Hollywood Dogfight: Writers' Strike Imminent
In one corner, strike-eager writers. In another corner, strike-happy moguls. Caught in the middle? Strike-anxious viewers and scripted fare like highly-serialized "24" or fragile "Pushing Daisies." Unfortunately, it is no longer a question of "if." Now it's all about "when."
Although there had been rumors a walkout could be postponed until Christmas, members of the writers' union believe the best way they can achieve their objectives is to hurt the prime-time the most. Postponing the strike would only allow the networks to bank up more episodes.
On the other side of the spectrum, there is even a group of Hollywood moguls who believe a strike may not be the worst of options since the new fall slate of programming is performing miserably with the highest rated new (ABC) shows getting 10-12 million viewers or less and all non-ABC shows scoring less than 9 million.
There are no breakout-hits and even the proven shows like "CSI," "Grey's Anatomy" and "Desperate Housewives" have lost a lot of ground bringing huge losses to the networks that promised their advertisers the kind of ratings they are no longer able to deliver.
A strike, these moguls reason, would give the networks an opportunity to get rid of the underwhelming shows, put the blame for their cancellation on writers' union and their strike, and re-think their strategies for the new season. They see the current season D.O.A.
Unfortunately, critically-acclaimed and fragile new series like "Pushing Daisies" which are doing reasonably well would probably be hurt the most as they need time to grow and develop and taking them off the air for a prolonged time would without any doubt disrupt their momentum, as die-hard fans of CBS' "Jericho" can surely confirm.
The last writers' strike in 1988 lasted 5 months and caused great damage to the TV industry when shows went off air in late March and didn't come back till November. And when they did? The ratings for most of the shows went at least 10% down.
If a strike is called this year (it may happen as early as tonight) your favorite shows will disappear by January and the schedule will be filled with several new and untested midseason series as well as a bunch of "American Idols" and "Big Brothers."