From WGA President Patric Verrone…

Hey, guys–

Thought this was an interesting little piece from Patric Verrone, president of the Writers Guild west, on the state of TV writing, reality TV, and Sunday night’s Emmy broadcast.  He posted this yesterday on the WGA‘s POV webpage

What Matters More Than Nothing

For those of you who saw the 2008 Emmy Awards telecast (and consider
yourself a rare breed as it was the smallest Emmy viewership ever) you
saw further proof of the essential role that writers play in
television. In a year when writers shut down television for three
months, the TV Academy chose to honor its 60th anniversary by having
five reality show stars host the show. Their opening routine was built
on the concept of “nothing” (and not the good kind of Seinfeld
“nothing” but the boring, confusing, head-scratching variety of
“nothing.”) They eventually took full credit for the routine, admitting
that they had no writers, and the bit fell flat on its face.

The long term tragedy of all this is that each of them would return
to their day job where they do have writers who do the kind of work
that earns these performers an Emmy nomination. Yet, with the exception
of Dancing With the Stars, none of these shows gives those writers
proper screen credit, health insurance or the other standard benefits
that writers earn in this industry.

The more immediate shame was that all the witless time-killing
forced producers to cut away from acceptance speeches, including that
of Kirk Ellis, who wrote the brilliant miniseries John Adams. In an
attempt to remedy that oversight, here is Kirk’s speech in its entirety:

“I’d like to dedicate this award to two people. My own Abigail, my
dearest friend, my wife Sheila. And David McCullough. Not only a great
mentor, but a friend. Thank you Tom Hanks, Gary Goetzman, Colin
Callender
, and Michael Lombardo for this opportunity to portray a time
in American politics when articulate men could articulate complex
thoughts in complete sentences. They forged a new nation with words.
Glorious words married to bold actions. John Adams believed that the
right words, spoken or written at the right time, could change the
world. And they did. Lately we’ve heard a lot of punditry about whether
words matter to us as Americans anymore. I’m just a writer — what do I
know? But, in answer to that question I can only say, yes, they do.
Yes, they do. Yes, they bloody well do. Thank you.”

Congratulations to Kirk and all the WGA members who won Emmys. And
to all our writer colleagues who toil in obscurity in reality
television: We think your words matter, too. Without them, your hosts
have “nothing.”

–Patric M. Verrone

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