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Post-Thanksgiving Turkey Hangover
December 8

Also available as a podcast. Click to listen!

We start this week with the dumbest move of 2008. The Screen Actors Guild, who have been working without a contract for months now have authorized a strike vote.

According to Scott Collins of the LA Times in the last week, the Screen Actors Guild, whose members have worked without a contract for months, announced it would push for a union-wide vote to authorize a strike. If that vote passes -- which many observers consider unlikely, given the current turmoil in the larger economy, but certainly not impossible -- an actors walkout could happen as early as mid-January. (Sources at the networks and the unions were happy to talk off the record, but no one would agree to be quoted by name discussing a sensitive labor situation.)
He also surmises that since AFTRA is covering a lot more shows than the writer's strike of 2007 that AFTRA's clout in prime time is growing. And that's because of the way TV shows have traditionally been apportioned between the two unions: SAG covers filmed projects; AFTRA, those on video. The unions have dual jurisdiction for material recorded digitally -- and that's where AFTRA is seeing a big upswing. In fact, the trend toward more AFTRA shows represents a return to the state of the industry before the 1980s, when expensive filmed shows such as "Hill Street Blues" began operating under SAG deals.
Finally he says that none of this means the TV business would escape injury if an actors strike really did come to pass. On the contrary, production schedules for many filmed shows would be thrown into chaos once again, and the industry would suffer further ill-timed disruptions at a moment of heightened economic vulnerability.

Let me put this more succinctly: SAG is being incredibly STUPID. The Writer's Strike of 2007 is the biggest story of 2008. Ratings are down across the board, and if SAG would get a better deal now they are out of their mind. This is a power play on SAG's part, because if AFTRA gets the control of the power shift in Hollywood then SAG's influence is lessened. I really hope SAG comes to their senses, but I sincerely doubt it. Watch for a SAG strike in 2009...and more crappy reality shows to come with it.

Now we have dates...lots of 2009 dates to deal with!
– CBS has some early 2009 premiere dates. The Hidden Camera Game Show “Game Show In My Head” hosted by Joe Rogan and produced by Ashton Kutcher, premieres January 3. We have the 18th season of "Survivor" premiering on Thursday, Feb. 12 with "The Amazing Race" returning for its 14th edition three days later on Sunday, Feb. 15.
– "13-Fear is Real", the Sam Raimi produced horror-reality show premieres on the CW on January 6th.
– ABC announced the return of Dancing with The Stars on March 9.
– NBC had the biggest shock by taking Deal or No Deal off the schedule in January in primetime. They also announced the supersizing of Celebrity Apprentice to two hours per episode when it returns (potentially in February) along with the “Biggest Loser” being supersized on Tuesdays and “Howie Do It” on Fridays (another hidden camera show premiering January 9th.). NBC is also premiering two new reality series. The first is dance competition Superstars of Dance. The show will start a month-long stint with a two-hour outing on Sunday January 4 at 9p (ET), before settling into a Monday 8-10 slot on January 5. Following
 that is the long delayed dating show Momma's Boys on January 5 at 10PM (produced by Ryan Seacrest).
– Fox Reality's Solitary v3.0 returns on January 17th.

An update on the Jennifer Hudson case. TV Guide and the Associated Press report that Jennifer Hudson's estranged brother-in-law has been arrested in the deaths of the Oscar-winning actress' mother, brother and 7-year-old nephew.
"We have obtained an arrest warrant for William Balfour," Chicago Police Department spokeswoman Monique Bond said. "He was released to Chicago detectives." She reportedly added that he will be charged on three counts of murder.
The suspect, 27, had been married to Hudson's sister Julia. He was questioned by police after the bodies of the two adults were found, but not charged with a crime. Balfour was taken into custody on parole violation, and is now awaiting formal charges in the family deaths.

And Finally, a warning that money may not buy you happiness. According to ABC NEWS, Kathy Cox, the Georgia state schools superintendent who recently won $1 million on the TV game show "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?," declared bankruptcy last week, another victim of the housing crisis.
A spokesman for Cox said she will uphold her promise to donate her winnings to two schools for deaf children and a school for the blind, despite declaring personal bankruptcy with more than $3.5 million in liabilities and less than $650,000 in assets -- which is separate from her winnings.
Cox is the co-signer on loans for husband John Cox's home-building business, Pebble Hill Homes, but otherwise has no role in the business, according to the couple's Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition filed Nov. 17. Cox, who earns around $125,000 a year, said she could not support the couple on her salary alone after a downturn in the home-building industry and as creditors sought the couple's assets

Random Newsbits:
– Condolences go out to the family of Wheel of Fortune Set Designer Dick Stiles who passed away this week at 74.
– The Contender Season 4 premiered on December 3 on Versus with Tony Danza as host.
– and agree to promote each other's sites and games. Worldwinner also partners with Toys for Tots.

– Endemol partners with Joy Tashjian Marketing Group for candy marketing deals for Deal or No Deal.
– “I Survived a Japanese Game Show” and “The Newlywed Game” casting notices appear.
– Kelly Packard leaves GSN Live on the TV side.
– Beat Your Host premieres in France.
– Clay Aiken, most recently on the nuclear bomb Rosie Live! and Spamalot! gets the E! True Hollywood Story Treatment on December 12.
– Mario Lopez is tapped to host Miss America in 2009 for TLC.
– David Cook is being used to promote Season 8 of American Idol. He sold 279,578 copies of his debut album in his first week.
– "The Best of Password" came out on DVD on December 2. This is the latest of great game show releases from BCI International. And Endless Games releases a new board game version of Million Dollar Password.

– Merv Griffin gets posthumously inducted into the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame on December 9th.
– Carol Volderman reveals her health scare when she found out she was leaving Countdown.
– Christian Siriano is designing for Payless.
– Simon Cowell's car was bugged. And the reporters may be in big trouble.
– Temptation (the good version) returns for its final season in Australia.

– Ford will continue its sponsorship of American Idol despite its financial troubles.
– Ben Shepard is the new host of the new “Krypton Factor”
– High Stakes Poker is coming back for Season 5 with a $200,000 Buy-In.

– The names are leaking from the Hollywood Round on American Idol 8.
– Richard Hammond's CBBC Science Based Game Show is called Blast Lab.

Jason Block is in the running for Miss America. He can be reached at .