As TV Turns To Tax Write-Offs, Top Showrunner Details Betrayal Of Scrapped Shows

Television has been increasingly taking advantage of tax rules to save money by scrapping shows that have already been completed.

Pioneered by Warner Bros. Discovery, which scrapped series such as the second season of Chad and reality competition The Big D, and followed by AMC Networks, which has axed shows such as Demascus, Invitation to a Bonfire and the second seasons of 61st Street and Pantheon, which were largely completed.

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Others such as Netflix, with the second season of animated series Inside Job, have also been reversing renewal decisions, which is a separate, but nonetheless similarly dispiriting trend for creatives.

Carina Adly MacKenzie, creator of Roswell, New Mexico, in a lengthy social media post, addressed why such moves are hurting television writers.

She called it a “direct betrayal of promises made”.

“This ‘trend’ of killing completed projects for corporate tax breaks isn’t just sad, it’s a direct betrayal of promises made when deals are signed. We’re going to have to start to need language in our contracts, or penalties maybe, to shift this — but that will be very hard,” she wrote on Twitter.

MacKenzie, who has written on series The Originals and The Flash, highlighted that such moves have happened for decades but that it was very rare and linear networks used to burn episodes off over weekends.

But she points out that when shopping a new project, networks and streamers make the case why a creator should go with them. However, once signed up, this relationship changes, and these companies become the boss.

“You do your job, hold up your part of the deal, the way they ask you to. Then they decide they don’t want to do their part of the job — for a tax break. And suddenly you’re paid, but you’re NOT getting the support you were promised as part of the deal,” she added.

MacKenzie, who is now working on an adaptation of E. Lockhart’s YA suspense thriller We Were Liars with Julie Plec for Amazon, pointed out that this trend is happening at the same time as writers’ compensation is being reduced due to episode orders.

She said that the WGA will address such issues but that it’s another thing to add to the “very long list of things we have to fight for this year” and “we never win them all”.

“Your landlord/mortgage/mouths to feed do not get paid by the episode,” she added.

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