White House speechwriters face “novel” path to Hollywood

After White House speechwriter Jon Lovett left to write "1600 Penn," colleague Jon Favreau has gone Hollywood, too

Topics: jon lovett, Jon Favreau, 1600 penn, Barack Obama, speechwriting,

White House speechwriters face "novel" path to Hollywood Jon Lovett takes part in a panel discussion of "1600 Penn" during the 2013 Winter Press Tour for the Television Critics Association, January 6, 2013. (Credit: Reuters/Gus Ruelas)

This week, Jon Favreau, the White House speechwriter (not to be confused with Jon Favreau the “Iron Man” director), announced his departure from the Obama team in order to pursue a career in Hollywood.

It’s a fairly novel path — one that has only recently been pioneered by fellow Obama speechwriter Jon Lovett (not to be confused with “Saturday Night Live” alumnus Jon Lovitz), who co-created the White House sitcom “1600 Penn.”

“As a rule, I think people in L.A. are interested in any writer who brings a different skill set and experiences,” Lovett told Salon. “There’s an attraction to novelty, and to anyone whose writing isn’t based in screenwriting. I had that novelty. I had no experience in Los Angeles but I did have novelty people could take a chance on. It certainly opened the door.”

Lovett had tried stand-up after college and was reminded each year of his interest in comedy by the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, where he and Favreau would write sometimes-scathing jokes for the president to deliver. But he hadn’t initially intended to write about politics: “I was much more excited about not writing about politics, having been so close to it for my entire career until then,” he said.

You Might Also Like

Twentieth Century Fox had encouraged Lovett to write about any topic he liked, but he was approached, he said, by “1600 Penn’s” co-creators Josh Gad and Jason Winer. “They had this idea,” he said, “and they were looking for someone who could write it.” President Obama hosted a screening of the sitcom — whose family is notably more dysfunctional than the Obamas appear to be — at the White House. “They knew I had a dream to do this. And they were thrilled to get rid of me,” Lovett joked.

Had Lovett passed along any how-to-make-it-in-L.A. advice to Favreau? “We’re friends and we’ve talked about it,” he said, “but I was trying to be supportive as a friend.”

That said, both speechwriting and screenwriting elide the fripperies and excesses of, say, writing a novel. “They’re both about telling a story in the most effective and efficient way possible,” said Lovett. “Both require a sense of confidence in what you’re trying to achieve.”

Daniel D'Addario is a staff reporter for Salon's entertainment section. Follow him on Twitter @DPD_

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 8
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Sonic

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Sonic's Bacon Double Cheddar Croissant Dog

    Sonic calls this a "gourmet twist" on a classic. I am not so, so fancy, but I know that sprinkling bacon and cheddar cheese onto a tube of pork is not gourmet, even if you have made a bun out of something that is theoretically French.

    Krispy Kreme

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Krispy Kreme's Doughnut Dog

    This stupid thing is a hotdog in a glazed doughnut bun, topped with bacon and raspberry jelly. It is only available at Delaware's Frawley Stadium, thank god.

    KFC

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    KFC's Double Down Dog

    This creation is notable for its fried chicken bun and ability to hastily kill your dreams.

    Pizza Hut

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Pizza Hut's Hot Dog Bites Pizza

    Pizza Hut basically just glued pigs-in-blankets to the crust of its normal pizza. This actually sounds good, and I blame America for brainwashing me into feeling that.

    Carl's Jr.

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Carl's Jr. Most American Thick Burger

    This is a burger stuffed with potato chips and hot dogs. Choose a meat, America! How hard is it to just choose a meat?!

    Tokyo Dog

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Tokyo Dog's Juuni Ban

    A food truck in Seattle called Tokyo Dog created this thing, which is notable for its distinction as the Guinness Book of World Records' most expensive hot dog at $169. It is a smoked cheese bratwurst, covered in butter Teriyaki grilled onions, Maitake mushrooms, Wagyu beef, foie gras, black truffles, caviar and Japanese mayo in a brioche bun. Just calm down, Tokyo Dog. Calm down.

    Interscope

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Limp Bizkit's "Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water"

    This album art should be illegal.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>