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December 19, 2007 |

By Seth Freilich | Industry | December 19, 2007 |

Well things have been pretty quiet lately because of the WGA strike but, suddenly, I find that I’ve got lots of shit to talk about. So strap in and let’s get to it.

The biggest strike-related news is the impending return of late-night TV. As you no doubt heard, scabby Carson Daly returned to the air a few weeks back, the sole late-night host to do so. And “scabby” comment aside, I don’t actually hold it against Daly the way some others do — he’s not a WGA member, he doesn’t have the status to keep a guaranteed slot pending a long holdout, and he’s trying to protect his staffers’ jobs (and unlike the other big hosts, he likely can’t afford to cover their salary out of his own pockets). But Daly won’t be alone for long — on January 2, Leno and Conan are both coming back as well (which is exactly what Johnny Carson did back in ‘88, returning to the air without writers two months after the strike began). Conan and Leno both issued statements basically saying they were doing this to allow their collective 180-odd non-writing staff members to keep their jobs. That happened on Monday and, unsurprisingly, Tuesday saw Jimmy Kimmel announce his return to TV on January 2 as well, also sans writers. Conan and Kimmel without writers, I can live with. But Leno without writers? That’s beyond lame, that’s downright insufferable.

As for Letterman and Craig Ferguson, we may actually get to see them return with writers. Letterman and his production company (which also produces Fergusons’ “The Late Late Show”) are independently negotiating with the WGA, seeking an interim agreement that would let their writers work. And because Letterman’s Worldwide Pants is a separate production company, this can happen without bringing CBS into the picture, which is why sources suggest the WGA is going to let this happen (and yes, NBC and ABC could try to negotiate interim agreements for their own late night shows, but that’s far more unlikely given the big networks and studios attempt to remain together during this strike). Of course, if an interim agreement isn’t worked out, I’d expect we’ll see Letterman and Ferguson coming back anyway, simply in the same vein as the others, i.e., no writey-writey.

Sadly, none of this has any impact on the most-missed late night shows around these Pajiba parts, “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report.” So big hairy bollocks to all that.

Meanwhile, the WGA isn’t too pleased with Conan and Leno’s decision (and, presumably, Kimmel’s). Shortly after NBC announced their returns, the WGA put out a rather nasty “Notice to all WGA members writing for comedy/variety shows,” reminding them that they are prohibited from writing for any struck companies. And then, shortly thereafter, the WGA turned down waiver requests from the Golden Globes and Oscars, meaning they won’t get the help of writers. So if there’s still a strike come January 13, the Golden Globes award show will be coming to us with either the words of scabs or, more likely, courtesy of the wonderful adlibs of whoever is there. As the celebs drink at the Golden Globes show, that could lead to some decent moments by night’s end. The adlibs will likely be less entertaining at the Oscars, but at least we know host Jon Stewart can handle himself (although it’ll be a bummer that we probably won’t get an opening monologue). But frankly, this might be a blessing in disguise because it means we won’t be subject to the forced witty banter, and the thought of that is worth its weight in gold (and yes, I realize that a thought has no weight … shut up). More importantly, the WGA also refused to allow the Oscars to show clips from any WGA-written movies. And you know what that means? No idiotic half-hour montages. Huzzah!

Returning to our regularly scheduled programming, I’ve mentioned in previous columns that “Journeyman” has really started to grow on me. So of course its fate is now all but locked up, as tonight’s strike-induced quasi-season finale is looking all but sure to be a series finale. Word has it that shop has been closed up on the show, and that NBC let its option to make an episode order expire, so that’s pretty much all she wrote. We saw this coming some weeks back, of course, when NBC picked up the back-nine for “Chuck” and “Life,” but left “Journeyman” alone (and while there’s no sign quite this strong for “Bionic Woman” yet, and despite an NBC rep saying that the show is not yet canceled, I still wouldn’t be taking the over on the number of new episodes of Jaime Sommers’ show you’ll get to see). Of course, in the post-“Jericho” age, some fans aren’t taking this news lightly, and they’re planning a campaign to send Rice-A-Roni to NBC (it’s the San Francisco treat, don’t you know) in a sign of support. But I wouldn’t hold your breath, as the network seems pretty down on this show even if the strike were to end tomorrow.

NBC has also announced that its going to dig into its cable TV box a bit more (something it already started doing when it decided to take “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” back from USA). Starting in March, the network will be airing rerun episodes of “Monk” and “Psych” on Sunday nights, shows which belong to sister network USA. Fucking “Monk.” That show sucks and doesn’t need any attention. How about showcasing “Battlestar Galactica,” you NBC motherfuckers? Why is that too much to frakking ask for?

Meanwhile, ABC has announced its new spring schedule, and it’s a real stinker folks. Sure, “Lost” comes back the end of January in a shiny new Thursday/9 p.m. timeslot (to avoid the “American Idol” wrecking ball), but we’re only getting 8 episodes instead of the intended 16, so the “season” could end on a very frustrating note. “Lost” will be followed by a new show, “Eli Stone,” which stars Victor Garber and Natasha Henstridge. And is yet. Another. Law show. Only this time, it’s about a lawyer who has visions. So there’s that. And then … well, “According to Jim” finally comes back! Can you taste the excitement? Er, sorry, meant to type “excrement.” Speaking of pooh, I know nothing about this new Monday night reality show except for the title, but this is one situation where I’m more than comfortable to prejudge something: “Dance War: Bruno vs. Carrie Ann.” Unless Bruno is Bruce Willis, I’m out. I mean, the stink lines are already coming out of your computer monitor, right?

Man, it’s going to be a bleak fucking TV spring.

And the worst part of ABC’s new schedule is that its midseason comedy “Miss/Guided” is nowhere to be seen. This is the show with Judy Greer playing a gal who comes back to her high school alma matter as a guidance counselor. I don’t know much about its quality, but Judy Greer is one of the most underrated comedic actresses out there and I’d love to see her get a showcase, so boo to you ABC. Jim Belushi, you’ll make us suffer through. But Judy Greer, no?

Meanwhile, back at NBC, we now know that the last new episodes of “My Name Is Earl” and “30 Rock” will, sadly, air on January 10. But fear not, for a week before that, “The Celebrity Apprentice” premieres!

Donald Trump on my TV, yes. But Judy Greer, still no.

And over at CBS, another midseason comedy has been given a home. The previously title “The Captain” is now called “Welcome to the Captain” (creative, those CBS-types are), and it will premiere February 4 at 8:30 p.m., after “How I Met Your Mother.” The show is about a guy who moves into a Hollywood apartment complex called “The Captain,” and of course the apartment is full of wacky folks. One such wacky resident is played by Jeffrey Tambor, but that doesn’t mean anything because, while brilliant on “The Larry Sanders Show” and “Arrested Development,” he also starred in last year’s “Twenty Good Years” stink bomb. Other wacky cast members include Raquel Welch and Chris Klein. This show sounds terrible and even though a good friend of mine says that it’s not bad, I’m not holding my breath. I mean, Chris Klein has the acting chops of a pork chop.

Chris Klein comedy? On the air. Judy Greer comedy? You see where I’m going with this flogged dead horse.

I’ll end on a positive note, by throwing you this wee teaser for the upcoming (half) final season of “Battlestar Galactica.” It ain’t much, but I takes what I can gets:

Seth Freilich is Pajiba’s television editor. I think he really wants Judy Greer to have a show on the air, although he could be a little more clear about it.

Late Night with Pajiba

The Daily Trade Round-Up / The TV Whore
Dec. 19, 2007

Industry | December 19, 2007 |

Seth is a Senior Editor and sometime critic. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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