Variety reported today that as part of cost-cutting measures mandated by the networks, TV shows are slashing their writing budgets, reducing once-bloated writing staffs sometimes by half (if not more). This blow comes on the heels of a Writers Guild strike that has contributed to a major change in the way the networks develop and staff shows — the concept of “staffing season” as we knew it (or not) is quickly disappearing, along with the multi-million dollar development deals that high-level writers had grown accustomed to.
Back in the day, the average TV drama could easily have a dozen or more writers on staff. These days, the numbers have shrunk to perhaps four — including the showrunner (top dog in the writers’ room). The image above (courtesy DayLife.com) features the writers’ room from the hit NBC drama Medium. Variety adds, in its report, that low-level writers who are good may be the safest these days — it’s the mid-level writers who aren’t quite at the exec producer level that are the most at risk, as they’re deemed expendable and expensive.