Want to Know What TV Loses Without Writers? Just Look at 2007.

Want to Know What TV Loses Without Writers? Just Look at 2007.

During the filming of a first-season Friday Night Lights scene set in the middle of a field in Texas, production ran into a cow-sized problem. One of the four-legged background actors, who refused to take direction, kept stealing the spotlight from stars Connie Britton and Kyle Chandler. Some of the crew saw the farm animal as a continuity-wrecking nuisance. David Hudgins , who cowrote the episode, did not. “They were like, ‘The cow's not gonna do the same thing every take. Get the cow out of the frame!'” he says. “I was like, ‘No, the cow's fucking great! Put the cow in!'” The cow stayed. At one point, it even successfully improvised. “The cow runs up and starts nuzzling Connie's hand,” Hudgins says. “And she starts laughing, and she just went with it and kept going.” The unexpected moment , however small, might not have happened if Hudgins wasn't around to offer his opinion. “It wasn't exactly ,” he says, “but it kinda was.” With the Writers Guild of America a week into a strike after the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers rejected requests for higher pay, better working conditions , and the industry's recommitment to the writing profession , this is what television shows and movies will miss: holistic creative input. Hollywood relies on its writers to do far more than just stockpile scripts. “What gets lost is flexibility,” says writer Joshua Safran , who worked on the original Gossip Girl before becoming the showrunner of the HBO Max series reboot. “On the most recent Gossip Girl , we had a troupe of theater actors who were really great at constantly having changes thrown at them. And much like a comedy might, we were always looking to better a joke or better a moment. That would get lost.” “It's really a global thing,” says writer John Zinman , who worked with Hudgins on Friday Night Lights , “running the gamut from working with actors and the director to get the scene right, which often will mean doing on-the-spot rewriting, to being on the location to scout […]

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