Six AM? Really?

Today’s post was going to be about something totally different, until I read this post from the Tightrope Walker blog this weekend.

I should start by saying I enjoy this blog from Doris Egan, although I don’t watch any of the shows she writes for.  She’s interesting, informative, and funny.

In fact, Saturday’s post was the first I’d heard of the new Emmy rules for Best Series.  As she summarizes:

The Academy has determined two things:

1) Only a producer should receive an award for “Best Series.”
2) Only a producer who spends a greater portion of their time producing other people’s episodes than writing their own should receive an award for “Best Series.”

Directing producers, in. Line producers, in. Writing producers… well, the Academy’s letter reads:

“A priority of the Acadmy is preserving the value of the Emmy Award thus insuring that those who are most deserving and actively involved are the ones honored with nomination.”

That would not include writers, apparently. Though it would include people who do the scheduling and handle the budgets, and it would include producer-directors.

That’s disappointing.  Of course, both Egan and I agree that producer-directors and line-producers are no less deserving than writers of a “best series” emmy.  In fact, she goes on to say:

The award, by the way, is not for “Best Producer.” It is called “Best Series.” It is simply a tradition that producers have received it; were I King, I’d give everybody on the show an award.

Right on!

She continues–

Now, shows are all run differently, but on the vast majority of them, writer-producers also have producing duties. This may include re-writing other writers; it almost certainly includes things like casting; participating in concept, tone, scheduling, wardrobe, and production meetings; going on location scouts; giving editing notes…

All true, so far as it goes.  Although I will say that most of those examples are just writers sitting around and yapping while someone else does the real work.

But then she goes off the rails with this:

…and showing up on set at 6:00 in the morning for the first rehearsal and not leaving till that night’s wrap.

I’ve been on first season shows and seventh season shows, and I have never, ever seen a writer show up at six AM.  On a well-established series, we on the crew feel lucky if they come in ante meridiem at all, much less six hours ante.

And to stay through wrap?  Never seen that, either.

Even if this hypothetical twelve-hour writer existed, let’s not forget that many in the crew arrive before official call time, and stay well after wrap.  (As much as I mock ACs, for instance, those people work long hours.)

Again, I agree with Egan in general.  But let’s not go exaggerating to support the worthiness of the cause.

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3 Responses

  1. I actually have seen a couple writers stay for the full duration of the filming of their episode, much of the time staying on set, or going to and from set to their office. Not all writers do this, but it’s been known to happen. It happens on the show I’m on now, and it happened a couple times on another show I was on previously.

  2. Try animated shows. Writers working into the small hours is par for the course, and until ‘Family Guy’s recent nomination, all their nominations and awards have been shifted to crap night. And the artists have to push themselves ten times as hard what with all the rewrites that come in and revisions if they have to send the animation across the pond. There’s a video interview with Trey Parker about the production time on ‘South Park’ and empty Dayquil bottles are strewn across his desk. I don’t know enough about the live action shows, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they go through something similar.

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