Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Writers' Strike

I have no idea if the Writers' Strike affects what TV looks like in America. All I know is that it is preventing any new episodes of The Office and Friday Night Lights, the only 2 shows worth watching, from being aired.

At the risk of opening my blog up to a ridiculous number of hits and harrasment, I post the following links to 2 blogs:

1. UnitedHollywood.blogspot.com—the official blog of the Strike.

2. The Alliance of Motion Picture and Theater Producers (AMPTP-- the "bad guys").

I’ll start with the AMPTP's op-ed in the LA Times supporting their position:

“In short, the guild is demanding an unjustifiable increase in the residual rate that writers receive for downloads, money they receive in addition to the salary they were paid in the first place (the WGA’s 4,434 working members make an average of $200,000 per year). They are also demanding a percentage of the advertising revenue earned by the networks from ad-supported streaming.

However, the WGA’s contract is not with networks, it is with producers, who receive no proceeds from these advertisements, just as they receive none of the revenue achieved by networks through commercial television…Regardless of whether a show or a movie is a hit or a flop, the writer is paid.”

It’s a good tactic to let America know that the average writer is quite wealthy and receives Grade-A health insurance to boot.

Now, UnitedHollywood: This post features the story of a 12 year old boy who is picketing along with the writers. Why? I’m not sure he even knows! He thinks they’re “superheroes.”

I think, like any union, the writers saw a way they weren’t getting money and decided to go after it, betting they could get the nation to support them through media campaigning. Of course actors jump on their side because without writers they can't act, and if they don't act they don't get paid!

My personal solution:

Offshore all writing to China and India. That’d be easy for reality shows, but for sitcoms it gets a little trickиer. But, I’m willing to deal with some Bollywood movies as long as I can see Steve Carrel act in them. “Michael Scott” already speaks English badly, so Тhe Office would still be funny. Friday Night Lights will probably become about soccer or, better yet, cricket!

And with the amount of money that Hollywood could save, maybe they could make all of their shows even cooler—more special effects, explosions, car chases…Sounds good to me.

What? You want to tell me that sitcom writing is a non-tradable good?


justin said...

I would say yes good sitcom writing, like the Office is non-transferable.

This strike is a terrible case of the struggle between art and commerce. And I am afraid commerce is winning, it always has.

I am never pro-strike, I think it is self-serving and petty. I do though think that there is a legitimate grounds for screenwriters to request a little more slice of the pie. A pie from which they get very little now.

I would dare someone to find the quality of writing it takes to put together a 30 minute show. And to do in a way that the show would actually be watched. There are a handful of people who could do that.

JTapp said...

I think it's worth reading the full statement by the AMPTP, as I don't think their position is being reported much in the media (at least not in the Times). They have a point that the contract dispute is with producers, who actually have nothing to do with streaming ad revenues.

The handful is apparently less than 4,434 people.

justin said...

I was talking specifically about good shows, with smart writing, not necessarily CSI(s), Law and Order(s), etc.

TaylorW said...

I would just like to throw in 2 cents worth : I think all of the TV writers should aspire to write with the quality that is on the LOST show.... Those writers are good, they know what they're doin....

justin said...

I would concur with what Taylor said.

Ryan said...

My poor boss bought tix to NYC for next week....ouch...luckily he bought insurance

JTapp said...

Looks like the Broadway strike is over.