Friday, December 28, 2007

WGA strike: Good news and bad news

Letterman, unlike the rest of the late night line-up, owns his own show (and Craig Ferguson's show), so he's been able to make a separate peace with the Writers Guild that will bring new Letterman episodes to the air next week:

The company announced two weeks ago that it was seeking a separate deal with the guild that would permit the two World Wide Pants show to return to the air. The talks seemed to be at an impasse until today when the deal was completed.

A spokesman for Mr. Letterman’s company declined to comment.

Beyond the obvious advantage of having writers to supply comedy material that other shows will not have, Mr. Letterman’s and Mr. Ferguson’s shows will likely gain a benefit by being able to book guests who will not appear on shows still being struck by the Writers Guild.

It's good news for two reasons: First, it gets some of the union writers back to work. Second, it gets some new late-night material back on the air.

It's bad news because this inevitably weakens to some extent support for the rest of the striking Guild members trying to force the producers and their corporate masters back to the negotiating table.

"The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report," among others, will start airing new episodes again in January, but without writers. That means a lot of interviews, I gather. As Stewart and Colbert said in a joint statement:

"We would like to return to work with our writers. If we cannot, we would like to express our ambivalence, but without our writers we are unable to express something as nuanced as ambivalence."

I can't find the article now, but some time since the WGA strike began I read someone floating the idea that "Daily Show" and "Colbert" writers should be under the same contract as news writers. That makes sense to me, although I don't know the legal demarcation ins and outs of it.

I mean, you tell me: Which of these is the product of a clueless news writer hack working off Karl Rove's fax machine, and which is the product of a writer of satire who clearly inhales the news from multiple sources on a daily basis?

Katie Couric, "CBS Evening News with Katie Couric," September 2007:

Jon Stewart, "The Daily Show," November 2007

Quod Erat Demonstrandum.

(By the way: Were you good this year? Yes? Then here's a special treat for you.)

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