The coalition of showrunners, TV creators and directors formed in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in June to overturn Roe v. Wade are continuing to put pressure on Hollywood studios to put safety protocols into place in abortion-hostile states. But on Sept. 28, in a full-page ad in the Power of Women issue of Variety, the still-unnamed coalition thanked those studios “for fully engaging and being thought leaders with us,” as the message reads in part. (The page was donated to the coalition by Variety‘s sales team without charge. The full letter is included below.)
The coalition’s efforts became public on July 28, when Variety reported that 411 showrunners had sent nine major studios a letter demanding that new safety protocols be established for productions in states where abortion has been outlawed. Four days later, 594 male showrunners and creators backed up that demand — and the group was soon joined by nearly 400 directors.
Among the 1500+ showrunners and directors in the group are the top creators in the entertainment business, including Shonda Rhimes, Elizabeth Meriwether, Judd Apatow, Ava DuVernay, Natasha Lyonne, J.J. Abrams, Barry Jenkins, Damon Lindelof, Jordan Peele, Aaron Sorkin, David E. Kelley and hundreds more.
Yet the studios seemingly bungled their initial response on Aug. 10, when they collectively answered through the Motion Picture Association. That letter attempted to assure the coalition that the studios shared their concerns, but offered no specifics, and deferred to the health plans in the individual unions. In an interview with three of the coalition members — during which they were granted anonymity — one said, “I think we were pretty disappointed as a group,” while another called it patronizing.
On Aug. 15, the showrunners group sent a second letter to the studios and their board members, offering more details about what protocols they want to see, giving a deadline of Labor Day.
Since that deadline passed, no studios have announced any specific new protocols for safety on sets, but that work appears to be happening behind the scenes: On Sept. 9, the coalition issued a statement thanking the individual studios for “engaging directly and individually with us to address the immediate need for safety, privacy and legal protections for their employees.”
The Variety ad echoed that sentiment, with the end of the message suggesting the watchdog role the coalition appears to be serving during this imperiled time for abortion rights: “This is not the last you will hear from us,” it states.
At the end of July, more than 1500 of the industry’s top showrunners, creators and directors signed a letter asking nine major employers to lead the way and establish safety protocols for employees in abortion-ban jurisdictions after the death of Roe v. Wade. As leaders on our productions, we cannot ask people to choose between their fundamental human rights and their jobs. There are dozens of productions on the ground today in anti-abortion jurisdictions. Their employees need answers right now about how to safely seek reproductive health care.
We would like to thank:
Amazon • AMCNetworks • Apple TV+ • Disney • Lionsgate • NBCUniversal • Netflix • Paramount/CBS • Warner Bros. Discovery
For fully engaging and being thought leaders with us. We look forward to seeing them translate that thought into action, considering the urgency of the issue. We also hope other companies will join them. Creating policies that will keep our cast and crews safe in anti-abortion jurisdictions may be hard, but it is necessary. We will continue to hold these companies accountable over the coming months.
This is not the last you will hear from us.
1500+ Showrunners, Creators and Directors For Abortion Rights
[Pictured above, left to right: Shonda Rhimes, Rachel Bloom, Elizabeth Meriwether.]
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