Roger L. Simon

Writers Strike: Look out for "Reality Talk Shows"

It is being widely reported that the first casualty of the new WGA strike will be the late night talk shows. The Tonight Show, etc. are headed for reruns. But Letterman, Leno, et al, better watch out. The last writers’ strike helped give rise to the “reality shows” that now proliferate on television, many of them far more interesting than most fictional dramas and comedies. “Reality Talk” may be next.

It’s got to be easier for someone to run a talk show without writers,. That’s what we do weekly on PJM Political. We just call up some people and talk. No written scripts in sight.

We could just as well have those same people walk into a television studio and start talking. But then, of course, we’d miss all those “great written jokes.” As one who has, in the past, written a line or two for some pretty famous comics, I’m loathe to admit it, but those comics weren’t that much better (if any) when they read my lines. They were just funny people. Of course, there’s no way Letterman and Leno are anywhere near as talented as Richard Pryor (by far the best that I ever worked with), but this could be the time for new talk talents to emerge. [I can’t believe you’re saying that. You’re a member of the Writers Guild.-ed. In for dime, in for a dollar.)

Writer free talk shows anybody? And while we’re at it, how about a replacement for Charlie Rose?