LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Three days in, the writers strike is hitting television hard as schedules are juggled, producer deals suspended, productions shut down and layoffs announced.
Fox on Wednesday became the first broadcast network to announce a strike-affected midseason schedule, revealing that “24” would not air at all this season.
Fueled by “American Idol,” which will launch with a two-night, four-hour premiere January 15-16, and helped by the fact it only programs 15 hours a week, Fox had been considered the best equipped to handle a long writers strike.
Meanwhile, its corporate sibling 20th Century Fox TV became the latest TV studio to send out suspension letters to writers with overall deals, joining CBS Paramount Network TV, ABC Studios and Universal Media Studios.
20th TV also began notifying writers’ assistants Wednesday that they would be laid off immediately, but that their health benefits would be paid through the end of the year, sources said.
Meanwhile, for now, ABC is still sticking to its plan to air heavily serialized “Lost” in midseason, running the eight produced episodes, 10 short of the 18-episode order.
NBC is expected to announce its revised midseason schedule shortly, while CBS and ABC are still working on theirs.
ABC on Wednesday made a minor tweak to its schedule, replacing the November 20 episodes of “Cavemen” and “Carpoolers” with back-to-back “Charlie Brown” holiday specials and slotting Barbara Walters’ annual “Ten Most Fascinating People” special December 6, replacing a repeat of “Big Shots.”
In other strike related developments:
- NBC’s “The Office” officially shut down production Wednesday after its star Steve Carell and several other cast members refused to cross the picket line Monday and Tuesday, effectively bringing filming of the hit comedy to a halt. Several “Office” writers, including showrunner Greg Daniels, posted a video shot on the picket line on YouTube.
- With the exception of “Scrubs,” which is slated to film for awhile, all comedy series still in production are slated to wrap shooting their available scripts by early next week, followed by dramas, which will go on hiatus by the end of the month, laying off thousands of crew members.
- Production on the second season of Lifetime’s “Army Wives,” originally scheduled to begin at the end of November, has been put on hold.