You heard it right, the Writers Guild of America is on strike. Late-night talk shows (“The Late Show with David Letterman”), daily scripted series (“The Colbert Report”) and live/live-on-tape shows (“Saturday Night Live”) are off the air as of now. Daytime soap operas will dry up in a month’s time. Primetime dramas and sitcoms will run out of new episodes by the end of the year. What then? Oh my God, people, what then?!?
Tip No. 1--Diversify. If you’ve spent every Thursday night this season watching “Ugly Betty” on ABC, maybe now’s the time to give NBC’s “My Name is Earl” a shot. I’m guessing the most ardent fans will grow bored by the time the third set of this season’s reruns rolls around. Try changing the channel and seeing what else is on. Some suggestions for shows you may not be watching: “Aliens in America” (The CW, Mondays 7:30 p.m.); “Reaper” (The CW, Tuesdays 8 p.m.); “Pushing Daisies” (ABC, Wednesdays 7 p.m.); “Life” (NBC, Wednesdays 9 p.m.).
Tip No. 2--Embrace Reality. In 2006, WGA members went on strike over credits on so-called “reality shows” like “America’s Next Top Model.” Yes, reality shows do have writers. Still, reality shows will (theoretically) not be affected by this strike. As a result, nearly 20 reality series and game shows are already in various stages of production at ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX and the CW. FOX, one of the most adamant anti-strike studios, is laughing up its sleeve. Come January, its schedule will be dominated by writer-free hit “American Idol.” Throw in a few extra nights of “20/20,” “60 Minutes” and “Dateline: Predator” and who needs fiction?
Tip No. 3--Hold On, Relief is On the Way. Networks have secretly been stockpiling shows, labeling them as “midseason replacements,” but knowing they’re just going to be used to fill in during the strike. Shows like ABC’s “Cashmere Mafia” and CBS’ “Swingtown” have yet to premiere. Also, the trend toward short, split and “no rerun” seasons favors viewers during this strike period. Popular shows “24,” “Lost” and “Battlestar Galactica” have all been planning to start their seasons in January/February for some time now. Unfortunately, they may have even fewer episodes in the can than their on-air counterparts-
Tip No. 4--Do Something Else. Turn off your TV and read a book, talk to family members, ride a bike, hang out with friends. There are other things to do, you know. Keep in mind, this is to be reserved for a total last resort. Your television does not want to be turned off. If you’re not dutifully ensuring that “Dancing With the Stars” retains the No. 1 Nielsen rating slot for the week, then the terrorists (or the writers, I forget which) have already won.