Scribes on 'Handmaid's Tale,' 'Westworld' and 12 More Shows Reveal Secrets From the Writers Room

6:30 AM 6/15/2018

by Craig Tomashoff

The executive producers from 14 hit shows reveal what they do to prep ('80s movie nights!), how they fight writer's block (naps and basketball games) and their go-to snacks and drinks (LaCroix, obviously).

'Fresh Off the Boat,' 'Insecure,' 'Will & Grace'
'Fresh Off the Boat,' 'Insecure,' 'Will & Grace'
Courtesy of ABC; HBO; NBC

  • 'Fresh Off the Boat,' ABC

    Nahnatchka Khan, Executive Producer

    Courtesy of ABC

    The room where it happens 

    It's not surprising that, given this is a family comedy, the team of 14 writers "show up around 10 a.m. most mornings, and some have already had breakfast with their kids and others were so busy they bring breakfast in with them," according to Khan, who has made a deliberate effort to bring in multiple points of view. "I wanted the outsider perspective in different ways — sexuality, religion, ethnicity, economic. I wanted people in this group who knew what it felt like to not be a part of a group and have to figure out their identity."

    Feeling a draft 

    Once the writers are done talking about the traffic ("That usually takes a good 20 minutes!"), they turn their attention to the scripts. Some will eventually break off on their own, but Khan makes sure everyone is gathered at some point to go over every script. "Some shows go over them individually with the writer, but I like to do it with the whole room. It's important to let everyone know when changes are being made. That feeling of being left in the dark isn't good."

    Catching a break 

    Boat writers play basketball with the mini-hoop in the writers room, although it may not be de-stressing anyone but Khan: "We'll try to figure out which writer will make the most baskets in a row, and money does get exchanged. I'm notorious for picking the winners. For some reason, I can look into someone's eyes and just feel who's better that day."

    Food for thought 

    The debate about where to order lunch is constant and never fully satis­fying. There's been an equally heated debate about what snack items go better on the crackers in the show kitchen. "We lost a whole afternoon to that one," admits Khan, who is partial to Cheez-Its and turkey jerky.

    Preferred beverage 

    "We're not going to be the first show to break out of the La Croix fixation. And we will take on all the different flavors."

  • 'GLOW,' Netflix

    Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch, Executive Producers

    Courtesy of Netflix

    The room where it happens 

    At first, the writers team for the female wrestling comedy will use the same space as the Orange Is the New Black scribes (both shows also share an executive producer, Jenji Kohan). Then, as the show begins to film, the room travels to offices near the set. That proximity to the cast, especially in the first month as the actors are going through their training to play wrestlers, has proved invaluable for the seven writers (five women, two men). Says Mensch: "Wrestling was something new to all of us. So we'd sit on the mats with pen and paper, taking notes and learning about this world."

    Feeling a draft 

    Because the show is set in the '80s, writers must get to know the decade before pulling their scripts together. So Flahive and Mensch host '80s movie nights. Says Flahive, "Body Double was a mind-blowing experience for everyone. We had Weird Science another week, and Desperately Seeking Susan, Mannequin, The Legend of Billie Jean. And Rocky IV. Showing the movies is education, but it's also just fun to hang out and eat pizza."

    Catching a break 

    Like most writers who get stuck, the GLOW team prefers to walk out into the real world to free up their blocked minds. "The big thing for us is to change locations," says Mensch. "Just move. You don't want the room to feel like a prison."

    Food for thought 

    Mensch says there's a "really weird breakfast culture" on the show, with everyone on the staff coming in to make a full-on eggs and bacon morning meal. There's also a tradition Flahive calls "Chips O'Clock," which began when Mensch was pregnant. At 4 p.m., the writers dip into the kitchen's potato chip supply.

    Preferred beverage 

    LaCroix (pamplemousse) for Flahive and just coffee ("and not the fancy stuff") for Mensch.

  • 'The Good Place,' NBC

    Michael Schur, Executive Producer

    Colleen Hayes/NBC

    The room where it happens 

    The room kind of takes a cue from Field Day at summer camp. "Comedy writing is collaborative, in the same way that tug-of-war is collaborative," says Schur, who created the afterlife comedy. "It's not that one person can't do it — it's just that 10 often do it better, and more easily." With that in mind, his staff has 11 full-time writers, six male and five female. Most have a comedy writing background but from a variety of formats including sitcoms, late night, playwriting and blogging. "We also have consultants, including a couple who are philosophy professors who help us understand what the hell we're talking about."

