Archive for Writer’s Strike

Pre-Valentine to TV Viewers: Writers Strike is Over

It looks as if the picket signs will be taken down and the writers will be back to work on Wednesday. You can check out the details on Nikki Finke’s fine blog Deadline Hollywood or the most recent Bloomberg report.

That’s just two days before the “drop-dead deadline” to preserve the remainder of the season and allow some bit of a pilot season. The fact that it also saves the Oscars is just an added bonus that makes the writers and actors happy. It’s one thing to miss out on the Golden Globes, that bloated tribute by a small group of foreign press. It’s quite another to miss out on your Uncle Oscar.

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Jon Stewart won’t have to cross any picket lines when he hosts the 80th Academy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 24. This is the second time Stewart has hosted the Oscars. Photo: Bob D’Amico/ABC

Oddly enough, on the eve of the strike vote three months ago, I was in the middle of e-chatting with Bryan Fuller of “Pushing Daisies” and again today we spent part of today e-talking.

Bryan’s a fabulous person. But as noted in an earlier post, even with the strike being over, some shows won’t be back on the air this season. And that includes “Daisies.” In fact, this coming fall season looks more like a restart of this past fall. Shows like “Daisies,” “Chuck” and maybe even “Reaper” could get a second shot this fall.

There are a lot of shows on the fence, but it looks like lights out for shows like “Bionic Woman” and “Friday Night Lights.” “FNL” was the passion project of NBC’s former entertainment president Kevin Reilly, who is now Fox’s entertainment honcho. He was replaced by veteran producer Ben Silverman. (“The Office”) and Marc Graboff.

While there has been talk of “FNL” going to one of NBC’s cable siblings like USA or Bravo, that hasn’t been announced, nor does it seem likely. Last March, the series aired unspectacularly on Bravo.

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On the season, or series, finale last Friday, Kyle Chandler as Eric Taylor, Connie Britton as Tami Taylor and Peter Berg as Morris “Mo” McArnold — NBC Photo: Bill Records

And the jury is still out on “Jericho,” which returns this week after fans threw mountains of nuts at CBS execs, causing them to rethink the show’s cancellation.

But last summer, viewers tuned out in droves to a repeat of the series. We can only hope that they will come back on board with the slate of new episodes.

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Things heat up in the kitchen when “Jericho” returns on Tuesday. Emily (Ashley Scott) tries to make Jake’s (Skeet Ulrich) mother feel better mourn the loss of her husband by baking her favorite cake, on the second season premiere of “Jericho” at 10 p.m. Tuesday on CBS. Photo: Mitch Haddad/CBS ©2007 CBS Broadcasting Inc.

Meanwhile, it’s all good news about Hollywood getting back to work. Now that sure beats candy and flowers, doesn’t it?

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No more “Pushing Daisies” Until the Fall

A quick email from creator Bryan Fuller confirmed what had been recently reported: We won’t be getting any more new episodes of “Pushing Daisies” until this fall.

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The fabulous Bryan Fuller, creator of “Pushing Daisies,” “Wonderfalls” and “Dead Like Me.”

Bryan says ABC didn’t think it was wise to put the show up against “American Idol” and I agree. He also says that airing just a handful of episodes before the end of the season won’t do the series any good. Again, we concur.

But I’m going to miss that show something awful. Still, it’s good to know that with the writer’s strike coming to a close, good shows will be able to get back into production for a nice fall return.

As always, we look to tireless reporter Michael Ausiello of TV Guide to give us the low-down on the status of the shows coming back.

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Michael Ausiello on a set visit to “Heroes” last July. I think I was standing behind the camera.

But as he says, refresh the page often. Things are changing rapidly.

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President’s Address bumps new CBS shows

Thank goodness for the President’s annual State of the Union Address.

With no end to the Writers Strike in sight, the networks are starting to sweat. They’ve squirreled away precious few new episodes. Just when CBS announced they were ready to place a few nuggets out there for viewers, they got a reprieve when they remembered, hey, doesn’t the President of the United States usually do something we can broadcast around the end of January?

