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If the strike hits, Late Night TV is the first to go

Posted by gnn1 on Saturday, 3 November 2007

So, the union members of Writers’ Guild of America are preparing to strike.  To the point that they were told to take home personal belongings from their offices.  If the strike hits, and odds are about good as seeing Britney Spears on Perez Hilton on any given day (pretty fuckin high in other words), late night shows like Leno will be the first to be impacted.

Because they rely on current events for the bulk of the day’s night’s storyline, they haven’t been able to stockpile scripts like TV shows and film studios have.  As a matter of fact it’s already been determined that if the strike starts at 1201 am PST Monday as planned, Leno will immediately revert to re-runs.

Next to feel the impact will be daily shows like soap operas and shows like The View, who only stockpile about a week’s worth of episodes.

Movies will largely be unaffected unless the strike drags for a VERRRRRRRRYY long time as studios have a large number of scripts stockpiled, not to mention films in progress.

Regular TV shows may or may not be affected.  It depends on the duration of the strike.  The last strike ushered in the age of Reality TV because they don’t typically require writers.  Currently, it’s estimated that most shows have enough scripts in progress or stockpiled to last until early next year (which, frighteningly, is only about 8 weeks away, although the reports didn’t say how far IN to next year).

The last strike lasted 22 weeks (2 weeks shy of a typical full TV season, just for comparison).

This strike is related to (primarily) DVD and internet sales residuals for writers.  The current arrangement was decided 22 years ago, in 1985.  Writers agreed to undercut themselves then, because home entertainment (then VHS or the very short-lived Beta-Max) was struggling in its early years.

Now they get the same amount $0.04 (that’s 4 cents) per disc sold as they did in 1985 (which I am assuming was per tape then).  They also want to increase their share in download licensing fees from 1.2% to 2.5% (just over a 100% increase).

Given how little writers make compared to the stars and bigwigs behind films and TV shows (even the crappy ones that no one see), it seems to be a pretty fair demand.  Now, I’m NOT a member, I DON’T know all the details or demands, and I don’t know the producers’ stories.  But regardless, it appears that either or both sides have forgotten that negotiation means compromise.  Is 4 cents or another $1.30 (based on average online movie pricing to be just under $10) or less REALLY too much to give up to the people who keep you producers in work???  Let’s not forget that no writers=no scripts=no new work.

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