If you’ve ever wondered what really goes on within the walls of a television writers’ room, you’re about to get a peek inside.
Friday night, Sundance TV’s addictive, informative series “The Writers Room” returns for a second season.
This original series is again hosted by Jim Rash, the Academy Award©-winning screenwriter (The Descendants), comedian/actor (“Community”) and co-director, co-writer, and co-star of the film "The Way, Way Back" from Fox Searchlight.
This unique roundtable talk show takes viewers where they have never been before – inside the writers’ rooms of the television shows that are defining pop culture today. Spotlighting an array of popular scripted television shows including “Scandal,” “House of Cards,” “Sons of Anarchy,” “The Good Wife,” and “Pretty Little Liars.” In addition, “The Walking Dead, Superman and Other Comic Book Adaptations” will explore the increase in graphic novel adaptations for television and feature some of the masterminds behind “The Walking Dead” and “Smallville.” (Full schedule and participants listed below.)
Each episode will delve into the world of TV’s creative masterminds, fearlessly challenging them to disclose the inside story on their greatest choices, toughest decisions and biggest mistakes.
Rash has brought some of his experience from season one to this new batch of shows, revealing, “I’ve learned that each show is so tonal different that I can’t really go in with a specific step-by-step plan. I like to go in with hopefully the least amount of knowledge, outside of just watching the show, because I want it to be a conversation, I don’t want to steer things other than getting the discussion started.”
But Rash admits that that isn’t always easy at first, explaining, “I like to watch the shows and read about my guests, that’s not difficult, but the sort of strange part is that you’re just meeting these people and then you’re going to sit down and have this very animated discussion about something that’s very important to them and to the viewers as well.” Rash credits his training in improvisational theater for helping him to handle this part of the show skillfully. “I like to think that I’m always striving to be in the moment and that keeps it fresh. Part of having a conversation with people is reminding yourself to just listen and not worry about your next question or thought.” Continuing that thought though, Rash reveals that overall he really just uses common sense about the whole thing, as he says, “I always fall on the same thing and that’s that at the end of the day, all of these people love talking about the process. They’re interested in telling you what it takes to do what they do because they’re proud of it. I feel like we love the stories they tell because we’re in it with them. Once you get them talking, you can’t really stop them, and that’s a good thing.”
Rash went on to to disclose a few other things about this season saying, “We’re doing some new things, like an exercise called ‘Defend This Scene’ in which we show a scene and then we grill the writers about what they were thinking when they wrote it, where they were trying to go and their overall thought process concerning that particular element of their show.”
He also revealed that something happened in the “Walking Dead” episode that really surprised him. “I don’t want to give too much away, because it’s that good, but I learned something in that show that I had no idea about. I can’t wait for viewers to see that.”
Social media will also play a part in this season of the “The Writers Room,” says Rash. “We did something on social media with the ‘Scandal’ episode because that show has such a rabid fan base. Those fans are very connected. While this isn’t the case with other episodes of our show, we do talk a lot about the role of social media in interacting with fans and also about the growing celebrity of showrunners because now everyone online knows who they are. All of the creative people are so well know by their fans and that’s a new thing.”
Rash wants viewers to know that obviously fans of these shows should definitely tune in, but he truly feels that there’s something for everyone to take away, theorizing, “I feel like the world of a writing staff and writing being such a collaborative art, it really does speak to bigger, grander things in general. Whether you’re in business or you’re in politics or really any other profession, when it comes to team work and problem-solving, there’s nothing better than the ups and downs and the drama of the writers’ room. I feel like this show has a lot to offer not just about creating television but about how we are as human beings as well.”
“The Writers Room” premieres Friday night at 9pm e/p on Sundance TV.
The full schedule for Season Two of “The Writers’ Room” on Sundance TV is listed below:
Premieres Friday, April 18th at 9 e/p.
Jenna Bans (Co-Executive Producer)
Matt Byrne (Story Editor)
Heather Mitchell (Supervising Producer)
Shonda Rhimes (Creator and Showrunner)
Kerry Washington (Cast Member)
Mark Wilding (Executive Producer)
“The Walking Dead, Superman and Other Comic Book Adaptations”
Premieres Friday, April 25th at 9 e/p.
Blair Butler (Writer of the comic book Heart, Geek Culture Expert for MSN Nerdcore)
Al Gough and Miles Millar (Creators and Executive Producers, “Smallville”)
Robert Kirkman (Creator and Writer of The Walking Dead comic books and Executive Producer and Writer, AMC’s “The Walking Dead”)
Michael Schneider (Los Angeles Bureau Chief, TV Guide Magazine)
“House of Cards”
Premieres Friday, May 2nd at 9 e/p.
Matt Bai (Political Consultant/National Political columnist for Yahoo! News)
Laura Eason (Writer and Story Editor)
John Mankiewicz (Writer and Co-Executive Producer)
Molly Parker (Cast Member)
Beau Willimon (Creator and Showrunner)
“The Good Wife”
Premieres Friday, May 9th at 9 e/p.
Ted Humphrey (Writer and Executive Producer)
Michelle King (Creator, Executive Producer and Showrunner)
Robert King (Creator, Executive Producer and Showrunner)
Julianna Margulies (Cast Member)
“Sons of Anarchy”
Premieres Friday, May 16 at 9 e/p.
Mike Daniels (Co-Executive Producer)
Charles Murray (Co-Executive Producer)
Katey Sagal (Cast Member)
Kurt Sutter (Creator and Showrunner)
“Pretty Little Liars”
Premieres Friday, May 23 at 9 e/p.
Joseph Dougherty (Executive Producer)
Oliver Goldstick (Executive Producer)
I. Marlene King (Executive Producer)
Shay Mitchell (Cast Member)
Sasha Pieterse (Cast Member)