Voila-La. Bush finally comes to the rescue – and just in time to save those new episodes of “The New Adventures of Old Christine” and the premiere of the new sitcom “Welcome to The Captain” for February sweep.

According to the very nice press release sent out by CBS, “Welcome to The Captain” is a comedy about a wildly eclectic group of people whose lives are intertwined through the place they all call home, a fabled Hollywood apartment building, El Capitan, which they’ve dubbed “The Captain.” It stars Fran Kranz (“The TV Set”), Chris Klein (“American Pie”), Jeffrey Tambor (“Arrested Development”), Raquel Welch (“The Three Musketeers”), comedian Al Madrigal, Valerie Azlynn (“Two and a Half Men”) and Joanna Garcia (“Reba”).

This is when I get kind of sad about no January Television Critics press tour so that I could find out what the heck Chris Klein was thinking when he told a women’s magazine that he hated placating women and wouldn’t tolerate his girlfriend gaining weight.

“When a woman isn’t feeling good about herself and you combine that with her period, eventually she’ll ask you if you like her body,” he told Elle back in 2005. “You have to say no… I don’t placate.”

Katie Holmes apparently dumped him, which worked out quite well for her what with the whole TomKat deal.

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Katie recovers nicely from her Chris Klein break-up

And just where has Chris been hanging out lately? Ditto Raquel. It’s been a long time since the pin-up years and it’s always nice to touch base, yes?

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Raquel Welch, Jeffrey Tambor, Chris Klein, Fran Krans, Joanna Garcia, Al Madrigal and Valerie Azlynn make up the cast of WELCOME TO THE CAPTAIN

The State of the Union Address takes place on Jan. 28, shoving the CBS comedies to a Feb. 4 date.

Here’s the new line-up:

Monday, Jan. 28

8:00-8:30 PM HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER

8:30-9:00 PM TWO AND A HALF MEN

9:00-10:30 PM CBS NEWS COVERAGE OF THE STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS

10:30-11:00 PM RULES OF ENGAGEMENT

Monday, Feb 4

8:00-8:30 PM HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER

8:30-9:00 PM WELCOME TO THE CAPTAIN (Series Premiere)

9:00-9:30 PM TWO AND A HALF MEN

9:30-10:00 PM THE NEW ADVENTURES OF OLD CHRISTINE (Season Premiere)

10:00-11:00 PM CSI: MIAMI

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Television Critics Cancel Jan. Press Tour

For the first time in Television Critics Association history, the January press tour has been canceled.

The twice-yearly press event, which is held in January and July each year, allows the networks to trot out their new shows to North American TV writers and critics from the New York Times to the Oakland Tribune. Journalists grill stars, writers, producers and executives about their shows. It is a unique event that allows unlimited access and provides fodder for reporters writing about shows that are rolled out through the year.

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A trip to the “Heroes” set last July during press tour. Pictured are TV Guide’s Michael Ausiello and “Heroes” Greg Grunberg and Ali Larter.

As a TCA officer, I can tell you first hand that everything possible was done to preserve the tour, and the information gleaned that is passed on to readers. TCA President Dave Walker of New Orleans Times-Picayune has been tireless in his efforts to negotiate some sort of tour. But it all fell apart today, and news of the cancelation was passed on to the members.

“In light of the recent news concerning negotiations between the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, and following my consultation with representatives of all the presenting networks, the hotel will release the hotel rooms and ballroom space the tour would occupy,” Dave wrote to the members. “Consider the tour officially canceled whether the strike is settled before January 8 or not.

“From the beginning of this process, the commercial broadcast networks have cited expected budget cutbacks and their presumed inability to present panels for scripted programs as their reasons for not committing to a strike tour. More recently, the networks have also reported that a strike settlement later in December or in early January would offer difficulties in presenting tour sessions, due to logistics issues and hurry-up production schedules.”

As Dave told members, until late last month, the TCA had been working on staging a strike tour assembled around cable, PBS, TCA information panels plus possible presentations by broadcast networks, though none had committed to present if a strike was still in place. An abrupt reversal by PBS, who’d been committed for several weeks to present strike or not, scotched that plan.

