Sandler, Ellen

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Sandler, Ellen


Education: Syracuse University, B.S.; American Film Institute, M.F.A.


Home—Los Angeles, CA. E-mail—[email protected].


Writer, educator, television producer, television screenwriter, script consultant, playwright, and director. Everybody Loves Raymond, coexecutive producer. University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) Extension Writer's Program, instructor in film and television writing; The New School, New York, NY, instructor in television writing; HB Playwrights Foundation, instructor in television writing; Sandler Ink (a script development, career coaching, and consulting company), founder and owner. Conducts seminars and workshops at conferences and universities in the United States and around the world.


Writers Guild of America, Dramatist Guild, American Screenwriting Association (member of board).


Emmy Award nomination for work as coexecutive producer of Everybody Loves Raymond.


The TV Writer's Workbook: A Creative Approach to Television Scripts, Bantam Dell (New York, NY), 2007.


What's a Mother to Do?, 1994.


There's Got to Be a Morning After, Part 2, 1995.

Patching Things Up, 1996.

Luther Get Your Gun, 1996.

Isn't It Romantic?, 1996.

You Win Some, You Lose Some, 1996.

A Boy and His Doll, 1997.

To Ski or Not to Ski, 1997.

Upsized, 1997.


The Gift, 1997.

Mia Famiglia, 1998.

The Garage Sale, 1998.

The Invasion, 1998.

No Fat, 1998.

You Bet, 1998.


Zero Tolerance, 1999.

Author of autobiographical one-act play Jewish Roots, produced at the Hudson Theatre, Los Angeles, CA; author of comic play How'd It Go, produced at the HBO/Warner Brothers Workspace.

Also author of television scripts for series such as Kate & Allie, 1984; My Sister Sam, 1986; A Whole New Ballgame, 1985.

Coexecutive producer of twenty-six episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond and several episodes of Coach.

Creator of pilots and original programming for television networks, including ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox Family Channel, Disney Channel, Oxygen, and the Australian Children's Television Foundation.


Ellen Sandler is a television screenwriter, producer, playwright, and director. A veteran of more than twenty-five years in the television industry, she has worked on more than twenty-five network TV comedy programs, including Kate and Allie, Coach, and the well-known family-based sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond. She has also created original series pilots and programming for major broadcast and cable television networks.

Sandler started her arts-related career as a playwright and director in New York City, and remains associated with theatre and the stage, noted a biographer on her home page. She devotes much of her time to educating the next generation of television screenwriters, as an instructor in screenwriting at the UCLA Extension and at New York's New School and the HB Playwrights Foundation. She also maintains a major role in the nurturing and encouragement of newer screenwriters as well as with her work as a lecturer and presenter at conferences, universities, and writers' gatherings in the United States and abroad. A number of her presentations have been as a member of the prestigious Writers Guild of America's Visiting Writer's Program, reported a biographer on the Duke City Shootout Web site. She is a frequent speaker at the annual Screenwriter's Expo in Los Angeles, California, serves as a judge for the Hartley Merrill International Screenplay Award, and acts as a mentor and advisor at the Duke City Shootout Digital Film Festival. Several of Sandler's students have gone on to successful careers in television and the entertainment industry, noted her home page biographer, and have been the recipients of awards, fellowships, and prizes at writing competitions.

In addition to her own original screen work, Sandler is a sought-after script consultant who helps writers and productions companies shape and refine story ideas, scripts, and screenplays. Her company, Sandler Ink, provides script development services as well as career coaching and advising for both established professionals and upcoming writers in the television industry.

Sandler acknowledges that television can be a tough and sometimes frustrating industry. In an interview with Melanie McFarland for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, she acknowledges that she "wrote pilots that didn't get on the air." Up to eighty percent of pilots do not get the opportunity to evolve into complete series, she told McFarland. However, she counsels newer writers to devote their full energy to their projects and to finish what they start, even if the script, or the script's chances, seem hopeless. In an interview on Complications Ensue, Sandler commented that "if you abandon a script, you've wasted all your time. You learn nothing from the experience. But if you finish it and don't use it, you've learned what not to do on the next one." She also encourages writers to form a reliable writers group for critiquing, workshopping, and brainstorming projects. She advises beginning comedy writers to "pick the joke that serves the character, the relationship, or the story best. If one joke moves the story forward, and the other doesn't, or not as much, then you know which one to choose," she stated in the Complications Ensue interview.

Sandler collects her wisdom and experience in the television industry in her instructional book, The TV Writer's Workbook: A Creative Approach to Television Scripts. In the book, Sandler presents numerous writing exercises and "offers worldly, practical advice for those hoping for a career in television writing," com- mented Booklist reviewer Kristine Huntley. She advises writers to study existing scripts to better understand how they are constructed, how the story unfolds, and how all the various elements of scripting, staging, and acting come together to form a coherent program. She describes the traditional story arc of a sitcom episode, illustrating how the story must follow a set path even as it faithfully captures the characters' traits and the overall feel of the show. She counsels against typical beginner mistakes in scriptwriting, such as introducing new characters into an already established show. Sandler also offers practical suggestions for the sometimes nerve-wracking real-world elements of screenwriting, such as approaching agents and managers, networking at social events, and performing well at pitch sessions and other meetings. Throughout, she "explores the consciousness of those who create sitcoms and episodic dramas … with a lucid, wise sensibility and wry detachment that avoids pomposity and, yet, paradoxically, establishes her guru status," observed Brad Schreiber in an Entertainment Today review. Huntley concluded that The TV Writer's Workbook is an "invaluable tool" for aspiring television screenwriters.



Booklist, March 15, 2007, Kristine Huntley, review of The TV Writer's Workbook: A Creative Approach to Television Scripts, p. 15.

Business Wire, July 8, 2003, "Emmy-Nominated Writer/Producer Ellen Sandler Joins Faculty at Hollywood by the Bay Screenwriting Conference," p. 5052.


Complications Ensue Web log, (May 12, 2007), interview with Ellen Sandler, part one; (May 13, 2007), interview with Ellen Sandler, part two; (May 15, 2007), interview with Ellen Sandler, part three; (May 16, 2007) interview with Ellen Sandler, part four.

Creative Screenwriting Magazine, (December 5, 2007).

Duke City Shootout, (June 2, 2007), biography of Ellen Sandler.

Ellen Sandler Home Page, (December 5, 2007).

Entertainment Today, (March 14, 2007), Brad Schreiber, review of The TV Writer's Workbook.

Internet Movie Database, (December 5, 2007), filmography of Ellen Sandler.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer, (December 19, 2007), "Create the Next Great Sitcom—Please—with TV Writer Ellen Sandler's Help," interview with Ellen Sandler.