Strike! explained

5 Nov

Usually on Mondays we only feature the Red-Eye Report, but today I wanted to talk a little bit about these writer strikes that are going on.

The average viewer may think that these writer strikes won’t impact them, but if you’re a fan of “The Daily Show,” “SNL,” “All My Children” – and, if it keeps up, eventually “The Office” or “Scrubs,” – you’ll want to understand what’s going on.

In a nutshell, writers believe they deserve more money – especially from things like DVD sales. No negotiations have been met, so writers are on strike.

Shows that depend on daily content – like your late-night talk shows like Letterman and Conan, as well as John Stewart’s show – as well as soap operas who write maybe a week ahead of time, will be affected first. Most daily shows are now prepared to go into reruns.

If this lasts long enough, it could affect sitcoms and other programs, like “Heroes” and, more importantly, the final season of “Scrubs.”

The movie industry, however, shouldn’t feel much of a pinch.

You can keep up with developments on the strike at this blog from the L.A. Times.

One Response to “Strike! explained”

  1. Jeff Clark November 5, 2007 at 3:04 pm #

    From the Myspace blog of James Gunn:

    I’m on strike!

    As a member of the Writers Guild of America, I have been on strike since 12 am last night.

    The only reason for the strike – and don’t believe anything to the contrary – is that the studios have refused to pay writers (and screen actors, and directors) residuals on new media. When you download a movie from Amazon or a TV show on iTunes, the people who created that content, who devised it, wrote it, acted in it, and directed it, get exactly 0% of the profits. And the studios want it to stay that way.

    The WGA was asking for an increase in the residuals made on DVD sales (unlike new media, creators make a small percentage off of DVD and VHS sales, pay-per-view showings, TV sales, etc). For months now the studios have said that this was the reason the contract couldn’t be closed. However, at the 11th hour – last night – the WGA took that off the table. It came down to new media and only new media. And the studios refused to budge.

    This strike is absolutely not a matter of the rich getting richer. We’re not striking because of guys like me who have made numerous feature films, or guys like Greg Daniels who have created popular TV shows. This is for middle-class writers – your regular TV staff writers and people who may have done one or two small feature films. Residuals are a way they can make perhaps a few thousand dollars a year between gigs. This is a way they can put food on the table and pay the rent during downtime – and downtime is something almost all writers (and actors and directors) have.

    And the writers guild are striking not only for themselves – they’re striking for the actors and directors as well. Most likely, whatever deal we agree to is the same deal the actors and directors will get when their contracts are up later this year.

    None of the TV shows or movies you watch would exist without us, the people who created them, who poured our hearts and souls into the making of them. And yet, again, the studios think that only they should be making the money off of them. And new media is exceptionally important – in just a few years that may be the way most of us experience most of our entertainment.

    I’ve gotten a lot of messages from MySpace folks worried about me or my various projects. The truth is, as long as the strike ends in the next thirty to forty years, I should be personally fine. And, to be quite honest, I’m excited about the break. I’m working on some smaller, non-studio, non-guild related projects with my brothers Brian and Sean, and with the LOLLILOVE crew of Pete Alton and Stevie Blackehart. This is stuff that really fires me up.

    As for my big projects, PETS is definitely on hold, as I’m in the middle of writing the script, and can’t turn anything in until the strike is over. THE BELCOO EXPERIMENT is a different story – the script is completely finished, my deal with the producers is done, and I could direct it if we all chose to do that. But would I want to commit to a movie that I wouldn’t have the freedom to rewrite even if I wanted to?

    However, although the strike for me is, in some ways, a good thing, I recognize how sh#tty it is for the rest of the industry, and the city of Los Angeles in general, so I want it to end quickly. I can’t help but think of all the crew people who are going to lose jobs because of this, or the Burbank waiters and waitresses whose tips are going to dry up as the work around them does – not to mention the strippers across the LA area whose g-strings rely on writers and actors being flush with cash. Let’s end this strike for the strippers, okay?

    Not to mention you guys, the audience. You’re going to start to feel it right away with the late-night talk shows that are going to disappear or get real crappy real quick. And, if it lasts for a bit, you’re going to lose out on the second half of the seasons of your favorite TV shows (already, WGA member Steve Carell didn’t show up to set, so this season of THE OFFICE could be kaput after the next few already-shot episodes.) The studios will also rush movies into production with unfinished scripts which means, in a little less than a year from now, you’re going to see the sh#ttiest movies of all time.

    Be good,

    James

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