Thursday, November 15, 2007

Strike-related Stuff

One of the plans the networks had in place in case of a writers' strike was to show more TV news programs, such as "60 Minutes" or "20/20."

Ah, the best-laid plans of mice and men...

CBS is in the midst of waiting to see if its various radio and TV news reporters will join the WGA on the picket lines. The union covering those workers is expected to vote today and Friday in favor of a strike.

The networks' broadcast news divisions have suffered for years through cutbacks and low ratings, not to mention various controversies and scandals, and a strike certainly wouldn't help matters.

Considering that "60 Minutes" is one of the few news programs on the air that's a consistently strong performer in the Nielsens, and considering all of the money CBS has thrown Katie Couric's way, not having writers and producers to put together news programs could be devastating to the network.

Meanwhile, over on Broadway, theaters are quiet as a walkoff by the stagehands union has shut down 27 productions, perhaps most notably the debut of Aaron Sorkin's new play "The Farnsworth Invention," starring Hank Azaria ("The Simpsons) as Philo T. Farnsworth, the inventor of television. (Sorkin, the creator of "SportsNight" and "The West Wing," has been trying to do some sort of Farnsworth bio for years).

It's perhaps a little ironic that people are criticizing the WGA for putting electricians, key grips and other below-the-line labor out of work in Hollywood; on Broadway, the exact opposite is true. The stagehands union includes the electricians, the sound and lighting guys and so forth, and the actors, writers and producers can't mount their productions without them.

At least on Broadway, the warring parties are set to return to the negotiating table this weekend. No such word on what's happening in Hollywood.

CORRECTION: I posted yesterday that "Star Trek: The Menagerie" was scheduled to run Tuesday and Wednesday, because that's what it said in our "Out & About" section. Well, someone had something wrong, because I skipped poker and drove all the way down to Centerville to find out that it wasn't showing Wednesday, but tonight. So, good news for those who want one more chance to see it, bad news for me. The showtime is 7:30 p.m. at the Galleria Cinemas in Centerville.

THURSDAY'S BEST BETS: A bunch of comings and goings tonight. Goran Visnijc is set to return to "ER" (NBC, 10 p.m.) tonight, less than an hour after former "ER" star Jorja Fox leaves "CSI" (CBS, 9 p.m.) for good, apparently. Having not watched either show in a few years, I really don't know what this means dramatically, but the networks have been promoting the heck out of them, so I thought I'd pass it along.

Enjoy these new episodes while you can. Preceding "ER" are the NBC comedies, all of which are new this week, but are being yanked next week - for Thanksgiving, not because of the strike.

ABC will be showing a new "Ugly Betty" (ABC, 8 p.m.) next week, one of the few bits of first-run programming during the holiday. It's followed tonight by "Grey's Anatomy" at 9 p.m. and a special showing of "Women's Murder Club" at 10 p.m.

Helen Slater reprises her role as Lara on tonight's "Smallville," (CW, 8 p.m.), followed by "Supernatural" at 9 p.m.

Finally, while there has been a marked dropoff in quality all season, I should note that tonight is the season finale for "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia" (FX, 10 p.m.)


zodin2008 said...

Those stagehands/grips/electricians all make no $ - there are no Tina Fey's in that group.

Plus, as I have stated on here a few times, a lot of the writers who aren't say rich like Fey, are generally single guys who live in small apartments and can afford to pay the rent by virtue of waiting tables at Spago.

Those grips and electricians you loce to mock, are generally 40-something or 50-something blue collar types with 2-3 kids and a mortgage.

Again, I feel for those guys who have families and mortgages, over the slacker writer from "2 1/2 Men" who will continue his existence of eating pizza in his 1 bedroom apartment. His expenses are far lower.

I was confused by your "Betty" post - is it new tonight or just next week? I would really love for it to not be on tonight so it could save something for then.

I also believe this is officially the last "Office" episode, thanksgiving or no thanksgiving. The strike has taken care of any more new 'Office' episodes and though I love the show to death, last week's Michael in the woods episode was subpar at best.

Frankly, I am going to miss "30 Rock" a lot more.

Phillip Ramati said...

Well, you're completely wrong about the Broadway stagehands. Their salaries range from the low $40,000s to the mid $60,000s, hardly living-on-pasta money.

And again, in Hollywood, the below the line talent is constantly working. They don't make the big money of Hollywood's top writers, but they work most, if not all, year. The average writer at any one time is unemployed.

Betty is new this week and also next week, pretty much the only new episode of any series next week.

hotspur said...

Saw an article on TV news how the restaurants. parking lots shops and other Broadway facilities are losing huge amounts of money and cutting waiters, dish washers and parking attendants are suffering. Given they are bottom of the food chain, it is particular sad to see them suffer