Actress Allison Williams, daughter of NBC anchor Brian Williams, isn’t the only one with paternal news cred on HBO’s new comedy, “Girls.”
Story editor Sarah Heyward also has a famous news-dad — former CBS News president Andrew Heyward. Both Heywards are Harvard grads; only one of them is certifiably funny. (Guess which one?)
“Girls,” which debuted Sunday, follows a quartet of 20-something girlfriends in New York as they explore sex, adulthood and the meaning of life, in no particular order. It’s already been renewed for season two.
Heyward, 27, earned an MFA in fiction from the prestigious Iowa Writers Workshop. She joined “Girls” for the pilot as a personal assistant to co-executive producer Jenny Konner, whom she identifies as “my best friend from college’s ex-sister-in-law.” (Got that?)
After reading one of one of Heyward’s short stories, “How to Lose Your Virginity,” Konner accidentally/on purpose left her printout on a director’s chair on set. Lena Dunham, ‘Girls’ creator and writer, picked it up and two weeks later, Heyward was hired as a staff writer.
Heyward and Williams, a Yalie, met at the “Girls” auditions. Williams read for Marnie, the roommate and best friend to lead character Hannah, played by Dunham.
“Allison killed it,” recalls Heyward. “It felt like we probably saw every young actress in L.A., of which there are many. She was amazing.” The two “made a connection quickly,” Heyward says, and have since become friends. Both their fathers attended the New York premiere.
To Heyward pere, the sexual graphicness of “Girls” was less upsetting than was the lovelessness of the encounters.
“It’s HBO. I expected it to be edgy,” he says, “but I found it troubling in what it said about the underlying relationships. We probably shouldn’t assume that all sex between 20-somethings is like that. At least I hope not!”
When she was younger, Sarah Heyward says she was nowhere near as sexually adventurous as three of the “Girls.” The fourth, Zosia Mamet’s naïve virgin, Shoshanna, is the character with whom Heyward most identifies.“I was a late bloomer,” says Heyward, the youngest of three. “Metaphorically, I felt like a virgin most of my life. I was pretty innocent. I didn’t do drugs or drink, much, in high school. I had no boyfriend. I would have killed to have a boyfriend.”
Ditto for her at Harvard. “I was jealous of friends who had sex. When it came to sex, my brother and sister were early bloomers. They experimented. I was pretty sex obsessed. I did a lot of fiction from college about virginity and sex.” It took until the end of her senior year before Heyward found her first boyfriend.
She and her current bf, screenwriter Chris McCoy, 31, have been together for two and a half years. They live about a block apart. Her family “likes him better than they like me,” she deadpans.
Heyward, who collects stickers and loves Cocoa Pebbles, describes her father’s sense of humor as “funny, in a Dad way. There’s the occasional pun, the occasional corny joke or pithy little remark.
“Funny, with some kind of groan behind it. It’s classic ‘Dad humor.'”