You could just see this coming all the way up Broadway. Ratings and cost-challenged NBC is now sending out job termination letters to union late night talk show band members and other staffers, informing that their "services are no longer required" as an attempt to bust the Writers Guild Of America union strike and to return to production with cheaper nonunion staffers and band members. Right away, both Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien have stepped up and volunteered to pay their nonwriting staffers and band members their normal salary to keep them financially solvent during the coming holiday season regardless of whether these programs soon return to the air. There are also reports that David Letterman is paying his band members and other nonwriting staffers their normal salary out of his own pocket in an attempt to keep his show together during the writers strike.
It was also announced by Carson Daly, whose show is largely a low budget nonuion affair, that he intends to return to production on Monday with non-union staffers and has even invited his viewers to send in jokes that he could do on the air. While this may be an attempt by Carson Daly to get back to being able to do jokes on timely events, it could also unfortunately help to further fuel any union busting efforts by NBC or even other networks. It must be seen as largely bad news for the Writers Guild Of America.
November sweeps was heavily hampered by the writers strike. with some popular new shows ruring low on new episodes and the late night talk shows stuck in airing reruns. Some new shows that were early hits such as the new hit CBS comedy, THE BIG BANG THEORY, which had to halt production on November 6, due to the writers strike. Generally some newer unproven shows had less episodes pretaped ahead of time in case they needed to be cancelled due to poor ratings.
So far, the only officially cancelled new network shows are the awful CBS musical, VIVA LAUGHLIN and the FOX nonstarter, NASHVILLLE. However, it looks like a pretty safe bet that ABC's CAVEMEN and CARPOOLERS may be officially gone for good soon and possibly NBC's JOURNEYMAN could follow in cancellation as well.
The relatively good BIONIC WOMAN on NBC could drift towards cancellation due to soft ratings despite a small but loyal audience of current fans. As a whole Sci Fi programs generally don't do very well on the networks, with HEROES the only rare recent exception. Even the original STAR TREK series struggled along with low ratings on NBC from 1966-1969, and only really gained cult status popularity among fans after cancellation.
NBC is currently involved in massive belt-tightening and cost cutting to reduce production costs and to enhance profits. Late night talk shows may soon return to the air with non-union writers if the networks are inspired by Carson Daly's return to production. And some other new shows, especially some fringe appeal comedy and Sci Fi programs may soon get the ax with NBC and other networks likely to make December a real dumping ground for a combination of holiday specials, reruns and other garbage as ratings suffer when many normal viewers begin to focus more on holiday shopping and other seasonal activites.
The Writers Guild Of America union members may have just picked a bad time of the year to stage their strike and could possiby find themselves to be the next cancelled item at NBC or other networks.
Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!