    Feeling a draft 

    Because he and his team tend to start the year with some idea of where they are going for the season, "the first four weeks are mostly big-picture stuff. The show has to be broken in big clumps — it's heavily serialized, so we have to be always looking forward and backward as we move from episode to episode. We mostly either work all together, trying to develop the long-term arcs, or we split into halves and divvy up tasks."

    Catching a break 

    Walks are a particular favorite when it comes to clearing heads in order to regain some focus. Schur admits that he's "also very easily distracted by dumb internet videos, which I play constantly, whether we are stuck or not."

    Food for thought

    The snack cupboard is generally filled with Triscuits and enough string cheese to accompany those crackers, along with mini carrots, red grapes, Ice Cubes gum, tangerines and berries.

    Preferred beverage 

    "Believe it or not, it's just water," says Schur. "Someone read that to be truly healthy you need to drink 128 ounces of water a day, so a bunch of us try to do that. Some achieve it, some don't, but everyone has to go to the bathroom every five minutes."

  • 'The Handmaid's Tale,' Hulu

    Bruce Miller, Executive Producer

    Courtesy of Hulu

    The room where it happens 

    Miller is a big believer in the traditional writers room concept because "it helps to have a group of people politely ripping every script up." He likes the system so much, he actually has two rooms: "Room one is about one episode and room two is noodling the next episode. So that way, when room one sends a writer off to do the script, you bring in people from room two to start diving deeper into that." Given the topical nature of Handmaid's Tale, Miller makes an effort to bring in more female than male writers as well as "people who are news and political junkies. I also try hard to get people who go through the world having different experiences than mine and those who are good at explaining those differences."

    Feeling a draft 

    Story-breaking doesn't actually begin in the writers room. Miller is fond of starting the season with some form of a retreat. "We meet off-site for a few days to talk about the previous season, so everyone can clean out the spaces in their heads. It's not very different from what I hope our fans are doing as well." Even if it's just sitting out on Miller's home patio, he figures it's still "a way to think in a different physical space, something more casual to get things going before we move into the office under the glow of fluorescent lighting."

    Catching a break 

    His staff is free to "do something physical, whether it's eating or walking or playing basketball." As for his own approach? "I'm personally a huge napper. That's my go-to."

    Food for thought 

    Gummi bears are big, but "strangely, we're also very much a popsicle office," says Miller. "I guess it's because we write all summer and start shooting in August and September."

    Preferred beverage 

    The staff is all about the LaCroix and its vast array of flavors. But Miller is proud of being "a San Pellegrino person — those fruity sodas are my favorite."

  • 'Homeland,' Showtime

    Alex Gansa, Executive Producer

    Courtesy of Showtime

    The room where it happens 

    Homeland writers don't just enter their room to create a TV show — they also show up for what amounts to group therapy. Says Gansa, "Writers are some of the most unsociable people I've ever met in my life, and that might be part of the reason they generally like to work alone. So there's a social aspect to our writers room that mitigates that loneliness and pushes them toward both competitiveness and companionship at the same time."

    Feeling a draft 

    Before every one of Homeland's seven seasons, the show's scripts have started taking shape thousands of miles away from the Los Angeles writers room. The team treks to Washington, D.C., for what Gansa calls "spy camp," which is a week of meetings with officials from the State Department, the intelligence community and the news media "to get a broad picture of what they're talking about in order to give us a sense of what we'll talk about in that particular season." As much as this road trip helps kick off the season, those plans inevitably change every year because Homeland "tries to comment on what's contemporaneously happening in the world. So by the end of the season, things are exciting but also terrifying because we're pushing to get our scripts done right to the last possible minute."

    Catching a break 

    If the scenes aren't flowing, the writers adjourn to what Gansa refers to as the "Calcutta Cricket Club." "It's something we started when we were working on 24," he says. "When we're horribly blocked, we go out and smoke cigars on [executive producer] Howard Gordon's office patio. Not everyone smokes, but it's a welcome break. Sometimes there's scotch, but only after 4 p.m."

