Here’s Looking at Film, Kid

Pencils down: writers’ strike a grim reality by Matt Click
November 6, 2007, 7:03 pm
Filed under: Entertainment Commentary, Entertainment News

Everyone better hunker down for some reruns, because the looming Hollywood writers’ strike—the first of its kind in over 20 years—is officially underway. Last-ditch negotiations between Hollywood’s 12,000-strong writers union and the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers (AMPTP) proved unsuccessful and picketing commenced Nov. 5.

The Writers Guild of America (WGA) has been threatening to strike for months now, citing new methods of distribution as their primary concern for the livelihoods of Hollywood’s writers. Recently, television episodes and even movies have become available online for use with portable media devices. Writers don’t see a cent of this money and, frankly, they’re pissed.

But this animosity isn’t recent. In fact, the trouble dates back to a dark, primitive time before iPods or Lost. As DVD became America’s format of choice for movies, writers were stiffed with a measly $0.04 a pop for sales. Frankly, this strike has been a long time coming.

So what does this mean for us? Well, try watching Leno, Letterman or, hell, even Colbert sometime this week. The affects of the strike should be fairly evident. Film productions have come to screeching halts. In the coming weeks, television programming will opt for reruns. The industry will literally lose millions.

And this isn’t going to blow over in a few days. The 1988 writers’ strike dragged on an unbearable 22 weeks, with a reported $500 million in losses. Nick Counter, chief negotiator for the AMPTP, says he expects a long standoff. “We’re hunkered down for a long one,” he said. “From our standpoint, we made every good faith effort to negotiate a deal and they went on strike. At some point, conversations will take place. But not now.”

Entertainment critics are weighing in on all sides. Some are accusing the WGA of taking advantage of new technology for higher wages. Others are staunchly supporting them in their efforts to “fight the Man.” Most people are just pissed off about missing Heroes.

Here’s the thing, though. It’s not a matter of supporting the underdog or rooting for the little guy. It’s the principle of the thing. If you’re a writer, you should get paid for your work, no matter how it’s distributed.

Digital media is fresh, yeah. But the AMPTP claims that streaming and downloadable video is “still too new to structure a model for compensation.” Distribution of art and entertainment, no matter how new the method, should warrant compensation for the artist responsible.

All we can do now is sit, wait and enjoy our Letterman reruns.


6 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Writers make the show what it is. So good for them. $0.04 per DVD is ridiculous. Do you know what do the producers and executives make per DVD? And $0.00 is even for digital downloads is even more ludicrous.

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Comment by abseqdia

Amazing, I didn’t know about this topic up to now. Cheers!!

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Really awesome read! Honestly!

Comment by Candy Wade

Super great writing. Honest.

Comment by Maureen Wolf

Really awesome post. Honestly!

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