To Strike, Or Not To Strike -- What's The Deal as Hollywood's Clock Runs Down?

The who, what, when, and why of the Hollywood writer's strike.

by | November 1, 2007 | Comments

To strike, or not to strike? That is the question that Hollywood’s writers will be answering Thursday, and from the looks of Wednesday’s talks breakdown, it looks likely. We’ve got the rundown on what that means for your television and movie watching in 2008 and 2009.

With housing values at an all-time low and fires blazing through Southern California, many Los Angeles residents are thinking about making like Kurt Russell and planning an Escape from L.A.. And to make matters worse, the current Writers Guild of America (WGA) contract expired at midnight Wednesday. Despite months of negotiations between the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers (AMPTP), the fear among those in the entertainment biz is that a WGA strike is just around the corner.


Had Wednesday’s negotiations gone well, the possible strike might have heldover past Thursday’s doomsday deadline. But talks dissolved Wednesday evening, leading many to believe that a strike is indeed imminent.

Even those not involved in the industry know that a WGA walkout would be bad news. Television viewers would most definitely be negatively affected by the strike — unless reruns, game shows, and reality slop are your idea of good television. For film fans the strike isn’t quite as bad, although it does mean studios are either pushing their most important projects into ultra-accelerated production or leaving them in limbo for the time being.

Why They’re Negotiating

One of the major points that could make or break the new contract is residuals, for both home video and new media. The WGA is fighting to double the payout rate for homevideo residuals. Writers strongly argue that they have lost out on profit from DVD sales, especially with the rising popularity of television shows on DVD. However, if the residual rate is raised, it would also have to include the Directors Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild, which makes for a hard selling point. With the rise of the Internet, writers are feeling left out, as studios are free to use streaming video to increase viewership and promote programs.

Another key issue is reality television. Currently, reality TV is not covered by the WGA. This hurts writers who work just as much as those employed by scripted programs, but are not given union pension and health care benefits.

Imagine: A World of Reruns and Reality TV…

If the WGA strikes, there will be plenty of reality television to watch. Many scripted programs will run out of new episodes beginning in December. This also means that shows that don’t premiere until after that, like Lost and 24, won’t be able to air new episodes until the strike is resolved. This is especially bad news considering that the last WGA strike in 1988 lasted for five months.

If the WGA does strike, the first casualties will be late-night programs. Scripted nightly shows like The Daily Show, Conan, and The Colbert Report would be forced into reruns virtually as soon as the strike is announced. Weekly programs like Heroes and Desperate Housewives would also run out of new episodes quickly, leaving new hit shows like Samantha Who? and Gossip Girl to most likely lose their new audience.


Will the WGA dance away their troubles, Newsies style?

And let’s not forget about the writers. All members of the WGA would be required to strike and would be banned from crossing picket lines. Many other employees of shows would eventually be out of jobs — including security guards, set designers, cameramen, and drivers. Other Los Angeles residents would be affected as well. Countless businesses depend on the entertainment industry to keep them afloat. Limo companies, beauty salons, catering companies, dry cleaners, and restaurants would most likely crumble without their income stemming from the entertainment crowd.

Who Wants To See A Poorly-Written Blockbuster?

Some industry veterans worry that striking for even a few months could be detrimental to the quality of programming. And if the strike continued into 2008, the film industry would start to be affected as well. While films set for release next year are mostly well into the production or post-production phase, it’s 2009’s slate that could be drastically affected by the last-minute rushes of script finalization and early production starts that the strike will prompt.

Every major studio has a handful of high profile 2009 projects in the pipeline, turning Hollywood activity into one huge last-minute cram session — good news for fans awaiting films like G.I. Joe, Star Trek XI, Wolverine, Death Race, and Bond 22 (check out Variety‘s assessment of over 50 planned productions). That is, unless scripts completed in a hurry turn out, like many rushed homework assignments, head into production before they’re really ready.

But there is still some light at the end of the tunnel. With the teamsters now ready to honor Writers Guild picket lines, even shows that have scripts ready to go might be in danger. A federal negotiator has been brought in to try and bring the WGA and AMPTP closer to agreement.

