Shows May Have Uneven Return from Writer Strike Striking screenwriters are considering a proposed contract that would end their 12-week-long strike and could be back at work by Wednesday. Half-hour comedies are expected to have fresh episodes faster than hourlong dramas. But some serialized shows might not come back until fall.
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Shows May Have Uneven Return from Writer Strike

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Shows May Have Uneven Return from Writer Strike

Shows May Have Uneven Return from Writer Strike

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

And I'm Michele Norris.

TV and movie screenwriters are considering proposed contract that would end their 14 week-long strike. If they accept the deal, they could be back at work as soon as Wednesday.

The TV industry already has its sight set beyond that. Producers in studios are scrambling to pick up production and see how much of the TV season they can salvage.

NPR's Margot Adler reports on what you might and might not see on the TV in the next few months.

MARGOT ADLER: Some TV shows are just not coming back, like "Kane" and the "Bionic Woman." Lynette Rice, a senior writer at Entertainment Weekly, says most of those shows...

Ms. LYNETTE RICE (Senior Writer, Entertainment Weekly): Weren't looking that pretty, in the first place before the strike. And in any other season, they probably would have been cancelled by now anyway.

ADLER: There now are a group of shows - she names "Pushing Daisies" and "Dirty Sexy Money" that may not come back until next season. There are two things to think about here: logistics - getting the whole machinery of a show to work, getting scripts written a lot effective, the sets up, and narrative. Shows with lots of complicated narrative will be even harder to bring back.

(Soundbite of TV series, "Chuck")

Mr. ZACHARY LEVI (Actor): (As Chuck) Morgan, this is a bad idea.

Mr. JOSHUA GOMEZ (Actor): (As Morgan) Well, we can't stay here, Chuck.

Mr. LEVI: (As Chuck) I'm comfortable with the plan.

Mr. GOMEZ: (As Morgan) Plan, what plan? This is survival.

(Soundbite of TV series, "Heroes")

Mr. JACK COLEMAN (Actor): (As Noah Bennet) This is done by a very gifted artist in New York.

Mr. SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY (Actor): (As Mohinder Suresh) Isaac Mendez. Everything he's ever painted has come true.

Mr. ADRIAN PASDAR (Actor): (As Nathan Petrelli) Don't expect me to regret the decisions that I have made because the truth is I don't.

ADLER: These shows - "24," "Heroes" and "Chuck" are not coming back until the fall, and there's a reason, says Time magazine TV critic James Poniewozik.

Mr. JAMES PONIEWOZIK (TV Critic, Time Magazine): With a show like "Lost," where you have an extremely dense plot and you're suddenly talking about possibly taking the last eight episodes of the season and turning it into the last five or six, well, what do you cut out when everything is connected to everything else?

ADLER: Whereas with a sitcom like "The Office" or a procedural like "Law and Order" you can lop off five or six episodes without a problem.

Now, you might wonder if an animated show like "The Simpsons" on Fox has the same problems as the show with live actors. Matt Selman is executive producer for "The Simpsons," which, he says, means he's also a writer and editor, all around, getting-the-operation-going type of person. He sees only one difference with an animated show.

Mr. MATT SELMAN (Executive Producer, "The Simpsons"): With animation, you're working all the time on many episodes at once. We'll definitely be able to have "Simpsons" episodes that were cut halfway produced back on the air as good as ever very quickly.

ADLER: Over at "Grey's Anatomy" at ABC, executive producer Shonda Rhimes is ready to go.

Ms. SHONDA RHIMES (Executive Producer, "Grey's Anatomy"): I'm in my office.

ADLER: And the writers come in Wednesday.

Ms. RHIMES: We're going to sit around to talk about what stories we feel like we can tell at appealing manner in the next four episodes, get those written, bring back our crew and get started building and, you know, lighting and getting the costumes back together and casting and all that stuff before we can really get started shooting.

ADLER: So despite the writers returning, the first new episodes may not come until May. As with the lasting impacts on television from the strike, many industry experts say reality shows are here to stay. "Big Brother" on CBS, beginning tomorrow night is airing three times a week through May, even though the strike is over. And there will be fewer pilot, a cost-saving trend that began before the strike, but "Entertainment Weekly's" Lynette Rice says that might not be a bad thing - to produce fewer but better shows.

Ms. RICE: By doing so, we could get better quality rather than seeing all these dribble that they often produce in March and April, for the pilot season.

ADLER: Most of which never sees the light of day. So I asked Matt Selman of "The Simpsons" if all these months on strike have given him some new ideas for his show.

Mr. SELMAN: All of our stories next year are going to be about people picketing, people picketing and being angry at corporations.

ADLER: Margot Adler, NPR News, New York.

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