Vanity cards on television

I was going to write about another topic today, but something caught my eye last night.  At the very end of the television shows “The Big Bang Theory” and “Two and a half men,” after the final credits, there is always a very quick image on the screen from the shows’ production company, Chuck Lorre Productions.  This is known as a “vanity card.”  It’s usually a lot of text on a white background, but because it lasts no more than a few seconds, I can only manage to read the first few words.  I considered taping it and reading it later because I’m sure it’s hilarious.  But now I don’t have to because there is an archive of all his cards. 

Last night, after both shows, the message was quite simple and clear: “United we stand.”  No doubt this is a reference to the ongoing writer’s strike.  Lorre, as writer-producer for both shows, is a member of the writer’s guild, and has vowed to “do no writing and no story breaking” on either show.  My question is how did this message get to be on-screen last night?  I assume that these shows were completed long before the strike even began.  How can Lorre make adjustments like this one and why did CBS, the network on the other side of the strike negotiations, allow this message?  Or do they not control what gets telecast?  Wendell Wittler answers these questions and more (sort of) in his excellent history of vanity cards for MSNBC last year.  It seems that CBS sometimes can say no to Lorre’s message, as Entertainment Weekly reported happened earlier this year.  I am still surprised, however, that CBS allowed last night’s to air.

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