    Food for thought 

    There's the usual "grousing and griping about what we're ordering" when writers show up around 10 a.m. While the staff does try to eat healthy with a little fruit, Trader Joe's dark chocolate peanut butter cups are far more popular.

    Preferred beverage 

    Gansa opts to keep calm with green tea, but much of the writing staff prefers to stay as edgy as Homeland's Carrie Mathison by drinking gallons of Red Bull.

  • 'Insecure,' HBO

    Prentice Penny, Executive Producer

    Courtesy of HBO

    The room where it happens 

    Before the writers room even opens for business, Penny and series creator Issa Rae get together to talk about the season. "We go to a hotel rooftop that has a pool," he says. "It's kind of like our superstition. We did it in the first season, and it seems to be working. We hang out for the whole day, order cocktails and food and just have a long conversation about things we liked, things we want to change, the current dynamics in the world, things our friends have gone through — blue-sky, big-picture thoughts to boil down the essence of our themes for the new season."

    Feeling a draft 

    For the show's 12 writers, it's all about taking longer to be faster. Penny says he's worked on shows where "we race past the story phase to get to the scriptwriting, but ultimately it's like, 'Oh, man! We missed this or we missed that!' So we take a lot of extra time in the room on the story phase before we send anyone off to write."

    Catching a break 

    The Insecure writers seem to have perfected the art of procrastination when the writing gets tough. For instance, they'll partake in what Penny refers to as "a very intense three-year Nerf gun war." They'll also conduct informal polls in the room with such topics as which Mexican food is best (tacos and burritos rank at the top). And during Black History Month, the writers take a day to do a report, complete with costumes and visual aids, on an African-American hero. "Next year, we're going to do Black Facts About Things That Never Happened. Like examining who came up with the expression, 'Check yourself before you wreck yourself.'"

    Food for thought 

    While there is such a thing as free lunch in a writers room, Penny is pretty much over the whole thing at this point. "When you first get to a show, you're all excited to order from new restaurants, but at this point, if somebody orders from Tender Greens again, I will kill them." Still, he remains a big fan of the free snacks on the show, including all flavors of Pop Chips, Annie's Popcorn and Fiber One bars.

    Preferred beverage 

    "This is a Perrier show. LaCroix is swill. It is a travesty for the American people."

  • 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,' Amazon

    Amy Sherman-Palladino and Dan Palladino, Executive Producers

    Nicole Rivelli/Amazon Studios

    The room where it happens 

    The writers room isn't so much a room as it is, well, maybe a walk-in closet. That's because the team is minuscule, essentially just the Palladinos, two staff writers and a couple of stand-up comics (since the show takes place in the world of stand-up) who come in when not on tour. "Dan and I are mentally ill," Amy says of her and her husband. "We let this show infect our entire lives and bring it all into the room. We end up using the room to fill in details because a lot of times we have already worked out the framework. When we go into the room, it's more like a strategic military strike ­— get in and get out fast."

    Feeling a draft 

    Because the couple directs episodes as well as writing them, there's seldom time to spend hours with others breaking down episodes. Amy does not pine for her days on network shows, like the original Roseanne, where "you can sit around just telling stories about your life. I couldn't miss that less. Nothing smells worse than a writing room; even if the people bathe. When you walk through, there's the scent of death and you can't get it out of your nose. Besides, we are more creatures of stage, so the stage is our writers room."

    Catching a break 

    Perhaps because it's such a small team, and the two people in charge are so in sync, "we've never sat down with anyone in the writers room and started with a blank canvas." Hence, there's no need for any tricks to unblock themselves since blockages seldom occur. "There's no time to get stuck. It's not an option," says Amy.

    Food for thought 

    "We don't like food in a writers room," explains Amy. "I refer you back to the smell comment. It's only exacerbated by food falling and getting ground into the carpet. If we do order in, we'll go somewhere else and eat it." She does admit, though, that Red Vines are allowed and Dan will have the occasional Starburst candies.

    Preferred beverage 

    Water and coffee. And that's just plain old water, says Dan. "We don't believe in that LaCroix stuff."

