Writing Staffs Shrinking

Variety reports what I've been hearing from TV writer friends for months…writing staffs are shrinking dramatically.

"I definitely feel as if there are (fewer) jobs out there," says Damon Lindelof, exec producer of ABC's LOST. "Whereas new shows from pilots that got picked up used to have 10 to 12 writers — that was the size of our staff in 2004 — we're just eight now.

[…]William Rotko, exec producer of the FBI-themed Patrick Swayze starrer THE BEAST, which finished its one-season run for A&E, says a confluence of events has altered the TV dynamic.

"I don't know if it's a combination of the recession and the prior writers' strike," he says. "They kind of landed one after another. After the writers' strike, it seemed this was going to happen anyway, but the recession sped up the process of reducing the size of the writers' room.

There are also fewer scripted shows than there were in the past. The major networks have all given up offering new, scripted fare on Saturdays, there's more reality shows than ever, and NBC has scrapped five hours of prime-time for Jay Leno's new show.

While cable has picked up some of the slack by producing original dramas, they are short orders with small staffs. It all adds up to the worst job market for TV writers than I have ever seen before. It's shocking to me how many of my friends…experienced, successful scribes, some with shelves of Emmy Awards… are out of work right now. 

2 thoughts on “Writing Staffs Shrinking”

  1. LOL. Just 8? Poor Baby.
    My first staff job, there were 3 of us. I’ve never been on a (drama) staff with more than 5 writers, and never hope to. 10-12? Jaysus.

  2. Yes, this recession is a bad one and the network business model doesn’t seem to be working so well, now. It’s scary, and so is 10 percent unemployment in the economy. But at least there’s the internet now. So why couldn’t a group of writers get together and write a show and shoot it and embed some products or sell short advertising spots of 10 seconds each? If the show is seen, let’s say, by 100,000 how much ad revenue would it bring in? It could be scripted or news or entertainment business/writing news. I already come to this blog for its take on TV and writing, so why wouldn’t many others tune in just as if it were a regular show on TV?


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