Thursday, December 04, 2014

Nickelodeon Announces Participants For Networks 15th Annual Writing Program

Original Nickelodeon Press Release via


Program Expands Internationally for First Time to Include One Selected Finalist from Abroad

BURBANK, Calif. – Dec. 4, 2014 – Nickelodeon has named four new participants for its 15th annual Writing Program, including one finalist representing the first international expansion of the program, it was announced today by Russell Hicks, Nickelodeon's President of Content Development and Production. The Nickelodeon Writing Program offers aspiring writers hands-on writing experience on current live-action and animated series which includes writing spec scripts and pitching story ideas to executives.

"We are extremely proud to have this new group of creatives join an esteemed league of great talent that our writing program has discovered and nurtured over the last 15 years," said Hicks. "It's also gratifying to open up the program globally this year as we continue to expand our focus on finding the best new talent everywhere possible."

This year's participants include: Lauren Ciaravalli, whose first short film Tryouts premiered at the 2013 Sarasota Film Festival; Nora Sullivan, who recently completed her MFA in Writing for Screen & Television at USC; Alan J. Van Dyke, whose first play was a comedic version of Shakespeare's Macbeth; and Rob Frimston, the program's first international participant, who has taken two shows he has written to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, one of the largest arts festivals in the world.

Nickelodeon's Writing Program was established in 2000 and offers aspiring television writers, with diverse backgrounds and experiences, the opportunity to hone their skills while writing for live-action and animated shows. The program, which receives over 1,400 applications each year, was developed to broaden Nickelodeon's outreach efforts and provides a salaried position for up to one year.

This year also marks the first ever international addition to the program. The modified version is six months long, with one selected participant spending the first three months in London with the international production and development team, followed by six weeks in the writers' room in Los Angeles. The participant is then paired with an animator for the remainder of the program back in London.

All four new writers join an alumni group of 44 who have gone on to hold freelance and staff positions at various networks like Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, Disney Channel, Kids' WB!, ABC, FOX, PBS, Cartoon Network and the CW. Notable graduates include creators, co-executive producers and writers Jonathan Butler and Gabriel Garza of Nickelodeon's upcoming live-action comedy series Bella and the Bulldogs.

The 2014-2015 Nickelodeon writers:

Lauren Ciaravalli: In middle school, when Ciaravalli's favorite show, Gilmore Girls, took its five-week winter hiatus, she took it upon herself to write her own original episodes for the series and circulated the scripts among her girlfriends at lunch. Ciaravalli's passion for the screen ultimately led her to film school. She graduated from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts with a BFA in Film & Television and minor in Spanish in May 2013. Her first short film, a teen comedy called Tryouts, was warmly received by festivals, premiering at the 2013 Sarasota Film Festival. Her senior thesis, Dream Date, was honored as Finalist for Directing at NYU's First Run Film Festival and received a screenwriting award. While at NYU, Ciaravalli served as Co-Director of the Fusion Film Festival, and studied under Courtney Hunt and Susan Seidelman. After graduation, Ciaravalli moved to LA and transitioned to television where she worked at WME Entertainment and NBC's The Mysteries of Laura.

Nora Sullivan: Raised on a steady diet of The Simpsons episodes, Sullivan decided very early that television should be the focus of her life, and so it became the focus of her stories. While at soccer practice, she used to plot out entire episodes of Friends in her head. While in college, Sullivan joined the Princeton Triangle Writer's Workshop, which toured on real stages across the country, writing musicals about plucky princesses, college admissions and a very inconvenient apocalypse. She received the Annenberg Fellowship to attend USC, where she completed her MFA in Writing for Screen & Television in 2014.

Alan J. Van Dyke: Born and raised in the rural city of Shelby, North Carolina, Van Dyke lived there until graduating from the screenwriting program at the UNC School of the Arts. Van Dyke began writing fiction at an early age and his first play-a comedy version of Shakespeare's Macbeth-was staged as a senior showcase for several years at the high school, and was even used as a teaching aid at other schools in the system. While in college, Van Dyke was an active crew member on dozens of student films and had three of his scripts selected by directors as thesis films. Van Dyke recently sold a screenplay for a thriller feature, In the Pines, to independent producers, which shot in rural Virginia this past summer.

Rob Frimston (International Participant): Frimston grew up in Salford, England, raised largely on a diet of televisoin, where his fascination with comedy began. He especially enjoyed cartoons, both British and American. His interest in writing and comedy blossomed when he went to Cambridge University in 2006. He went on to write and perform in several Footlights shows, and by the time he graduated in 2009 he had formed a partnership with Edward Rowett, a like-minded Cambridge cohort. They wrote and performed under the name of 'Frimston & Rowett' until 2013, and took two shows to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Frimston now lives in London and recently begun to focus on radio and television writing. He has achieved co-writing credits at BBC Radio 4 and a commendation from the BAFTA Rocliffe New Writing Forum, as well as having a short story published and co-writing two pilots for children's TV.

Please click here to download images of the participants.

Alumni of the program include:

Radha Blank ('00-'01): Little Bill, The Backyardigans

Courtney Lilly ('00-'01): Invader Zim, Arrested Development, Everybody Hates Chris, My Boys, The Cleveland Show, Guys with Kids, Undateable, Black-ish

Sameer Asad ('05-'06): Mind of Mencia, Aliens in America, Modern Family, Outsourced, The Goodwin Games

May Chan ('05-'06): Ni Hao Kai-lan, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Phineas and Ferb, Hank, Bucket & Skinner's Epic Adventures

Ron Holsey ('05-'06): Ned's Declassified, Just Jordan, Martha Speaks, Curious George, Brave, Johnny Test, Big Time Rush, Camp Gramps

Jessica Gao ('06-'07): Barnyard, The Mighty B!, Kung Fu Panda, Fish Hooks, Big Time Rush, Robot Chicken, Silicon Valley

Kerri Grant ('07-'08): The Backyardigans, The Fresh Beat Band, Doc McStuffins

Itai Grunfeld ('07-'08): Fanboy and Chum Chum, Kickin' It

Ed Valentine ('07-'08): Ni Hao, Kai-lan, The Fairly OddParents, Sesame Street, Doc McStuffins

Ivory Floyd ('08-'09): The Penguins of Madagascar

Jonathan Butler ('09-'10): Fanboy and Chum Chum, The Haunted Hathaways, Bella and the Bulldogs

Gabriel Garza ('09-'10): Robot and Monster, The Penguins of Madagascar, Monsters vs. Aliens, The Haunted Hathaways, Bella and the Bulldogs

Kevin Arrieta ('10-'11): The Fairly OddParents, Wilfred, Breadwinners (freelance)

Sasha Stroman ('11-'12): Sanjay and Craig, The Thundermans

Tiffany Lo ('12-'13): See Dad Run

Ethel Lung ('12-'13): See Dad Run

Travis Braun ('12-'13): Charlie & Mr. Two

Karla Sakas ('13-'14): The Loud House

Nickelodeon, now in its 35th year, is the number-one entertainment brand for kids. It has built a diverse, global business by putting kids first in everything it does. The company includes television programming and production in the United States and around the world, plus consumer products, online, recreation, books and feature films. Nickelodeon's U.S. television network is seen in more than 100 million households and has been the number-one-rated basic cable network for 19 consecutive years. For more information or artwork, visit Nickelodeon and all related titles, characters and logos are trademarks of Viacom Inc. (NASDAQ: VIA, VIA.B).

Follow NickALive! on Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, via RSS, on Instagram, and/or Facebook for the latest Nickelodeon Writing Program News and Highlights!