Recently in WGA Strike Category
"Over" is in sight for the writers' strike; that doesn't mean it's a done deal, at all. Check Deadline Hollywood Daily.com, and particularly this post, for a sense of what has to happen for a deal to get done. Joss Whedon's take is up on United Hollywood.com, and you can also find it in the comments section of the piece I linked to just now. My own quick take, not knowing the issues as intimately as those on the front lines: a speedy resolution is in everyone's interests...unless it's not in the WGA's, and I urge everyone involved to read the fine print, repeatedly. Everyone's exhausted and possibly running out of money and wants this over with, but if what this boils down to on the conglomerates' side is wanting to avoid the embarrassment of a 28-minute Oscars ceremony, well, that has a price.
As you may have read elsewhere, it looks like the WGA and the producers have gotten quite a bit closer to hammering out a deal. What that means for the remainder of the '07-'08 scripted season isn't clear, but it's a good sign for next year's programming -- like, that we will see some -- and of course for all the folks on the picket lines (and elsewhere in the industry) who can look forward to going back to work.
Knocking wood, of course.
Let me tell you something, Networks McGee. You have American Gladiators, and you have Deal Or No Deal, but you have no network without writers. There is absolutely a zero percent chance that you will eventually decide to run your network without writers. Your chances of going on without them are nonexistent. You don't get the best work out of creative people by treating them like their work is worth nothing -- how hard is that to understand?
Honestly. You're going to work with these people again. You can't not. Dude, you got here from The Office and Ugly Betty; what's the problem? Writers. WRI-TERS. What are you thinking?
Stewart is in a more precarious position, for several reasons. He doesn't have a separate persona the way Colbert does, so he's forced to appear, essentially, as himself. And no matter what he does, it will displease someone.
He talked extensively about the strike, taking shots both at the AMPTP, whose claims of desperation and poverty he repeatedly ridiculed, and the WGA, whose artsy "Speechless" campaign he poked fun at for managing the incredibly difficult feat of rustling up the support of the always reticent Sean Penn. During his interview with a labor relations expert, Stewart strongly alluded to his frustration with the fact that he'd been unable to secure a side deal with the WGA as Letterman did. (Yes, the situations have differences; they also have similarities. Discuss!) I actually thought the discussion got pretty funny when Stewart asked the professional writer whether the different treatment might be the result of anti-Semitism. It sounds a lot more awkward, believe me, than it was in practice.
Colbert's show...look. I like Stephen Colbert very much. I think his show is terrific, and I've missed it. I don't like it as much as Stewart's show, precisely because the persona creates distance that keeps me from every being as satisfied as I am by a direct hit from Jon Stewart's actual gut. Nevertheless, I'm happy for Colbert that he's back, and he did choose to stay away from bellyaching about his own show's situation. But...dude. The ovation when he came out lasted for more than two full minutes, which was...ridiculous. Appreciative, but ridiculous. Ultimately, the show ran several minutes long, which undercuts the idea that they set up the two-minute ovation to fill, meaning it apparently was the audience's spontaneous decision, in which case: settle down, y'all.
Frankly, both shows seemed...awfully similar to the way they usually are. I'm not sure what writing anyone is allowed to do, but someone had clearly set up a lot of the bits on both, and I'm not sure what the difference is between arranging bits to be funny and writing jokes. That line seems awfully fine, from my perspective.
In the end, though, what I most regret about both is that neither of these guys wanted to be where they were, at least not under these circumstances. Good comedy requires a certain energy, I think, and when people are doing it against their will, mostly dreading the curtain, it cannot be the same.
Thanks to the individual deal WWP reached with the WGA, Letterman and Ferguson can run their shows largely as they always do, and their shows aren't really struck anymore. This not only means that the CBS guys can, like, have content, but it means that guests on their shows don't have to worry about crossing picket lines. I'm thinking this means Dave and Craig will have a lot of famous guests, while Leno and Conan will be scrounging for non-union, non-actor famous people -- reality-show participants may have a better chance of seeing a mainstream late-night couch than they've had in years, as long as they don't have queasy feelings about picket lines.
This opens up an obvious opportunity for Letterman and probably an even bigger one for Craig Ferguson, who I'd think could make some serious advances on NBC as it prepares to replace Conan when he takes Leno's job. It's hard for me, though, to judge this accurately, because of the deep divide between my taste in late-night comedy and the tastes of everyone else. America freakin' loves Jay Leno, you guys -- the stupid, obvious jokes; the Jaywalking segments; the unfunny interviews -- and I've never gotten it, ever. So maybe they aren't subject to conversion to Dave's darker, far more rebellious outlook. But I've got to think that when Dave has other people they they love on the couch and Jay doesn't, they're going to be sorely tempted to show up. My guess is that in the short run, the NBC side won't suffer, because people will be so damn curious about what will possibly happen without writers. I know I'm damn curious. But in the long run, it just won't be that exciting -- it will be a lot of interviews and a lot of standing around.
I freely admit that I watch these developments with one hat on that's purely analytical/ethical, where I know which side my own mind is on, and one hat on that's eating popcorn and watching the totally fascinating way these things play out based on wackadoo intercelebrity politics matched in complexity only by, possibly, seasons of The Wire. If you're an actor who can't get on Dave's show but you can get on either Jay's show or Craig's show, is it better to take Craig's show with the much lower ratings but the lack of picket-line problems, or to take Jay's show and eat the hopefully short-term recriminations of crossing the picket line? Can you take Jay's show and use the time to talk about supporting the strike? If you go on Craig's show instead of Jay's show, do you earn a demerit with NBC that will haunt you when Jay/Conan returns?
And if you're Jimmy Kimmel, how do you remain relevant?
Okay, actually, if you're Jimmy Kimmel, you've probably already been working on that one for about ten years.
It's better than another season of Big Brother, which I can't even bring myself to discuss, it's so gross.
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