5 ‘All Rise’ Writers Quit After Disputes About Depictions of Race & Gender
The writing staff for the CBS courtroom drama starring Simone Missick as a judge in Los Angeles will look different in its second season.
Five of seven writers originally part of All Rise (including three people of color) will not be returning for its second season, due to disputes with showrunner Greg Spottiswood about storylines involving race and gender, The New York Times reports.
“We had to do so much behind the scenes to keep these scripts from being racist and offensive,” Shernold Edwards revealed. (She exited the drama during its first season, in November.) Meanwhile, Sunil Nayar said he “was only there because I’m the brown guy,” rather than to work as an executive producer. Dee Harris-Lawrence (OWN’s David Makes Man) joined as co-showrunner in December following Nayar’s exit.
Spottiswood “insisted on having a co-show runner to serve as a trusted and valued partner to promote diverse storytelling with the series,” according to a statement from Warner Bros., but “the intended partnership we all hoped for did not materialize.” Human resources investigated after complaints and, while Warner Bros. “identified area for improvement,” they didn’t think he needed to be removed from his position.
Writers have voiced issues with several storylines. According to the report, Edwards spoke up about dialogue or storylines for the lead, a Black woman, that “seemed false or offensively stereotypical.” She and Nayar also spoke out against a scene that was eventually cut in which Sara (Lindsay Mendez) was to suggest to Emily (Jessica Camacho), who had left her abusive husband, that a one-night stand would help her deal with the difficulties of living alone before a naked white man got on the elevator with them. They would have ignored him, but Edwards found it to be “a dangerous situation that they would have to respond to.”
Also cut was a storyline involving Latin American teenagers harassing people with machetes after a Latin American writer and Mendez found it “false and offensive,” according to Edwards.
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Following Edwards and Nayar’s exits, Spottiswood addressed the writers room with the following statement: “I acknowledge that I can have a rhetorical, professorial tone in the room, and that can be perceived by some as condescending, and that I can be defensive in creative conversations and debates. I remain strongly committed to improving my communication style and skills, and to being a more inclusive leader — ensuring that writers and artists are not just heard, but feel listened to, respected, safe and valued.”
All Rise, Season 2, Fall 2020, CBS