Thursday, October 18, 2007

Impending strike

Ok, I'm going to try to make this reasonably short, party because I don't really understand it that well, but also because its pretty darn complicated and I'd rather say too little than get things really wrong. For some initial basics you might want to check out this wiki page.

As we all should know at this point, the WGA (Writer's Guild of America) is facing a looming strike. Their contract with the AMPTP (Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers) will expire on October 31, '07 and for a number of reasons, many of which I'm sure I'm not familiar with, it looks like a general strike will be called for.

This recent article in Variety highlights some of the issues being faced at the moment. It seems like the main reasons behind the strike include the AMPTPs failure to acknowledge or compensate writers for work distributed through "new media" methods, archaic regulations regarding royalties as they pertain to sales of dvds (which as we all know are humongous now), and the failure to acknowledge the work of writers on "reality television". Yes. I know I'm sure there are many more reasons than that, but I get a bit lost in the minutiae of it all; sorry.

I'm not terribly sure how I feel about the whole thing. I mean I definitely agree with the writers, but I suppose selfishly, I don't want this to affect my entertainment. It is what it is though, and I just wanted to present some of the basics of the situation here for people who are reading this and might not know about the current happenings.

There has been a rash of scripts being written in Hollywood for the past few months. To be clear, if a strike does happen, there can be no new scripting done on union projects. The studios and networks CAN ONLY create union approved material. That means this potential strike will also seriously affect the Director Guild, the Screen Actors Guild, and about 15 other smaller unions. So both the film studios and the tv networks are stockpiling projects that are completed and ready to go so they can wait out a potentially long strike if the need arises. Check out this pretty interesting list of projects that are set to be fastracked by the various studios, who are hoping to get the scripts done under the wire if a strike does happen (presumably most of these scripts are done by now). Also I'd like to recommend the Dealfatigue blog for some interesting thoughts on the matter (post 1, post 2) from the perspective of an entertainment lawyer in LA.

Obviously this could be a very big deal... well it already is a big deal. But we're still not sure how it will affect whats happening in Hollywood. Maybe the Guild will actually agree to an extension of their current contract while a study group investigates the impact of new media tech on the industry, but it doesn't sound like it. I haven't found a really good 'layman' site that keeps up on this. If someone knows one, please let me know as it gets a bit much for me. I'll report what I can on the strike here, but if you're really interested you might just have to keep an eye on Variety.

In the coming weeks, anything can happen. Let's hope for the best, and keep our fingers crossed that a deal can be struck saving us hardcore fans some hassle and keeping us looking at quality entertainment well into 2009, and beyond.


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