What will happen after midnight is a mystery to everyone involved, but it is unlikely that anything will be determined until a major membership meeting on Thursday evening at the Los Angeles Convention Center. No matter what the outcome, you should watch some addictive scripted television tonight. It will help to kill the suspense and also remind you of what you could be missing.

Tag Cloud

Fantasy GIFs Bravo Star Wars 2018 Grammys TCA golden globes blaxploitation Columbia Pictures Captain marvel IFC Sneak Peek BBC America crime OWN Schedule dceu Year in Review Teen President Winter TV mutant Spring TV Mudbound Trailer Comics on TV Starz Reality Competition festivals San Diego Comic-Con ratings Thanksgiving GoT 20th Century Fox Sundance award winner Countdown Rom-Com Nickelodeon Toys Pride Month natural history Set visit travel historical drama Dark Horse Comics Character Guide Holidays Amazon 2017 Watching Series Nominations Rocketman TCM 007 Opinion spider-man Freeform NYCC Warner Bros. A&E Awards Spike true crime robots serial killer ESPN animated Photos FX Superheroe Lionsgate elevated horror streaming YouTube Premium what to watch Mystery diversity Emmy Nominations Mary poppins See It Skip It Shondaland biography CBS All Access Premiere Dates romance Western 45 ITV Pixar Mary Tyler Moore Rock singing competition green book HBO sitcom Awards Tour TLC YA medical drama National Geographic Pet Sematary Red Carpet Esquire Writers Guild of America Sundance Now Anna Paquin science fiction Comedy harry potter Ghostbusters Fall TV transformers Film Festival Ovation The CW LGBT PBS political drama Interview American Society of Cinematographers Showtime The Arrangement TNT SXSW Hulu sports zombies DC Universe Infographic Star Trek thriller Epix Amazon Prime cooking WGN Valentine's Day Emmys Food Network 2015 Winners MSNBC History DGA 21st Century Fox Walt Disney Pictures FOX sequel psycho Quiz dc CBS Biopics crime drama docudrama Marathons Tarantino Creative Arts Emmys crossover Logo BET hist Nat Geo discovery finale dragons WarnerMedia GLAAD TCA 2017 Song of Ice and Fire VH1 Cosplay Musical Apple Trivia SundanceTV Ellie Kemper Action SDCC DirecTV toy story social media supernatural Heroines USA Network Syfy CNN USA boxoffice IFC Films LGBTQ Lucasfilm facebook Video Games DC Comics Drama Polls and Games Election miniseries Cartoon Network TV Land space Pirates AMC Trophy Talk mockumentary witnail Box Office Universal Martial Arts Sci-Fi Marvel adventure jamie lee curtis Musicals composers teaser Oscars binge Country X-Men Podcast Mindy Kaling justice league NBC Netflix spy thriller Super Bowl APB casting YouTube Red crime thriller Shudder strong female leads FXX PaleyFest theme song dramedy Horror Stephen King Elton John ABC Family Chilling Adventures of Sabrina 24 frames disaster MTV Chernobyl Animation CMT 2016 game show Brie Larson television war HBO Max Best and Worst Fox News spinoff Pop Masterpiece adaptation RT21 Paramount Network technology E3 cats Rocky Spectrum Originals Crackle TV Summer 2019 nature psychological thriller Music Superheroes First Look Acorn TV CW Seed aliens VICE zero dark thirty based on movie Lifetime Certified Fresh period drama police drama TBS Sony Pictures Disney Channel Vudu TruTV Comic Book Cannes Adult Swim anime DC streaming service BBC Women's History Month Black Mirror Tomatazos ABC politics Kids & Family Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt RT History cinemax Britbox anthology El Rey Tumblr cops Christmas cults vampires unscripted talk show comiccon Reality comic TIFF Calendar Extras Comedy Central Paramount Mary Poppins Returns Disney MCU New York Comic Con doctor who The Witch zombie E! richard e. Grant