STRUCK DUMB: NOW THINGS ARE GETTING INTERESTING: The only news yesterday from talks between the striking Hollywood writers and the networks and studios is that there was no news, and that it didn’t look hopeful for a settlement of any kind – at least not in time to save NBC’s Bionic Woman which, at least according to a story on the San Jose Mercury News’ A&E Interactive web site, is likely being quietly scrapped for parts after this week’s episode, the last one written before the strike started.
There will probably be more casualties as the strike trundles along, but that doesn’t mean that creativity is in remission for the duration. There’s been the “Speechless” series of internet videos made by the WGA, and featuring stars such as Felicity Huffman, Eva Longoria, William H. Macy, Kate Beckinsale, David Schwimmer, Holly Hunter, Jeff Garlin and the cast of Ugly Betty, all meant to illustrate the industry’s paralysis without the writers, but they’ve been uniformly dreadful – trite, portentous, and generally tipsy with the novelty of showing celebrity actors either looking uncomfortable or grieving on command.
YouTube has been swamped by other writers’ videos, featuring names like Edie Falco and Christina Applegate, and the general quality has done nothing to advance the WGA’s cause – unpaid interns could probably manage this kind of thing and never worry about a percentage of future DVD sales. It’s a vacuum that nature had to fill, and the first into the breach is Will Ferrell’s Funny Or Die web video site, with a short, uploaded yesterday, that purports to show us the horrors waiting when there’s no more written material to film, and reality TV fills the void.
Produced by an all-star cast of striking creative types including Judd Apatow and Mike White, it features James Franco and Mila Kunis acting out a scene from MTV’s “reality” soap opera The Hills. Franco, in a lank, scruffy wig, plays Justin, on a date with Kunis’ Audrina, in a word-for-word recreation of a scene from season three of the show, discussing the state of their “relationship” and the pressures of dating that reaches its comic climax with James/Justin’s line “Fuck ‘em – literally.”
The moral is that we can look forward to a lot more of this the longer the strike goes on – though what, precisely, the viewing public can do about it is an unanswered question. Frankly, if Ferrell can find a way to get people like Apatow and White to turn in a series of deadly hilarious parodies of The Hill and other shows, then I say let the strike roll on until the summer, at least. It’ll increase the harrowing effect that I’ve hoped the strike would have, and in addition to killing weak shows, it might even encourage more self-cannibalizing auto-satire like the Hills parody, in an atmosphere that, as workless week follows workless week, will look more like a prison lock-down than Hollywood’s orgy of self-regard. Bring in on!