A July press tour is still planned and is expected to take place this summer in Los Angeles.

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Web and striking writers

Pencils down means pencils down.

Except, of course, when the striking writers want to romp on the Web. And of course the irony is lost on no one that these guys are writing for the Web when the main sticking point in the negotiations is over pay they think they should get from the studios for their work being used on the Internet.

Having made that point, it seems like TV and movie writers, like Judd Apatow, have been using their free time to make some pretty funny videos that are being posted on the Web.

We like Judd’s piece starring Palo Alto’s James Franco and Mila Kunis in a spoof of “The Hills” that was posted on the Funny or Die web site.

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With the assistance of Christina Applegate, “Samantha Who?” writer Bob Kushell churned out this little piece on how his marriage is suffering because of the strike. Bob says since his wife was uncooperative, the part was played by Christina.

But really, what can these guys actually do if they can’t write?


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Writers Strike: End in Sight?

It looks like there could be some movement in the writer’s strike. This statement was released this evening by the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers, although no statement has been issued by the Writers Guild of America.

“The AMPTP today unveiled a New Economic Partnership to the WGA, which includes groundbreaking moves in several areas of new media, including streaming, content made for new media and programming delivered over digital broadcast channels. The entire value of the New Economic Partnership will deliver more than $130 million in additional compensation above and beyond the more than $1.3 billion writers already receive each year. In response, the WGA has asked for time to study the proposals. While we strongly preferred to continue discussions, we respect and understand the WGA’s desire to review the proposals. We look forward to resuming talks on Tuesday, December 4.

We continue to believe that there is common ground to be found between the two sides, and that our proposal for a New Economic Partnership offers the best chance to find it.”

We want the writers to get a fair shake, but we also want to get new episodes of “Lost,” “Pushing Daisies” and “Grey’s Anatomy.” If the WGA thinks this is a good offer, things could be back on track pronto.

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Writers Strike Called

There seems to be little hope that a strike beginning at 12:01 Monday by the Writer’s Guild of America can be averted.

But before they do, Bryan Fuller and his scribes were busy Thursday night and on to Friday morning trying to finish one more “Pushing Daisies” script.

“We’re desperately trying to finish one last script before we are instructed to put our pencils down,” Bryan said at midnight. “We want to keep our crew employed as long as we possibly can, but don’t know how long that will be. ”

“Desperate Housewives” will shoot the tenth script next week, and then the well is dry.

And the truth is, according to producers like Bill Lawrence of “Scrubs,” if the work stops for a couple of weeks or even a month, it’s not going to do much damage.

Scripts have been stockpiled and, while November is a busy month, some specials bounce network programs off the air anyway. We won’t be seeing “Pushing Daisies” until Nov. 14 because of the Country Music Awards. And the lights go out for much of the month of December.

“The only thing that can really screw up everything is if it’s like it was in 1988 when it went on for 22 weeks,” says Lawrence. “And then you’re talking about drastically altering this TV season as well as the next one. ”

For “Scrubs,” there are two, perhaps three, scripts that have been completed and could be shot. After that, nada.

If things drag on, Lawrence says that chances are good that the final episodes would eventually be written, shot – and pop up on DVD.

“The one thing that’s keeping me from panicking completely as far as ‘Scrubs goes is I have such a good relationship with the studio, that were there something that essentially erased the rest of the year, you know, (we would still do) a finale of the series even if it was something that would just be released on a DVD or something,” Lawrence says. “To tell you the truth it’d probably end up making more money. ”

And money is the central issue here.

The bottom line is over DVD and online residual payments. Writers believe they are not being fairly compensated for their work, which is increasingly being seen through DVD sales and online with online becoming a bigger factor in the coming years. For a more detailed explaination, go to the Wall Street Journal’s story.

The impact is more than just a delay in new programs. During the 1988 strike, almost 10 percent of the TV viewing audience left and never returned.

In these days of eroding audiences, a long strike could cripple the industry. Many people will be impacted, from publicists to dry cleaners, if this proves to be a long strike.

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