Friday, November 02, 2007

Hollywood writers set to strike

Well, here's hoping you like reruns and reality shows.

After an imposed deadline for negotiations with movie and television producers and studios passed without an agreement, the Writers Guild of America's leadership late Thursday formally declared its intention to call a strike, according to people familiar with the matter.

The strike could start as early as Monday, and would be the union's first strike in nearly 20 years.

The dispute this time around centers around royalites from new media, such as DVD and online releases, including video downloads. They see this as part of the future of television and film.

"The future of TV is not going to look like what it's been for the last 30 years," said TV writer Dave Schiff, who has penned scripts for "King of the Hill" and "That 70s Show."

"So, you know it's not just for us who are currently working, but writers down the line, that we make sure that we get a ... piece of the pie."

But CBS President Nina Tassler said not enough is known yet about new media revenues to figure out what the royalty structure would be.

"We don't know what the pie is yet, in order to determine how to cut it up," she said recently.

So, what does this mean to us? Well, if a strike does take place, and goes on for awhile, no new episodes of your favorite shows will be produced, since there would be no scripts. Expect reruns and more reality and game shows, which do not use WGA writers.

Scripted shows may take a while to feel the effects, as there are already episodes in the can, enough to run through the end of the year. Feeling the pinch of a strike immediately would be topical late night talk shows. That would mean David Letterman, Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien and the rest would go into reruns. These shows are often written the same day or close to it. Other topical shows such as "Saturday Night Live" would also be shut down.

And perhaps most notable to many readers of this blog would be the freezing of programs like "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report" on Comedy Central. "Real Time with Bill Maher" could also be affected, but will likely go on a planned extended break soon. Although with so many of the jokes seemingly writing themselves, perhaps guys like Stewart don't really need scribes.

On perhaps one of the few positive notes, NBC is looking into airing the original British version of "The Office," from several years ago, to fill in for the awesome American version if need be. They're also looking into reruns of HBO's witty "Curb Your Enthusiasm." And if there is a silver lining in all of this, perhaps this will mean the quiet end of the hideous "Cavemen."

As for the film industry, they're better prepared for a strike, since they rushed to have as many scripts and projects in the can as possible.


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