The strike by members of the Writers Guild of America against the motion picture and TV industry is entering its second week and you know what that means.
Any day now, David Letterman is going to come out on stage with his own material and sound about as funny as your neighborhood undertaker.
Some 12,000 members of the WGA are upset that they aren't getting a big enough piece of the pie, particularly in the burgeoning Internet market, so they're putting their picket signs where their pens were. Letterman and Leno are on their own until further notice. So is "The Office" and "Desperate Housewives" and "Lost" and everything in between. Motion picture studios are free to keep making movies as long as they don't plan on any more talkies.
The point, of course, is that it all starts and stops with the writing and the writers are tired of not getting what they consider commensurate respect.
Without words there are no scripts and without scripts there are no lines and without lines there is nothing for anyone to deliver.
That's their story line and they're sticking to it.
Besides, writing is hard work. It's a dark and lonely night when it's just you, your laptop and a deadline, with only a bag of Cheetos to keep you company.
And the easier it looks, the harder it usually was.
It was Red Smith who said, "Writing is easy, you just sit down at a typewriter, open a vein and bleed." And he was a sportswriter.
Somebody else said, "Everyone wants to have written, no one wants to write."
The show biz writers, and some-times only the show biz writers, know this, which is why every 20 years or so (the last Writers Guild walkout was in 1988) they have to remind one and all of their relevance.
Either get it or they cancel the season.
In their own words, this is what they're telling the studios:
" What we have here is a failure to communicate."
"Are you talkin' to me?"
"I'm as mad as h---, and I'm not going to take this anymore."
"You can't handle the truth."
"You've been ruining everybody's lives and eating all our steak."
"You've got to ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya, punk?"
"Go ahead, make my day."
"Show me the money."
And until then:
"Hasta la vista, baby."
(Extra credit to any reader who has (A) made it this far in the column and (B) e-mails me the names of the nine movies the above lines are from. I promise to mention all winners in a future sequel column).
I know I'm biased, but I'm rooting for the writers. If Nicole Kidman can get $20 million a movie, if they can pay Jim Carey $20 million for "The Cable Guy," if they can spend $207 million to make "King Kong," if they can give somebody who wins "Survivor China" $1 million, then I don't see why they can't pay the writers their fair share, and maybe a little bit more (and give whoever writes "House" a little something extra. That guy is a genius).
Here's hoping they make them an offer they can't refuse before anybody's Hummer gets repo'd.It will help take the chill off a dark and lonely night.
Lee Benson's column runs Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Please send e-mail to [email protected] and faxes to 801-237-2527.