ContractsProf Blog

Editor: Myanna Dellinger
University of South Dakota School of Law

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Writers Walk at Fox

FoxBack when The Simpsons was fresh and funny, they had an episode in which Bart and Lisa write an episode of Itchy and Scratchy for the Krusty the Clown show.  Realizing that nobody at the networks will take them seriously as a couple of kids, they decide to use Grandpa Simpson's name.  Unfortunately they don't know his name.  They ask him, and he can't remember, but whenever he can't remember his name, he just checks his underwear.  Then comes the following priceless dialogue:

Grandpa; Call me (pulling his underwear out of his pants). . . Abraham Simpson.
Lisa: Grandpa, how did you take off your underwear without taking off your pants?
Grandpa: I don't know.

I love that exchange, but it's not really relevant.  What is relevant is that when Lisa proposes that she and Bart write a script for a cartoon, he responds, "Cartoons have writers?!?"  "Sort of," she replies.  Now you might remember that joke (or a variation of it) from any number of subsequent Simpsons episodes, but that's just because they've been recycling old material for at least ten years.  Believe me, it was genuinely funny in 1993.  Today, not so much.

But oddly enough, it turns out that cartoons really do have writers and now some of those writers are on strike.  The New York Times reports that writers for a new Fox animated series about a high school, Sit Down, Shut Up walked off the job last Wednesday.  They had been working without a contract, and Sony Pictures Television, which is producing the series, just notified them that the show is not covered under the agreement recently negotiated by the Writers Guild of America. 

Now just what has become of writers?  If they're so talented, why don't they just write themselves a contract.  These guys don't even seem to have the creativity of the fictional cartoon writer characters on The Simpsons.  Those guys would have dropped an anvil on the heads of the Sony Pictures executives.  Or perhaps they would draw what looks like a tunnel on a brick wall so that the Sony executives would repeatedly walk into it.  And then when the Sony boys finally realize that it's still a brick wall, a train would come through the tunnel and run them down.  Now that's good writing!!

[Jeremy Telman]

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