Writers' strike opens door to non-union talent

When I learned that Hollywood writers were on strike, presumably for better wages and improved working conditions, I picked up my protest sign, dusted off my Woody Guthrie records and vowed to join my brothers and sisters of the pen on the picket line.

I envisioned my rag-tag crew standing up to Hollywood strike busters, our voices uniting in song: “I used to write for 24/ But I’m on strike, I don’t no more/ Keifer’s rich, he plays Jack Bauer/ While I make five bucks an hour.”

I’ve considered myself an honorary member of the Writers Guild of America after submitting a script for Alf in 1987, a potentially Emmy-Award winning episode that was somehow passed over for production. (Note: Hollifield’s supposed script, titled “Alf vs. Planet of the Apes,” was little more than a series of semi-coherent ramblings scribbled on the back of a cocktail napkin dotted with what appeared to be either blood or Tabasco sauce.)

Second thoughts

It’s high time, I said with fist raised in solidarity, those fat-cat Hollywood studio honchos reward those who toil in their fields to produce the golden fruit of network TV. Then I read that the average Guild writer brings in about $200,000 a year, a figure that is, uh, somewhat more than the average newspaper columnist’s salary. I sensed an opportunity, put away the protest sign, reshelved the Woody Guthrie records and put pen to paper:

Dear Kind and Gracious Studio Executive,

I am so sorry the writers strike has reduced this great country of ours to bathing in the numbing, blue glow of network reruns rather than the numbing, blue glow of first-run episodes. What if we’ve already seen this Monday night’s How I Met Your Mother? What are we supposed to do, watch it again? Turn off the TV and reconnect with estranged family members? Read a book? What’s a book?

What do these pampered writers want? Just because they come up with all the ideas for plots and write lines for actors who are famous only because they effectively spit back what someone else told them to say while you take meetings and bounce green M&Ms off the flat, tanned bellies of the latest starlet wannabes, they think they can bite the hand that feeds them.

How dare they! Say the word and several of my associates and I will be out there with ax handles, cracking kneecaps down the line from Desperate Housewives to Grey’s Anatomy.

But before resorting to violence, why not consider hiring a veteran writer with a partial episode of Alf under his belt, one who will work for a mere $199,999 per year, a savings you can turn into more green M&Ms?

And that veteran writer is me. Who knows more about TV than someone who has stared at it for most of his life?

Consider these hot, new shows:

Law & Order: Possum and Panda Unit: Believe me, these creatures have captured America’s imagination, if the three e-mails I received about previous columns are any indication. Detective Possum is by the book, while Detective Panda is a hot-head who plays fast and loose with the rules. (Spin-off potential - SWAT Monkeys.)

Golden Girls: Laguna Beach: Bea Arthur. Swimsuit. ’Nuff said.

Charles in Charge II: A Scott Baio comeback vehicle? No, it’s a new reality series with noted psychopath Charles Manson directing his cellblock’s talent- show version of the musical Guys and Dolls. (Technically, it would be called Guys and Guys.) Watch as Charles leads a talented cast of inmates through a Broadway classic, then tries to stab them all with a sharpened spoon.

Want more, Mr. Kind and Gracious Studio Executive? Just put down those M&Ms, sign that check and we’ll all get back to bathing in the numbing, blue glow of quality, first-run TV.

If not, that ax-handle thing is still on the table.


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