David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
Career Development
Bryan Cranston
Critical Thinking
Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
Emotional Intelligence
Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
from the world's big
Start Learning

How Hollywood blurs the line between workplace jokes and harassment

Hollywood writer's rooms are notorious boys clubs: men often outnumber the women by 8 to 1. Nell Scovell has been defying that statistic her entire career.

Nell Scovell: So in 2006 an assistant who worked on Friends, a writer’s assistant, sued the show for harassment. I think it was... it wasn’t physical/sexual harassment. I think it was verbal harassment. And what that show was able to prove to the judge was that all that lewd talk in the room did sometimes lead to story ideas.

I think there was a story where Ross is like masturbating when one of the women walks in, and he switches the channel so it looks like he’s masturbating to a shark video. And that starts a whole thing, and that came out of people in the room talking about jerking off. So in that sense the TV writers’ room isn’t like most workplaces, and that’s I think sometimes hard for people outside to understand; that it can get personal and it can get weird and sexual, and sometimes all three things at the same time.

But the judge said that the assistant had not been in any danger and that they could justify this language.

People have, I think, misread that in Hollywood to mean “you can say anything you want in the room,” which is not true.

And I think if you want to have a non-hostile work environment you obviously have to be aware of other people’s feelings and levels of comfort and making sure that everybody, you know, feels that the show is mission-based and you’re all working hard to make the best, funniest episode you can.

When you’re on a set you know the difference when a crew member brushes by you because you’re in some tight cranny and when a crew member presses up against you in a sexual way. And I feel the writers’ room it’s the same thing.

I know when someone I work with is making a joke—is just commenting on a woman’s body in order to make a joke or a man’s body in order to make a joke—and when it gets threatening.

So I’ve gotten more vocal as I’ve gotten older at going to people outside the writers’ room and saying, “Okay, that made me feel uncomfortable.”

Now the problem with that is Hollywood is one of those places where if someone acts inappropriately and you call them on it, YOU’RE the asshole. So that’s one of the things that I would love to see change, where you could tell someone, “That made me feel uncomfortable,” and instead of them being defensive and saying, “I was joking,” they just went “Oh, well thank you for telling me. I’ll be more aware of that in the future.”

Hollywood writer's rooms are notorious boys clubs: men often outnumber the women by 8 to 1. TV writer Nell Scovell has defied that depressing statistic her entire career. She's written for an incredible list of shows: Friends, Late Night with David Letterman, The Simpsons, just to name a few. Here, she talks about a time in the Friends room where a lewd joke was taken a little too far — but also sparked an idea for an entire episode of the show. Nell's new book is the hilarious and illuminating Just the Funny Parts: ...And a Few Hard Truths About Sneaking into the Hollywood Boy's Club.

Take your career to the next level by raising your EQ

Emotional intelligence is a skill sought by many employers. Here's how to raise yours.

  • Daniel Goleman's 1995 book Emotional Intelligence catapulted the term into widespread use in the business world.
  • One study found that EQ (emotional intelligence) is the top predictor of performance and accounts for 58% of success across all job types.
  • EQ has been found to increase annual pay by around $29,000 and be present in 90% of top performers.
Keep reading Show less

Face mask study reveals worst material for blocking COVID-19

A study published Friday tested how well 14 commonly available face masks blocked the emission of respiratory droplets as people were speaking.

Fischer et al.
  • The study tested the efficacy of popular types of face masks, including N95 respirators, bandanas, cotton-polypropylene masks, gaiters, and others.
  • The results showed that N95 respirators were most effective, while wearing a neck fleece (aka gaiter) actually produced more respiratory droplets than wearing no mask at all.
  • Certain types of homemade masks seem to be effective at blocking the spread of COVID-19.
Keep reading Show less

You want to stop child abuse? Here's how you can actually help.

Sharing QAnon disinformation is harming the children devotees purport to help.

Photo: Atjanan Charoensiri / Shutterstock
Politics & Current Affairs
  • The conspiracy theory, QAnon, is doing more harm than good in the battle to end child trafficking.
  • Foster youth expert, Regan Williams, says there are 25-29k missing children every year, not 800k, as marketed by QAnon.
  • Real ways to help abused children include donating to nonprofits, taking educational workshops, and becoming a foster parent.
Keep reading Show less

Yale scientists restore cellular function in 32 dead pig brains

Researchers hope the technology will further our understanding of the brain, but lawmakers may not be ready for the ethical challenges.

Still from John Stephenson's 1999 rendition of Animal Farm.
Surprising Science
  • Researchers at the Yale School of Medicine successfully restored some functions to pig brains that had been dead for hours.
  • They hope the technology will advance our understanding of the brain, potentially developing new treatments for debilitating diseases and disorders.
  • The research raises many ethical questions and puts to the test our current understanding of death.
Keep reading Show less

Here’s a map of Mars with as much water as Earth

A 71% wet Mars would have two major land masses and one giant 'Medimartian Sea.'

Image: A.R. Bhattarai, reproduced with kind permission
Strange Maps
  • Sci-fi visions of Mars have changed over time, in step with humanity's own obsessions.
  • Once the source of alien invaders, the Red Planet is now deemed ripe for terraforming.
  • Here's an extreme example: Mars with exactly as much surface water as Earth.
Keep reading Show less