What is the real difference between the two (writer's assistants and script coordinators), and all other things being equal, do the script coordinators have the same access to writers and the same opportunity to pitch a story idea? Or is the script coordinator's position the same as a "writer's P.A.", someone who spends most of his time in the car delivering scripts?
My understanding of it is that, if they are not the same person, the script coordinators' chief responsibility is to make sure that everybody on the production has the correct, up-to-date draft of the script, with all the changes in each draft clearly marked. A writer's assistant's chief responsibility is to work for the writers, taking notes during story meetings, doing odd bits of research, and making sure that the right sandwiches get ordered.
The writers' assistant works in the writers' office. The script coordinator works in the production office. [UPDATE: At least sometimes. See comments below.] Therefore the script coordinator doesn't have the quite the same access to writers.
Extrapolating, the head writer would probably hire the writer's assistant; the line producer would probably hire the script coordinator. Personally, I have never worked on a show that could afford both! But that's Canada for ya.
Having been a writers' assistant on a show that also had a script supervisor, I can verify that you've got it right.
Since I am a script coordinator for one hour shows (and have also been a writers assistant), I can tell you that I've always been in the writers office, not the production office. I think the first show I worked on as writers/producers assistant had a script coordinator in the production office but that was only because we discovered that I was too busy to do both jobs. When I look for work, I call the writers office.
By the way, a script supervisor is not the same thing as a script coordinator and if you want to know the difference, I've explained it on my blog.
As for access to writers, from my experience, it is generally the same for script coordinator or writers assistant, at least for dramas -- I don't know about sitcoms. The one good thing a writers assistant gets that the script coordinator doesn't is get access to the writers room, where I'm sure you can learn a lot. However, not all writers assistants do either... lots of writers, at least those working on the one hour dramas are used to taking their own notes and don't have anyone else doing.
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