Writer’s strike leaves television viewers watching re-runs

Three months ago, rumors began circulating in the media that the Writers Guild of America was planning a mass strike. With the writers absent from their posts, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, hosting the 2008 Golden Globes, were forced to resort to a different design for the award show.

The HFPA announced on January 7 that the Golden Globes would still occur on the original date, but with a new format. Instead of a ceremony with celebrity presenters and comedian hosts, it was comprised of Billy Bush and Nancy O’Dell (from the entertainment news show Access Hollywood) announcing the winners in a one-hour block of time. Because NBC, the network airing the Globes, does not have to pay a fee to show portions of movies and television shows, clips were used frequently to go along with the announcements.

Sophomore Margaret Zhang, who opted not to watch the Golden Globes this year, felt that the show lacked what she usually found appealing.

“I like the Golden Globes, but because there weren’t any celebrities that were going to be there, there weren’t any dresses to look at,” Zhang said. “That’s basically what I watch for anyway.”

The stars that usually flock to the red carpet in gowns and tuxedos to accept awards were missing from this show, many of them choosing not to cross the picket line to display their support of the writers.

Instead of viewing the celeb-less Golden Globes that Sunday night, Zhang decided to finish an AP US History assignment.

“I did my homework, which is sad,” Zhang said.

With other awards shows coming up, including the Grammys on February 10 and the Oscars on February 24, the WGA now faces the decision to script or refuse them as they did the Golden Globes. Musical acts Justin Timberlake and Beyonce had planned on performing at the Grammys, but are considering boycotting the ceremony as well.

Actors on affected shows, like Katherine Heigl from Grey’s Anatomy, have picketed along with the writers of the many television shows for which networks have stopped premiering episodes. Zhang thinks that the shortage of premieres will cause a loss in interested viewers.

“A lot of people just watch TV for the new episodes,” Zhang said. “I know a lot of my friends, and especially my parents, don’t like to watch reruns, so [the strike] will definitely affect the people who watch [TV].”

As the strike moves into its third month of action, the writers strike continues to cause the premature finale of many shows across networks. Their time slots have been replaced by reality television including American Gladiator and Dance Wars: Bruno vs. Carrie Ann.

TV is not the only form of entertainment suffering from the strike – in the near future, movies will be affected as well. Multiple movies previously set to debut in 2009 and 2010 have been put on hold due to the strike, including Angels and Demons and Justice League of America. Revisions to the scripts for these movies cannot be made without the writers, so production has halted for the time being.

Currently, the writers strike does not have an official ending date. The WGA has had negotiations with the Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers, but the two have yet to come to an agreement.

Published in The Chronicle (page 16) on January 29, 2008.

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