Monday, November 17, 2008


Helfand, 48, teaches graphic design at Yale and is co-principal with her husband, William Drenttel, of the design firm Winterhouse. She and Drenttel are also cofounders, along with Michael Bierut, of what has become the graphic designer blog of choice, Design Observer ( It averages a million hits a month.

After graduating from Yale, Helfand worked as a secretary at an ad firm, then as a soap opera writer. A few years of "Guiding Light" and "Search for Tomorrow" were enough to send her back to Yale for graduate work in design.

Entire article, here.

Ms. Helfand's website states that: A member of the Writers Guild of America for more than two decades, Helfand was previously part of the CBS-TV Guiding Light writing team that won an Emmy Award for best writing in 1985.

In 1985, the Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series Emmy went to All My Children.

In 1986, Guiding Light won the honor. According to both Guiding Light: The Complete Family Album and The Emmys, Jessica Helfand was not an official member of the winning team.

1986 was also the year when, due to an error in transcribing the winners' list to the cards read by the presenters, Y&R was announced as tops in the writing category. It was only after the ceremony, when a press release was put out using the original winners list, that everyone realized a mistake had been made. The GL writers got their award a few days later in a special ceremony at the St. Regis Hotel.

It was the first time such an error had been made (or, more probably, the first time it was caught and admitted) in Emmy history.

Moral: Everybody makes mistakes.

1 comment:

Jessica Helfand said...

To clarify: I was the assistant to headwriters Pam Long Hammer and Jeff Ryder in 1985 and wrote real, live scripts only when the REAL writers went on vacation. But you should know that in addition to xeroxing and being at the lowest end of the totem pole, it was a great job: Pam would sit in her kitchen and spew story ideas and I would go home to my hovel of an apartment and stay up all night and write the long-term story projection. My name may not be on the official list, but I have the scripts here to prove it, and the WGA saw fit to admit me as a bona fide scribe! Hope this helps clear up any confusion,
Jessica (no longer a daytime TV writer) Helfand