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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

I must say…

…that my enjoyment of the return of unscripted Daily Shows and Colbert Reports has been somewhat diminished by the fact that the shows have been, you know, clearly scripted.

Fortunately, news is trickling out that the writers’ strike may be approaching an ending.

I’m sure that I shall eventually learn how to feel better about Jon Stewart’s and Stephen Colbert’s disloyalty. But it hurts. It does. I thought they were on the side of the angels.

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  • Eh, I take it they haven’t been writing stuff down, and they’ve been following the rules there, if perhaps toeing the line. They’re both quite obviously heavily on the side of the writers (if you watched the first night, Jon Stewart all but said that he wanted to do the same deal with the writers that Letterman did, convinced his bosses to do it, and for some reason the WGA didn’t want to go with it). They haven’t been writing an actual script, but I think it’s a bit unreasonable to expect them not to do any preparation whatsoever. They’re great, they’re amazing improvisers, but the shows just wouldn’t work if they were going out and winging it for 30 minutes every night. That would get old really fast.

  • JT

    Disloyal bastard…

  • JT
  • PaulW

    I blame the guys holding shotguns to their Xboxes. They’re clearly working under duress. :(

  • MaryAnn

    They are indeed amazing improvisers, but it’s obvious that material is being prepared in advance. It’s still “writing” even if none of it is actually scribbled down on paper.

    I’m sure it would get old fast if they were winging it every night. That’s not the point. The point is that they are members of a striking union, and they are doing work they’re not supposed to be doing. I don’t know how they were coerced into doing that, but I wish they’d stop. I’d rather have no shows that see them like this.

  • bitchen frizzy

    Coerced?

  • MaryAnn

    Why would they do this is they weren’t coerced?

  • bitchen frizzy

    Money? Boredom? They missed their jobs?

    How do you suggest they were “coerced,” and why wouldn’t simple and personal reasons suffice as explanation for their return?

  • MaryAnn

    I think the term “scab” still carries enough power that most people — particularly prominent members of a union on strike in a such a public way — would want to avoid it. Union members on strike don’t get to go back to work unilaterally because they’re bored or going broke. I don’t mean that to sound callous or unappreciative of how damaging a long strike can be for workers — I remember my union father being out on strike for long months when I was a child, and how tough things got. But strikes only work if workers stick together.

  • bitchen frizzy

    The show hosts still carry union membership cards in their wallets, but they really aren’t on the same plane as the writers anymore. They have different priorities with respect to their shows amd their networks, and are a part of management, which puts them in awkward positions. Witness Letterman negotiating a deal with his own union members to get his show back on the air – quasi-management, sort-of-union-member, caught in the middle.

    Also, for whatever reason, the “scab” label doesn’t seem to be sticking to these guys.

  • Moe

    Weren’t they put in the same position as Leno and Conan? Sure their beloved writers may be on strike but what about the rest of the cast and crew that’s out of work through no fault of their own?
    They have a responsibility to them too.

    I have no problem them writng “A Daily Show” and The Colbert Report.

    Sure it diminishes the impact of the writer’s strike but the fact that a deal is close to being made to the satisfactory of the writers prove to me that the corporations are clearly hurting enough.

  • JT

    Weren’t they put in the same position as Leno and Conan? Sure their beloved writers may be on strike but what about the rest of the cast and crew that’s out of work through no fault of their own?
    They have a responsibility to them too.

    You’re exactly right. They were threatened with an ultimatum that if they didn’t go back to work without their writers, their non-writing staff would be fired. Once they were back, they were supposed to what? Twiddle their thumbs and lose viewers week after week after week. No one would spend an hour of their life watching hosts doing nothing.

    They had a responsibility to their writers, yes. But also to the other staff members and to the audience. If you think they’ve betrayed the writers, you don’t know Stewart and Colbert.

  • MaryAnn

    Witness Letterman negotiating a deal with his own union members to get his show back on the air

    Yes. Exactly. He negotiated a deal with his union writers. That’s not what happened with Colbert and Stewart.

    What should they be doing? Stuff that isn’t scripted. That doesn’t mean “doing nothing.” And I really expected that they’d be constantly reminding the audience in a million different ways that their writers are on strike. C’mon: they’re clever guys. They could be doing that. Of course they have a certain responsibility to the other, non-writing staff. But they have a responsibility to those writers, too, and to themselves as union members.

  • Yes. Exactly. He negotiated a deal with his union writers. That’s not what happened with Colbert and Stewart.

    But MaryAnn, they tried to, but the WGA told them no.

  • bitchen frizzy

    MaryAnn, you’re missing my point.

    They may be union members, but they’re not really “one of the guys” anymore. We evidently can’t expect them to behave entirely in solidarity with the writers.

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