All posts in: Travel

UCross Residency


I spent the month of November on a writing retreat at the Ucross Foundation in Wyoming..( and my oh my what a wonderful place. It’s a thousand acre working ranch that supports residencies for writers and visual artists. They offer a studio, meals and uninterrupted time to work on the project of your choice. Heaven.

I worked in the Marvelous Studio and it was. I forgot to sign the guestbook, but was very impressed by the other writers who wrote notes there, having worked in this studio before me. I think their hovering spirits helped me focus in the most creative and fruitful way I’ve experienced in years.

I worked at a standing desk overlooking a field of frozen grass, old bent trees, and herds of deer, antelope and cows. As always, ever-changing nature— weather, animals— never fails to inspire. It snowed, it rained, it was so sunny I had to close the blinds… and it was rutting season so I saw a lot of deer frolicking and chasing each other, hopping fences like you and I take steps.

The wind was my companion throughout and even made it into the play I was writing.

I finished a draft of a play called Drunk at the Base of the Bodhi Tree. It was started in a silent retreat with Erik Ehn in June in Bolinas, and I definitely owe him and the other silent retreatants a debt of gratitude. The ground for the play was turned there and the seeds planted; in November, with the deep attention made possible at Ucross, the first draft was completed. First new play in several years.

I also started a second play, working title— Just Curious. This one is a science story and will require some research, but I hope to get a draft out later this year.

I also (miracle!) worked on a few prose pieces, including an essay called I Can’t Close My Mouth, which I’m submitting for publication now, about the long-term effects of sexual assault and the obstacles I’ve faced in trying to tell those stories in television from a female point-of-view.

All said, it was the most productive time I’ve had as a writer in many years and I could not be more grateful to Ucross and to Mame Hunt and Roberta Levitow for introducing me there. BTW— I’m now working at home at my new standing desk! Fingers crossed to keep the productivity going…

Grand Isle, Louisiana


On Mother’s Day weekend the Hebert clan gathered on Grand Isle, Louisiana for a little family reunion. My family has been coming to this funky beach town on the Gulf of Mexico for over a hundred years. We have photos of our maternal great-grandparents there before 1920. Our paternal grandfather built a camp on the island in the forties and we went there every summer to play on the beach, fish, boil crabs and get eaten up by mosquitoes. One of my very favorite memories is sleeping underneath the big window fan on the porch, to the sound of the waves. This is the island Kate Chopin wrote about in The Awakening, first point of landfall for many hurricanes. Since the ’60’s it’s been inundated by the oil industry; Grand Isle was one of the areas most affected by the BP oil spill. Happy to say it’s rebounded– beautiful, clean and thriving with migrating birds, wildlife and sea creatures once again. We watched porpoises frolicking in the breakers every morning.

My two brothers and my sister came with their extended families and we were able to introduce our own little 16-month old Mari to her many cousins. When we were leaving she shocked us all by saying “Bye, ya’ll.” Her first Southernism! Turns out she loved the warm Gulf waters as much as we do.

We ate like Cajun royalty– a shrimp boil, a crawfish boil, a fish fry, charbroiled oysters and a homemade chicken enchilada dinner (courtesy of island fishing guide and hostess extraordinaire Anne Smith, who also brought kayaks and lots of beach toys.) We also devoured shrimp and oyster po-boys from the Starfish Diner. And we drank, yes, you bet (including a pitcher of the notorious Red Knot concocted by good-timer Lecta Bourgeois). A flaming great time was had by all– oh did I mention the bonfire on the beach and the non-stop dancing? A beautiful long weekend. We have all vowed to continue to get together now that Mom, Dad and Mitch are gone, and times like this one on Grand Isle make it easy to keep that promise. One of the best parts is seeing all the young cousins playing and getting to know each other. Love those kids.


American Crime Episode 108

Just got back from Austin where I was working on my episode of American Crime, the new series created by John Ridley, Academy-Award winning screenwriter of 12 Years a Slave. The show will air in March 2015, but meanwhile we’re all working like crazy to bring this powerful, subtle story to life.

My episode (108, we’re not using titles, just numbers…) focuses heavily on a character played by the amazing Felicity Huffman, who was a dream to work with. I also had a tremendous time working with Tim Hutton and Regina King. Truly, the entire cast of this show is stellar; everyone attends the work with such intelligence and seriousness that it’s inspirational. In fact, all of us –  cast, crew, writers, producers – have the feeling that this is a special experience and everyone is bringing their A-game.

The crew is kick-ass, including our first-time director Rachel Morrison (cinematographer of Fruitvale Station, among other indy movies) who did a great job on the biggest episode of the series so far. Here she is in the scout van, working away in anticipation of our GIGANTIC shoot in San Marcos, which included hundreds of extras, SWAT teams, stunts, weapons firing, tear gas, horses, dogs and children. We threw everything we had at Rachel and she handled it with grace, toughness and humor, getting the job done like the pro she is.



A few photos of our days on set:

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Julie with Director of Photography Ramsey Nickell

During my (brief!) downtime, I was able to explore Austin a bit. Great food, great people. Love this city. Here are a couple of favorite photos:

The dome of the state capitol building:


A Saturday festival on Sixth Street:

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Then back to set before dawn on most days.


I am thrilled to be working on this series with these wonderful people. Keep a look out for American Crime in March 2015.

Julie Directs Nashville Episode “Your Wild Life’s Gonna Get You Down”

“Your Wild Life’s Gonna Get You Down” is Julie’s third time to direct an episode of Nashville. The show follows the travails and triumphs of country music stars in the center of this famous city.

Julie loves returning to her native South to work on the show; lately she’s been to the Bluebird Cafe, The Grand Ole Opry, and the Ryman and can’t wait to go back. Nashville airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on ABC.

You can read an episode recap on Entertainment Weekly here
You can watch this episode on Hulu here

More on Nashville:


Julie Directs Episode of Nashville: “You’re No Angel Yourself”

“You’re No Angel Yourself,”is the second episode Julie has directed for the country music drama Nashville. The show follows a country music legend as she clashes with a rising young star.

The friends Julie has made in Nashville have a sweet and easy Southern humor and hospitality that she hasn’t found anywhere else.

Nashville airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on ABC.
You can read the Entertainment Weekly episode recap here
You can watch this episode on Hulu here



More on Nashville:

Julie Directs Episode of Nashville: “I Saw the Light”

Julie headed from Los Angeles to Nashville to direct an episode of the hit series set in the heart of country music. The show chronicles the conflicting dynamics of several country music stars in different phases of their ambitious careers.

Julie relished the opportunity to explore the city and the huge role music plays – all kinds, all the time, everywhere.

Nashville airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on ABC.
You can read the Nashville Scene episode recap here
You can watch this episode on Hulu here

More on Nashville:

Julie on the show BOSS

As of January, 2012, working on the Starz Cable show, BOSS as a Co-Executive Producer.

Critically acclaimed Kelsey Grammer won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Drama for the part of Tom Kane, the politically corrupt mayor of Chicago.

In March of 2012, Julie and the entire writing staff moved their writing room to Chicago where the show is shot.  Julie lived in Chicago for several months writing and overseeing her episodes.  What a great city, what amazing restaurants.

Rome for Christmas

Rome for Christmas – Julie and her daughter Alexis and future son-in-law Aaron spent Christmas in Rome.  After the initial shock of having no place to stay on arrival, the trio settled in to a peaceful few days of eating like emperors, and wandering through museums, backstreets and churches.