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Complaints From Hollywood Writers Ring Hollow


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May 18, 2006

Complaints From Hollywood Writers Ring Hollow

David Kiley

Perhaps I feel this way because the last series on network TV I actually cared about, The West Wing, has been cancelled. But I find the crying by Hollywood writers over product and brand placement in their precious scripts a bit pathetic.

Seven writers and producers appeared at the news conference at the Le Parker Meridien hotel in Midtown Manhattan on Wednesday. It was sponsored by the Writers Guild of America. Their purpose was to put network executives and advertisers on notice about a trend they described as intrusive and creatively inhibiting--brand and product placement in shows.

The writers played video clips of what they deemed the more offensive examples from reality shows like "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" and scripted dramas like "7th Heaven." In one clip, an actor proposed marriage by inserting an engagement ring into the cream filling of an Oreo cookie. "If I were the creator, I would have had to take a shower after watching some of that stuff," said Marc Cherry, the writer who created "Desperate Housewives" for ABC.

Funny....the only time I ever tried to sit through an episode of DH, I felt the same way. Actually, I just felt bored out of my mind. Spotting the product placements at least provided some level of interaction with the story. It reminded me of when I was a youngster, sitting with my Dad and spotting makes of cars and out of state license plates on passing cars.

Don't even bother trying to rip reality shows for product placement. Nobody is watching American Idol, Deal or No Deal or Extreme Makeover for cultural enrichment or intellectual stimulation. I say...let the brands roll in. As far as "dramas" and comedies and dramedies go...the networks are reaping ad revenue wherever they can get it. The state of network TV programming is such that old fashioned ad revenue, earned during the commercial breaks, isn't cutting it.

In the end, I find it pathetic to listen to a writer making a handsome living writing what passes for dialogue in DH decrying the lost integrity of Hollywood and Madison Avenue. Give me a break. Cash your paycheck and hush up.

10:18 AM

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