  • 'The Orville,' Fox

    Seth MacFarlane, Executive Producer

    Courtesy of FOX

    The room where it happens 

    MacFarlane had plenty of experience with a more traditional writers room, courtesy of Family Guy, but never enjoyed feeling like "there's a scorecard keeping track of how many jokes you personally get into a script every day." The Orville room is "a very different beast, a lot more sedate. My idea was that half would come from drama and half from comedy, but as we went along, it became clear to me that the show I wanted to do leaned more toward the drama writers, so the split between them and comedy is now maybe 70-30."

    Feeling a draft 

    All Orville writers sit in on initial discussions to break the season's stories. As outlines are developed, though, writers go off to do the full scripts. Unlike most shows, according to MacFarlane, "the room shuts down once we start shooting." This way, he can focus on producing and directing without juggling writing duties at the same time since "it's impossible to have the room still going when you're doing a serialized story unfolding over the course of a season. Each episode is its own movie."

    Catching a break 

    Some rooms throw around footballs or basketballs to distract from writer's block. At The Orville, they throw around idle chatter. "You never know when you're telling everyone something that happened to you over the weekend and it will suddenly spur discussion of a story concept," MacFarlane says. "As an example, at one point, I read that book So You've Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson. I was fascinated and disturbed and came in the day after I finished it and said, 'We have to write about this. And what better genre to do it in than science fiction?' "

    Food for thought 

    Lately, the Orville set has been fueled by a healthy supply of saltwater taffy that MacFarlane says was initially brought in by his stand-in on the show. However, the go-to food for his writers can "vary from day to day. Like someone will come back from a trip with some strange Norwegian cookies or Japanese chocolate."

    Preferred beverage 

    Pretty much all Arrowhead water, all the time. "I'm not a LaCroix person. … I tend to keep it plain," insists MacFarlane.

  • 'Riverdale,' The CW

    Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Executive Producer

    Dean Buscher/The CW

    The room where it happens 

    At least early in preproduction, before the intensity of filming episodes sweeps him away, Aguirre-Sacasa spends as many waking hours as possible with the 10 or so writers in the Riverdale room who for the most part keep a 10 a.m.-to-7 p.m. schedule. "It's like going to a dinner party and everyone contributes to the conversation and it just continues," he explains of working on the teen drama based on the characters of Archie Comics. "You started talking about the most interesting guest at that dinner party and soon the stories you're telling start reflecting that guest."

    Feeling a draft 

    The Riverdale writers, according to Aguirre-Sacasa, believe in doing "pretty detailed scene work." It's rare for any single writer to be sent off without knowing precisely what it is he or she is going to create. "We table everything we turn in," he says. "This group often puts outlines under more scrutiny than our partners at the network or studio."

    Catching a break 

    When the ideas aren't flowing and the group needs to distract itself for a while, there's no typical break ritual except to perhaps watch new movie trailers online. However, there is one tradition in the morning designed to keep conversation flowing even before the ideas start percolating, and that, of course, has to do with food. "When we first gather in the morning, that's when the lunch menus get passed around," says Aguirre-Sacasa, who previously wrote for Glee, Looking and Supergirl. "That's a time we'll do a little gossiping or see who's gotten what deal. That helps us get into our day."

    Food for thought 

    There is plenty of sneaky behavior and paranoia every week on Riverdale. Apparently, there's also a fair amount of it in the writers room when it comes to meals. "I don't like sushi, so whenever I'm on set in Vancouver, that's when they order it," explains Aguirre-Sacasa, who is Archie Comics' chief creative officer. "I'm also terrified of getting a cold, so our kitchen has a lot of those immunity shots you get at juice shops."

    Preferred beverage 

    The popular choice is popular here: LaCroix. Grapefruit.

  • 'The Terror,' AMC

    Soo Hugh and Dave Kajganich, Executive Producers

    Courtesy of Berlin International Film Festival

    The room where it happens 

    There was a fair amount of irony when it came to writing the first season of this anthology. The premise may have been about a large group of distrusting strangers stuck for years in a vast, empty wilderness. But those who created it were a small band of writers (four, plus two showrunners) who worked in one small room for a few weeks and got to know each other so well that "one of them was having a baby and he offered to let the room name it," Hugh recalls. "His wife vetoed our suggestions, but that's how much we trusted each other."

    Feeling a draft 

    The Terror is based on a true story, which meant the writing team had to love research, too. "We were like a high-functioning graduate school class. The research was considered to be our version of homework," says Kajganich. "We were so obsessed with this subject, even a week or two in, we couldn't wait to get to that table every morning to keep talking about what we'd been looking into the night before."

