ATTN: JMS (Writer's Guild and the dislike of Writer-producers)

B5JMS Poster b5jms-owner at
Fri Sep 15 05:16:48 EDT 2000

From: "Michael Atreides" <starsword at>
Date: 14 Sep 2000 15:52:07 -0700
Lines: 28

Recently my company (a market/political research firm) handled a datapunch
job for one of our larger clients (we hate these, but we do them to keep the
client happy).

It so happens that it was a recent survey by the Writer's Guild of America,
which had been printed in the WGA magazine and filled out by members, whose
surveys eventually found their way to my office, where my staff spent
several days translating the scrawl of the membership into usable data.

One thing I noticed a lot of was WGA members railing about the "unfair"
practice of some producers who write every episode -- or nearly every
episode -- of their show themselves. Some of the words bandied about were
"traitors" and "backstabbers."  Some WGA members seemed to think this is the
deathknell of writers everywhere (which I found absurd, but then I'm not in
the industry).  The only thing I saw more of was the (understandable)
dislike of the Director's Vanity Credit.

Is this a widespread belief, do you think, or just a few sourpusses who are
upset they can't do what some producers have managed -- to consistently turn
out superior stories?

Michael Atreides

From: jmsatb5 at (Jms at B5)
Date: 14 Sep 2000 16:58:39 -0700
Lines: 41

>One thing I noticed a lot of was WGA members railing about the "unfair"
>practice of some producers who write every episode -- or nearly every
>episode -- of their show themselves.

It's a very difficult situation.  I only did it on seasons 3-5 (with one
exception) because I couldn't separate out the episodes in my head well enough
to tell a freelancer "Okay, the story for 16 begins here and ends there."  I
knew what was going to happen overall, but sometimes where one episode breaks
and the other begins you can't know 10 eps ahead in a show like B5, which was
kind of the exception to the rule on every level.

My usual tendency before this, and which will likely be the tendency afterward,
is to use about 50% freelancers, which is far more than the usual.  That was
pretty much the case on the first 2 seasons of B5, was definitely the case on
shows like Jake and Twilight Zone and Murder.

The irony of this situation is that on Crusade, I started to go back to giving
a number of assignments to freelancers, again nearly 50% of the total number of
assignments on Crusade when we got hit were in the hands of other writers than
myself...and when the show aired, there were some folks who said I was
slacking, that I "couldn't be bothered" with the show since I wasn't writing
them all myself.

I do feel that you need to make room for qualified freelancers and staff where
the situation is conducive to I do tend to agree with the frustration


(jmsatb5 at
B5 Official Fan Club at:
(all message content (c) 2000 by
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