Deadline

Sunday, March 02, 2003

Are Reality shows killing TV?

Recently my friend, a very funny actress wrote me that her boyfriend, a very funny sitcom writer, was having problems getting on a new show since their were so little options. She was also upset that she didn't get that many auditions for sitcoms, because there wasn't that many to choose from.

They blame the new boogieman: reality shows!

They don't realize that the TV business is not about keeping writers and actors in the money; but about keeping eyeballs on their networks and selling advertisements. If crappy sitcoms or CSI rip offs are getting viewers and bug eating reality shows are.


Years ago, every show was a "Friends" rip off and everyone got bored. This is the same thing. TV copies what works. Even what doesn't work. The talk show "The View," did ok in the daytime TV world, but then all of a sudden every new talk show has 19 hosts. The psychic talk show does well and then everyone with a premonition and a crystal ball got a talk show pilot.

So at some point, people will get tired of the same format and want something new or old. But right now, everyone is buying reality shows.

The problem with that is that the people who make those shows don't make even close the money that sitcom and drama guys so.
On a scripted show, the writers, actors, and producers get money for reruns and rebroadcasts. They can make money over and over again off the same episodes. They also make more money per episode. They also make like 22 ep's of these shows.

Reality shows have like one or two writers, and a director who make money later on. But producers and the contestants don't make rerun money, residuals. So they can't buy that house in Hollywood Hills that they show off on E! Celebrity homes. Also most reality shows are six, nine, or 13 episode arks. Not 22.


Also, now instead of showing reruns of a drama, networks would rather introduce a new reality show to get new viewers and attract new advertiser money.

Like, "The Family" on ABC on Tuesdays for nine weeks straight, instead of showing reruns of the cop drama.
Instead of making money off of second runs of "NYPD Blue" these poor actors have to wait for reruns because the evil reality show came in the picture. So that's not fair, taking rerun money from actors and writers.

But, I worked on "The Family" with atleast 40 other people. We all had weeks of work because of this show. How dare actors and writers get all high and mighty that they can't get work. Why because someone else is in teh picture? Good, f them. they'll make more money than me any day.

But with sitcoms and dramas you can build a fan base and an identity. "Friends" and "CSI" can build nights, franchises, identities for a network. CBS once a babysit for old guys, now is the true crime channel. Even their news shows are about solving crimes.
What's better? Who knows, but you should learn to flow with the times.

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