Drama Scribes Talk TV & Twitter at Variety’s Night in the Writers’ Room

Variety's Night in the Writers' Room
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Variety‘s fifth annual A Night in the Writers’ Room welcomed Kerry Ehrin, Courtney Kemp Agboh, Andrew Kreisberg, Gideon Raff and Matthew Weiner to the drama panel Tuesday evening.

The showrunners, in conversation with Variety moderator Debra Birnbaum at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills Calif., chatted candidly about the impact of Twitter on television today.

“The ‘Power’ parties have been a big thing,” Agboh said, referring to fans of her Starz series joining together to live-tweet episodes. “That was huge for us because it means the era of appointment television isn’t over.”

Weiner, who is not on Twitter, agreed that social media has helped the buzz surrounding television shows, and can relate to the passion behind live-tweeting. “I remember having a ‘Melrose Place’ viewing party,” he fessed up. “I understand the engagement.”

“We owe a lot to Twitter at ‘Mad Men,'” Weiner continued, referring to popular fan-made accounts such as “80’s Don Draper,” of which he’s admittedly a fan. “What was confusing for us at first is there were all these people taking on the characters and AMC was like, ‘We own these characters,'” he joked about the discussion of potential lawsuits, before he and the network realized, “this is a boatload of free publicity.”

‘Mad Men’ premiered before Twitter was hugely popular, and though he appreciates the conversation it created for his show, the creator never hopped onto the social media train. “I do not tweet. I would need two accounts — one for tweeting and one for apologizing for tweeting. I didn’t have a smartphone for a while because I have such a terrible temper.”

Ehrin of A&E’s “Bates Motel” shared a similar sentiment to Weiner, as she was a late social media adopter. “I resisted Twitter for a long time, and I started using it last year and it’s remarkably fun,” she said. “It’s like hanging out with kids in the neighborhood….it’s a great way to actually talk to people who love the show, as much as you do.”

On the other hand, Kreisberg — who’s at the helm of CW fan-favorites “The Flash,” “Arrow,” the upcoming spinoff “Legends of Tomorrow” and CBS’ fall series “Supergirl” — didn’t have an option.

“The year we did ‘Arrow,’ they made us all join,” he said of the CW having their creative teams and talent become active on social media so that they could interact with their younger-skewing, Twitter-using audience. One of the funniest pieces of the Twitter puzzle to Kreisberg is the uber-passionate fans who truly believe their opinionated tweets are actively changing what goes on in the writers’ room week-to-week. “The weirdest thing is the people who think that they’re influencing the show.”

Raff said his “Dig” cast was very active on Twitter, but he is not. “The actors do it all the time — they ‘Twit,'” he said, incorrectly pronouncing the word. With a laugh, he added, “I don’t even know how to say the word.”

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  1. Ken says:

    The whole song sequence in episode 9 was directly influenced by tweets for a throwback of Glee, so Andrew Kreisburg as usual thinks fans of this show can’t see through his bullshit. What would really be awesome; would be for Andrew to write a great show largely based on the comics and stop using his influence as an EP to promote Danielle. It is so obvious and unprofessional. She is in every show clip, on panels when audience questions relate to Iris he turns his response into something about Caitlin. He and The Flash CW retweet EVERYTHING Danielle tweets. He actively promotes her for Choice Breakout Star and the list goes on and on.

    Come on man….there has to be some ethical decorum for someone at your level. Promote the show and ALL of the cast. Given all the shows you’re now at the helm of, you must quickly separate from your current fanboy cattiness and elevate yourself to a true “Executive Producer”.

  2. Andrew Kreisberg Just Doesn't Get It..............and he is NOT helping The Flash Fandom says:

    Andrew Kreisberg may not think fans who Tweet can influence the writers of his shows but he can rest assured the Tweets he makes, and the Tweets the cast members of his shows express have a decidedly measurable influence on the fans and former fans of programs. Every time Grant Gustin goes off on one of his tirades that invite “reinforcement of his wonderfulness,” a collective sigh can be read in the “Twitterverse…” wondering what has he done now? Danielle Panabaker got her silly self into trouble with some racist Tweets not long ago, and her continued desire to usurp Candice Patton as lead actress of The Flash and love interest of Barry Allen has been well publicized on Twitter. A lot of people do not appreciate her actions, and her recent Teen Choice Award nomination is definitely bogus because Candice Patton received twice as many votes as Panabaker in the Sci Fi Actress category. Twitter has had a lot to say about that!

    In addition, matters are not helped when Grant Gustin constantly Tweets about Panabaker, including pictures of photo shoots, while he ignores Candice Patton, whose Iris West character was severely marginalized for much of the season, and refuses to be photographed with her or support her when she is racially abused in social media. Kreisberg is not very smart if he thinks Twitter does not publicize the cast of The Flash does not get along well or like each other. He is also obtuse if he is unaware that is favoritism toward Panabaker is off-putting and repulsive. Perhaps he and the writers of The Flash should pay more attention to the social ramifications of Twitter and consider why it might be wise not to drive fans away by ignoring them or taking them for granted

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