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Carina Adly MacKenzie is out as the showrunner of The CW’s Roswell, New Mexico.
According to multiple insiders, the first-time showrunner’s relationship with studio Warner Bros. Television had been strained for some time. One of the latest points of contention came late last month when MacKenzie, who created the soapy drama, which renewed for a third season in January, fired off a series of tweets. One source, in particular, says that Warner Bros. had to do “damage control” with a foreign distributor after MacKenzie accused ITV in the U.K. of homophobia, biphobia and bigotry for cutting selected sex scenes from her show.
Really, really, REALLY upset to hear that @itv cut out a (pretty tame) love scene between two men and kept a (much more raunchy) heterosexual sex scene in their airing of an episode of #RoswellNM tonight. There are a lot of angry tears happening at my house tonight.
— carina adly mackenzie (@cadlymack) June 24, 2020
It’s just blatant homophobia/biphobia/bigotry and I’m so, so sorry and so, so angry. Frankly I’d be fine never watching another straight white couple bone on TV EVER AGAIN.
— carina adly mackenzie (@cadlymack) June 24, 2020
A spokesperson for ITV2, the channel that aired the episode of Roswell in the U.K., disputes MacKenzie’s characterization of the editing, however. “During our compliance process on episode two, we edited love scenes featuring the characters of Alex and Michael and Max and Jenna,” said the rep. “Editing is only ever undertaken to ensure content is suitable for scheduling in a pre watershed time slot when younger age groups may be watching. Scenes involving sexual content were edited in keeping with the regulator, Ofcom’s, guidelines.”
For two-plus years, MacKenzie had co-run Roswell with Christopher Hollier (The Originals, Once Upon a Time) but was the show’s sole creator and its chief creative voice. During her time on the show, she is said to have fostered a working environment that was rife with tension. Among the issues, according to insiders, is that MacKenzie would spend an unusual amount of time on the set in New Mexico, away from the show’s Los Angeles-based writers room — a move that was said to frustrate some of the writers.
Showrunners typically spend the bulk of their time during the writing process in the room (or at least they did pre-COVID), and though Hollier was technically in charge in MacKenzie’s absence, some point to the fact that MacKenzie did a lot of rewriting and often turned scripts in late as proof the show may have been run more smoothly were she around in person more. Sources note that the situation improved some in the second season when the writers room was given more lead time before production started.
There was also said to be friction at times between MacKenzie and some of the actors, including series star Jeanine Mason. Multiple sources say that Warner Bros. HR looked into the matter last year. The results of that probe, on which MacKenzie, Mason and Warner Bros. all declined to comment, are not clear, but what is known is that MacKenzie was able to continue running the show.
In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, a Warner Bros. TV spokesperson would say only, “Carina Adly MacKenzie has departed as executive producer/co-showrunner of Roswell, New Mexico. The third season of the series will return to The CW as part of the network’s 2021 midseason lineup.”
MacKenzie, for her part, told THR: “I have made the difficult decision to resign from my role on Roswell, New Mexico. I do not take this decision lightly, but ultimately due to fundamental differences, I must depart and entrust Roswell, New Mexico to capable hands. I am so proud of what we built over the last two years, and I believe in the heart and soul of the show: asking tough questions, striving to make the world better, amplifying marginalized voices, and fighting the good fight.”
Her departure comes just as writing for the upcoming third season is beginning. Roswell, a steady performer for The CW, follows the daughter of undocumented immigrants (Mason) as she discovers her teenage crush is an alien who’s kept his unearthly abilities a secret. Warner Bros. is likely to make a formal announcement about a succession plan in the coming weeks, though co-showrunner Hollier is expected to stay on and take full responsibility for the show.
MacKenzie, a former TV journalist who wrote about The Vampire Diaries at the now defunct Zap2It.com, transitioned to a career as a TV writer after that show’s creator, Julie Plec, took her under her wing. MacKenzie started as a writers’ assistant on Vampire Diaries spinoff The Originals, quickly rising through the ranks to become a writer and story editor on the series. Her credits also include an episode of The Flash. In April 2018, she inked her own two-year development deal with Warner Bros. TV. Sources say she is no longer under a deal with the studio.
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