Romance and Mystery Novels

by Alina Adams

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Thursday, January 10, 2008


I stopped watching Jon Stewart several years ago, due to his first hypocrisy. He claimed to be delivering "fake news," then invited real news makers on, interviewed them about real issues, and when criticized under the same standards that people use for real newsmen, ran and hid behind the "fake news" label. I didn't think he could have it both ways.

I still feel that way in regards to his stance during the writer's strike (I admit, I tuned in again just to see how he would handle it). Jon Stewart returned to work on "The Daily Show" without writers and allegedly without a script.

How can he claim he is working without a script when his show goes like this: Stewart says something, a clip rolls to compliment what he said, then Stewart says something coming out of the clip. Just because he isn't reading his comments off a teleprompter, how can he assert that these bits aren't written? Are the producers just rolling in random clips at random moments, regardless of what Stewart is saying? A sequence of planned events -- that's a script. Scripts are written by writers. Someone is writing these scripts. So either Stewart is scabbing, or he's hired someone to do it for him (producers, production assistants, "consultants"). This is his version of supporting the WGA strike? (For the record, if Stewart had been honest and simply said he is ignoring the strike and writing his own material, I would have had more respect for him than this, rather typical, having it both ways hypocrisy.)

And then there is the way his show is being directed. Stewart would like us to believe that the entire show is just being made up on the fly, ala live television. I've worked in live television for over a decade. First on an E! talk show called "Pure Soap," and then for ABC Sports and the Daytime Emmys. Even live shows are meticulously planned out beforehand (to read what Doug Wilson has to say about his method for covering live figure skating, click here). And they are always planned out using some sort of a script, even if it's just a rundown of skater names and the duration of their programs.

If "The Daily Show" is all being improvised on the fly, it's amazing how the directors can anticipate exactly how long each bit will last before changing cameras, rolling in a clip, putting up a graphic or cutting to commercial. These guys must be from The Psychic Network!

Writing doesn't just mean typing words to be said out loud. It means deciding whether to lead with the Obama joke or the story about Ron Paul. It's deciding how much time to give to coverage of the primaries versus the interview segment versus the field reports. It's picking the theme of the day and which clips should be used to support it. Writing is the skeleton that directors, cameramen, soundmen, lighting guys and technical directors base their work on. A show simply can not be put on with a script.

No matter what Jon Stewart says.


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