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Writers' strike hits US talk shows hard

You mean they actually script that crap?

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A strike by script writers demanding higher residuals has claimed its first two high-profile scalps: The Late Show with David Letterman and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno were both forced to air re-runs in the absence of coruscatingly witty, freshly topical pre-penned banter.

Terrifyingly, Dancing With The Stars managed to crawl wounded onto the screens, with the shaken presenters "improvising".

According to the BBC, negotiations between the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers regarding more cash for work released on DVD and online broke down on Sunday, and no new negotiations are planned.

In the blue corner, the producers' chief negotiator Nick Counter declared they were "hunkered down for a long one". He insisted: "From our standpoint, we made every good faith effort to negotiate a deal, and they went on strike. At some point, conversations will take place. But not now."

In the red corner, writers' negotiator John Bowman told AP that the two sides were actually still talking behind the scenes about further negotiations. He offered: "We have more reason to get together than not."

Naturally, topical shows have been the most seriously hit by the spat, since "most studios have stockpiles of movie and TV scripts to see them through into early 2008".

Fans of Heroes, meanwhile, will be relieved to learn they "won't be left in lurch" after Tim Kring, a producer and writer on the series, said he "had to revise the ending of the show's 11th episode, in case it became the last to air this series".

He told AP from a picket line: "Fortunately, we were able to hustle back." ®

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