STRUCK DUMB: THIS IS THE END, MY FRIEND: If you’ve been using 24 as an excuse for not getting in NFL draft choice shape, then here’s your chance — it looks like the TV season is deader than John Wilkes Booth.
Talks between the studios and networks and the striking screenwriters went all pear-shaped late last week when, according to an Associated Press story, representatives from the Writers Guild of America unexpectedly revived the idea of unionizing reality TV and animated shows, a move they tried and failed to pull off last year, with a brief and unsuccessful walkout of staff working on America’s Next Top Model.“Reality and animation,” read the AP article, “were not on the agenda laid out for resumption of talks on Nov. 26 when Bryan Lourd, a partner with Creative Artists Agency who has been an instrumental behind-the-scenes player, brought the two sides together, according to a person familiar with the talks.”
The move looked at the time like self-sabotage, according to AP, as both sides “agreed to address certain topics in an effort to settle the strike,” according to a source close to the talks, and it seems to have soured the mood on Friday when, according to a TMZ.com story, talks broke off between the two parties. “Studio executives considered those nonnegotiable issues and were angry because they thought writers wanted negotiations to focus on new-media pay only,” reported TMZ, while “writers were equally upset that the studios didn’t offer better proposals on such key issues as residuals for shows sold online and episodes created for the web.”
Both sides are “accusing each of misstating facts about the details of the latest round of talks,” which sounds like both sides had their agendas going in, and were shocked — shocked! — to learn that so did the other side. The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents the studios and networks, immediately issued a statement that they were “puzzled and disheartened by an ongoing WGA negotiating strategy that seems designed to delay or derail talks rather than facilitate an end to this strike.”
The studios have enough product stockpiled to make it through next year, but the last new network shows will air before the holidays, after which I suggest you take up knitting or playing the autoharp. Either that or learn to love American Idol, which will probably be seven nights a week in the sunless winter months ahead. Prepare for the inevitable rash of suicides.