The latest round of talks between writers and TV bosses broke down over the weekend with a lot of bad-mouthing on both sides. No further negotiations are expected until after the first of the year, and it's starting to seem unlikely that this season's scripted dramas will resume. Given the time it takes to write new scripts, then produce the actual shows, unless there's a prompt settlement right after the holidays, the networks may seriously consider giving up on dramas for the rest of the season. Sitcoms, which work with a shorter lead time, probably have a little more breathing space.
But they, too, face another unspoken threat: that all the reality and game shows the networks plan to introduce after the first of the year to fill dead air will find an audience. If those shows, which are so much cheaper to produce, draw large numbers of viewers, the networks -- particularly NBC and The CW, already battered by low ratings -- may decide to drastically cut back on scripted shows.