Though the TV and movie writers union is on strike, the actual effect of their absence is somewhat abstract because almost all of the affected shows have shut down production. Without replacement writers to provide a basis for comparison, there’s no tangible sense of what writers actually contribute to the production of a television show.
That’s why I found it illuminating last night to watch some bonus material on the Not Just the Best of The Larry Sanders Show DVD, specifically the interview with Jeremy Piven. Piven, who is best known today for his brilliant, steal-every-scene performance on Entourage, is borderline incoherent in the interview. Practically every other word is "y’know", with a liberal sprinkling of "like". In between the filler, most of what he had to say was how fabulous and amazing everyone was.
Perhaps he was having an off-day when he taped that interview, but the difference between him there versus when he has the benefit of Doug Ellin‘s words to say could not be more stark.