Besides Spielberg, Nobody Has As Much Power As The TV Writer

The WSJ looks today at the world of TV writers, who have–it would seem from this article–the greatest job in the world. (The article downplays the low pay, long hours, and hard work.)

See, if you’re a TV writer and somebody ticks you off, you just give their name to an expendable extra and then bump them off. Ha! It’s like you’re actually murdering that guy who annoys you except not really because that would be awkward.

The writers of “Psych” named a crazy serial killer after a TV critic who wasn’t a fan. “Will & Grace” co-creator Max Mutchnick was sued by an interior designer who claiming that Jack McFarland looked a little too similar, and not in a good way. And the “Seinfeld” writers “regularly” put TV execs into episodes, says the WSJ, including an NBC chief who got food poisoned after Elaine sneezed into his pasta.

And then there was the other Seinfeld character, “Crazy” Joe Davola, who stalked Elaine while dressed as a clown. “He was based on an executive of the same name at competitor Fox, but only because show runner Larry David liked the sound of his name, and would repeat it again and again. The real Mr. Davola says he gave Mr. David permission to use his name, and has been receiving special treatment at hotels and restaurants ever since. ”

So much power! Is it worth it?

Based on some discussion from back in 2007 when the WGA was striking, TV writers make very, very little. Each writer earns a minimum of $30,823 per episode on a prime-time series (these are 2007 numbers), but nearly half of WGA members are technically unemployed and relying on residuals—it’s not steady work.