American Gladiators To Crush Writers' Strike?
Reality shows are holding up well for the networks.
Round 12: A quick check-in on the eve of the Globes that were flattened:
At this point, it seems clear that two options exist. The studios give a carefully calibrated deal to the Directors Guild that will allow the other unions to end the war. Or, the studios are on a march to the sea with the intention of breaking the Writers Guild. In this scenario, the idea would be that the directors get an unacceptable deal, the writers' unity crumbles, and the Screen Actors Guild, still under contract until the end of June, loses its nerve after contemplating the mangled corpses of writers at the side of the road.
A very articulate comment posted in the Fray by one Peter Noah (yes, the same one listed on IMDB with all those TV credits) states a point of view supporting the studios-crush-the-writers scenario. He writes:
What no one's factored in here is that [the networks' resorting] to cheap reality and game programming actually advantages their bottom line—they get the same paltry rating at a fraction of the cost. And as a bonus, forced into this, courtesy of the writers, they even get to do so without having to withstand critical opprobrium. … [This is] why the Guild leadership utterly miscalculated the effectiveness of this job action.
Jeez, Peter, are you after Hollywoodland's job?
In a Variety article on television ratings, our friend Josef Adalian would seem to underscore the point. He says, "[R]eality shows are doing as well as or better than the scripted shows they've replaced" and that ABC's Wednesday lineup hasn't skipped a beat despite losing Pushing Daisies, Private Practice, and Dirty Sexy Money.
On the other hand, Adalian notes that viewers could get sick of all reality, all the time. (You think?) And studios can't squeeze as much advertising and other revenue out of reality as they do out of successful scripted shows.
So, how long-term are the big conglomerates that own these studios thinking? Watch what happens with the Directors Guild to find out. (link)
Jan. 8, 2008
Thus Spoke Zucker: You would think NBC Universal president and chief executive Jeff Zucker is a busy man, trying to revive his network, dealing with the writers' strike, figuring out how to deal with the cancelled Golden Globes telecast. But is he too busy to attend to details?
Kim Masters is an NPR correspondent and the author of The Keys to the Kingdom: The Rise of Michael Eisner and the Fall of Everyone Else.
Still from the Late Show With David Letterman by John Paul Filo/CBS. All rights reserved. Photograph of writers on strike by David McNew/Getty Images; Still from The Kite Runner by Phil Bray © 2007 Dreamworks LLC and Kite Runner Holdings. All rights reserved.