Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Television and Movie Productions Threatened by Screenwriters Strike

November 5, 2007 began the strike of the 12,000 members of Writers Guild of America East and Writers Guild of American West. Screenwriters for movies and television programs went on strike demanding a greater cut of the profits for downloadables and DVD sales.

It is expected the strike will last as long as nine months. If so, popular television shows will run out of scripts. With movie productions running two years out, a stockpile of scripts exist for the time being. But for shows that depend on writers to crank out material daily or weekly, or even sets, without the writers at work, the stakes are high.

Among shows shut down are CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory,” “Rules of the Engagement,” “The Adventures of the Old Christine," “Two and a Half Men,” and Fox’s “Til’ Death.” Fox’s “Lost,” “24,” and Prison Break” continue production, but a prolonged strike means a shorter spring season. Standing in picket lines this past Monday were Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof, creators of “Lost,” and Greg Berlanti of “Dirty Sexy Money” and “Brothers and Sisters.” In Hollywood, actors refused to cross picket lines, delaying productions. Most prime-time shows have at least six shows filmed, but the number of scripts ready to go into production varies, and a long strike means a shortened spring season for favorite prime-time shows.

For late-night viewers, the pickings will be slim, if at all. Hosts like David Letterman, Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien, Craig Ferguson, and Jimmy Kimmel need their scriptwriters. Jay Leno, in a show of support said of the writers “…without them I am not funny. I am dead man.” Day-time soaps like “The Young and Restless” face a real crisis; without a continuous script, viewers have no reason to tune in.

In today’s climate of changing media, the negotiations are not easy. The movie and television industry faces a new era of technologies that threatens the livelihood of screenwriters who don’t see the profits of their labors.

Although celebrities like Tina Fey, the creator of “30 Rock,” are on strike, not all strikers, enjoy celebrity status, and many live in obscurity as working-class folks supporting a family. As the working class, they suffer at the hands of corporate greed.

What are your thoughts on screenwriters’ strike? How should profits from downloadable and DVD sales affect screenwriters? What have you heard about the strike?


Kathy said...

I almost never watch television. The most I watch in a day is about half an hour so the writers' strike does not affect me much nor have I heard much about it. But I believe that it is unfair that screenwriters are not getting the money they deserve. So much of the success of a show depends on the screenwriter's talents that they should earn more. They should get some profit from downloadable and DVD sales because it is still their material just in a different format. I think that they have every right to go on strike and demand more money from the sale of shows or movies that they've written for.

Sara D. said...

I think that screenwriters should get a portion of the profit from DVD's and downloadables. I'm surprised they don't already.

I am happy that Lost will be playing still in Feb. but hope that this strike ends sooner rather than later.

Nia said...

The shows mentioned in the strike are not ones that I watch on a regular basis, so the strike is not affecting me directly. However, I do support the strike- the dvds and downloadables are nothing without the writers- the writers create the story!!!! It is ultimately their work as well as the producers and they need to have a portion of those sales.

Alyssa Sharkey said...

I feel really bad for those of non-celebrity status. They're just trying to make an honest days pay and because of all the greed and self absorption in Hollywood, their income is going to sufffer. I personally don't think it's fair.