GUEST ROOM | An Ode to Binge-Watching

Many thanks to the Internet, the television world and the desire for more cutting-edge content, binge-watching has become America’s pastime. For many, there is nothing more satisfying (yet also daunting) than spending hours on end watching a series, and then finally completing it. In the days before readily accessible media, it would take (literally) years to start and finish a television show. You also had to start it as soon as it was on air in order to ensure you didn’t miss a beat. Fans had to make sure their DVR was set (if they even had it) in the event they couldn’t work with a network’s agenda to get a show out.

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Telling Truths: Semi Chellas Reveals Secrets from the Mad Men Writers’ Room

Of Semi Chellas’ numerous accolades, the one by which I was most impressed was that she was the writer of the first and only screenplay to ever be published by Cornell’s reputed Epoch magazine — and it was the first screenplay she had ever written. Perhaps this is an indication of someone who truly has an instantly-recognizable talent, a talent that, in Chellas’ case, propelled her towards becoming co-producer and writer for the brilliant, Emmy-winning Mad Men in its fifth season. Chellas talked about this experience in her Thursday talk, “Telling Secrets: Notes from the Writers’ Room.”

That’s what we — the die hard fans, the aspiring writers — wanted to know: what is the secret to a show like Mad Men? Mentioning the high level of secrecy surrounding the show, Chellas joked how strange it was for her to be revealing these secrets to us. Her informal, engaging talk was punctuated by short clips, mostly from Mad Men, which she used to illustrate larger creative processes or to explain what went into a particular scene.

Semi Chellas speaks about her experiences while writing and producing the award-winning television show in Klarman Hall Thursday.

Mad Men Writer, Executive Producer Semi Chellas Shares Show’s Secrets

Clarification appended 
Semi Chellas — writer and executive producer of the television series Mad Men — spoke about her experiences behind the scenes of the Emmy-award winning show Thursday in Klarman Hall. Chellas called her relationship with the show’s creator, Matthew Weiner a “complicated dynamic.” She also described his definition of a successful pitch. “He told me once, if you pitch me something and I say no, then I come back a little later and I pitch it to you saying ‘I just thought of that,’ then you [have] succeeded,” Chellas said. “You have to internalize the stories, and kind of live with them and have them come forth within you.”
Although Weiner gave Mad Men its direction, the end product was ultimately the collective effort of the writers that developed the story, according to Chellas. “It was his story, but not necessarily his stories,” she said.

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An Interview with Semi Chellas of Mad Men

Semi Chellas is a writer and co-executive producer for the acclaimed television series Mad Men. The Emmy-nominated writer studied English at Cornell as a Mellon fellow, and on March 10 will be returning to campus to speak at Klarman Hall. In anticipation of her lecture, “Telling Secrets: Notes from the Writers’ Room,” the Sun had a chance to speak with Chellas about her experiences writing for Mad Men and her opinions on the television industry in general. The Sun: What are the day-to-day operations like working in the writers’ room? Semi Chellas: There were about 10 to 12 people in the writing room, including two advertising people — i.e. not advertisers for the show but people who worked in advertising — [including] one that worked in advertising in the 60s.

Chellas

Mad Men Writer and Executive Producer To Speak at Cornell

Semi Chellas — the writer and executive producer of the critically acclaimed AMC drama Mad Men — will speak about her experiences in the television industry on March 10 in Klarman Hall. Chellas’ lecture, “Telling Secrets: Notes from the Writers’ Room,” will explore the processes and inner workings of television writing, including the dynamics of writing for an auteur, according to the University. The writer will also discuss how facts and research shape the creation of a storyline and how to approach writing for characters created by someone else. Chellas was born and raised in Palo Alto, California and grew up in Alberta, Canada. She earned a B.A. in literature from Yale University, studied English as a Mellon fellow at Cornell and studied the Canadian Film Centre in Toronto, according to her IMDB profile.