Without TV or movies we can read more

Published 12:31 pm Monday, November 19, 2007

By Staff
Some of the glibbest people on television are at a loss for words since some 12,000 film and TV writers went on strike Nov. 5.
Writers Guild of America members are seeing their words fly off every which way and they naturally want more money for them.
Twenty-five years ago when video first began raking in millions, writers were left with residuals of less than a nickel a copy.
They're determined that not happen again – especially now that their dialogue is downloaded from the Internet when you catch "The Office" on your iPhone or stream "Desperate Housewives" on ABC's Web site.
Patric Verrone, the former "Tonight Show" writer who is president of the WGA West, said, "The producers told us in the early 1980s that (video) was a new medium, that they needed to study it. But we don't want a study. We want a percentage. If it turned out to be eight-track or CB radio, then nobody gets paid. But if (online profits) are what we think they're going to be, we want a share."
A strike in 1988 lasted more than five months and ruined two TV seasons. Some shows, such as "Moonlighting," never recovered. It cost the industry an estimated half billion dollars in revenue.
Studios and networks today are owned by larger corporations with deeper pockets. NBC and Universal, for example, are divisions of General Electric.
Industry executives stockpiled reality shows in preparation.
"We're not going to be the ones who lose our houses," one told Entertainment Weekly.
If the strike lasts, ABC has eight episodes of "Lost" ready for broadcast, Fox 17 episodes of "The Simpsons" and five or six of "House."
There will be fewer award shows and soap operas, which is a good thing, but no new "Daily Shows," which is bad.
Without TV and movies, we'll have more time to read.
There are a lot of new authors we think of as rockers, which is ironic because who thought Slash, Eric Clapton, Ron Wood or Nikki Sixx would remember enough of their legendary exploits to pen memoirs?
At the height of his heroin addiction, Clapton spent $16,000 a week on drugs.
"In the lowest moments of my life, the only reason I didn't commit suicide was that I knew I wouldn't be able to drink anymore if I was dead."
Wood, the Rolling Stone who grew up near London's Heathrow Airport, writes about the paranoia freebasing induces.
Wood reveals that bandmate Keith Richards didn't like Stephen Stills and "used to say, 'Stills doesn't know how to do drugs properly.' "
Sixx, the Motley Crue bassist, bases his book, "The Heroin Diaries," on a log he somehow kept in 1986-87.
"Looking back, I know it looks crazy now, but at the time, it seemed the only way to live," writes Sixx, who partied with Prince protege Vanity, who "opened the door naked, with her eyes going around in her head. Somehow, I had a feeling that we might just hit it off."
Slash, the Guns N' Roses guitarist, was addicted to speedballs (heroin and cocaine).
Slash hallucinated tiny demon men on a daily basis that had always been a "welcome, carefree distraction" until one day he crashed naked through a glass door running from them at an Arizona resort. "There was an army of them, holding tiny machine guns and weapons."
Concerned about his drug use, Slash's mom suggested he speak to David Bowie, whom she'd known since the '70s.
Too mediocre for global competition: When it comes to U.S. eighth graders and math proficiency, our highest-scoring states are Massachusetts and Minnesota – which trail Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan and Japan.
Mississippi (14 percent proficient, compared to 51 percent for Massachusetts and 73 percent for Singapore) math results are competitive with Bulgaria, Moldova and Macedonia.
35.5 million: Number of people who went hungry in 2006 in the United States, up from 35.1 million in 2005, the Agriculture Department reported Nov. 14.
The survey does not include homeless people, of which there were three-quarters of a million people on a given day in 2005, according to federal estimates.