It’s all going a bit Pete Tong across the Atlantic, isn’t it? Basically, an entire industry brought to its knees by the Writers Guild of America, striking over residual payments from DVDs and online content. Which, as a lad of good Yorkshire breeding, is probably exactly as it should be. It’s a sad indication in the UK that it’s inconceivable for such a situation to arise in British television, showing how weak our unions have become. But that’s a fight for another day…
True, US TV dramas work on pretty much year-round production schedules, certainly in backroom terms, so if writers walk with scripts unfinished, it’s going to have an immediate effect. And now with actors joining the picket line, and show runners displaying much sympathy, even shows that still have scripts in hand are grinding to a halt by the minute, it seems.
Desperate Housewives is all set to close down production, along with a host of other dramas and sit-coms, while Tim Kring of Heroes is making moves for a mid-season wrap-up to the current storyline. This might be a blessing for last year’s breakout hit, which has been on something of a creative and ratings slide compared to this time last year. Indeed, Kring has gone on record to assure fans that he is aware of the show’s current failings, and with an early bath for the show on the horizon, it could save some face and allow the production team to consolidate and move forward
And then there are some shows that have locked episodes ready to go, but aren’t even premiering the season – Fox has announced today that 24: Day Seven will likely be shifted to premier in the 2008/2009 season, with seven episodes already in the bag. Production will continue on episodes eight and nine, and then production is likely to close down. Looks like Kiefer is going to have plenty of time on his hands to fulfil that prison sentence after getting busted for DUI.
But as for the chatshows, would it actually hurt the likes of Jay Leno to come up with their own material for a change? I mean, you’re a former stand-up comic, you used to do it in the old days!
It would take me from here until Christmas to discuss the ins and outs of the strike action and its immediate effects. The strike is developing daily, but I’d recommend Nikki Finke’s Deadline Hollywood Daily for some fantastically detailed if bleak coverage of the strike. The last posting certainly has a doom-laden backdrop to it, with the truth of the matter being that the strike may not be resolved until as late as next summer. Eeeek!
The one puzzling thing in all this is that Sci-Fi’s Stargate: Atlantis, appears to be proceeding with production unaffected. It’s disappointing to learn that this is because the show is well ahead on production of its fourth season, and many staffers are members of Canadian unions. I always thought it was just made up by the actors as they went along.
But bless the put-upon Jericho, which had an order for seven episodes from CBS after a fan campaign to bring the show back. All seven episodes are in the can, and all seven episodes will air. Now that’s what I call small, but perfectly formed.