S3-EP8: Screenwriter John Mankiewicz on the New Golden Age of Podcasts and Streaming TV

Nov 20, 2020


Debbie talks to well-known screenwriter John Mankiewicz, her new neighbor in Maine, about his screenplay on the blacklisted Hollywood Ten that he’s turning into a podcast.


Note from Debbie

I hope you enjoy this episode. Would you please consider leaving a short review on Apple Podcasts/iTunes? It takes less than sixty seconds, and it really makes a difference in attracting new listeners and upcoming guests. I might read your review on my next episode!
– Debbie



Debbie Weil talks to John Mankiewicz, a veteran screenwriter as well as executive producer for TV and film. She asks him what he’s working on and what kinds of stories may come out of this era of COVID and the pandemic. One of his ideas is a show based on people driving around L.A. in their cars, who find themselves unwittingly connected or involved in a frightening conspiracy.

You’re undoubtedly familiar with several of John’s TV series, including House of Cards and Bosch. He co-created, with Anders Weidemann, the CBS All Access series  Interrogation. which aired earlier this year.

John is Debbie’s new neighbor, having left L.A. for Castine, the historic coastal town in Maine where he’s living, for the moment, with his family. Castine is an hour from Debbie’s home in Stonington. The two met this past summer when both worked on a pass-it-on mystery novella set in Castine (a program of Annex Arts). One person wrote a chapter and then the draft was passed along to another writer who wrote the next chapter and so on. You’ll hear in their conversation how John’s son, Jack Mankiewicz, also a writer, filmmaker and producer, bailed Debbie out when her chapter ended in a dead end.

Debbie and John talk about the anxiety of these times and the difficulty of writing anything, the transformation of the TV and movie industry in recent years, and the rise of podcasts. They also talk about John’s famous grandfather, Herman Mankiewicz, who wrote the screenplay for the 1941 Citizen Kane, considered by many to be the greatest film ever made.

John tells us about his current project, a five-hour podcast about the blacklisted Hollywood Ten, tentatively called The Big Lie, that will be published by Audible in the first half of 2021.

His NEW BEST THING as a result of the pandemic? A dog named Daisy from a Southern California lab rescue organization “that has no lab in her.” But she is perfect.


Mentioned in this episode or useful:


Movies mentioned by John M. in this episode:


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Encore.org, our newest media partner, is an ideas and innovation hub tapping the talent of those 50+ as a force for good. Founder and CEO Marc Freedman is an award-winning social entrepreneur and author, most recently, of How to Live Forever: The Enduring Power of Connecting the Generations. Looking for a great gap-year transition program? Check out Encore Fellowships, which match skilled, seasoned professionals with social-sector organizations in high-impact, paid assignments.


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