Sunday, November 11, 2007

Dorothy Parker Dowd

A Bite of the Bagel
Published: November 11, 2007

Hollywood Money isn’t money. It’s congealed snow, melts in your hands and there you are.
-Dorothy Parker

Maureen Dowd makes a confession.

I keep up on the news by listening to late-night comedians. I read a lot of stuff too, and talk to people. But I’m a satirical news junkie.
That Dowd is a fan of late night satirical news shows should come as no surprise. After all, she let Stephen Colbert write her most popular column in recent memory.

To prove how bad television needs more funny writers, Dowd interviews Seth Meyers about the issues at stake.
Mr. Meyers took issue with the Times article characterizing the New York picket line of Tina Fey, himself and other NBC writers in front of Rockefeller Center as “a glamour strike,” with Writers Guild members in “arty glasses and fancy scarves” rather than “hard hats and work boots.”
The Times article can be found here. Tina Fey was the headwriter of Saturday Night Live who left SNL to star, write, and produce a sitcom about a female headwriter at an NBC sketch comedy show. Who says there are no new ideas? Seth Meyers replaced Fey on the faux news segment Weekend Update. To show how badly writers are needed, he used this example:
“Even my technologically challenged mother watches television on a computer — and she thinks an iPod is some kind of antelope,” Mr. Meyers said.
Jokes like that make one yearn for the Jimmy Fallon era. Almost.

Dowd then puts the issues into perspective.
Some industry analysts say that the writers may be engaged in a futile act, because they have no real power, can’t shut down networks that can turn to more reality TV, and may not be able to stop the conglomerates from squashing them — a scenario straight out of Paddy Chayefsky.
The movie Network is about a ratings obsessed network that uses the rantings of an insane newsman to gain an audience. It is sometimes confused as a documentary about Fox News.

And to sum up, Dowd quotes her favorite jade:
Dorothy Parker, once an unhappy writer in Hollywood, had an image of the town’s power structure as “a block-long limo with a gloved, jeweled hand sticking out the rear window holding a bagel with one bite taken out of it.”
The writers are running alongside the limo just trying to get their own bite. And maybe a schmear.
Dorothy Parker was a member of the famed Algonquin Roundtable, a group of writers known for their ferocious wit, biting satire, and bitter bon mots. According to this site, Frank Crowinshield, the managing editor of Vanity Fair, recalled that she had "the quickest tongue imaginable, and I need not to say the keenest sense of mockery."

Dowd was just born a few decades too late.

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