Saturday, January 12, 2008

Why is the WGA letting the late-night liberal golden boys get away with using written, scab material?

So why are the liberal golden boys of late night television getting a pass by the Writers Guild of America when they’re clearly doing scabwork and making liberal use of written material despite the strike? Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and Bill Maher all flaunt their lefty, man-of-the-people, anti-Bush, anti-boss credentials, sentiments and shtik, and all returned to their shows amid the WGA strike with the expected words of solidarity toward the striking writers. Yet even a cursory viewing of their shows this week reveals that they’re using written material, in videotaped segments, monologues and other bits. And no one’s complaining.

Jay Leno has been the most egregious and blatant offender with his long scripted monologues and scripted video segments, but in his typical passive-aggressive fashion weaseled his way out of responsibility by claiming to have misinterpreted approval from the WGA. With NBC forcing him off the air next year and embarrassing him by running those repeats from the Nineties, he obviously doesn’t give a shit or feels he’s above it all, but as Leno spews out the written stuff regardless, he offers a fascinating view into a TV comedian’s insecurities, jealousies and neuroses, unseen since the days of Stanley Seigel, Shelley Berman or Jack Paar.

But these other guys? They’re only protecting their artificial images. We members of the Writers Guild of America gave ambitious Carson Scably a well-deserved heckling when he was caught soliciting scab material after he crossed the WGA picket line to resume his little-seen middle-of-the-night talk show. But he was easy pickings. Guys like Stewart, Colbert and Maher obviously believe their own hype, that they have something important to say, and it appears that their perceived political views are giving them tacit approval to rely on scabwork and be scabs themselves.

So far, only Conan O'Brien seems to have taken the strike and his responsibilities as a WGA member seriously and is giving his bosses a reason to get back to the negotiating table. Kimmel? We haven’t watched his show so you’ll have to let us know, but his public grousings are ill-advised for a lug who’s lucky to be on the air to begin with, and who’s in line for a dose of Hollywood reality next year when his new big buddy Leno makes a deal with ABC and takes his timeslot.


Ray Richmond said...

Burt: You took the words right out of my mouth and summed up my own feelings succinctly and courageously. Keep telling it like it is, baby. I'll be posting today about this and calling attention to yours. Bravo, sir! Keep after 'em!

Larz said...

"Tabloid Baby" aka "Bruce" is wrong on most counts. These shows have been hour long infomercials for the Writers Guild cause. They are sub-par versions of the original show and everybody knows it. The last week has given the Writers Guild more publicity that it has ever had in the long history the the union.

Also, the writer of this blog is clearly:
1. NOT a comedy writer, because he has absolutely no sense of humor or irony.
2. Clueless about history and cares only for his own anger at a strike he championed.

If he knew anything about Jay Leno: the man, he would know that there is not a better person in TV to work for. Leno takes unbelievable care of his staff, including (and some say, especially) his writers. He spends time with them daily, pays them extremely well (considering the ever-shrinking budget) and cares about their personal lives. Nobody in late-night, not O'Brien, Ferguson, or even my favorite, David Letterman, takes as good of care of his writers than Jay Leno -- financially and emotionally. (The possible exception may be Jon Stewart, who is also adored by his co-workers, even though Comedy Central runs the show on a shoe-string budget.)

For personal reasons of a few members of the Writers Guild, Jay Leno is being made out to be the bad guy in this situation. Jay did not want to go back on the air without his writers, but NBC forced him to do so, plus he wanted to make sure that his staffers were not unemployed (even though NBC tried hared to fire his staffers). He has always backed the writers in their battle.

This bitter angry rant serves no purpose. All it does is open further an already ugly wound. Then again, "Tabloid Baby" doesn't want the wound to heal. He obviously has a problem with "scabs."