Tuesday, June 28, 2005

What? You mean Reality TV isn't... real?

The writers... that's right... the writers of reality TV hits such as "The Apprentice" and "The Swan" want a wage-and-benefit structure commensurate with that of members of the Writers' Guild of America.

Forbes reports that, gasp (!), those dramatic storylines that we all love so much DON'T HAPPEN NATURALLY!

"They want to keep the fiction that it's not written so they don't have to pay us what they pay fiction writers," said Rebecca Hertz, a 28-year-old writer who has worked on shows such as "The Swan" on Fox and "Big Man on Campus" on the WB.

The WGA said it has received nearly 1,000 signed cards from reality TV workers requesting representation by the union.

Unlike a sitcom or drama, a reality show doesn't often employ "writers." Instead, people with titles such a "field producer" or "story producer" make sure each episode follows a script that's often conceived in advance.

In other cases, editors have the job of finding dramatic story lines in hundreds of hours of tape. Producers might boil down 400 hours of footage to create a single 44-minute episode of a show, said Jeff Bartsch, a 26-year-old editor.

"Audiences want to see conflict and resolution. They want to see a progression, to see the characters learn something," he said.

That process, argues the WGA, is called writing.
As one might expect, the producers of Reality TeeVee say, "not so!"

The WGA is hinting about a strike. Producers are digging in their heels.

Can anybody say "lawsuit?"