From Ken Levine “Friday Questions”:
I assume (uh oh) that a requirement of being a television/movie writer is a thick skin. (Yes, no?) And I often hear stories about rewrites and other writers replacing the original scribe. So, how do most writers/you handle these situations? How do the people making the rewrite decisions view the issue?
You definitely have to have thick skin. Larry Gelbart (I seem to mention him a lot) once addressed the entire membership of the WGA by saying, “Everyone in this room will rewrite everyone else in this room.”
He was right.
It’s just a reality of the business. In TV the showrunner and often the staff will rewrite everything. In features, hiring other writers to rewrite original writers is common.
Do the studios care or have any sensitivity to the writers involved? No, of course not. New writers are paid. That’s that.
David Isaacs and I have rewritten numerous screenplays first penned by other writers. And several of our original screenplays have been rewritten by others. Cameron Crowe rewrote a music-themed screenplay of ours and made it better. I’d like to think David and I improved MANNEQUIN.
What’s tough is when you read someone else’s rewrite and feel your draft was way better. It doesn’t lessen the sting, but it happens to all of us.
You just have to shake it off and move on to the next project. And maybe in the future YOU’LL get a chance to ruin someone’s work.