I've been trying to figure out how any of these hosts can do a show without using a WGA writer or any material for that matter under WGA guidelines. I'm not talking about doing a good show, I'm talking about doing a show at all.
First of all, every late night host is a WGA member. That automatically means, with the strike, they can't even write for their own show. Monologue, sketches, and asides under photo and video.
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I'm not exactly clear on this, though I'm sure there'll be an AMPTE producer who can straighten me out, but wouldn't this also mean they can't do anything they pre-plan to do. For isn't that in itself part of the "writing" for the show.
Certainly they are going to prepare for each show or are the boys going into suspended animation and shut down their minds and imagination right up until show time? It seems that any "idea" the host has for the show must be covered as "literary material" by the WGA?
Number #20 of the WGA "Code of Working Rules": For the purposes only of these Rules, original stories, series and program ideas and original radio, screen and teleplays shall be defined as material which is the sole creation of the member or members and which is written by the member or members on his/her or their own time.
Are clips they'll be using not going to be decided on by the WGA hosts themselves which, in itself, will be crafting the show's content or will they be taking themselves out of the content decision-making process altogether?
Number #4 of the WGA "Code of Working Rules": No member shall do any work, including reviewing stock film before the commencement of a definite assignment under contract.
Who will be deciding on or creating the captions for Stewart or Colbert? Will that be the film/video editors? Don't they have to be written...or printed.? Shouldn't they fall under WGA criterion or will they be scabbing content - the literary material?
I realize that "literary material"must be defined, but hasn't that already been done?
WGA Screen Credits Manual, III. Guild Policy on Credits, A. DEFINITIONS, Paragraph #2 Literary Material: Literary material is written material and shall include stories, adaptations, treatments, original treatments, scenarios, continuities, teleplays, screenplays, dialogue, scripts, sketches, plots, outlines, narrative synopses, routines, and narrations, and, for use in the production of television film, formats.
Seems pretty inclusive. Skittering about the definition's intent still won't allow for any material, even material not actually written down. An idea is an idea, written or otherwise.
And you if choose to pontificate intellectually, the Oxford University Library Services defines copyrighted literary material as "anything recorded in words, letters or digits, regardless of literary merit..." See. Even digits. Thank God for the "regardless of literary merit" part. As a WGA member, it saved me from undue justification for many shows I worked on.
If content comes from a video editor or a cameraman or the wife of a cameraman, hand-written or hand-signaled for use on the show, it's literary material and should be covered under WGA guidelines.
My question is, other that just walking out and looking around the studio silently, a word not being said - unless someone actually thought up with that "idea," then there seems to be a problem.
Of course, there's probably a loophole producers have decided to slip through. I just wonder if the writing of the loophole isn't also included.
Award-winning TV writer, Steve Young, is author of "Great Failures of the Extremely Successful" (www.greatfailure.com)