Ilene Chaiken

Ilene Chaiken

Birth Name


  • Ilene Chaiken appears in the final seaso...
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Trivia and Quotes

  • Trivia

    • Ilene (when asked about her favourite character on "The L Word"): I love all of the characters equally, and I say that as a parent - you know I have eight-and-a-half-year-old twin girls, so I know that I have to tread that line. But there are two characters on the show that I channel through personally - that is, my own personal issues are taken up by these two characters in different ways - and they are Jenny and Bette.

    • Ilene (on Helen Shaver guest-starring on "The L Word"): I actually chose Helen Shaver because she's such a good actor, and certainly I knew her first from "Desert Hearts" - and that performance left a profound impression on me. But I've known her work and encountered her over the years, and I have to admit that I cast her because of her strength. I knew that she would just tear that character up.

    • Ilene: We've been so starved for representation - and yes, gay men have also been underrepresented, but it just doesn't begin to compare to the invisibility of lesbians in the world up until recently. I think the surge of responses has really been indicative of that.

    • Ilene: The summer I graduated I got a job as an assistant to a producer working on a film in London. It was a movie that nobody remembers, but it starred Burt Reynolds and Don Siegal directed it (Rough Cut, 1980) and then I went back to New York for a little while, and before the year was up I realized I had to move to L.A.

    • Ilene (on her similarity to Jenny on "The L Word"): Jenny, although not me, certainly reflects a little bit of my life experience. Jenny the writer who comes to L.A. and then discovers, or reckons with her sexual identity. I think that's a story that I relate to a lot.

    • Ilene: My first job, my legitimate job, in Hollywood was as a trainee at Creative Artists (CAA).

    • Ilene: I wrote a...little kind of angry, girl action movie. It was a little before that was the thing, girl action movies, nobody was really doing it. It was a futuristic homage to The Seventh Samurai. And I came back from the Christmas vacation with a complete script, sat down in my office and waited to get fired, which happened very quickly. Got my script to an agent, got representation. Script was optioned, but never set up, and very quickly got a job writing a movie for Hollywood Pictures, and just never looked back.

    • Ilene (on her getting out of development and starting to write): I don't think that I was ever really suited for [development]. I'm glad that I did it because it gave me great skills and information, but it wasn't what I was meant to do. And I am very happy doing what I do (writing). This is what I was meant to do.

    • Ilene: Primarily I think of myself as a writer. I love producing my own work for television, but I always, no matter what I do, even if I direct, I will always think of myself first as a writer.

    • Ilene (on how being out affected her career): I was out for about a year and then I met my partner. Once we were together, I just never was in the closet. We went everywhere together. And sometimes it was a little awkward and uncomfortable, it was still the early 80's, but it wasn't like this whole political statement, it just was what we did.

    • Ilene (on her time with Aaron Spelling Television): Those five years were the most fallow time in Aaron Spelling's television history. We did a bunch of shows that didn't go anywhere. It was the era in which Stephen Bochco had just redefined television, and it was a hard moment for Aaron Spelling. Television was moving away from what he did. Now it's moved back. But just before I left, we did Twin Peaks. Well, no one really did Twin Peaks but David Lynch, but I was proud to have been involved in it. (and then she remembers)Well, actually, there was one show that I was involved with that I am actually proud of. One of the television series which I was involved with on ABC, had the first series regular lesbian character…

    • Ilene: Gail Strickland, who was cast to play [a lesbian on the show "Heartbeat"] decided to research her character by hanging out with me and my partner... I felt like a Guinea pig. Now, I'm telling my stories. It's different. I'm not being scrutinized from outside by somebody who treats us as a curiosity...not that Gail treated us in that way...but now I just feel privileged to be getting to tell my stores...and our stories, too, to some extent.

    • Ilene: I had the idea, and it was just, it was almost a lark. I was struck by the notion that television was the perfect medium to tell lesbian stories because there are so many stories to tell. Because it's not good enough to have just one character who is a lesbian in someone else's story, or even just a single character show because it's time to talk about the fact that we are many. And, so an ensemble drama seemed to be the perfect medium. So, I just kind of brought it up. I had notes, I had stories I was cataloguing. I brought it up informally with a couple of Showtime executives, with whom I'd worked with a lot, two women. They were intrigued by it, they loved it, but we all knew that it was kind of a radical notion at that time. And I think we all knew instinctively that it wasn't time yet. But, I knew that time would most definitely come. I don't know if they knew. They were two straight women. But I think I just felt fairly secure in my convictions that there would be a time when we could put a lesbian show on television.

    • Ilene (on her work on "The L Word"): I love making it. Every facet of doing it from the writing the script to making the show. Editing, post production is a revelation to me. I've never done that. The writers don't usually get invited to stick around through all that. I had no idea how creative it was and also how one gets to tell the story yet again.

    • Ilene (on whether things change from what she writes to what ends up on screen on "The L Word"): It never changes because I change along with it. I am so integrally connected to whole process that I don't feel as if I started over here and somehow I wound up over here. I am on the ride with it.

    • She met her partner, Miggi Hood, at a party in Malibu.

    • She based the character of Shane on "The L Word" on Warren Beatty from "Shampoo".

    • Miggi Hood has been her partner since 1984.

    • She and Chuck Pfarrer were nominated for a Razzie Award in 1997, in the Worst Screenplay category for "Barb Wire".

    • She was the associate producer for "Satisfaction".

    • Before the success of "The L Word" raised her profile, she had written the screenplays for "Barb Wire", "Dirty Pictures" and "Damaged Care".

    • She is the creator, writer and executive producer of the television series "The L Word".

  • Quotes