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TV Writers Fired, Reality TV Increased: Are the Suits Killing Network TV to Save It?



Shift_writers_strike We have no sense of history, so it's easy forget that classic line from the Vietnam War: 'We had to burn the village to save it.'

But that's exactly what the suits who run network TV seem to be doing as the writer's strike stretches on.

The Los Angeles Times today has a story on more than 65 writers given pink slips by TV producers, who canceled their deals in a sign that they have given up on developing new shows, which means a dearth of scripted shows for most of this year and perhaps the next.

Gladiators Concurrently, NBC entertainment head Ben Silverman crowed to the New York Times that striking writers should take note of how well reality TV fare such as American Gladiators -- already green-lighted for a second season amid impressive ratings -- The Apprentice, Wife Swap, Supernanny and Biggest Loser are doing.

"Time periods may be lost to scripted shows,” Silverman told the NYT. “If you’re a writer, you don’t want to kill that golden goose,” but then he added,. “CBS can fill three hours a week with ‘Big Brother’ for about five bucks.”

Let me make a not-so-bold prediction: These ratings are short-term gains. Viewers are only nowGladiator8  waking up to the reality that TV schedules will be increasingly crowded with reality fare. And they're watching the best of what's on right now.

But they will soon tire of this stuff, I'm convinced -- particularly the wealthiest demographics advertisers love so much. And once people find new ways to occupy their time, it will take more than two hour Knight Rider movie and a new edition of 24 to lure them back to the small screen. 

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 2:43pm]


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