It’s staffing season in September. A number of new series picked up right before or during the writers strike are assembling their writers rooms. And, picking up where they left off, a number of writers rooms that were either shut down or delayed by the WGA strike in May are ramping back up and are expected to be up and running early next week.
According to sources, going back on Monday are the writers rooms for ABC Signature’s Grey’s Anatomy (ABC) and Criminal Minds: Evolution (co-production with CBS Studios for Paramount+). Disney TV Studios sibling 20th Television has series 9-1-1 (now on ABC) and the animated Fox trio of Family Guy, Bob’s Burgers and The Simpsons also are set for a Monday start.
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Showtime/eOne’s Yellowjackets, whose Season 3 writers room shut down after one day as the WGA strike started, will resume Wednesday, I hear.
Starting early next week are also writers rooms for CBS Studios’ CBS series Ghosts, NCIS, Fire Country, and The Neighborhood, among others, sources said.
Also intended to open next week are the writers rooms for Warner Bros. TV’s Abbott Elementary (ABC, co-production with 20th TV), The Sex Lives of College Girls (Max), Young Sheldon (CBS) as well as The Cleaning Lady and the upcoming Rescue: Hi-Surf (Fox, co-productions with Fox Entertainment), along with Fox Entertainment’s Animal Control (Fox) and Sony TV/Fox Entertainment’s Alert (Fox)
Universal Television’s NBC drama Quantum Leap, which was in production when the WGA strike started, will reopen its Season 2 writers room on Monday, I hear. The studio’s Law & Order (NBC) and FBI (CBS, co-production with CBS Studios) also are expected to be back writing next week, possibly joined by Law & Order: SVU. Additionally, eying a writers room opening next week is Mike Schur’s new Netflix comedy series The Mole Agent starring Ted Danson, I hear.
There is a slew of series teed up for a writers room kickoff the week of Oct. 6.
For HBO, the main priority now is getting tentpoles The White Lotus, Euphoria and The Last Of Us up and running right away. All three were supposed to start writing the new seasons just before or during of the WGA strike for planned 2024 launches. All thee also have been written solely by their creators, Mike White, Sam Levinson and Craig Mazin & Neil Druckmann, respectively, something they can continue to do so under the new WGA deal.
There has been a flurry of activity at the TV studios over the past week, following the tentative agreement reached by the WGA and AMPTP Sunday night.
“While everyone had been preparing for months, the resolution with the deal still felt sudden,” one industry insider said in reference to the mad dash this week.
Additionally, studios also had not been able to speak with their showrunners until Wednesday of this week. The two sides have been in conversations since about when it would make sense to open a writers room for each show based on when production might start.
That applies especially to broadcast where writing and filming overlap. Timing on film and TV production restart is still up in the air as SAG-AFTRA remains on strike. (But the guild and AMPTP are restarting negotiations on Monday riding the momentum from WGA and AMPTP closing their deal.)
Broadcast series are already months behind their regular schedule. As the networks try to get as many episodes of their most popular scripted series on the air as possible, the earlier the writers rooms open, the more in-season episodes a show can produce if the SAG-AFTRA strike ends within the next month or so. The most they could get is expected to be 12-13 for a drama.
Studio executives have also been busy this week parsing through the Memorandum of the WGA agreement to decipher how it would impact the different aspects of development and production. There are significant changes coming to writers rooms, including sizes (with minimum staffing) and writers’ guaranteed involvement in production, which, if the agreement is ratified, will come into effect Dec. 1 for seasons that start the writing process after that date.
New series in general will take a little longer to open writers rooms because they need to get staffing done first and also have to account for a lengthier pre-production, including casting and stage building.
In years past, the so call “staffing season” created a feeding frenzy in April and May when the the broadcast series — then the biggest game in town — went through a hiring process of writers for the new season.
I hear there is a similar frenzy now as thousands of TV writers are launching job searches at the same time post-strike, making for a very competitive staffing season. The pool of available writers looking for work is wider because, as Deadline reported, a number of term deals reinstated after the strike this week were not extended. Additionally, there were a slew of cancellations and unrenewals during the work stoppage, releasing dozens of writers.
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