TNT series produced by Warner Brothers
How It Began
FELICITY was my very first staff job. Well, SNOOPS actually was, but it only lasted half a season. I joined FELICITY in Season 2 – the infamous season when the star cut off all her hair… the hair that she was famous for!
There have been many stories about how and why it happened, but the Truth is – Keri Russell was a very serious actor, and she had just won a Golden Globe, yet the media still focused on nothing but her gorgeous mane of hair. She was sick of it. She had done a photoshoot for a magazine (Interview, maybe?) where she had worn this super cool short wig. Keri showed the pics to JJ Abrams (the showrunner) and he and his partner Matt Reeves conceived the idea that Felicity would cut all her hair off as a signal for big change in her life. She was NOT the same person from season one.
There was only one problem… the wig from the photoshoot was a $3000 custom job made by a specialist in France, and to get Keri’s real hair to look like that would require not just the perfect haircut, but about 2.5 hours in the makeup & hair trailer each morning. But Keri was undaunted. She wanted to get rid of the hair. She left set on Friday vowing to just get “something a little similar to the wig” from her hair stylist over the weekend.
On Monday we were all shocked when we saw that the only thing resembling the French wig was that she now sort of looked like a little French boy. But in all honesty, everyone was okay with it because Keri was thrilled. Life went on. Until the media saw it and thus, it became part of television folklore.
For me personally, FELICITY was an absolute nightmare. I can look back on it now as a blessing because of the lessons it taught me, but of all the movies and television series I’ve done in over 20 years as a screenwriter and producer, that one season on FELICITY is still the worst experience of my career.
The cast was fantastic – one of the best I’ve ever worked with. And the crew was generally good people. Matt & JJ were stellar humans. So, what does that leave? The other writers. Three insecure, angry, self-loathing individuals who decided to take out their hatred of JJ and other personal issues on the new kid. And I was absolutely a kid compared to them.
At one point I walked into Executive Producer Matt Reeves’ offices and I was crying. Yes, crying. A “man” in his 20’s, standing there crying. I told him I couldn’t take it anymore. I couldn’t take how awful the other writers were treating me.
Matt looked at me and said, “I’m sorry, I can’t help you.” And in that moment not just a lightbulb went off, but a burst of brightness akin to an exploding sun. He only said six words, but it was as if the voice of God were shouting down at me, “No one is coming to save you! Get off the floor and save your own ass!”
Matt gave me one of the greatest life lessons ever that day – something that fundamentally changed me, and started me on a journey out of my own darkness and self-loathing.
In today’s society of participation ribbons and everyone’s feelings are valid even when they’re not, a writer crying to the EP about how mean the other writers are would likely result in a lawsuit and make the Trades. But in 1999, it was Suck it up, Buttercup. I returned to my tiny office, called my agent and said I wanted to quit the show. It just wasn’t working out.
He told me no. He said, “This is your first gig. You have to do everything in your power to make it to the end of the season, or you won’t get hired again.” So, I sucked it up. I made it to the end of the season, eventually refusing to take any more shit from the other writers.
By season’s end, I had proven myself, and when the show offered to bring me back for the next season, I politely declined, never saying another word about what went on during that year. My agent was right, and I’ve been blessed to have never been out of work more than six months since then. I’m sure many of you want to know what I was subjected to that season. Too much to type here, but we can discuss it during Coffee With a Screenwriter if you’d like.