Showrunners behind ‘Better Call Saul,’ ‘Veep’ and more talk possible writers’ strike

LOS ANGELES — In less than a week, writers’ rooms across Hollywood will go dark if the Writers Guild of America goes on strike.

For showrunners on some of TV’s most talked-about series, the focus is on crafting stories while they can.

“We’re just keeping our heads down and working until they tell us we can’t,” said Gloria Calderon Kellett, co-showrunner of Netflix’s “One Day at a Time.” Writers for the series recently started work on Season 2.

Kellett was part of a Los Angeles Times showrunner roundtable, alongside Bruce Miller (“The Handmaid’s Tale), Peter Gould (“Better Call Saul”), Aziz Ansari (“Master of None”) and David Mandel (“Veep”).

Miller, who opened up “The Handmaid’s Tale” room earlier this week to begin work on Season 2, said there’s no mad dash to churn out copy before Tuesday, when a strike would begin.

“It doesn’t change what you’re doing in terms of figuring out the story,” Miller said. “We go as quickly as we can anyway. You don’t want to (work) too quickly, because then you just write crappy stuff. It really doesn’t change anything.”

They just hope the guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers can reach an agreement.

“I voted yes,” Mandel said, referring to the recent strike authorization vote, “but boy, I really don’t want there to be a strike.”

Gould added: “It’s not really up to us. It’s up to the companies to do what’s right. There’s not a lot more to say than that.”

The last writers’ strike in 2007-08 lasted 100 days. And while it wasn’t what they wanted then, either, many writers enjoyed the opportunity to meet and talk with their peers in the process.

At the time, Gould was working on “Breaking Bad,” whose season was cut short because of the strike. He left Albuquerque, N.M., just as an episode he had written was in the prepping stages.

“I was on the picket line and people would say, ‘What show are you on?’” Gould recalled. “And I’d be like, ‘it’s this thing called ‘Breaking Bad.’ They’re shooting my episode right now.’”

“But I also remember being on the picket line and being very entertained by Dana Gould (of ‘The Simpsons’), who is no relation but is one of the funniest people around. Dana kept a whole group of us on Lankershim (Boulevard) entertained for days on end. All I could say is, I hope, if it comes to that, that I am stationed wherever he is cause he’s a lot of fun.”

Miller’s silver lining while marching outside of Universal’s lot involved the TV series “Battlestar Galactica.”

“I hadn’t watched ‘Battlestar Galactica,’ and it turned out the people on ‘Battlestar’ were (picketing where I was). I would go home at night, watch one episode, and then I’d find the writer and get like DVD commentary all day long,” Miller said. “Every writer, if you walk up to them on a picket line and say, ‘Hey could we talk about your episode for 4 hours,’ they were in heaven. And it was great. It was so much fun, for me, because you could just ask them a million questions. It made the time go by.”

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