Home > TV > Strike Turns Hollywood Upside Down! Yikes!

Strike Turns Hollywood Upside Down! Yikes!

WGA Strike, Part III of ?

I know I’ve been talking about the WGA strike a lot lately, but I do have my reasons: This is an “intelligent entertainment” blog, and if talented, tenured writers are no longer producing content, there’s not going to be much entertainment in our future. Worse still, it probably won’t be all that intelligent, either. More than likely decisions will be made on the fly and off the cuff, by actors, producers and directors alike.

Heroes is reportedly filming a new ending to a December episode this week in anticipation of it filling in as a season finale. Photo copyright NBC Universal Television.

At this point in time, ABC’s Desperate Housewives, NBC’s Heroes and ER, Fox’s Back to You and ‘Til Death, and CBS’ Two and a Half Men, Rules of Engagement, The New Adventures of Old Christine, and The Big Bang Theory are all halting production, among many others, as shown in the updated grid on latimes.com. The scary part is that many of the series listed in the table only have anywhere between three and seven more weeks of programming left before their done. I say “scary,” because TV is going to be inundated with unscripted, reality television shows come January, and I was so relieved when that trend took a downward turn. We can only hope that it doesn’t become uber-popular again. That would be the worst kind of irony for writers once this whole issue is resolved.

The way I see it, this strike could essentially cause one of two things. Short of costing Hollywood much more than the $500 million it cost them in 1988, it may bring crews together in that sometimes elusive, yet collaborative, effort to create quality programming. Without writers to do the work, others will have to step up to the plate. It could be downright inspiring.

Or, sadly, it could cause an even deeper divide in Hollywood.

So far, it’s looking pretty bright. Actors like Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, America Ferrera and cast members from The Office have reportedly expressed their support of the writers, though many of their colleagues have remained coy. According to Variety, executive producers have been “refusing to cross the picket lines even to perform non-writing chores on scripts that have already been completed.” It’s great to see that there is such a unified front from Screen Actors Guild members and executive producers.

The Hollywood Reporter has a great article that documents the back-and-forth debate between Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers (AMPTP) president Nick Counter and WGA leaders. Make of it what you will.

It looks like many in the media underestimated how badly the strike was going to hit production on a variety of shows, but I think it’s a good sign that everyone is still supporting the writers. We’ll see how far that support goes in two months’ time, though it’s fairly clear which side of the debate is causing the problem here. Hopefully the writers will get what they want (and deserve) in a timely manner, so everyone can get back to work.

Still — and this is pure speculation here — I wonder if this may be drawn out longer so as to stop any chances of a precedent being formed. There’s been talk of a Screen Actors Guild/Directors Guild strike this summer, and maybe The Powers That Be are hoping it will be reconsidered, so as to prevent another huge hit like this. I don’t think anyone wants to see production halt from coast to coast, but if SAG members have justifiable reasons like the writers, it may be quite necessary. According to Firefox News, SAG president Alan Rosenberg was pretty confident, saying, “We’ll get what they get.”

For everyone’s sake, I hope that confidence is bankable.

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  1. Mark L.
    November 7, 2007 at 11:07 pm

    good riddance writers. its my hopes that this strike will sink you, your average scripts and union. if i were to drop $10 million on a hotel, i can’t imagine having to pay the framers, the plumbers, the electricians or the designers everytime i rent out a room. do your job, get paid for it and go away. if you’ve done a good enough job, i’ll hire you again. if you haven’t, go teach at the local college. tv sucks and you and your union are the reason.

    why the hell can’t your scripts be as witty as your bloggings? why the hell can’t your monologues be as funny as your picket signs?

    i can only hope that 20 weeks from now i find an article on the strike buried deep somewhere and the ratings are shooting through the roof.

    same for SAG. i will relish the day they can completely animate your sorry a** and you have to join my sorry a** from 9 to 5 – building hotels.

  2. cn2007
    November 7, 2007 at 11:50 pm

    Hi Mark L.!

    I can understand why debates that include hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars can be upsetting to regular schmoes like you and me. Still, the entertainment industry is still a very lucrative cash cow — one that’s evolved steadily over the past 50 years.

    As with most capitalistic structures, Hollywood is comprised of a majority of workers who receive X-amount of dollars and a minority of decision-makers who receive Y-amount of dollars. Some believe that the decision-makers receive a disproportionate amount of the profit from the business.

    If nothing else, we can look at this as an exercise of potential justice. Writers, directors, et al are sort of playing the underdog in this fight, and a lot of people want to see them succeed.

    Thanks for posting your thoughts!

  3. November 8, 2007 at 7:22 am

    Wow that’s really interesting … writers on strike … highly underestimated in my opinion. But a season with ONLY reality TV? Shooooooot me now. Youtube would probably be better. (But I’m sure most people wouldn’t admit that it’s a guilty pleasure to watch “My Sweet Sixteen”)

  4. November 8, 2007 at 7:22 am

    Cassandra, in your opinion … why is the “perfect woman” simply impossible? Have you ever been through any situations or moments in your life that may have led you to this conclusion?

    http://lereflection.wordpress.com/2007/10/31/a-perfect-woman-impossible/trackback/

  5. November 8, 2007 at 10:34 pm

    Nice article.

    I myself am not looking forward to any new reality tv shows or reruns. I’ll be looking for some new hobbies to pass the time during this strike.

    But if we survive this one, I think we can expect another to follow next year. With the SAG contract up next year, it’s no wonder so many of the actors are out picketing.

    I’m very interested to know what the average American thinks of the strike.

    http://redlightnaps.wordpress.com/2007/11/08/wga-strike/

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