Plan B: FX Readies In Case Of Writers Strike

A writers' strike could hit Hollywood as soon as next week, but at least one cable network has a programming pipeline likely to carry it through a prolonged work stoppage.

General entertainment programmer FX is wrapping the final season of longtime hit "The Shield," a batch of 13 episodes that it can slot in some time next winter or early spring if a walkout ensues. No air date has been set.

Ongoing hit "Nip/Tuck" launches next week with 14 episodes that can help carry the network through the winter, while production on second seasons of "Dirt" and "The Riches" ia moving at a rapid clip.

The News Corp. network also has six episodes of a second season of the documentary series "30 Days" from Morgan Spurlock, best known for the film "Super Size Me," ready for air.

FX could be in a more favorable situation than some broadcast networks with its established hits in or close to being ready for air. With the looming strike, broadcasters may be faced with ordering more episodes of shows that usually would be canceled this time of year, due to low ratings.

A strike could come as early as Nov. 1--although members of the Writers Guild of America and studios could opt to postpone the deadline and continue negotiating. A principal issue is how to divide revenues from new-media distribution of content via broadband or mobile outlets.

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