‘All Rise’ Writers Quit After Behind-the-Scenes Conflicts Over Race

All Rise CBS

Several writers from  All Rise have risen up in mutiny and quit the CBS courtroom drama.

A New York Times report published Thursday said five of the show’s seven original writers have left after clashing with showrunner Greg Spottiswood over the drama’s depiction of race and gender.

All Rise, one of the few network series with a Black female lead, stars Simone Missick as an idealistic former prosecutor and newly appointed judge.

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Some of the show’s former staffers told the Times that Spottiswood, who is white, ignored their attempts to have the series more accurately reflect the experiences of people of color.

“We had to do so much behind the scenes to keep these scripts from being racist and offensive,” said Shernold Edwards, a Black female writer-producer.

According to Edwards, there were multiple instances in which she thought the main character’s dialogue was stereotypical. When she expressed concerns about inaccurate depictions of a Black woman, she said she was asked why the character’s race mattered.

Sunil Nayar, an Indian-American writer who served as an executive producer on the show, also left after disputes with Spottiswood. Nayar suggested that he was hired as a token Asian staffer and had few responsibilities that matched his job title.

“It became clear to me, when I left the show, that I was only there because I’m the brown guy,” Nayar said. “Greg hired me to be his brown guy.”

All Rise is produced by Warner Bros. Television. The series debuted on CBS in September 2019, and was renewed for a second season in May.

The Warner Bros. human resources department launched a review last year following complaints from staffers. After the inquiries, Spottiswood was given a corporate coach — a Black woman — to offer him advice.

“As soon as we became aware of concerns in the All Rise writers’ room, we took steps to conduct a review of the work environment,” Warner Bros. said in a statement. “While the studio identified areas for improvement, the findings did not reveal conduct that would warrant removing series creator Greg Spottiswood from the executive producer role.”

In a separate statement, Spottiswood — who grew up in Ontario, Canada — said he is trying to become a better manager.

“When it appeared the writers’ room was struggling to function as effectively as it should, I recognized that I needed to change how I was working,” he said. “I voluntarily sought management training and leadership coaching.”