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‘Whose Line Is It Anyway’ Stars Reportedly Don’t Get Writing Residuals, As If They’re Not the Ones Producing That Content

Ryan Stiles, Colin Mochrie, and Wayne Brady in Whose Line Is It Anyway?

Whose Line Is It Anyway? star Colin Mochrie has alleged that he and his fellow cast members aren’t properly paid as writers for the show. Mochrie made the allegations to explain why he, Ryan Stiles, and Wayne Brady are unlikely to return after the 20th season of the improvisational comedy show. Whose Line Is It Anyway? first premiered on August 5, 1998, and ran until 2007, before receiving a revival in 2013 that has continued airing up to the present day. The show is an adaption of the British TV series of the same name. The host—often with audience aid—proposes ideas for skits and games that a group of four improv comedians then performs.

Since 1998, Mochrie, Stiles, and Brady have been the three main performers. However, Mochrie is the only comedian to have appeared in every single episode— Stiles missed two shows, and Brady was a recurring performer in seasons 1 and 8. Given the show’s longevity, viewers were surprised when Mochrie posted to social media on November 4, 2022, that the show end after its 20th season films in 2023. Surprise soon turned into confusion when the CW denied that the show was ending.

As a result, Mochrie recently decided to clear up the confusion and clarify what he meant by his post. He acknowledged that whether Whose Line? will continue past season 20 has not been officially decided. However, whether it continues or not, Mochrie believes season 20 will mark the end of the series for the current cast. His reasons for why they wouldn’t return grapple with the alleged lack of compensation for writing and the network’s lack of marketing for the series.

Whose Line Is It Anyway? writers were not properly compensated

Colin Mochrie, Ryan Stiles, and Wayne Brady performing on Whose Line Is It Anyways?
(The CW)

One of the most shocking claims Mochrie made was that he and his fellow cast members did not receive writing residuals. As a result, they were never fairly compensated for providing the show’s content. For those unfamiliar with the term, writing residuals are a form of compensation writers for TV and film receive every time their work is reused. For example, DVD sales, TV reruns, or an appearance on a streamer are all instances where a credited writer can receive residual income. However, according to Mochrie, the improvisers do not receive credit or residuals for Whose Line Is It Anyway? He told Vulture:

The downside is that we never received fair compensation for the success of the show. We provide the content but don’t get paid as writers. We never received residuals for a show that’s been shown around the world since its inception. Seeing announcements about the sale to the show overseas or to HBO Max can get irritating.

On IMDb, Mark Leveson and Dan Patterson are the only individuals who are listed under “Writing Credits.” The Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SGA-AFTRA) told Variety that residuals were paid on the show but didn’t clarify to whom they were paid or how that was determined. It is also unclear what “writing” Leveson and Patterson do for the show, other than perhaps the prompts. It is clear the three main actors generate the majority of the show’s content. The Writers Guild of America’s website shows that residuals can be received “for comedy/variety, serials, and quiz/audience participation shows,” with credits such as “Special Material/Sketch Writer,” “Writers,” or “Writing Supervised by/Head Writer.” If The CW really managed to work around providing writing residuals by claiming that improvising is not writing, that certainly sounds unfair.

Additionally, Mochrie alleged that the show as a whole received unfair treatment. Even 10 years after the show was revived, he claims there are fans who are completely unaware of its existence—and are even asking for a revival. He blames lackluster marketing and publicity on the part of the network. He alleged that the majority of marketing comes from the cast and crew’s personal social media pages. The CW has not yet responded to the allegations Mochrie has made regarding marketing and compensation.

If any of these allegations are true, it’s truly a shame. Whose Line Is It Anyway? has managed to stay a delight for two whole decades. Mochrie, Brady, and Stiles are the primary reason for that continued delightfulness. The brilliance of the sketches they are able to create—and, yes, write—on the spot deserve full compensation.

(via Vulture, featured image: The CW)

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Rachel Ulatowski is a Freelance Writer, blogger, and aspiring author. As a Freelancer Writer she hopes to give readers the same comfort and enjoyment that she finds in all things nerdy and noteworthy, as a blogger she enjoys snarking on YouTubers and reality stars, and as a future novelist she hopes to raise awareness for child abuse through literature.