    Catching a break 

    Because they had just 10 weeks to come up with the first seven scripts, there wasn't time for breaks. To keep the creativity flowing, Hugh says they "were always doing games and answering weird hypothetical questions." For instance, because the show had an abundance of male characters, Hugh and Kajganich asked everyone "to come up with five images that represented a male anxiety combined with a nostalgic image. We got a lot of crazy answers, like 'a fireplace making sex noises,' but we tried to layer them all into the show."

    Food for thought 

    Since the room was within walking distance of a Trader Joe's, many Trader Joe's peanut butter cups were consumed. "There was also an effort to have Hummus Week, but honestly, that didn't last long," recalls Kajganich. "One of the writers also once brought in as a treat that coffee that comes from cat pee that costs like $20 for a half-pound. That didn't last long either."

    Preferred beverage 

    Definitely LaCroix. Grapefruit, not coconut. "Who would ever drink that?" asks a bewildered Hugh.

  • 'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,' Netflix

    Robert Carlock, Executive Producer

    Courtesy of Netflix

    The room where it happens 

    If you want to make it to the Kimmy Schmidt writers room, Carlock offers a word of caution. "We find that 'brilliant but troubled' writers and 'evil geniuses' are never worth it and often are neither brilliant nor geniuses. They're just assholes." Instead, this eclectic room that pens the series about a young woman adjusting to life in NYC after being rescued from a cult has a former teacher, a former graphic designer, a former writers assistant and a former host of "Weekend Update." Says Carlock, "Everyone reads a lot, has a full inner life and a rich exterior life … as much as the schedule allows … and we expect each writer to bring all of that to the process. There's Harvard, two University of Virginia and way too many people from the Philadelphia area. And one really tall guy."

    Feeling a draft 

    Carlock says he and fellow showrunner Tina Fey have adopted a sort of divide-and-conquer approach for the room. "Apart from gathering en masse to hear a story pitch or to give notes on a draft, we tend to work in teams of four or five. Once a script is broken and boarded and pitched out, we send an individual off to write an outline. Tina and I do passes on the outline, sometimes with a notes step first. Then the writer is out on draft. When the draft comes back, we all discuss it, take it apart, put it back together, and then rewrite in a small group. We rewrite a lot."

    Catching a break 

    If the words aren't flowing, the writers head to the roof of their office for inspiration. That comes from the view of Manhattan but also from "the garden up there, and some chickens. Then we come back inside with a story idea that is usually about chickens. I'm now realizing that, as a group, we are being influenced by seeing the chickens."

    Food for thought 

    The most important item on the daily menu, at least for Fey? Something called a "Viennese Delight," a slice of bread from a nearby bakery, along with some mustard, a slice of turkey bologna and a slice of whatever cheese is in the refrigerator.

    Preferred beverage 

    Coffee. "I guess we're required to drink LaCroix," explains Carlock. "I don't know why. Pamplemousse is well liked. Coconut seems to sit there."

  • 'Westworld,' HBO

    Jonah Nolan, Executive Producer

    Courtesy of HBO

    The room where it happens 

    Nolan, known for writing movies like Interstellar and The Dark Knight, stepped into a new world of his own with HBO's sci-fi show: the writers room. "That was one of the attractions of doing TV after 10 years of movies," he explains. "Writing films is a very solitary experience. I thought it sounded really cool to get a bunch of smart people together in a room to talk about story." And while he found the first season of Westworld "tricky to make work with a room" because so much of the overarching mythology comes from him and his wife and co-showrunner, Lisa Joy, the story has opened up in season two. "We'll bat around ideas together but then take them to the room, where everything got better."

    Feeling a draft 

    After learning in season one how intense the show's production schedule was, Nolan's goal for the second season was to have as much material done before shooting as possible. That meant writers would get a week to work with an episode outline and another week to come up with a first draft. And their work didn't end there. "If you really want writers to break and write their own episodes, you have to have them then produce them as well because they are the ones who will know those episodes backward and forward," says Nolan.

    Catching a break 

    While he may not know precisely how to get unstuck ("I guess what we do is just walk out to get coffee"), Nolan does have a very firm idea of what not to do. "I have a superstition about writers room ping-pong tables. I've seen a number of shows get them and then that show goes down. At one point we were sent one, and I had it removed immediately."

