“The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” is the latest marquee TV series to move forward with production amid the ongoing WGA strike, but the Amazon Prime Video show will be doing so without the services of executive producers J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay.
The sweeping fantasy series has 19 days of filming remaining, sources confirm to Variety, but per WGA strike rules, Payne, McKay and any other writer-producers are barred from participating in any writing-based duties during production while the strike continues — including making creative decisions on set. Instead, the show’s non-writing executive producers (like Lindsey Weber), directors (Charlotte Brändström, Sanaa Hamri and Louise Hooper) and crew are overseeing production on the U.K.-based shoot.
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According to a source close to the production, there have been multiple units filming on “Rings of Power,” including night shoots, for much of the duration of the season given its feature-film level scope. Payne and McKay also planned in advance with the production team for a possible writers strike to make their absence from the show as seamless as possible.
The pressure on all current film and TV productions during the writers strike is compounded by the looming June 30 contract deadline for SAG-AFTRA and the DGA. If those guilds and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers fail to reach a new contract agreement by that date, actors and directors could join the writers strike, leading to an even more drastic industry-wide shutdown.
“The Rings of Power” shifted production from New Zealand to the U.K. for the eight-episode second season, which started filming on Oct. 3, 2022. Other executive producers include Callum Greene, Justin Doble, Jason Cahill and Gennifer Hutchison; Brändström is a co-executive producer, and Kate Hazell and Helen Shang are producers. Andrew Lee, Matthew Penry-Davey and Clare Buxton are co-producers.
UPDATE: This story has been updated to reflect how long multiple units have been shooting on “The Rings of Power,” and that the production planned in advance for a writers strike.
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