A Game Fatal To Both Sides

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I have not been following this , but it just popped in two places almost at the same time. Hollywood writers are apparently just about to strike as their contract expires. The Los Angeles Times says the strike looks likely.

It's a script many had hoped would not be written: Hollywood's film and TV scribes and their employers failed to reach an agreement on a new contract today, setting the stage for a possible showdown that could ripple across the streets of Los Angeles and into America's living rooms. Despite the presence of a federal mediator and more than a dozen bargaining sessions since July, negotiators for the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers broke off talks before hashing out a last-minute deal on a new three-year contract.

Talks ended after several hours tonight, about six hours before the current contract expires at midnight.

In a statement, the alliance said talks broke down after its chief negotiator, Nick Counter, outlined the producers' opposition to raising the pay writers receive when their work is released on DVD — a key guild demand.

"We want to make a deal," he told WGA negotiators. "We think doing so is in your best interests, in your members' best interests, in the best interests of our companies and in the best interests of the industry. But, as I said, no further movement is possible to close the gap between us so long as your DVD proposal remains on the table."

The alliance said WGA members refused to meet Thursday. "When they were asked about Friday, they advised they would call us."

Guild officials were not immediately available for comment.

The development doesn't guarantee an immediate walkout by writers but certainly heightens the prospect of Hollywood's first major strike in nearly two decades.

The last strike caused real damage says the Times of London.

A writers’ strike would be the first such walkout in Hollywood since 1988, when a dispute lasting 22 weeks cost the industry an estimated $500 million and killed off several television shows. Viewing figures fell by 10 per cent during the strike — a fall from which the industry never recovered.

Because of the long production times of films, and the stockpiling of screenplays by studios, the effect of industrial action would probably not be felt at cinemas until late next year at least.

But late night talk shows would go off the air at once. The real danger here is that media has changed – dramatically – in the past 20 years. With other sources of entertainment  like the web – television, movies and the writers could all take some serious damage if the audience simply goes away. If folks find new ways to amuse themselves, they might not come back anytime soon.

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8 Responses to A Game Fatal To Both Sides

  1. Glenn M. Cassel, AMH1(AW), USN, RET says:

    Hey we’ve got Discovery Channel, TLC, A&E, History Channel, Military Channel, FX and some others. So who needs a hollywood writer? Actually most of them nowadays have no English Grammar skills anyway. Mom, Grandmother and Grandfather were grade school teachers. I could read and write at the age of 4. I am now 53 and not as good as I once was.(sorry Toby)

  2. syn says:

    I hope they strike and Hollywood crumbles. The creative forces have been in decline for years as David Mamet pointed out some time ago ‘hollywood has lost the art of storytelling to eyecandy visuals’ . I no longer watch anything on network tv and if it’s cable I find myself watching reruns of show made thirty-fourty years ago. I do enjoy watching the Military Channel for the educational experience, as a civilian with not much access to military life I find the shows interesting.

  3. Gaius says:

    Yeah, if people discover alternatives then a strike could do huge damage to both the writers and the producers. And there are lots of alternatives out there these days.

  4. Uncle Fester says:

    Feh. Whatever. As long as bloggers don’t go on strike, I’m cool.

  5. As someone who tries making some coin at dramatic writing (mostly for stage), I understand the WGA’s stance about DVD residuals, but overall I have no sympathy for the group. Except on rare occasions, they just hack out formulaic crap–or just stole the premise of successful Brit shows, and they stood mute when the producers began churning out “reality TV,” which doesn’t require writers, only group therapy and anger management councilors.

    Besides, there are enough scripts sitting in “slush piles” to keep crappy movies on the screen for eons.

  6. sam says:

    I’m with syn. I hope they strike and that it drags on for months. I can do without TV very easily.

  7. kevin kildow says:

    Liars. 24, The Sopranos, Deadwood, Six Feet Under, The Office, Letterman, The Daily Show, The Late Show, The Colbert Report – to go back in time – The Dick Van Dyke Show, Seinfeld, Cheers, Friends, All In The Family, The Ernie Kovacs Show, Sid Ceasar, Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show – I could go on and on. Brilliant writers brought you every one of those laughs and tears. Is there usually somewhere around 75 percent formulaic dreck on TV – yes. But I think I, and society in general would be a poorer place without any of the above mentioned – and the people who actually put the words to paper allowing all of the different interpretive artist’s gifts to flourish as their words come to life – do they not deserve a few pennies when you rent a dvd, download something to your ipod or any of the other myriad formats that are newly available? Let’s not forget that somebody’s eyeballs keeps the rest of the dreck churning along, and a whole bunch of people make money off of it. Are the only people entitled to the profits from this the corporations and producers? I don’t think the writers are asking for the moon here…let’s do honor to the artists that actually create what we consume for a change…

    A world with only blogs and the military channel is a barren one indeed.

  8. kevin? Please don’t read this as bragging… I could sit here at home and write 3/4ths of those shows. You really think they were so blistering in their scripts?

    24: FAILED by not saying the new Commies are Muslim loonies. They ended up blaming it all on white boys.

    Sopranos: You have no idea what a Jersey family even looks like; I cleaned Castellano’s lawn on Staten Island, and attended school with his driver’s sons.

    You, just like that guy who renamed himself Chase so he could get hired to write the Sopranos, have no idea what you’re dealing with.

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