Writers Guild of America
In the 2006-2007 television season, 35 percent of the writers of broadcast network, prime-time programs were women, according to an annual study by San Diego State University's Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film. In the 2010-2011 season, that number had dropped by more than half, to 15 percent. What happened?
Since the latest edition of the annual SDSU study came out two weeks ago, I've posed that question to a dozen experienced television writers and creators, female and male alike. Most of these professionals, who've worked on everything from 'Battlestar Galactica' to 'Sons of Anarchy' to 'Pushing Daisies' to 'Chuck,' were alarmed by the numbers that the Center released.
For some, it confirmed their worst fears. "The situation is getting worse," said one veteran woman writer. "In the '90s, the networks cared more. They don't anymore." For others, it made them re-evaluate gains they thought women had made. "I had certainly perceived the situation as getting better and better for women -- I am rarely the only woman in the writers' room anymore, and I encounter more women at the higher levels," said Jane Espenson ('Once Upon a Time,' 'Torchwood,' 'Buffy,' 'Battlestar Galactica'). "I remember what it was like 20 years ago, and this is not that."
Despite recent controversy, the writing staff of 'The Walking Dead' received a nomination under the best new series category. Also on the new series list: 'Men of a Certain Age,' 'Treme,' 'Justified' and 'Boardwalk Empire.'
For the last time ever, 'Lost' has scored a nomination for its appropriately titled series finale, 'The End.'
Over on the comedy side, '30 Rock,' 'Modern Family,' 'Futurama' and 'The Simpsons' all garnered more than one nomination. Check out more nominees after the jump.
Could season 4 be the final one for 'Mad Men'? Which hit sitcom is on its way to Hawaii? There was lots of TV scoop (and more than a few laughs) found at the 2010 Writers Guild of America Awards, which were handed out to television, film and video game writers on Saturday night at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Century City, California.
The evening kicked off with a promise from host Seth MacFarlane ('Family Guy') to do the best "Tom Bergeron, Jeff Probst, Heidi Klum, Ryan Seacrest and Howie Mandel" job he could do, a reference to the five reality show hosts' critically panned performance at the 60th Annual Prime Time Emmys.
The actual award is called the Paddy Chayevsky Laurel award for television, and Larry has most definitely earned the recognition. Seinfeld remains a masterpiece of character and comedy with or without a plot. The very nothingness of Seinfeld made it historic television. It was a show that NBC nearly canceled because the suits didn't get it (what a shock!), then went on to become America's favorite half-hour. Twenty years later, Seinfeld is embedded in the psyche of pop culture. Not bad for a nothing kind of show.
For instance, in the comedy category, can you really put Modern Family in and completely diss The Big Bang Theory? I can't. I'm not even happy about the annual goopfest for 30 Rock, a sitcom that I've grown tired of -- but that's just me. I'd prefer How I Met Your Mother to get some time, or United States of Tara or Nurse Jackie or The Middle. All four of those show have been superior to 30 Rock -- to me.
Ben Silverman has made some significant contributions to the Peacock Network, most notably with the smash cult hit The Office, a show that wouldn't have even had a second season if people like Silverman weren't willing to give it a chance to grow.
Overall, however, NBC is in the dumper. And this is from a network that used to dominate free TV in almost every single category, from comedies to dramas to the newly mutated drama-comedies or dramadies. These days, "comas" is a more appropriate term.
Guild members voted 78% in favor of the new agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers (AMPTP), despite calls by hard-line union members who urged actors to vote "no" and force continued negotiations.
It's clear that two huge factors in the SAG approval were general labor strife fatigue and the struggling economy.
He wrote the classic Star Trek episode "City on the Edge of Forever" (often called by best episode of the original series by fans and non-fans alike), and now he's suing CBS-Paramount over what they have done with the story since he got paid for writing it in 1967. He got paid for the script and got residuals, but in the years after the episode aired the studio has not only published a sequel trilogy with Pocket Books based on the episode, they even had a "Guardian of Forever" talking Hallmark Christmas ornament that said Ellison's lines from his script, so he wants his money.
The SAG's latest tactical move against the money grubbing networks is to oust their own negotiators.
If this were a military theater, we would be calling this a case of "friendly fire."
Those Norma Rae days are long gone. Now the only strikes we hear about are ones like the latest looming threat of a strike by the Screen Actors Guild, according to Reuters.
It's not that I don't feel sorry for SAG members or that I'm against their plight. Just about every industry in America has greedy CEOs who take as much as they can from as many as they can, all under the guise of performance and production bonuses earned by not running the company into Hell. It just feels like it could not have come at a worse time.
Did the success of The Simpson's Movie really re-energize the show's creative team that much? It's been years since I watched The Simpsons regularly, or even quoted the show in conversation with my friends. I figured its best days were behind it, but maybe I was wrong. The few eps I caught last season were pretty hit-and-miss. I wasn't too impressed with the Departed spoof, "The Debarted," but I really dug watching Homer invent grunge music in "That '90s Show." Were all the following eps as good as that one?
The WGA also nominated four episodes of The Simpsons in the category of best animation broadcast. Needless to say, I'll probably be tuning in when the series returns with fresh eps next year. Click through for a list of more WGA TV nominees.
Ah, product placement. It's a subject that's come up before. We have an award for it, and even as far back as those care free days of 2005, Karina was writing about the Screen Actors Guild and Writers Guild Of America protesting it. The telling quote from that piece, "Our writers are being told to perform the function of ad copywriter, but to disguise this as storytelling." And isn't that where most of us have always drawn the line in the sand? The placing of products into sets was kind of an understood cost of doing business, but having the writers change scripts to incorporate them was a whole other ball of (Turtle) wax. Unfortunately, those (Foster Farms) chickens have come home to roost.
They're calling it the Truth Tour and it begins with a Wednesday morning press conference in front of WGA headquarters following by a set of fake auditions at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, where auditions are held for the actual American Idol. They call it "the version they don't want you to see".
All these writers still have "financial core" status in which they pay union dues and are still represented by the Guild. They can't, however, participate in guild elections (either with votes or holding an office) or union activities.
The Association of Motion Picture and Television denounced this move accusing the WGA of violating labor law by "seeking to deny employment to these writers in the future."
While the strike is ended per union leaders, writers won't return to work until the membership itself has had a chance to vote on the new deal. They are expected to vote "yes" on Tuesday and be back to work by Wednesday. The timing of this resolution means that some of this season can yet be salvaged and there's still time for pilot production for new series next year. For details on how this will affect your favorite shows, Keep up to date with Mike Ausiello's nearly comprehensive list of when your shows will return. And now things can get back to normal, and we can all go back to needlessly hating on According to Jim, the way God intended.
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