TV and film writers go on strike, which may lead to more reality TV

TV and film writers went on strike as of midnight last night, and depending upon how long the strike lasts, could see a more reality TV.

The Writers Guild of America “announced after negotiations cratered that it had withdrawn its proposal to double DVD residuals during the session,” but still went on strike because “the [Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers] still insisted on no jurisdiction for most of new media writing; no economic proposal for the part of new media writing that would be covered; Internet downloads at the DVD rate; no residual for streaming video of theatrical product; and a ‘promotional’ proposal that allows re-use of movies and TV shows on any platform with no residual; and a ‘window’ of free reuse on the Internet,” Variety reports.

In the immediate future, however, not much will change, besides the disappearance of topical late-night series such as The Daily Show. For starters, TV networks have varying numbers of episodes already written, so scripted shows will continue to air as usual. (The Los Angeles Times has a chart that shows how many episodes most major series have left.)

After that, though, without scripted series, networks need something other than reruns to fill time. Thus, we “could start seeing an onslaught of unscripted entertainment by early next year,” according to the AP. Flavor of Love and Surreal Life producer Cris Abergo said that reality shows can go from “concept to pitch to air,” and as a result, “I was in a network meeting today, and they were referring to the fact the timing is really good for reality producers.”

But while the strike may result in more unscripted shows, assuming it lasts for some time, it’s not exactly a happy day. For one, a bunch of people who produce great entertainment are out of work for an indeterminate amount of time, which hurts everyone. In addition, the immediate demand for reality shows could lead to more crap as producers pump out nonsense.

The biggest possible change right now for reality television is that CBS might move Big Brother 9 to March. Otherwise, for the spring, while networks are planning a few new reality series–such as Oprah’s Big Give on ABC–most of the shows that are currently scheduled to air in early 2008 are familiar: Survivor, Dancing with the Stars, Kitchen Nightmares (and maybe Hell’s Kitchen), America’s Next Top Model, and, of course, American Idol.

WGA goes on strike [Variety]
The TV Grid [Los Angeles Times]
Reality shows on tap if writers strike [AP]

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.