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Production stopping on at least 7 prime-time shows

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Gary Gentile
November 7, 2007
— The impact of a strike by television and film writers was becoming more evident as the walkout entered its third day.

Production on at least six sitcoms was halted because of the strike, and the hit ABC drama "Desperate Housewives“ was scheduled to finish filming its latest episode Wednesday because it had run out of scripts.


Filming on the 13th episode of the freshman ABC comedy "Carpoolers“ was also set to finish Wednesday, ABC Studios spokeswoman Charissa Gilmore said. No new episodes have been ordered.


Production on more shows was likely to be halted, and networks were expected to announce plans for alternative programming in the coming days as the strike continues.


Other shows were not immediately affected, including the talk show "Ellen,“ which will continue production. Host Ellen DeGeneres told her studio audience at Tuesday’s taping that she was obligated under her contract to continue the show, although she supported the striking writers.


"I want to say I love my writers,“ DeGeneres said. "In honor of them today, I’m not going to do a monologue. I support them and hope that they get everything they’re asking for. And I hope it works out soon.“


Sitcoms that will stop the cameras include "Back to You,“ starring Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton, which will not return from a planned hiatus, said Chris Alexander, a spokesman for 20th Century Fox Television.


Actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus said production also stopped on her CBS show, "The New Adventures of Old Christine.“


In addition, "Til Death,“ which airs on Fox, and "Rules of Engagement,“ "Two and a Half Men“ and "The Big Bang Theory,“ all on CBS, will also end filming, according to people familiar with production of the shows who were not authorized to be quoted and requested anonymity.


Sitcoms are typically written the same week they are filmed, with jokes being sharpened by writers even on the day of production.


The strike began Monday after last-minute negotiations between the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers failed to produce a deal on how much writers are paid when shows are offered on the Internet.


Nick Counter, chief negotiator for the producers union, has said he expected a long standoff. Writers said the next move was up to the studios.


No new talks were scheduled. Pickets were expected to return Wednesday to locations in Los Angeles and New York.


Striking writers at the Warner Bros. studios in Burbank were joined by several "ER“ cast members Tuesday, including John Stamos, Maura Tierney and Mekhi Pfeiffer.


"We’re all in this together, so we wanted to come out and support our team,“ said Stamos, adding that the cast was planning to raise money for crew members who might have trouble making car and mortgage payments if the strike goes on.


"ER“ executive producer and creator John Wells said the show has three more episodes with scripts in various stages: one ready to shoot, one in good shape, and one that will be reviewed to determine if it’s ready to shoot as a rough draft or not.


"The issues will effect everyone in the industry – the writers just happen to be first,“ he said.


In Toluca Lake, near the Warner Bros. studio, writers converged on a house serving as a location shoot for "Desperate Housewives.“


"We write the story-a, Eva Longoria,“ about 30 strikers chanted, referring to a star of the hit ABC show.


"It is a very serious business,“ said Larry Wilmore, a writer on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,“ explaining that protesters were marching "so we can get back to being funny.“


The protesters were joined by actress Louis-Dreyfus.


"I’m really here because I’m a union member,“ she said, explaining she belongs to the Screen Actors Guild and her husband is a member of the writers guild.


"If we prevent them from working today, that’s a small victory,“ she said.


Longoria left the house and handed out pizza to strikers.


"We are done, and we’ll be on the lines supporting you,“ she told them.


"I have a whole crew that will have a terrible holiday season because there’s no resolution,“ she said. "I care about people losing their homes, I care about my hair and makeup artists who can’t make ends meet.“


The strike immediately sent late-night comedy shows into reruns, but it was not expected to have an immediate impact on production of movies. Most studios have stockpiled dozens of movie scripts, and many TV shows have scripts or completed shows in hand to last until early next year.


Writers have not gone on strike since 1988, when the walkout lasted 22 weeks and cost the industry more than $500 million.



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