When the WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE writers (yes, there are writers) joined the Writers Guild of America in December, they got something in the bargain besides slightly higher wages, increased medical benefits and the possibility of meeting Bruce Vilanch at union meetings. They also got a very special exemption. If the guild does indeed go on strike May 1, as most people expect, the Millionaire scribes can keep pumping out the trivia anyway. That's because the WGA is betting that by allowing the ABC powerhouse to dominate three (or more) nights a week while the other writer-depleted networks air repeats and increasingly lame reality shows, CBS, NBC and Fox will be forced to negotiate. "It's a favored-nation clause," explains Cheryl Rhoden, assistant executive director of Writers Guild West. "And it may get the attention of other companies." While unions don't normally favor one of its members over others, or allow some to go on working during a strike, they aren't likely to get many complaints from the ranks. After all, it's not like Seinfeld co-creator Larry David is threatened by guys writing trivia questions. Unless, of course, the question is "What 1998 movie did Larry David direct?"
--By Joel Stein