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Posts Tagged ‘WGA’

Late Night Relief-TV shows to catch during the strike

Posted by gnn1 on Friday, 9 November 2007

(AP) A week after Halloween, Jon Stewart is discussing what he calls the “Double Walk of Shame.” “It’s embarrassing enough to see someone walking home at 8 a.m. from a one-night stand, but to see someone make that same journey dressed as a wrinkled zebra?”

Stewart first cracked this joke last week on “The Daily Show.” Just after 11 p.m. on Wednesday, he’s telling it again. This does not bode well for night owls.

The Comedy Central rerun is an instant effect of the writers strike that left every major late-night show without its snarky scribes. If history is any indication, this walk-off could last a loooong time: Hollywood writers previously went on strike, in 1988, for 22 weeks.

How will late-night TV watchers make it through a potentially months-long spell without fresh offerings from Stewart, David Letterman, Jay Leno – and, if they stay up REALLY late, Conan O’Brien?

There’s hope yet: A little late-night channel-surfing (away from the networks) turned up a few post-local news shows that offer more humor – intentional or not – than one might think.

ABC’s “Nightline”: The trusty program, which goes up against Leno and Letterman, is likely thanking its lucky stars for the strike, which could generate viewers for its hard-hitting news segments. Or it’s not-so-serious stories (Exhibit A: Wednesday’s Ryan Seacrest profile).

“I get lonely, but there are four of me. And so I spend time with the rest of mes and we talk about our day,” Seacrest, who has about 35 jobs, says of his nonstop work schedule. The “American Idol” host adds, for the record, that he’s not gay.

CNBC’s “Mad Money”: Motormouth host Jim Cramer brings a welcome dose of ADD to the business channel, dispensing financial advice and stock tips with the combustible passion of Al Pacino in “Any Given Sunday.”

The one-time hedge fund manager, however, is momentarily distracted when a call-in viewer goes off the subject to observe what she loves most about him: he rolls up his sleeves and shrugs his shoulders when talking to a “pretty girl” on the phone. “I didn’t call you to flirt. I have a stock tip,” she said, prompting laughter from unseen people in the studio.

Anything on MTV: The music-channel-that’s-not-really-a-music-channel is always there when people need it – especially late at night. Its constantly rotating stable of addictive reality shows offer substance-free entertainment when thinking requires too much effort. On this night, viewers are treated to back-to-back episodes of “Run’s House,” “The Real World” and “The Hills.”

“Run’s House,” a rip-off of “The Osbournes” starring the family of rapper Joseph “Reverend Run” Simmons, is delightfully banal. The latest drama? Run lets his daughter get a tattoo, but does so begrudgingly: “My heart is beating so fast. This is CRAZY. … You want to write on your skin so everyone can see?”

Travel Channel’s “Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern”: This guy will eat just about anything, which makes for irresistible viewing. Zimmern finds the holy grail of culinary curiosities in the Philippines, where he takes a deep breath and slurps down a sauteed giant worm that might as well be served on “Fear Factor.”

“I don’t know what those things ate, but they didn’t digest it very well,” Zimmern says, grimacing. “Better eaten raw,” his dinner companion responds.

The Sci-Fi Channel’s “Ghost Hunters”: Real-life ghostbusters investigate homes that people believe are haunted. In one particularly spooky episode, Linda Johnson of Albany, N.Y., summons members of The Atlantic Paranormal Society to rid her home of “a bad ghost” that once grabbed her by the throat.

“We’re being watched. … I can feel it,” she says. (Wonder what Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd would say to that.)

“Hannah Montana”: Don’t judge. This Disney Channel sitcom, a favorite among tweens and maybe a few (ahem) adults, stars Miley Cyrus as a bubbly teen who secretly moonlights as the singing sensation Hannah Montana. Wednesday’s 11:30 p.m. repeat ends with Miley/Hannah’s friend Lilly dumping shrimp cocktail sauce over the head of a two-timing boyfriend.

Want more grown-up girl power? Click over to TBS, where sanitized reruns of “Sex and the City” appear several times a week. And late at night.


I can totally vouch for Ghost Hunters. The episode described, the woman was soo stupid, but it’s a great show, and they debunk more hauntings than they accept, so sceptics will enjoy it too!


Posted in Shows, TV | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Bad news: TV Shows Shutting Down as Strike Continues

Posted by gnn1 on Wednesday, 7 November 2007


Sitcom and drama sets are going dark – and in many cases, much quicker than the nets and studios had anticipated.

