TV saves the world!

Unless that writer happens to be Joe Eszterhas, who was paid an obscene $3.7 million to pen the critically reviled Showgirls. The irony is that Eszterhas (whose scripts virtually scream out, "Get me rewrite!") is one of the few screenwriters not routinely subjected to revisions by a succession of hired hands. Not that this take-a-number system yields better material. Thirty-five scribes toiled on The Flintstones, and the result was about as funny as a rockslide.

Many TV scripts are also group efforts, but it's frequently a more collaborative process, with a team of writers brainstorming around a table. "The way we do it is, everybody works on everything," says Partners cocreator Jeff Greenstein, who trained under Kauffman and Crane on Friends and Dream On. "We believe having as many brains as possible helps solve problems."

5. TV is more fun to talk about

Half the kick of Melrose Place is watching it with friends and busting on the unbelievably stupid people on screen. That's what led bars like Baja Sharkeez in Manhattan Beach, Calif., and the aptly named Jake's Dilemma on Manhattan's Upper West Side to start Melrose nights on Mondays. "It's like a big party," says Baja Sharkeez owner Greg Newman. "A movie theater is not a big party." Indeed, talking back to the screen is discouraged at movies—except for The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Plus, since most people watch TV shows at the same time, they can chat about them afterward, whether it's at the office watercooler or via an online service. X-Files fanatics like Forrest Eastham (America Online screen name: The XPhile) Net-pick the show's intricate plotlines. "We don't even get [X-Files] conventions here in Alaska," Eastham explains. "But as soon as I link up, there are as many as 40 other people discussing The X-Files."

Many other television series, from Friends to Beverly Hills, 90210 to Lois & Clark, have avid online followings, yet it's rare that a movie inspires such buzzing. And while you can read countless theories about Keyser Soze's identity among devotees of The Usual Suspects on the Internet, it's not so easy to discuss the film in public. "Just last night, I was with a group of friends—'Hey, did anyone see The Usual Suspects?'" says Gilliland. "Well, half the table didn't, so we couldn't talk about it." Mention ER on a Friday morning and you probably won't have the same problem.

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