Wednesday, November 7

The Writer's Strike Not Entertaining, Apparently Serious

We're going to assume that the basics of the Writer's Guild strike, now in its 3rd day, are apparent to everyone reading, mostly since it's getting more press than the entire UAW 3-way negotiations and strikes combined.

If you don't know what's going on, here's a good synopsis from Reuters.

Upon hearing of the strike, our initial thought was how great the chants were going to be. This was clearly misguided. From the LA Times:

In Los Angeles, striking screenwriters chanted, "Network bosses, rich and rude, we don't like your attitude!"
[sigh] Really? We hoped for so much more. Forgive us for expecting brilliance, but isn't the team from "the Office" out there?

As per usual, the MSM gets stuck on a tangent. Most of the news reports are focusing on the lack of new programming and the big names supporting the strikers (Jay Leno had Kispy Kremes, Eva Longoria had - herself) and walking the picket line like Paul Haggis and Robert Towne. But don't think for a minute that this isn't a real strike, with consequences that go far beyond our ability to enjoy non-reality television.

The LA Times article points out (albeit at the very end) that this strike effects a lot more regular, workhorse, paycheck-to-paycheck writers than it does Oscar winners and millionaires.
Although top screenwriters like Haggis can make as much as $250,000 a week, many WGA members collect middle-class wages and can go months between jobs; the threat of an extended work stoppage could have grave consequences for the industry's lesser lights.

And, unlike most strikers, many writers have other responsibilities on set, like executive producer status (called "show runners") or pod deals where the studio gives them development money that pays administrative salaries. The networks are starting to pull those funds now, which means non-union employees could be laid off as soon as this weekend.

According to Business Week, everyone involved is projecting a pretty drawn-out process here, with no negotiations officially scheduled anytime soon. Teamsters in LA refused to cross the picket line, as did Steve Carell, apparently against Screen Actor's Guild rules (we're putting our celebrity stuff at the end, see?). Amy Pohler joined the SNL writers on the line in NY.

If you are in southern California, and are interested, here is a list of the strike locations.