table writing
n. The creation of scripts, jokes, and stories by a committee of writers.
Other Forms
Barron is well-known for having introduced the US "table-writing" system to the UK when he first came over to work on My Family in 2000. The flexibility and fluidity of the process he describes as being like a "jazz combo" means the scripts are not "locked in" until the final take has been shot."We'd have six writers round the table and we'd edit each other's work, look for holes, try to top jokes - and, as a result, there's a consistency from script to script no matter who writes it," he explains.
—“Rewriting the script,” Broadcast, July 08, 2003
In addition, [Larry] Gelbart argues, TV writing has grown more solipsistic: whereas television once attracted people trained in radio, film and theater, it's now the province of lifelong couch potatoes with a fondness for inside jokes. And on sitcoms, those jokes are increasingly crafted by committees. "There's a custom out here now called table writing," he says. "A draft will be prepared by one or two writers, and the staff will sit around a table and try to get in as many new lines as possible."
—Michiko Kakutani, “Master of His Domain,” The New York Times, February 01, 1998
1996 (earliest)
To circumvent Writers Guild of America rules discouraging "table writing" (a group effort common in TV which has resulted in lawsuits over credits when practiced on feature films), the brainstormers were required to sign waivers.
—Rex Weiner & Adam Dawtrey, “New Bond issue may rattle lion's cage,” Variety, December 09, 1996
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