Pens Down: What Writers Not Working Really Means for the Shows in Production

Adam B. Vary / Variety When A.C. Bradley was hired to write on the 2022 Disney+ series “ Ms. Marvel ,” part of her job entailed going to set every day to help with re-writing scenes on the fly while the show was being filmed. “It was a mixture of everything from wanting to add new characters into the show to needing to change things because of location,” Bradley tells Variety . Just one example: The day the production was set to shoot a chase sequence at Marriott hotel, she helped to add a beat where the chase entered the kitchen because it was nearby. “Why not use what you have?” This kind of scenario is, of course, no longer possible during the ongoing writers strike . “Pens down” means no WGA member can write or change scripts whatsoever, before, during or after production. In many cases, that has meant that showrunners have left their shows entirely, like “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” executive producers J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay or “Cobra Kai” executive producer Jon Hurwitz. Other writers rooms have shut down in advance of production on their next seasons, like “Abbott Elementary” and “Yellowjackets.” Some showrunners are still involved with their series, however. “ House of the Dragon ” executive producer Ryan Condal is on set during production of the HBO series’ second season in the U.K., but with scripts already completed , Condal is working in what a source close to the show says is strictly a non-writing capacity: no editing, no network notes, no writing. Similarly, while “ Andor ” executive producer Tony Gilroy is not on set and no longer writing — scripts were locked months ago — sources say he is still working as a producer on specific, non-writing elements like casting and scoring for the Disney+ show. (Representatives for HBO and Lucasfilm declined to comment for this story.) But carving out writing from a showrunner’s duties remains a tricky tightrope to walk. “There’s a lot of producing responsibilities that go hand in hand with being a writer,” says […]

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