Writer's Strike Near My Home
Today members of the Writer's Guild of America sat down with members of the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers in media silence after weeks of striking. Perhaps we will see some news within the coming days, whether talks progress or the strike continues. (The last writer's strike back in the 1980s lasted for 5 months.)
Somehow I missed the gathering and march of 4000 supporters a few blocks from my apartment in Hollywood, right in front of Graumann Chinese Theatre last Tuesday. I know two writers involved and they've been protesting every day.
At issue is a large chunk of revenue coming from the Internet and DVD sales, which is not being shared with the writers at all. Being a Hollywood writer is generally not a glamorous or stable job. Shows and pilots come and go, canceled willy-nilly by trigger happy bottom-line focused executives. Certainly when that rare show becomes a hit, there is some good money involved. But the average writer's cut is not up there with the actors or those putting up the financial risk. It's a shame that it has taken a strike for the producers to listen and perhaps give writer's a cut of what money does come from Internet advertising and iTunes downloads (which despite all the free material out there, that sum is many millions).
Meanwhile, I heard on NPR that production companies producing (so-called) Reality TV shows are having a different problem: too much work. Yep, they're having to work 24/7 to fulfill the demand created by the void of new programming. But I can only stand so many talent shows, home redecoration shows, chef competitions and shows without writing. One has to escape to HBO and Comedy Central to find the decent writing these days, now that most of the once independent cable channels have been devoured by conglomerate-owned networks and made just like them. The Simpsons continues on, The Office thrives, but for the most part it's a wasteland out there anyway at the moment.
Ahh, but that's why videogames are so popular. Nothing on TV? Let's play Guitar Hero III.