Hollywood’s Writers Are On Strike

Say goodbye to your TV schedules

Hollywood's Writers Are On Strike

by Helen O'Hara |
Published on

Well, it's happening. The Writer's Guild of America, the union to which pretty much all Hollywood screenwriters belong, is on strike as of last night. As of this morning, no scripts are being written, current affairs comedy shows have come to a standstill and US TV is up the creek without a paddle. Hollywood may have been stocking up on scripts - but right now, no one is around to do rewrites.

What's all this about and why should we care? Well, the WGA's latest contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) ran out on Hallowe'en, and the WGA want a better deal next time - "residuals" (essentially a cut of the profits) from streaming of films and shows online, downloads and "promotional" use of shows and films. The AMPTP basically doesn't want to pay for these categories, and wants a "window" of free internet use.

Negotiations continued until late on Sunday on the West Coast, while East Coast writers were already turning out to man picket lines in New York. In LA, picket lines are planned outside all the major studios, although some writers are angry that they've been ordered to picket at studios where they have close working relationships.

Currently the WGA and AMPTP are wide apart on the above issues, so the strike is expected to last for weeks rather than days, and possibly months. That's bad news, incidentally, for fans of shows like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report (what of Colbert's presidential run? This could put him out of the race!), who will be off air this week with an uncertain future.

But the Director's Guild of America (DGA) is also set to begin its negotiations with the AMPTP later this month, and as the most moderate of the three Hollywood unions (along with the WGA and SAG, the Screen Actors Guild) may manage to reach a deal that helps to provide a model for the WGA. Maybe.

And for film fans? Well, writers and studios have been stockpiling scripts in case of just this eventuality, so there should be films enough to make for some time yet - although without rewrites and polishes some of those may be rather lacklustre. And last time there was a writer's strike, lots of scribes had a chance to chill out without thinking about polishing up that blockbuster, and came up with some genuinely good original material - so we can only hope for the same again. But at the end of the day, any Hollywood strike is going to have a deleterious affect on filmgoers, so fingers crossed that this is resolved quickly.

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