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."
More of our best of the decade coverage, which started on Tuesday. You can read the other posts at the link above. We finish up the series by talking about some of the news events that defined the decade, and how TV covered them.
It seems odd to call the news events of the 00's a "best" list. As we started the 21st century, America seemed to have a different tragedy happening at every twist and turn. There was the Year 2000 bug followed by 9/11 followed by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan followed by Hurricane Katrina followed by the worst recession since the Great Depression. We've also had various celebrity deaths recently including the iconic and controversial Michael Jackson.
The tragedies of the decade were accompanied by revolutionary change. America elected its first African-American President. New forms of media such as social networking arose like a phoenix from the ashes of the old media.
The decade was filled with many ups and downs, possibly more downs. The full repercussions of the events won't likely be acknowledged or analyzed for years or decades to come. Wherever we end up, it will have been one hell of a ride.
More of our best of the decade coverage, which started on Tuesday. You can read the other posts at the link above. Here, we talk about the funniest or most surprising late night moments of the last ten years.
In the past decade, late night shows continued to bloom in popularity. However, some of our favorite late night shows were shuffled around while some got new hosts.
No matter what network executives decided to do to the line up of US late night shows, their hosts and guest stars gave us plenty fantastic, OMG!, and WTF? moments that generated tons of watercooler talks and forum discussion threads.
Below are some of the best late night moments of the past decade as chosen by some of the TV Squad bloggers. We realize there are tough choices in this category, so we hope you'll add your own favorites in the comments section below.
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.
There has been a huge outpouring of support on Twitter, where #savechuck has often been a trending topic. Even the show's star, Zachary Levi, has done his part to get Chuck back for another season. In addition to taking to his official blog to plead his case, he even showed up at a Subway (one of Chuck's biggest sponsors) to make sandwiches for fans.
While they haven't yet made an announcement about other on-the-bubble shows, including Medium, Law & Order, and of course, Chuck, NBC's Ben Silverman has confirmed that Life has indeed been canceled. Life is just the latest victim of the Writers' Strike curse: ABC's Pushing Daisies, Eli Stone, and Dirty Sexy Money are among some of the other series that had their freshman seasons interrupted by the strike that began in November of 07, and won't live to see a third season.
Other second season shows, including the aforementioned Chuck, along with ABC's Samantha Who? and FOX's Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles are currently on the bubble. The CW's Gossip Girl is one of the few shows that premiered during the 07-08 season that is definitely going to make it to the 09-10 one.
The strike spooked the networks and advertisers, and we're obviously feeling the effects now, over a year after it ended. What it boils down to is a lot of great shows are suffering-- and Ben Silverman is a dick.
Apparently, though, the union has had a change of heart. The Tonight Show's outgoing host has been called to testify to the union's trial committee on charges that he violated the terms of the strike by writing for himself. Both Leno and NBC claim that there was language in the strike terms that said performers could write for themselves, even if they were guild members like Leno. The union, however, disagrees.
Overall, it seems like the Writer's Strike really hurt the business. Shows that might have survived, didn't. New shows have been stuck in development longer than usual. But despite all that, there were moments that were thrilling, shows that are terrific ... and those that weren't.
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."
What caused this explosion? Well, we can thank one of 2008's other big stories -- the writers' strike -- for a lot of it.
(S02E01) Ten months. That's how long its been since we've seen a fresh episode of Life. After the last episode aired in November there was nary a word about the show, save for reports of its renewal and a bit about casting changes. This left fans of the show in a bit of a tizzy. For Life wasn't just a dime-a-dozen criminal procedural, but a show with an underlying story about conspiracy and the search for justice. By the time the show ended its very short first season we were cheering Detective Charlie Crews as he was able to get a semblance of his freedom back.
Now we enter season two. And, as usual, the following question comes to mind: did it carry on the spirit of season one? Well yes, and possibly no. Click ahead to find out.
His answer is simple: "I've wanted to do a book about taking different jobs and what it was like to do them," he told The Hollywood Reporter. "This was the first. It may be a while before I do the second. But it's just about the fact that we live behind gates and work behind gates, and as a writer you start to lose touch with the audience. You start running out of life experience."
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