Campus News

Bowdoin Grad Wrote Recent Episode of a Popular Sit-Com

Story posted January 11, 2000

A Bowdoin grad has spent the last three years with aliens.

Valerie Watson ’84 penned tonight’s episode of the popular sit-com "3rd Rock from the Sun," a series about an alien family living on earth. The show will air at 8:30 p.m. on NBC.

Though her name will appear on screen, Watson said television writing is extremely collaborative work. A staff of writer’s and writer’s assistants were involved in the process, and nearly every aspect of her original outline was changed before she arrived at the final script.

While a student at Bowdoin, Watson wrote two plays, one of which she directed, and made a short film as part of a filmmaking class, but it was when she was managing a movie theater after graduating that she fell in love with the movies and decided to attend film school.

Watson studied film with an emphasis in scriptwriting at San Diego State, and said then "I moved to LA to seek my fortune, as it were."

First she did temp work, then learned that two men she knew were writers for a series on Fox. They hired Watson to be their assistant, during which time she performed whatever tasks they needed and learned about the business of writing a television show. After that show was cancelled, she worked as a writing assistant for several shows, and finally landed on 3rd Rock.

She has been a writing assistant on the show for three years, and at the end of last season was told she would be able to write an episode for the next season.

The job of a writing assistant is to sit in a room with the series writers and "basically write down everything they say," Watson said. As an assistant Watson has also worked hard to learn all she can about writing television shows. Her reward is authorship of tonight’s episode, which she hopes will soon lead to a position as writer of a series.

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