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So Why Should Anyone Care About a Writers Strike?

     A lot of reasons actually. This wouldn't be just seven-figure Hollywood screenwriters worrying about paying off their homes in Pacific Palisades.

     Especially in an era when young people are unashamed to admit they're getting their news from the ruthless oppositional humor of Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, David Letterman, Jay Leno and Conan O"Brien, a writer's strike would cause late night TV talk shows to grind to a halt--momentary, temporary or something else. All the bigger political grenade-lobbers in television--all those Letterman staffers gleefully seizing Bush idiocies for "Great Moments in Presidential Speeches" and "Daily Show" followers of Dick Cheney's mysterious comings and goings--would be stifled.

     In other words, a good portion of the anti-establishmentarian climate that has helped to send the approval ratings of a troubled presidency into the weeds at the bottom of the Potomac, would be temporary cloudless. Stephen Colbert could always continue his mock presidential campaign and go on a proper book tour. But Stewart might be left home to play with the kids. Leno would have to tell O. J. memorabilia jokes to his wife Mavis.

     Best equipped to cope creatively with a Writers Guild Strike might be Letterman's show which already proved, when its host was sidelined by heart bypass surgery, that it actually had creative people on the staff who weren't writers. The very idea in some of those triple bypass shows, of Julia Roberts just chilling on some stairs in an empty studio was an ingenious way to deal, for one night anyway, with a major problem.

    Letterman playfully said on Thursday night that his bandleader might have some sort of little "dance party" in his hour. Without the writers at work, Paul Shaffer might--if you think about it--do something awfully interesting by calling every musician he knows, or would like to, to fill the hour. It wouldn't do the trick for long but it might be cool for a short while.

     What's at stake are revenues from all the "new media" which are causing earthquakes, wildfires and floods from one end of American culture to the next.

     And ever since Jack Warner immortally opined that Hollywood writers are "schmucks with Underwoods" (the kind of contemptuous condescension that probably comes easiest to those who remember their father's shoe repair shop in Youngstown, Ohio), writers have been the earliest anglers for better conditions.

     And now that we've got a genuine Entertainment Industrial Complex in America, it made sense that they'd try to figure out if they too might profit in case we all start downloading their movies and TV shows on our watches and Norelcos.

     And while they do, all our All-American and varsity pol-bashers will quarantined playing two-hand touch in the backyard.

     Just another game we won't see because of those who've never much liked the "schmucks with Underwoods."

--Jeff Simon

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