When writer Liz Tigelaar is not on set, at her Fox lot bungalow office or at home in Venice, she is with his wife, their 7-year-old son and two French pit bulls Canine, she occasionally relaxes at one of the most luxurious trailer parks on the planet (and, yes, works from there): Paradise Cove in Malibu. For the past ten years, she has shared a small apartment with longtime friend and TV producer Erica Messer (Criminal Minds) and her family. beach house. “We joked that we transformed it with the efficiency of two producers,” Tigelaar said. “It’s just ‘YES! YES! YES!’ … the fastest option.”
Since creating her first series, The CW’s After an unexpected life , back to , Connecticut native Tigelaar has become one of the most sought-after scribes in the adaptation business – yes Celeste Ng’s Shepherd Spin Little Fire Everywhere, Cheryl Strayed’s Tiny Beautiful Things (April 7 on Hulu), the upcoming Under the Bridge from the late Rebecca Godfrey and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn from Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. It’s a role that’s both exciting and fraught. “You run the risk of disappointing the author,” Tigelaar said on a recent rainy afternoon in Los Angeles. “That’s more than a profession or even myself for me.”
Tiny beautiful things is your latest series for Hulu, and it’s become a hot potato in terms of its ownership. What’s the mood there now?
Hulu has always been my home. When I first got there, it was like a college red cup party. Everyone was kind of drunk and enthusiastic, like, “Let’s do it! TV!” It definitely changed, but I wanted to be there for a long time. I’m sure there’s a lot of unease, but there’s a lot of unease across the industry.
You created and ran your first show, Accidental Life, Early in your career, then you become a skilled woman writer. Is there a part of you that feels like, “Where’s my show?”
no , I feel like I miraculously got the gig. (laughs. ) But after [Life Unexpected] was over, someone asked me to do a project ABC And they said, “Okay, this could be your slam dunk! You’ll be airing another series in six months.” Well, who said that was my goal? It’s something I don’t really want – it’s a weird, “goal right now is just to air something else ASAP.”
You’ve had several shows of your own since then. can you go back
And on staff? Yes. I tried to continue with Fleishman Is in Trouble Too bad. I was like, “I’m free. Hire me! I’ve got a onesie signed by ABC. I’m here for anything you need!” Everyone was like… “Thanks. We’re fine.” ( lol. ) Some shows I die so I can totally see going back to the crew. But I think I’m more annoying in this capacity. When you’re in business, you have all these ideas, and you want other people to like them and run with them. When you’re hosting a show, you’re constantly generating ideas, but you’re also open to other people. It’s probably a better place for me because I’m really passionate.
Who do you think is a mentor? One of them is [ my so-called life Creator] Winnie Holzman. I’m her assistant and just being in her orbit gives a lot of information. My most practical, hands-on mentor is Josh Reims. He’s the one who pulled me aside in the writers room when I was young and said, “Hey, if you tweet three times and no one responds, stop tweeting.” But in the most loving, caring way. Many of your recent jobs have included your cast as executive producers. How does this affect work? Regarding Little Fire Everywhere , especially, until the end of [with Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington] I didn’t feel like the episodes were done. Before that show, I was taught to be almost afraid of the actor’s notes. Sometimes, when you’re in someone else’s program and you’ve finished, say, 8, set the previous web comment, you don’t want to explain why something works. You’re like, “I don’t even know the fuck anymore!”
Who do you think is a mentor?
One of them is [ my so-called life Creator] Winnie Holzman. I’m her assistant and just being in her orbit gives a lot of information. My most practical, hands-on mentor is Josh Reims. He’s the one who pulled me aside in the writers room when I was young and said, “Hey, if you tweet three times and no one responds, stop tweeting.” But in the most loving, caring way.
Many of your recent jobs have included your cast as executive producers. How does this affect work?
Regarding Little Fire Everywhere , especially, until the end of [with Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington] I didn’t feel like the episodes were done. Before that show, I was taught to be almost afraid of the actor’s notes. Sometimes, when you’re in someone else’s program and you’ve finished, say, 8, set the previous web comment, you don’t want to explain why something works. You’re like, “I don’t even know the fuck anymore!”
I realize you’re not challenging. Notes used to feel like an obstacle course: studios, networks, actors, all milestones. Kerry and Reese were very supportive and I never felt like they had anything to get over.
You have worked with Hello Sunshine a lot. What does a Reese note look like?
I want to adjust Little Fire Everywhere [from the book] like this There would be some surprises, and I remember her saying, “Who’s going to be the craziest person to burn this house down?” I was like, “Elena. If [your character] burns down her own house, that’s The craziest thing.” Reese said, “I’m sorry, but what grown woman burns down her own house to prove her point?” That’s a great illustration. You get caught up in your own bad ideas, and then you need someone to bring you down.
Prior to Small fire, you are in The Morning Show Writer’s office. why did you leave
I’m so obsessed with that book [Brian Stelter’s Morning]. I even do interviews when my eyes are red or my jaw is swollen or something because I want to be on that show so badly. But for the morning show , I had a general and hello sunshine, and hit it off with [President] Lauren Neustadter. This is where Little Fires really comes from. So, I always knew I was going to do Morning Show for eight months until I started Little Fires. What I didn’t expect was that eight months later we still hadn’t finished the season. I think we went through three different incarnations of the room, and by the time we were eight months, maybe we broke episode three?
Judy Blume’s Are You There God? It’s me, Margaret finally adapted 53 Years later. As the person who developed her other book, Summer Sisters
People downplay young women’s stories. They just group them together. Summer Sisters was dropped because it was considered too YA and Hulu wasn’t doing YA at the time. But you wouldn’t say Normal People is a teenage story, even if it’s people from high school and college, or even a little further. But I think everyone is revisiting these stories now because they realize how important and important these experiences are. This is who we were, and those versions of us still tell us how to function in the world.
Do you feel more pressure to adapt someone else’s work?
I most want to do that show for Judy Blume. I want her to succeed. I think that’s the risk you take when you work with these authors — Cheryl, Celeste, Judy. You run the risk of disappointing them – for me, that goes beyond career or even ego.
Was Summer Sisters Is the most difficult thing you have encountered?
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Well, there’s one more. Amy Tarkington and I are obsessed with Tonya Harding, we wrote a six-episode limited series, and she’s our feminist hero. Around the time I I, Tonya was being formed, she had been developing it as a feature – so UTA suggested moving to a set. It’s called Ice Queens. Amy, Rosa Handelman and I went crazy over Tonya Harding and the moon. We were so close to filming it that I’m looking for preschools in Vancouver for my kids.
What went wrong?
That was at A&E, but Netflix has gone international – it’s falling apart due to legal issues. Like, “If Nancy Kerrigan sues in Uzbekistan, who will be responsible?” If we are sued in another country, no one can decide whether the studio or Netflix will pay. This might be my biggest heartbreak of the day. We have all the scripts. One episode opens with a sex scene between Connie Chung and Maury Povich. marvelous.
Interview edited for length and clarity.
This story first appeared in March 29 Hollywood Reporter Magazine. 2023Click here to subscribe.