Striking developments

February 15, 2008
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So we all survived the Hollywood writers strike.

Bully for us.

As a writer and as someone with an optioned script in limbo at a major studio I’m sympathetic to what the scribes were trying to achieve.

But as a former TV addict who can’t grasp why there’s so little worth watching on the tube, I find myself underwhelmed by the news of an agreement being reached.

Sure it will be good to have "The Daily Show" back up to speed. I’ve missed seeing "Saturday Night Live's" take on the presidential race (always a highlight in past seasons). And the Oscars are a ritual I’d hate to miss.

But for the most part, I don’t expect to be watching any more TV when the new episodes start up again. While the strike issues had a lot to do with alternative media and channels of distribution, the absence of new scripted programming only underlined how marginal such shows have become.

(Besides, not to sound like an old fuddy-duddy, but the writers strike didn’t seem to have much of an impact over at Turner Classic Movies. Or at the much-traveled DVD section of my local library. So I barely noticed.)

Your thoughts?
  • I have been thinking a lot about this post, Lou. I was, and am, sympathetic to the writers' strike, even though I don't watch much TV on TV.

    I do buy a fair amount of TV shows on DVD, and, of course, borrow what is available from my public library.

    I watch the TV DVDs luxuriously: four or five episodes at a time, re-watching my favorite scenes, and then re-watching whole seasons to notice little things that I hadn't caught the first time around.

    Sometimes I watch TV on DVD in order to bond with my family. The last time we were all together for a week, for example, we watched season three of Lost - a few episodes every night after sightseeing and whatever during the day.

    Although I am a fan of shows such as Rachel Ray's 30 minute meals, which I also buy on DVD, I still want, and appreciate, good stories skillfully presented.

    I.e. - NOT reality TV (what an oxymoron!)

    How can there be good TV without good writers? And how can there be good writers if they are not supported?

    I thought I was following the writers' strike pretty carefully, but your post makes me realize that I don't really know how its resolution will affect life as we know it.

    Hmm. I'll be interested to read what others here think.

    Hope Baugh
  • Coincidentally, I've been reading the recent book Doing It for Money: The Agony and Ecstasy of Writing and Surviving in Hollywood edited by Daryl G. Nickens for The Writers Guild Foundation.

    It's one of those books that's very skimmable, but includes many good stories from working writers in Hollywood. Collectively, it gives an interesting picture of the creative lives of working writers beyond the stereotypically selling your soul stuff you always hear.

    For insight, too, check out the recently released DVD The TV Set. It played the Indianapolis International Film Festival last year but didn't get much--if any--of a theatrical release. A thought it was a very well acted, fresh look at Hollywood. And I'm usually resistant to these kinds of insider films. (Heck, I may be the only person who didn't love Robert Altman's The Player.)

  • Aside from missing The Colbert report's usual show, the writer's strike didn't have much of an effect on me. I don't watch much scripted television. I think all the sitcoms currently out are riduculous. The only shows I'm currently watching are Lost (which I was worried about the rest of this season if the strike didnt' end soon) and I started watching the Terminator show - for some reason I've always loved this bit of sci-fi. Other than that I spend my time watching TCM, DIY, HGTV, and BBC America. I think the writers were right in their demands and should get compensation from future internet sales. Without good writers, where would the the world be?? Think of all the brilliant books, movies, shows, plays, ect that would not be available to us. I feel my life is definately enriched by the contributions they've made. A good writer should be a highly valued comodity.

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