Laffer “The New Adventures of Old Christine” could conceivably produce a seg this week – but exec producer Kari Lizer shut the show down, as star Julia Louis-Dreyfus hit the picket lines in support of the scribes. Fox’s “Back to You” was set to return from hiatus on Wednesday, but that table read was scrapped, and it now appears the show won’t return until the writers do.

Also already dark: Fox’s “Til Death” and CBS’ “Rules of Engagement.” And it doesn’t appear like much is getting done over on NBC’s “The Office” either.

Even shows still in production will likely go dark in the next week or two, as those remaining scripts are shot, with nothing left in the pipeline.

Meanwhile, latenight TV remained dark Tuesday as word leaked out that “Late Show with David Letterman” had told its support staff that it would keep cutting paychecks for two more weeks. It’s unclear if the checks will keep coming after that, or if Letterman will decide to return to work. It’s believed other latenight shows have given staff members similar notices.

The big issue dogging the nets on the primetime side is the high volume of exec producers refusing to cross the picketlines even to perform non-writing chores on scripts that have already been completed. That’s forcing shows to shutdown sooner than the webs expected, even under the strike scenario.

In the past two days, Shonda Rhimes (“Grey’s Anatomy,” “Private Practice”) and Shawn Ryan (“The Shield,” “The Unit”) have come out publicly with statements declaring they won’t help wrap up episodes in the works. It’s a change from the pre-strike conventional wisdom that such showrunners would stay on the job.

“I absolutely believed that I would edit our episodes,” Rhimes wrote in an e-mail widely circulated late Monday night. “Until a thought hit me: how can I walk a picket line and then continue to essentially work? How am I supposed to look at myself in the mirror or look at my child years from now and know that I did not have the courage of my convictions to stand up and put myself more at risk than anyone else?”

To be sure, many showrunners are still clearly offering help to their shows. Even if they’re not crossing picket lines, the fact that so many skeins remain in production indicates showrunners are working from home.

Still, the greater-than-expected showrunner solidarity is the result of a concerted effort by the WGA to shore up support among its most high-profile members. Nearly 100 showrunners attended a pre-strike powwow Saturday. And on Wednesday, plans are underway for a picketing session featuring only showrunners.

From Wild Sound (second article on page)

Posted in it's war!, TV | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

If the strike hits, Late Night TV is the first to go

Posted by gnn1 on Saturday, 3 November 2007

So, the union members of Writers’ Guild of America are preparing to strike.  To the point that they were told to take home personal belongings from their offices.  If the strike hits, and odds are about good as seeing Britney Spears on Perez Hilton on any given day (pretty fuckin high in other words), late night shows like Leno will be the first to be impacted.

Because they rely on current events for the bulk of the day’s night’s storyline, they haven’t been able to stockpile scripts like TV shows and film studios have.  As a matter of fact it’s already been determined that if the strike starts at 1201 am PST Monday as planned, Leno will immediately revert to re-runs.

Next to feel the impact will be daily shows like soap operas and shows like The View, who only stockpile about a week’s worth of episodes.

Movies will largely be unaffected unless the strike drags for a VERRRRRRRRYY long time as studios have a large number of scripts stockpiled, not to mention films in progress.

Regular TV shows may or may not be affected.  It depends on the duration of the strike.  The last strike ushered in the age of Reality TV because they don’t typically require writers.  Currently, it’s estimated that most shows have enough scripts in progress or stockpiled to last until early next year (which, frighteningly, is only about 8 weeks away, although the reports didn’t say how far IN to next year).

The last strike lasted 22 weeks (2 weeks shy of a typical full TV season, just for comparison).

This strike is related to (primarily) DVD and internet sales residuals for writers.  The current arrangement was decided 22 years ago, in 1985.  Writers agreed to undercut themselves then, because home entertainment (then VHS or the very short-lived Beta-Max) was struggling in its early years.

Now they get the same amount $0.04 (that’s 4 cents) per disc sold as they did in 1985 (which I am assuming was per tape then).  They also want to increase their share in download licensing fees from 1.2% to 2.5% (just over a 100% increase).

Given how little writers make compared to the stars and bigwigs behind films and TV shows (even the crappy ones that no one see), it seems to be a pretty fair demand.  Now, I’m NOT a member, I DON’T know all the details or demands, and I don’t know the producers’ stories.  But regardless, it appears that either or both sides have forgotten that negotiation means compromise.  Is 4 cents or another $1.30 (based on average online movie pricing to be just under $10) or less REALLY too much to give up to the people who keep you producers in work???  Let’s not forget that no writers=no scripts=no new work.

Posted in movies, TV | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »