We’re just a few days away from the Writers Guild strike deadline, and things aren’t looking good.
Calendar Live reports on the climate behind the scenes in Hollywood during the days leading up to November 1, and unsurprisingly, it isn’t pretty. As Angels & Demons writer Akiva Goldsman is quoted as saying, “It’s pencil down until midnight on Halloween…it’s unavoidably intensely stressful, but it’s the way of the world right now.”
Why all the stress? Well, if you’ve been following along for the last few months, you already know that the Writers Guild’s contract with the studios expires November 1, and negotiations haven’t been going well — which is why seemingly every third story we publish here at least references the impending strike. Last week, the Guild voted to authorize a work stoppage if a new contract isn’t worked out before the deadline, and now, as Goldsman says, “Everybody is living in the impending doom.”
This is uncharted territory for many of the Guild’s members — two-thirds of whom weren’t members in 1988, the last time writers staged a full-scale walk-out. As a result, according to Calendar Live, a lot of last-minute details are being figured out:
Both sides of the divide are busy parsing the recently issued WGA strike rules, which are geared to make it as difficult as possible to continue shooting films without writers. For instance, members would be barred from finessing dialogue to suit an actor, changing stage directions because a location got rained out, or even changing a beverage from Coke to vitamin water because the proper product clearance couldn’t be secured.
The article goes on to discuss some of the high-profile films likely to be impacted by the strike, including G.I. Joe — which is apparently undergoing rewrites despite not having been officially greenlighted — and a host of others:
“G.I Joe” is hardly the only potential 2009 blockbuster rushing to meet the strike deadline. Oscar winner Paul Haggis is plowing through James Bond 22. Since Oct. 1, Oscar nominee Scott Frank has been holed up with director Shawn Levy trying to pound out a shootable version of “Night at the Museum 2.” For the last two weeks, Billy Ray has been polishing up “State of Play,” a political thriller starring Brad Pitt and Edward Norton that has already passed through the hands of “The Kingdom‘s” Matthew Carnahan, “The Bourne Identity‘s” Tony Gilroy and “The Queen‘s” Peter Morgan.
Just last week, 20th Century Fox issued an announcement that the studio was laying claim to May 1, 2009, as the release date for its big-budget sci-fi spinoff “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” starring Hugh Jackman. This was just days after it issued an urgent SOS to the major agencies looking for a quick rewrite person. Another 2009 movie recently looking for polishes was “Four Christmases,” the Vince Vaughn–Reese Witherspoon holiday yarn. The studios pay top “script doctors” $250,000 to $300,000 per week to polish screenplays.
Meanwhile, actors and directors are keeping a close eye on the writers’ strike; not only does it affect their work directly, but it sets a precedent for their strikes, which are likely to occur next summer, when the Screen Actors Guild and Directors Guild of America see their contracts expire. The SAG wasted no time in issuing guidelines for a writers’ strike to its members. The Hollywood Reporter has shared portions of a message sent from SAG leadership to its members:
We continue to be hopeful that an amicable and equitable conclusion to their negotiations will occur…However, now that (an) overwhelming majority of the WGA membership has voted the authority to call a strike if the talks fail to produce a deal, it is appropriate that we discuss with you what the ramifications of a work stoppage would mean to you (and) your continuing to work if a strike becomes a reality.
The Reporter goes on to detail those ramifications in further detail, which we’ll spare you here — suffice it to say that everyone in town is battening down the hatches. To read more, click on the links, below!