Winnie Holzman (born 1954; New York City) is an American dramatist, screenwriter and poet. She is known for having created the ABC television series My So-Called Life, which led to a nomination for a scriptwriting Emmy Award in 1995, as well as her work writing for thirtysomething and Once and Again. Holzman has garnered fame for her work on Broadway, most notably for writing the book for the smash stage musical Wicked.
Holzman was born in Manhattan but grew up in Roslyn Heights, New York on Long Island. Although she was shy, she wanted to become an actor. At 13, she attended take the Circle in the Square Theatre School in New York.
Holzman graduated with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing at Princeton University. She won many poetry awards, including the Academy of American Poets Prize.
Holzman had been performing in sketch comedy for years, "determined to never make a dime," but on the recommendation of a college friend, she applied to attend the musical theater program at New York University. She eventually got her master's degree in Musical Theatre Writing on a full scholarship. Arthur Laurents was one of her mentors. Other teachers included Stephen Sondheim, Hal Prince, Betty Comden, Adolph Green, and Leonard Bernstein.
Her stage writing credits include Serious Bizness. While at NYU she wrote the musical Birds of Paradise (with composer David Evans), which was produced off-Broadway in 1987 and directed by Laurents. It got scathing reviews.
Holzman made her Broadway debut in 2003 when she wrote the book for the Stephen Schwartz musical Wicked, based on the novel of the same name by Gregory Maguire. She won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Book of a Musical and was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical.
In 1988, Holzman's husband, actor-writer Paul Dooley, got a job in Los Angeles on the TV series Coming of Age. While visiting her brother, cinematographer Ernest Holzman, on the set of thirtysomething, writer Richard Kramer suggested she should write for the show. Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz bought a spec script from Holzman, and she went on to become a staff writer on thirtysomething in 1989. She wrote nine episodes during its last two seasons. Zwick and Herskovitz later executive produced My So-Called Life, a show about a teenage girl. Holzman went from to story editor to executive story editor to a creator and writer of the show.
Holzman has collaborated on various short films with her daughter, Savannah. They penned a TV pilot based on the Sasha Paley novel Huge, which ABC Family greenlit in January 2010 with a direct-to-series order. Huge premiered in late June 2010. The show team included Holzman, Dooley, her daughter, and her brother, who was the cinematographer. The series was cancelled on October 4, 2010 due to low ratings compared with the network's other summer hits.
From 2014 to 2016, Holzman was one of the producers and writers of the Showtime series Roadies, a behind-the-scenes comedy about people working with a touring rock band created by Cameron Crowe, J.J. Abrams (executive producing), and Holzman, that ran for a season. The series starred Luke Wilson, Imogen Poots, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Peter Cambor, Rafe Spall and Carla Gugino.
Holzman has had a number of acting spots, primarily cameo roles on her own TV shows and a role as a therapist on Curb Your Enthusiasm. She also had a small role in the film Jerry Maguire. She wrote and performed several personal essays at the Un-Cabaret spoken word shows in Los Angeles and is featured on their CD Play the Word (Vol. 1).
- The Wonder Years (1990) (TV) (one episode only)
- Thirtysomething (1990-1991) (TV)
- My So-Called Life (1994-1995) (TV) (Creator)
- 'Til There Was You (1997)
- Once and Again (1999-2002) (TV)
- Wicked (2003) (Stage)
- Huge (2010) (TV) (Co-creator)
- Wicked (2019) (Film)
- Thirtysomething as "Sherry Eisen" (1990) (TV)
- Major Dad as "Mrs. Burns" (1992) (TV)
- My So-Called Life as "Cathy Kryzanowski" (1994) (TV)
- Jerry Maguire as "Women's Group Member" (1996)
- Love, American Style as "Miss Hepker" (1999) (TV)
- Once and Again as Shelley (2000-2002) (TV)
- Roswell as "Madame Vivian" (2000-2002) (TV)
- Hopeless Pictures as "Actress" (2005) (TV)
- Curb Your Enthusiasm as "Dr. Salvin" (2007) (TV)
- Checkmate as "Mrs. Sappington" (2009) (short film)
Holzman has been married to character actor Paul Dooley, who she met at an improv acting class in New York, since November 18, 1984. They were both living with other people at the time, but gradually built a relationship. Holzman notes they have a 26-year age difference, which makes them quite different in some ways, yet they are still very close: "It's a big part of our lives but in a way it's meaningless." They have a daughter named Savannah Dooley. They live in Toluca Lake in Los Angeles, California.