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When the folks hosting the conference announced their theme as “Screen Narratives: Chaos and Order” the word ‘chaos’ immediately brought to mind writers rooms. I offered a quick history of writers rooms (the presentations are only 20 minutes long) and then quoted several current showrunners on how they compose their rooms and how they run them.
But one-hour dramas did not involve writer’s rooms in the beginning and I find that very fascinating because we rely on them now, but they did not in fact — they literally had writer pools and if you were running a show — so you were the creator of the show — you would walk down the hallway to the pool, of course, that’s the typing pool, and it was a bunch of guys not too many women involved at that time and you would say I need an episode of Columbo. Who’s free this week and that person would have to come up with an episode of Columbo. The NBC Mystery Movie was a perfect example of that because every Sunday there was a different one of these shows. They weren’t a weekly show and so you had some time to prepare it. So you’d walk down the street and say I don’t know which of these shows would we need this next week and that’s — so writer’s rooms took freelance ideas and you didn’t sit in the room and break the story together and that has been something that’s evolved over time I think is interesting. In this writer’s pool at Universal, which contributed to that show, were all these men who became the show runners of the second golden age of television and they all are men whose shows have run on television incessantly.
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