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WGA's War On Reality TV Escalates

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I got to rant a good long time about Joe Lieberman yesterday, so it is fitting that today is a good news today for the industry. Reuters is reporting that the writing producers on reality show Americas Next Top Model are threatening to strike unless EP Ken Mok agrees to allow them to be represented by the Writers Guild of America. This has been brewing for a while now, with the WGA having people show up unexpectedly at certain events to protest the de facto use of people in writing capacity without recognizing them as such, allowing them to be covered by the collective bargining agreement.
The dozen Top Model staffers and WGA West officials plan a demonstration outside of Mok's production offices on South Sepulveda Boulevard at 9:30 a.m. WGA West officials said the threat of a strike was looming among the writers if their demands for guild recognition were not met.
This is interesting, because an early contestent-turned-actual-model Elise Sewell has written on her LiveJournal that the way the show is shot, edited, and constantly interfered with, means the producers are in fact writing the show in every sense other than having it down on paper -- and nobody is certain that is not the case.
The taped interviews were the source of most of the show's narration. Every four days (always the day before an elimination session), each contestant in turn was separated from the pack and interrogated about all of the "week"'s events as well as opinions on the other girls, the coming elimination, and whatever sundry topics the producers thought might be relevant to the story arcs in the final edit. Incidentally, these interviews were a reliable means for me to predict the final show's subplots, as well as one of the major ways in which the production crew manipulated the contestants.
The inconsistencies you noticed in the show were indeed the result of the producers asking questions in later interviews that pertained to events that had happened weeks earlier. This is almost certainly because, once the first few episodes' story arcs were cemented and editing was underway, the crew realized they had either neglected to ask pertinent questions in their original interviews, or everyone's soundbyte was unusable. During the third-to-last week of filming, I remember, Tyra was conspicuously absent for several days and a producer told us that she was in LA overseeing the editing of the first couple of ANTM eps. When you see me or Adrianne in a later episode rocking an interview outfit that you remember from earlier in the show, it means that segments of the later interview were used to narrate the earlier shows in which narration gaps existed. I also believe I remember noticing a snippet of me that was taped early and aired later (if I'm correct it was the one with the wild hair, which was taped after the photo shoot from Ep#2).
This is just the beginning. With new leadership at the Guild, pressure is only going to increase to allow de facto writers to be represented by the Guild. This is not the only area targeted for expansion either; people who write the story for video games are next for unionization, and it's about time.
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The text of this article is Copyright © 2006,2007 Paul William Tenny. All rights reserved. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. Attribution by: full name and original URL. Comments are copyrighted by their authors and are not subject to the Creative Commons license of the article itself.