Sunday, November 04, 2007

Parents more likely to restrict TV viewing; WGA and producers-- beware!


I remember, as far back as 1955, in seventh grade, teachers saying, “Read, don’t watch television.” That was when black-and-white TV was still just a bit of a novelty, westerns (Roy Rogers, Gene Autrey) were popular, as was Amos ‘n’ Andy (not accepted well today), I Love Lucy and My Little Margie. Ed Sullivan and Diana Shore were typical TV entertainers. Or, remember "Life with Elizabeth" (not the Queen) with the "Elizabeth, aren't you ashamed?" and she would shake her head (I would tease a grade school girl named Betsy about this, to the point that she wanted a name change), or "The People's Choice" with Cleo, the talking dog (who could sit in the oven). Remember "Howdy Doody" with, besides the lead puppet, characters like Buffalo Bob, Clarabelle, Mr. Bluster, and the fictional city of Doodyville? Or how about Kukla, Fran and Ollie? Or Jack Benny, and George and Gracie (remember how Gracie "didn't understand things.") I remember in seventh grade a classmate in the cafeteria accusing me of watching too much (black and white) television and playing with toy soldiers -- over lunch table "football" (remember that?)

Actually, some of the ideas in these were pretty interesting. “I Love Lucy,” half-hour segments, were masterpieces in screenwriting – how to make innocuous domestic situations funny. I recall one where Lucy hires a maid and doesn’t have the self-confidence to fire here.

Cheryl Wetzstein has an interesting story in the November 1, 2007 The Washington Times, p A1, based on the Census Bureau’s new report “A Child’s Day: 2004”. The URL seems to be this:
The report is called “More parents setting limits on TV: Census finds rise in reading.” Most of all, parents are discovering pediatric warnings that children under two should not see TV at all (I know one family that enforces this strictly, and counts on two dogs and two cats to help the infant daughter develop self-awareness – a good idea in psychological terms, probably), and parents are more restrictive of television and computer hours at all ages (most of all the youngest) than they were in the mid 1990s. Parents were more concerned about ads for adult programming creeping into children’s hours. Even the Dr. Phil segments, on at 3 PM in the East after some kids are home, certainly deal with disturbing adult topics.

It’s not so much about pornography or anything like that, it’s just maturity level. How do kids deal with all of this until they can understand the context in which things are presented?

This is all interesting, as we live in an age where people, young adults and even high schoolers, expect some independence in how they get their information from all media. At the same time, Sunday school teachers speak of "news fasts".

It's of "moral" concern to me as I would like to make media a second career.

All the while, the WGA and producers argue over residual rights and television writers (even more than movie writers) could gut a lot of shows in a few weeks if they walk off the job. SNL made fun of all of this last night. Both sides ought to stop, think, and settle.

Update: Nov. 5, 2007 Strike Starts

The WGA strike has started. Late night comedy shows will be forced into immediate reruns. Here is the CNN story today.

The WGA website lists picketing assignments, and it looks like it is an onerous duty for WGA members. The list of signatory companies is long and instructive to look at; go here.

Seriously, I hope this strike is settled quickly. Use "the area of mutual agreement."

Nov. 17: Media reports indicate that formal talks will resume Monday Nov. 26.



Update: Dec 4, 2007

Intermittent talks have resumed, but progress is hard to predict. Here is one story.

Dec. 4: Reuters: "Striking writers, studios renew talks as hopes fade" by Steve Gorman, here.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Produces has its stand today here.

The WGA's stand is here.

The "Soap Opera Fan" site gives some analysis here.



Update: Dec. 8, 2007

Various media outlets report that that the WGA-AMPTP talks have stalled again, in anger -- although it's hard to tell whether the madness is a bluff, as this happens with most strikes. The AMPTP accuses the Guild leadership people of putting their personal ideologies and agendas above the interests of their membership, and the WGA accuses the AMPTP of trying to do to the Internet "what it did to home video." I'm not sure what that is. WGA also wants jurisdiction over reality TV and animation. Of course, regular workers would have a legal right to organize and ask the WGA to represent them; I'm not sure how labor law would apply to reality show "contestants" but it would surprise me if it does. A typical story today is on CNN, " Tempers flare as studios break off talks with writers," link here. Any visitor (from either side, or neutral) with constructive comments is certainly invited to make them (monitored, but I check frequently).

Last picture above: a boyhood drawing (about 1955) when I was making amateur "movies" with drawings and projecting them as film strips (which had commonly been used in schools then).

On Dec. 10, 2007 ABC's "The View" discussed the Writers Strike.

Vanity Fair has a blog on the Writer's Strike here.

Although a couple of NBC nighttime comedy shows will restart in January without the writers, the WGA has forbidden writers to participate in the Golden Globe or Academy Awards, and forbidden old clips from films to be shown.

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