ALEX COHEN, host:
Today is Day 72 of the writers strike, a strike that's showing no signs of ending. This week, several TV studios have dropped their contracts with writers - the thought being it's too late now to try and salvage the current season of scripted television. For more we're joined by Lynette Rice, senior writer with Entertainment Weekly.
Welcome back to DAY TO DAY, Lynette.
Ms. LYNETTE RICE (Entertainment Weekly): Thank you.
COHEN: So this began with ABC, which cut a dozen writers at the end of last week. And now several more studios have dumped some of their writers. What does all of these mean?
Ms. RICE: Well, it's a simple cost-saving measure. A lot of these writers either were on shows that have already been cancelled from this season, or they weren't really in active development on something, or perhaps the pilot they were working on has no chance of going any farther because of the strike. So that's the easiest place to cut the fat right now.
COHEN: And what about the writers and the Writers Guild? How have they reacted to this canceling of contracts?
Ms. RICE: They weren't particularly happy about it. But the fact remains that no one is doing business right now.
COHEN: This past weekend, the Golden Globes are reduced to kind of a sad little press conference because they weren't allowed to use writers. And now there's rumblings that the same might wind up happening with the Oscars. And even before the Oscars, there is the Grammys.
Now, the Grammys is the awards show for musicians. So how is it that the writers strike could impact that show?
Ms. RICE: Well, at the very least, if CBS asks the WGA for a waiver so they would be permitted to use a writer to, you know, write the intros, the jokes and whatnot. Beyond that, WGA could once again go and work in cahoots with the Screen Actors Guild. Then the Screen Actors Guild can turn around and start calling musicians and saying, gee, you know, there's a good chance that the writers may picket this show. Do you really want to cross a picket line? You know? And there's a lot of musicians today that have blurred the lines between the music industry and film. So they may not want to cross a picket line, so they'll just avoid the Grammys.
COHEN: Now, tonight is the season premier of the seventh season of "American Idol." And in past years it's done incredibly well ratings-wise. And in recent weeks a lot of the other reality shows out there have done better than the scripted shows that they replaced. So with reality doing so well, how might that affect the writers strike?
Ms. RICE: Make no mistake. At least in the next season we'll probably see fewer scripted shows by virtue of the fact that there's going to be an abbreviated development season. But you know, realities are here to stay, which is why the WGA is trying so hard to get the companies to agree to unionizing reality workers as well.
COHEN: Lynette, do you have any sense of how much longer this strike might last and what any possible resolutions to all of this could be?
Ms. RICE: The industry is feeling somewhat hopeful this week because the Directors Guild began formal negotiations with the conglomerates on Saturday. And those continued through the weekend. And if that deal comes out, there's a very good chance that the conglomerates will take the deal that they got with the DGA and then go to the writers and say, hey, take it or leave it. And that could kick-start talks again with the writers. And if that's the case, maybe we'd have something within two or three weeks. And maybe then we'll get the Oscars that we know and love.
COHEN: Lynette Rice, senior writer with Entertainment Weekly. Thank you.
Ms. RICE: Thank you.
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