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Fazekas supports strike despite harm to 'Reaper'

The writers' strike has come at a devil of a time for the Williamsville woman who co-created the CW series, "Reaper."

Reached on the picket line of showrunners in front of the Walt Disney Studios in Los Angeles late last week, Michele Fazekas said she realizes the strike could adversely affect her series about a box-store employee whose parents sold his soul to the devil.

"It certainly is not going to do our show any favors," said Fazekas. "And there certainly is a possibility that it will irreparably damage the show."

She said the show is filming its 11th episode, the last one with a finished script. Episodes 12 and 13 were written by free-lancers, but only the first drafts had been completed. The CW should be able to air original episodes of "Reaper" through the end of the year, she said.

The show isn't a hit, but it is a DVR favorite and is doing decently by CW standards.

"We are holding our own," said Fazekas. "We're up against 'House.' We're steady. People aren't turning it off at the half hour."

CW hadn't yet given the Tuesday show an order for nine additional episodes that would ensure it a full season. It did order three additional scripts, which is a minor sign of support.

Fazekas supports the strike wholeheartedly.

"I feel in a situation like this, this [strike] is more important than my individual show or my individual career. So I'm OK to make the sacrifice. Everybody else is. And there are people who are making much bigger sacrifices than me."

Since her father, Steve, holds a management position with General Motors, Fazekas understands labor actions better than many of her fellow writers.

"I'm familiar with labor disputes, but I've never been through one myself," said Fazekas. "We're on the line talking and saying, 'I can't believe we're doing this.' "

"It is a pretty bleak prospect if we have a six-month strike ... I don't know if any of us thought we'd be in this position. So there is something kind of surreal about being here. Most of us have never been through a labor action before."

She was in high school in 1988, the last time that the writers went on strike.

"We're in such a different world than we were during the '88 strike," she said. "The economy is different, the market is different. I would hope that cooler heads will prevail and they'll realize that no one could afford this."

She isn't making any predictions about when the strike will end. Since she co-created "Reaper" and is one of its executive producers, she'll survive for now. But she and her fellow writers aren't as rich as some people think.

"Somebody, in a snotty way, called this a gathering of millionaires," said Fazekas. "I'm not a millionaire. I'll be OK for a little while. Some of my staff I worry about ... We have a writer who just bought a house and he's a lower level guy. I worry about him. Will it hit me financially? Of course it will. It will hit everybody financially."

* Speaking of the CW, its upcoming mother-daughter beauty pageant competition reality series, "Crowned: The Mother of All Pageants," includes a pair from Western New York among the 11 teams competing. They are only identified in a CW release as Pamela and Felicia of Tonawanda, New York. I'm hoping one of my spies out there will give me their last names.

The CW describes the eight-episode series, which premieres at 9 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 12, as an "outrageous" competition show. It will air at 8 p.m. Wednesdays after its premiere. Carson Kressley ("Queer Eye for the Straight Guy"), former Miss USA Shanna Moakler and Cynthia Garrett are the judges who will "referee" the competition "that dares to pit mother/ daughter teams against each other in a no-holds-barred beauty pageant" that "explores one of the most emotional and volatile relationships as mothers and daughters."

The CW said each team will have to "brand" a clothing and swimwear style, talk about world issues and prepare for a big dance number. The winning mother/daughter team will receive $100,000 and "a fabulous pair of tiaras." Though it airs on the CW, it is a production of Fox Television Studios. What a shocker.

apergament@buffnews.com

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