/2018
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 67,475
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Nell Scovell is a television writer, producer, and director, She collaborated with Sheryl Sandberg on the #1 New York Times bestseller Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. She is the creator of the television series Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and her TV writing credits include The Simpsons, Coach, Monk, Murphy Brown, Charmed, and NCIS. She has directed two movies for cable television and an episode of Awkward. She has contributed to SPY magazine, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and The New York Times.

She and her husband Colin Summers have two college-age sons. Despite Blue Oyster Cult’s well-reasoned arguments, she still fears the reaper.

Table of Contents

Foreword Sheryl Sandberg ix

Introduction 1

Stage 1 Who Is Nell Scovell?

Chapter 1 Every Character Needs a Backstory 11

Chapter 2 Sports and SPY 21

Chapter 3 The Setup 35

Chapter 4 The Big Twist 49

Chapter 5 The Payoff 67

Stage 2 Get Me Nell Scovell!

Chapter 6 The Simpsons: Fugu Me! 85

Chapter 7 Brush with Greatness: Working for Letterman 107

Chapter 8 The Meet Cute 121

Chapter 9 We're All Oompa Loompas 135

Chapter 10 So You Want to Run a TV Show 151

Stage 3 Get Me a Younger, Cheaper Nell Scovell!

Chapter 11 Poetry Is in the Doing 173

Chapter 12 The Ones That Got Away 189

Chapter 13 You Sexy Motherwriter 203

Chapter 14 The Decade-Long Roller-Coaster Ride 215

Stage 4 Who Is Nell Scovell?

Chapter 15 "Fame Whore" 233

Chapter 16 The One I'd Been Waiting For 249

Chapter 17 Lily Tomlin, the Kennedy Center … and a Surprise Guest 263

Chapter 18 Our Funny President 281

Chapter 19 Stage Five of a Hollywood Writer's Career 293

Job Timeline 305

Acknowledgments 309

Photo Credits 313

Permissions 315

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Just the Funny Parts: ... And a Few Hard Truths About Sneaking into the Hollywood Boys' Club 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous 17 days ago
Nell’s ability to draw you into the seedy underbelly of the writers room and all that it entails with anecdotal humor and brilliant observations made this a fantastic summer read. Highly recommend.
Anonymous 6 months ago
I read it nonstop.
Anonymous 8 months ago
Nell Scovell is hilarious. This is her very personal story told in an entertaining way. I didn't want it to end. I hope she continues to write about her life.