Leverage is written by show creators John Rogers and Chris Downey along with a team of writers who collaborate to develop the season's storyline and episodes. The writing team consists of three to five additional writers, along with at least one story/script editor. The show may occasionally hire free-lance writers to write a given script. John Rogers believes in nurturing new writing talent, and expects writers will stay with the show a relatively short period of time before moving on to bigger shows or more major assignments with other shows.
The Writing ProcessEdit
A script is never the product of one writer's work, despite the way they are eventually credited. Development of an episode takes place in the writers "room" at Electric Entertainment, a traditional model for writing American television shows. The writers gather in the room to develop season-long story arcs, such as the Damien Moreau story, as well as plotting character development over the season. Individual episodes are subsequently plotted out. John Rogers has frequently noted that many good ideas for episodes never make it past early development stages because they don't lend themselves to the four-act television format.
After an episode is "broken" into a series of acts and scenes by the writing team, a short episode overview, then a full-length script is written by one or more writers, assigned in the writing room. Individual writers may do extensive research or work with consultants when developing their scripts, adding to the accuracy of the show. They may also elect to take liberties for the sake of plot. The writer(s) for any given script travel to Portland while the episode is being filmed, where final edits can be made during production.
Writers for Leverage are members of the Writers' Guild of America (WGA). The WGA represents writers during contract negotiations, and governs, among other things, how writers are credited. When more than one writer works on a script, the use of "and" versus "&" indicates the nature of their collaboration: "and" indicates the two writers worked independently on the script, either one after the other, or on separate sections of the script. On the other hand, the use of "&" indicates the writers collaborated on the whole script.
Season One Writing TeamEdit
- John Rogers: The Nigerian Job (with Chris Downey), The Homecoming Job, The First David Job, The Second David Job (with Chris Downey)
- Chris Downey: The Nigerian Job (with John Rogers), The Wedding Job, The 12-Step Job (with Amy Berg), The Second David Job (with John Rogers)
- Amy Berg: The Bank Shot Job, The Mile High Job, The 12-Step Job (with Chris Downey)
- Christine Boylan: The Miracle Job
- Melissa Glenn & Jessica Rieder: The Two-Horse Job
- Albert Kim: The Stork Job, The Snow Job
- Rebecca Kirsch: The Juror #6 Job
- The occasionally appearing Glenn-Rieder type safe, which Parker loves so much, is named for writers Melissa Glenn and Jessica Rieder. John Rogers refers to Glenn and Rieder as "The Wonder Twins".
Season Two Writing TeamEdit
The first season writing team remained intact, with the addition of free-lance writer M. Scott Veach. The team was faced with the challenge of writing Gina Bellman out of the show for part of the season, while she was on maternity leave, and with creating a new character, Tara Cole (played by Jeri Ryan), who could replace her temporarily.
- John Rogers: The Beantown Bailout Job, The Two Live Crew Job (with Amy Berg), The Three Strikes Job, The Maltese Falcon Job
- Chris Downey: The Order 23 Job, The Lost Heir Job, The Future Job (with Amy Berg)
- Amy Berg: The Fairy Godparents Job, The Two Live Crew Job (with John Rogers), The Future Job (with Chris Downey)
- Christine Boylan: The Top Hat Job (with M. Scott Veach), The Ice Man Job, The Bottle Job
- Melissa Glenn and Jessica Rieder: The Three Days of the Hunter Job, [The Zanzibar Marketplace Job]]
- Albert Kim: The Tap-Out Job, The Runway Job
At the end of the season, Amy Berg left the team to become the executive producer of Eureka. Following its cancellation in 2011, she joined the series Person of Interest as a supervising producer, and wrote episode 115.
Season Three Writing TeamEdit
Season Three saw the first additions to the writers' room, with Michael Colton and John Aboud joining the team. Former free-lance writer M. Scott Veach was added to the team, joined by new free-lancer Geoffrey Thorne. Albert Kim left the team midway through Season Three to become the showrunner for Nikita.
- John Rogers: The Jailhouse Job, The Rashomon Job, The San Lorenzo Job (with M. Scott Veach)
- Chris Downey: The Scheherazade Job, The Morning After Job, The Big Bang Job (with Geoffrey Thorne)
- Christine Boylan: The Three-Card Monte Job, The King George Job
- Michael Colton and John Aboud: The Reunion Job, The Ho Ho Ho Job
- Melissa Glenn and Jessica Rieder: The Double Blind Job, The Underground Job
- Albert Kim: The Boost Job
- Rebecca Kirsch: The Gone Fishin' Job
- Geoffrey Thorne: The Inside Job, The Big Bang Job (with Chris Downey)
- M. Scott Veach: The Studio Job, The San Lorenzo Job (with John Rogers)
At the end of the season, Melissa Glenn and Jessica Reider left to become staff writers on Hawaii 5-0, and Christine Boylan left to join Castle. This represents the final departures of the original writing team.
Season Four Writing TeamEdit
Season Four of Leverage, with 18 episodes, is the longest season thusfar. It also saw the addition of a group of new writers. In addition to their practice of hiring young developing writers, they added an experienced writer for the first time, Paul Guyot, who was charged with running the writers' room when both Rogers and Downey were in Portland. John Rogers' assistant, Rebecca Kirsch joined the writing team after three years' internship, along with new staff writers Jeremy Bernstein and Jenn Kao, and story editors Joe Hortua and Josh Schaer.
- John Rogers: The Long Way Down Job (with Joe Hortua), The Boys' Night Out Job
- Chris Downey: The Van Gogh Job, The Girls' Night Out Job (with Jenn Kao), The Radio Job (with Paul Guyot)
- Jeremy Bernstein: The Cross My Heart Job (teleplay), The Office Job (with Josh Schaer)
- Paul Guyot: The Carnival Job (with M. Scott Veach), The Boiler Room Job, The Radio Job (with Chris Downey)
- Joe Hortua: The Long Way Down Job (with John Rogers), The Gold Job
- Jenn Kao: The Hot Potato Job, The Girls' Night Out Job (with Chris Downey)
- Rebecca Kirsch: The Grave Danger Job, The Queen's Gambit Job (with M. Scott Veach)
- Josh Schaer: The 15 Minutes Job, The Office Job (with Jeremy Bernstein)
- Geoffrey Thorne: The Ten Li'l Grifters Job
- M. Scott Veach: The Carnival Job (with Paul Guyot), The Queen's Gambit Job (with Rebecca Kirsch), The Experimental Job
Rebecca Kirsch joined the Leverage team as John Rogers' "Filthy Assistant", later known as his "Plucky Assistant" before becoming a staff writer in Season Four.
- The story for The Cross My Heart Job was developed by Ben Fast & Scott Wolman.
- The Lonely Hearts Job was written by Kerry Glover.
Season Five Writing TeamEdit
Leverage has been renewed for a fifth season of at least 15 episodes. Pre-production will begin early in 2012. In his blog, Rogers noted the season four writing team will remain intact during season five.
John Rogers frequently refers to the writers' in-joke, the ledger/black-box dichotomy: a story element referred to as a ledger element sounds credible, but is in fact, not, whereas a black box element sounds like it couldn't be true, but is. Ledger refers to a scene in The Bank Shot Job, when Parker climbs through a chute large enough for merchants to include their ledgers with deposit, something merchants never did. Black box refers to the flight data recorder on a plane, called a black box, which people assume is black, but in actuality is high-visibility orange so it can be seen under water.