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Grappling with his dual roles

November 5, 2007 |  9:06 am

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Warren Leight, executive producer and showrunner of USA's "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," was wrestling with an issue facing many of his fellow showrunners on the picket line: how to juggle his competing duties as a writer and producer.

Last night, he finished one last tweak on the 10th episode of "Criminal Intent" and faxed it in right before the strike deadline. The script for Episode 11 is also done and will probably go into production before Thanksgiving. Though Leight won't write another word until the strike is over, he may get called on for his input on editing and other responsibilities he has as a showrunner.

"I'm trying to figure it out," said Leight, who says he won't cross the picket line. "I think that's a hugely complicated issue. I have to play every situation by ear. A lot of showrunners are grappling with that."

Leight feels strongly that the writers were forced to strike. "They made us an offer we had to refuse," he said of the studios. "My sense is they wanted it to come to this.

"In a sense, they managed to do the impossible: They brought writers together," he added. "Look, it's an ornery group. But we know what the stakes are. There's remarkable unity between the guilds on both coasts, which has never been the case, and across different echelons of the guild. It's unfortunate it's come to this, but they've managed to create more unity in the writers guild than we've been able to do on our own in 30 years."

Unlike the 1988 strike, this stoppage comes down to one clear issue for most writers, Leight said: "They know if they don't stand up now out here, there will be no residuals in five to 10 years. It's a one-issue strike."

More news on the strike

-- Matea Gold

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