The Greg Brady Project

Welcome to the official Barry Williams' blog

My friends call me Barry. From time to time I also hear the name Greg. Yeah, as in Greg Brady. The Brady Bunch represents a fun time in my life. But it’s only part of the story. There’s more to say and that’s what The Greg Brady Project is all about – a place to say it. So, I’ve invited some friends to join me and share their perspectives on the Brady’s, the 70′s and just about everything else. Now, I’m inviting you…

08 Jan
Eric Greenberg

A Mike and a Hard Place

written by Eric Greenberg in Blog | No comments

I don’t envy late night talk show hosts lately. OK. That’s a lie. They make a ton of cash, hang out with cool people, and I go to bed every night wishing I could have their job, if only for a few hours. I just envy them a little less than usual. There are a lot of people hurt by the current writers strike, but no matter which camp you fall in, Leno and company have been put in a pretty tough position.

With Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert making the late night schedule complete with their return to TV last night, the issue has now shifted from whether they should return to what they should do to fill the time. Ironically, David Letterman, one of two hosts able to return with writers, is probably the guy who shines the most in awkward situations like this. As happy as I am that Letterman’s production company was able to come to an interim agreement with the WGA, I’d like to have seen what he’d have done with this. Now what about the others?

Sitting on the couch to catch the first “Tonight Show”/”Late Show” face off last week, I thought I was hearing things as I listened to WGA member Jay Leno deliver a monologue that he’d clearly written. To me, it seemed like an obvious violation and a slap in the face considering the writers have been making a point of emphasizing that they’re picketing the networks and not the hosts. Jay claims there was a miscommunication about his intentions at a meeting with the WGA. So like Greg Brady, Jay wants to live by “exact words.” Fine. By all accounts, Jay is a good guy and I’m willing to give him a pass. Now that the WGA has clarified its position though, I don’t exactly understand why he’s still doing it. Even if he has the right to script his own material as NBC claims, why even go there? I understand Jay’s monologue is a staple of the show and last week’s ratings seemed to prove it, but they may have been just as good with people tuning in for the novelty of the unexpected without ruffling feathers on day one.

The truth is that while Leno may have been a little too obvious about it, nobody’s going in cold, and I can’t really blame them. What could be more awkward than sitting on live TV for an hour with absolutely nothing to say? This, when most would probably prefer to not be there under the circumstances in the first place. The big question is: what exactly constitutes writing? Is it the process of coming up with the idea or actually putting it on paper? What most of these guys are really doing in varying degrees is calculated ad-libbing. In sitcom writing terms, they’re writing the outline, but not much of the dialogue. It’s a fine line. From what I’ve seen, while they’ve all probably crossed it in terms of the letter of the law, most have done a remarkably good job of walking that line in the spirit of it. What they’ve also done, Jay included, is act as great champions of the writers’ cause. Job well done.

On a personal level, I can’t relate to this problem as all my blog entries are completely ad-libbed.

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