The American Idol Truth Tour. At first glance, what do you think this means? What is American Idol covering up? According to the Writers Guild of America, a lot. Not just American Idol, though, but the entire reality industry in Hollywood. Long have reality series and game shows had writers who weren’t really considered writers. This is only because, if they were considered writers, they would be part of a powerful union. That means no more long hours, more pay, and more benefits. Starting today, the WGA is going to hold protests in cities where American Idol is holding its auditions; they will be protesting what they consider poor treatment of writers in the reality industry.
David Weiss, WGA vice president, said during an LA rally: “Time cards have been filled out often illegally, people are being asked to work through their lunch breaks . . . and work 15- to 20-hour days, frequently seven days a week.”
If that’s the case, then, those aren’t ideal working conditions. But, I always thought long hours were part of the deal in Hollywood. Especially, when it comes to a reality series. Take Survivor, which might need round the clock “writing” during filming. We can assume that writers on that show (if there are any), help spruce up the confessional interviews, and help Probst introduce challenges. Maybe these writers work 15-18 hours a day. Isn’t that a necessity? Isn’t everyone else on the set working just as much?
I totally understand if reality writers want to be recognized by joining the WGA. However, if it’s about work conditions, reality shows have a set filming schedule that require a significant time commitment over a usually small period of time.
This is a story to keep an eye on. The WGA has started reaching out to a number of the reality and game show companies, and are trying to give their writers proper representation. If they end up in the Guild, will anything change?
-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Image Courtesy of FOX)