Author Archives: GemmaBurgess

On… Five Outfits


A few months ago, my friend Joanna and I were talking about the Five Outfits posts on her brilliant blog. Anyway, she said, “Maybe you could do one…” And I said “I can’t, darling. I basically wear the same thing every day. Unless I have a date or a meeting I barely change my knickers. It would be like ‘and today I wore my green sweater again’…” We both suddenly thought that was really funny and decided to do it anyway. So we did. You can see it here.

In case you like friendship origin stories – I do! – I met Joanna at a brunch at Hundred Acres in NYC about five years ago, with our mutual friend from London, Victoria Hannan. I had baby Errol with me (Fox was traveling for work). Errol was at that eight-month-old stage where you put them in a high chair and they try to destroy everything in sight. I remember that JoGo was exceptionally funny and interesting and lovely… and that Errol was exceptionally terrible. No, seriously, he was just yelping and laughing like a maniac and smashing everything in reach. Salt, water glasses, flowers, you name it, he smashed it. (This was when I realized that Errol is a tree frog with surprisingly long arms and exceptional reach). The tables around us were throwing annoyed looks at me, and it was early enough in motherhood that I was easily embarrassed. (These days Ned would have to light someone else’s hair on fire for me to do more than blink.) But back then I was mortified. It was like having a really drunk friend at a party, you know, I kept saying ‘I’m so sorry, um, he’s not normally like this, hahaha, um, you’d love him, he’s really the best guy…’ And anyway, then Joanna picked Errol up and walked him around the restaurant, chatting and singing to him, so I could scarf my eggs like the animal that I am. And I thought, this woman is the one for me.

Alas, I don’t remember what I was wearing. I have a feeling neon pink socks were involved, I was very into neon pink that spring.

Because no one will ever take photos this nice of me ever again, and particularly not when I’m wearing a seriously scabby old sweater in most of them… here are some more from the Five Outfits series.


coj_5_outfits_gemma_013 coj_5_outfits_gemma_018
coj_5_outfits_gemma_033 coj_5_outfits_gemma_053 coj_5_outfits_gemma_075 coj_5_outfits_gemma_092




On… the CAA book

When I first started trying to be a screenwriter, I read everything I could about Hollywood and the entertainment industry, because you can live your whole life looking at cars and have no idea how the engine works, right? I wanted – no, I needed – to know how the engine worked. Anyway, I’ve written about this before, and I’ve read a dozen other books since that post – but I just read a DOOZY.


Powerhouse: The Untold Story of CAA.

This book is DELICIOUS. Read it, if you like reading about Los Angeles and raw ambition and grown men being whiny little bitches about each other.

I’m with APA. And I love my agent. But I also love, just a teeny weeny bit, Ron Meyer in the 70s.

Ron Meyer

C’mon. The tan! The hair! The glasses! You totally would.





On… Anniversary 2017

It’s that time of year again, you guys! Our anniversary. When against all odds, we wake up, shower, dress, get our asses to City Hall, and ask a stranger to take a photo of us kissing, without our children falling off the podium.


Here we have 2017. Errol is five and Ned is three.


Here is 2016. Errol is four, Ned is two and REALLY into it.


Here is 2015. Ned is one, Errol is three. That dress is from Topshop. Where the hell did I put that dress.


Here is 2014. Errol is two and Ned is three months.

NB Ned was a horrendous small baby. See that look of myopic distrust? That is EVERY one of his baby photos. At about nine months he became the smiley little bruiser you know and love, but as a newborn, yeah, he was horrendous. (In fairness to him, he had silent reflux and couldn’t eat without being in pain so was hungry all the time, but WHATEVER Ned, SHEESH.) I don’t know how I managed to finish my last book with him as a newborn, especially with Errol as a toddler and Fox away for work more than half the time, as well as write a spec script and my first movie rewrite gig because I was trying to transition into screenwriting, but I did, and I have a feeling that I was an obsessive nightmare to be around. I will also have a very very high opinion of myself forever more because of it. (Kidding!) (Maybe.)


Here is 2013. Errol is just over a year and a half. He had hair like a newborn chick for a very, very long time. I was superfuckingblond at this point in my life. It almost made me bald. Avoid peroxide, kids.


Here is 2012. Errol is about eight months old.

outside town hall

Here is 2010, our wedding day.

We got married here in NYC, even though we were living in London at the time, because why not. And 2011 is missing as we were living in Zurich for the year for Fox’s job, and I was three months pregnant, so it would have been a photo of me puking and snarling at Fox.

At some point I will figure out how to resize all these photos to be even. Maybe by 2020.

On… Filthy Liar


I never enter competitions. I don’t play the lottery, I don’t play board games, I don’t play badminton or tennis or croquet, I don’t play poker, I don’t throw any hats into any rings, ever.

Until at the end of last year, the WGA announced they were holding a competition to win fellowships with TV showrunners. “That’s what I need!” I thought to myself. “This is what I want to do with the rest of my life, this is reason I moved my tiny family to the USA. But I can’t just keep selling things and hoping they get made, because that’s a 1 in 100 chance. I need to learn from a real live professional showrunner, to ask them advice on a writer-to-writer basis. I need this.”

Because that’s the strange thing about being a fledgling screenwriter. I have been doing it for three years now, more or less, since my fifth and (probably) final book was published. I sold a movie script to New Regency, a TV show to ABC network, I had two TV shows in development with WB and Universal last year, I just sold a spec called RELATIVITY to Universal with a blind deal, I’m pitching more shows and movies and doing everything you’re supposed to do… but nothing has been produced, and moreover, I don’t know ANY professional working screenwriters. None. Not one. Bizarre, right?

So I sent in a spec I wrote last year, FILTHY LIAR. (Basic premise: A cocky British illegal immigrant will do whatever it takes to stay, survive and prosper in NYC. Kind of an updated Vanity Fair, with shades of Holly Golightly.) I figured I might get an interview, might get through to the last 100, the last 30, the last 10… and I did.

In fact, I won. Best comedy.

I didn’t just win best comedy. Mine was – apparently – the only script to get a complete score. It’s a goddamn miracle, that’s what it is.

So ANYWAY there’s going to be a staged table read on May 25, here in NYC, professionally cast. If you’re in the city, and you’d like to come, click here! (And cross your fingers that this gets optioned and made into an actual show. Cross them TIGHT.)


On… music as therapy

Somehow, I find myself drawn to angry femme rock these days. Why? Oh, I don’t know WHY DO YOU THINK THAT MIGHT BE HAVE YOU READ THE NEWS LATELY MOTHERFUCKINGCHRISTONABICYCLE.

I think that this song is probably waiting for a video:

Regardless, it’s great: I Can’t Stand You Anymore by Sleigh Bells.


Baby I Call Hell by Deap Vally.


Wednesday Night Melody by Bleached.


I Told You I’d Be With The Guys by Cherry Glazerr.


Another one with no video. Less loud, but still kind of angry: Seashore by Regrettes.


Raise Hell by Dorothy.


Got any more loud angry women songs for me, gang? (And by the way, thank you all for the podcast ideas – SO AWESOME. I truly appreciate them all and have them lined up on my phone, like little planes on a runway, waiting for takeoff.)