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.
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."
I guess those informal talks that the WGA and studios had last week paid off: we might have an end to the writers strike as early as next week.
The New York Times is reporting that sources (who want to remain anonymous, for obvious reasons) say that one of the main deals that the WGA was looking for - compensation for work that appears on the web - may be close to becoming a reality. No exact details are available yet, but the sources say that the deal could be finalized next week. Maybe this will deal will be in place in time for the Oscars later this month. The strike has been going on for almost four months now.
I just wonder how this affects this season. Is there still time to save this season or will we have to wait until the fall for new episodes?
Yesterday we talked about how the WGA and studios were going to enter informal talks today, and it looks like those talks have actually made some news.
The WGA announced just a short time ago that they have dropped one of their main demands, that reality and animation writers be unionized. The union members say that they are going to try other ways to organize writers that work on animation shows and reality shows.
This isn't a good sign at all.
Yesterday, four of the major studios - CBS Paramount, 20th Century Fox Television, NBC Universal, and Warner Brothers Television - canceled the contracts of dozens of writers and put an end to over 65 development deals, which basically means that there are no new scripts to choose from to start filming pilots for next fall's schedule. This will save the production companies millions, since they won't have to keep paying the writers for the deals.
And that's not the end of it. One studio exec says that if the strike lasts into February, there will be another round of contract terminations. I think this all means that in September of 2008, we're all going to be watching American Gladiators: The Apprentice, infomercials, and whatever DVDs we have piled up on our coffee tables.
Looks like the earlier reports are true: the late night talk shows are on their way back, even if the WGA strike isn't over.
NBC announced this morning that both Jay Leno's show and Late Night with Conan O'Brien will return to the schedule with new episodes starting January 2. The shows will come back without writers, so expect a shorter monologue, less sketch material (this won't be hard for Leno), and more celebrities and celebrity interviews.
David Letterman is planning to come back on CBS as well, probably the same week, though he is negotiating to actually come back with some writers. Expect an announcement from CBS either way later this week or next.
Maybe the strike's not all bad. That's what some studio executives are saying in this Variety article. The winter TCA Tour has been canceled already and upfronts are now in jeopardy. And just as it took the lead in pulling out of the TCA, NBC has already said they will forgo the multimillion dollar extravaganza the upfronts had turned into.
But from the network's point of view these are good things, as they'd been wanting to cut some of these expenses for years. What does that mean? The TCA Tours may be done for good, ditto the upfront "events." And that may just be the start of changes in the television landscape we've come to know and love.
I saw this picture over at Nikki Finke's Deadline Hollywood Daily site and I had to post it here. It's Jerry Stiller on the picket lines in New York City, supporting the writers during the current strike.
But something strikes me as wrong about the photo. It's fine and dandy that it says "Solidarity," but wouldn't it be even funnier if it said "Serenity Now!"? His famous line from Seinfeld not only fits the situation but would also illustrate that, hey, that line was actually written by a television writer. I'm sure that someone in that picket line must have said that to him during the day.
It's an odd situation when you are not only a member of the Writers Guild and want to support your fellow writers, but you're also the showrunner of the show you write for. Tina Fey is in that situation at 30 Rock, though she's been on the picket lines from the beginning.
Another producer who is in that situation is Carlton Cuse over at Lost. There were mysterious rumors (just like Lost itself!) going around the industry that Cuse had actually gone back to work on the show. To make sure there was no confusion as to where he stands, Cuse sent out an e-mail to everyone explaining everything.
Our long, dark national nightmare ... continues. After four days of talks and media silence, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) disclosed the latest offer presented by Hollywood studios to the striking writers. But the WGA (Writers Guild of America) quickly rejected this offer, according to Yahoo! News. The studios described their offer as a "new economic partnership" with writers, who refer to it instead as a "massive rollback."
They went on to disparage the offer point by point. As an example, the studio offered less than $250 for a year's reuse of an hour long show for Internet streaming, one of the biggest catalysts for the strike in the first place, as compared to $20,000 plus for a single network rerun airing.
Yup, she's working.
Ellen DeGeneres crossed the picket line and went back to work hosting her TV talk show, and writers aren't happy about it at all. In the opening of her show today, she told the audience that she wasn't going to do a monologue and that she loves and supports the writers, but she wanted to go on with the show for the studio audience that had traveled a long way to see her show.
Here's a weird possible benefit for some TV shows: the strike could actually help some shows stick around longer.
Why? Since production on many TV shows has shut down, the networks might be a little antsy about wasting what original programming they have. So a show that might otherwise be on the edge of being put on hiatus or even cancellation might get a bit of a reprieve and stick around longer.
As if I didn't already have a dozen reasons to love Tina Fey, here's another: she has actually joined the writer picket lines in New York City.
While several celebrities have spoken out in favor of writers (most notably David Letterman on his show last week), this is the first celeb I've seen on the picket line. I wonder if more will follow.
Hmmm...I wonder if this could make it into an episode of 30 Rock? It's the perfect plot for them, really. Maybe the writers can be on strike and Jack decides that he and Liz can write the show themselves, or maybe Jack hires a bunch of scab writers who screw up the entire show. Hopefully someone from 30 Rock is filming Fey on the picket line.
"Aw, cut it out Eddie, will ya?"
Ken Osmond, who played Eddie Haskell on 'Leave It To Beaver' but did not become a porn star after the show ended (that's an urban myth - he actually became a cop) is suing the Screen Actors Guild. He says that SAG has collected more than $8 million from foreign residuals but has not shared that money with SAG members and non-members. Osmond's attorney has also filed suits against the Directors Guild and the Writers Guild over the past few years. It could be a class-action suit if others join in. Osmond says that SAG will not show him their books.
"And Jerry Mathers as ... The Beaver."
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