Reality TV To Take Over Airwaves

Expect outrageous new reality shows on your winter TV schedule.

With the writer's strike putting scripted shows on hold, networks are scrambling to fill schedule gaps and reality shows fit the bill.

Last night's episode of "How I Met Your Mother" was the last one in the can for CBS. And "Pushing Daisies" will be pushing daisies itself after this week.

In search of new material, the networks have turned to reality. NBC is bringing back "American Gladiators," which will be hosted by Hulk Hogan. As usual, the strangest shows will be on FOX. That network will air a show called "When Women Rule the World" about what happens if suddenly men were made slaves to women living on an island.

"I also think FOX has something called 'Moment of Truth,' which you're hooked up to lie detector and you have to either tell the truth and tell something embarrassing about yourself," Variety television editor Joe Adalian told The Early Show national correspondent Hattie Kauffman.

People magazine senior editor Mark D'Agostino says that come January, there will only be a few episodes left of staples like "ER."

"American Idol" will begin and at first, it will seem to be a normal January; but then the popular scripted shows will disappear.

Photos: Writers Walk
"You will see reality taking over the air waves more than it already has already," he told The Early Show co-anchor Julie Chen. "For reality fans, it's a big Christmas present… People love reality TV, love seeing the game shows at night. Love seeing Drew Carey in 'The Power of 10.' Good ratings. A lot of these shows were coming anyway. The problem is there isn't going to be that balance left."

The strike doesn't effect the writer/producers who work on reality shows, D'Agostino said. They are not members of the Writers Guild so are not part of the strike, even if they support it.

Meanwhile, the Television Critics Association says it's canceling its annual January meeting at which networks and cable channels promote upcoming program schedules.

Broadcasters had been unwilling to commit to the Los Angeles-area meeting, citing expected budget cutbacks and the possible difficulty of holding sessions about scripted shows, the association said Monday. Many shows have been sidelined by the walkout.

The group includes more than 220 journalists writing about TV for print and online outlets in the United States and Canada. Members traditionally gather in January and July to preview new series and interview show stars and creators and TV executives.

The time-filler shows launched by this strike could become permanent. When TV producers faced the last writer's strike in 1988, they scrambled to come with alternative programming like "Cops" and "America's Most Wanted." Both are still going strong.

Even still, networks have a more pressing concern. It's almost award season and it is unclear whether stars will dare walk the red carpet, if it means crossing a picket line.

The latest round of contract negotiations between the Writers Guild of America and studios collapsed Friday. The strike began Nov. 5.