    Food for thought 

    Frozen yogurt is a particular favorite for the writers, but more important is the Great Snack Debate, spurred on by Nolan and Joy. "We celebrate a lot of birthdays and life events here, so we talk a lot about cake versus pie. My wife is a cake person, and I don't trust those people. I'm with the pie people. If we can crack the answer to this by the end of the season, the year will have been a success."

    Preferred beverage

    "LaCroix is in there, but I think it's poison. Several cans of Coke Zero each day to keep myself hopped up."

  • 'Will & Grace,' NBC

    John Quaintance, Executive Producer

    Chris Haston/NBC

    The room where it happens 

    On one hand, says Quaintance, because the show has such a long and storied history, "seven of our EPs have all been showrunners themselves." Which means there is far more experience than the average sitcom. On the other hand, he adds, there are several younger writers who grew up watching and identifying with the series, which ran from 1998 to 2006. "If you were gay growing up when the show was first on the air, it became part of your identity. So those writers really bring a lot of knowledge of our characters right from the start."

    Feeling a draft 

    Since the gig is "more of a talking job than a writing job," the writers try to spend as much time together as they can in order to bounce ideas off one another. Those conversations often are led by series creators Max Mutchnick and David Kohan, creating a situation Quaintance says is akin to having "late-night talk show hosts" in charge of script conversations. "We alternate between intense work and intense procrastination," he adds. "We'll watch YouTube videos a lot, and then it's almost lunchtime and everyone starts shouting ideas like it's a game show."

    Catching a break 

    The writers have no specific system for getting unstuck when they're having trouble on a story. However, Quaintance does admit that the situation "devolves into room bits — stupid jokes we use to make each other laugh." And if that doesn't work, they will jump right back into more YouTube videos "of Michael Avenatti, drag queens or Reba McEntire."

    Food for thought 

    Forget about that traditional writers room fight over lunch menus. "The best part of working for these guys is we have a chef who is a two-time winner of Cupcake Wars," says Quaintance. "So we never have that soggy baggy of french fries at the table. We actually get a salad bar and healthy entrees. The downside is that's a half-hour more we have to work instead of going to get food."

    Preferred beverage 

    Eager to break free of the writers room La Croix fixation ("I was on Workaholics before this, and they claim they started that trend"), Quaintance prefers flavored Perrier.

  • 'Young Sheldon,' CBS

    Steven Molaro, Executive Producer

    Sonja Flemming/CBS

    The room where it happens 

    Much of the writing work on the show about a 9-year-old genius, according to Molaro, is done in what is more like a pop-up writers room. Because production is often occurring even as the scripts are being pulled together, "we sometimes set up a little room onstage where I'll hang out with a couple of writers at a time. We'll watch the live feed of what we're shooting, and the script is onscreen as well. So it's like we're filming while the script is coming together."

    Feeling a draft 

    The Young Sheldon writers take about two or three days to fully break a story and then maybe another three or four days to write a draft — at least when they're not busy working on the series this show spun off from, CBS' long-running hit The Big Bang Theory. "We have a unique situation," says Molaro. "We have a small group of dedicated Young Sheldon writers, but we also share some writers part-time with The Big Bang Theory. They'll come over depending on what our needs are. For instance, if it's a more science-based episode, we'll use them."

    Catching a break 

    Molaro, who co-created the spinoff with Chuck Lorre, is a big believer in changing the scenery and just taking a walk, but several of his writers take a different approach. "They'll go play a video game and then reconvene later," he explains. "There are a lot of video games on the premises. A few years ago, the cast of Big Bang Theory gave us these video game arcades that are like cocktail tables, with all 60 games from the '80s and '90s, so those have remained in the offices to this day."

    Food for thought 

    The show has established a new tradition: Special Surprise Treat Wednesdays. Once a week, a production assistant will find a new restaurant or market in Los Angeles and "bring back some weird thing for everyone," says Molaro, adding that the favorite snack so far has been black-and-white cookies from a Tarzana bakery.

    Preferred beverage 

    Peach-pear LaCroix. "There's a lot of controversy over the use of the coconut flavor," says Molaro. "There are strong feelings on both sides of the issue."

    This story first appeared in a June stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.