Friday, November 09, 2007

WGA goes on strike for more compensation

(Article I did about the strike for the Dakota Student.)

Much of the entertainment world is on hiatus as contracts are being negotiated.

If you're like most of America, a WGA strike isn't really news worthy or a cause for much concern to you. As someone who watches television and movies, I am keeping up with as much news about the strike as possible and if it continues it will be something that will cause concern for you.

For those unaware of what's been happening in the entertainment world for the past week, the Writers Guild of America has been on strike as of Monday this week after their contracts expired on October 31 (last Wednesday). What the WGA has asked for in their new contracts (which are still being negotiated at the moment) is to be compensated for DVD and new media entertainment. They have asked for their DVD residuals to be doubled from four cents of every $19.99 made on every DVD to eight cents and to be paid for the new media (which they are currently receiving zero percent, out of the estimated 4.6 billion to be made over the next three years). At this point in time, the WGA has given up the DVD negotiations, but are holding fast on the new media, because that is the future. It's a growing trend, now that some shows are being broadcasted online. The writers of those shows, who are not getting any money from the new media, are asking to be compensated for their work that is now being put out on the internet for free. Take a show like "The Office", for example, you can watch the show online with limited advertising, which is collecting revenue, but not being shared with the writers. The WGA is only asking for a small percentage of the new media, which being sustained by them.

What does this mean to you? For the most part nothing. That is if you don't enjoy watching scripted shows, soaps, or late night television. As of the moment the late night talk shows are in reruns. Late Show host David Letterman is supporting the WGA and has publicly ostracized producers, by calling them "cowards, cutthroats and weasels", for what they are doing, but many late night shows might be forced to make it's way back on the air. It would be interesting to see the late night show's format if they come back when the writers are still on strike.

At the moment most scripted shows like, Grey's Anatomy, Heroes, 30 Rock, etc. have enough episodes in the can (already completed) to last until about the year's end. But a growing trend on these shows, since the strike was announced, is that production has stopped completely. Many show-runners on the shows have shut down in support for the writers. Actors are still allowed to film at this time, but with the writers picketing their own shows, many actors and show-runners have refused to cross picket lines to go to work.

What will be interesting to see is the looming end of the contracts of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the Directors Guild of America (DGA) (which expire July of 2008). If at that point, the WGA strike was still going on and an agreement couldn't be met, we would have an industry wide strike that would halt everything.

Still don't get it? Judd Apatow, with an interview with IGN, gave this explanation to people who don't understand the reason for the strike. "Here's how I would explain it: If you're a teamster, you get paid to drive a truck. But if someone invents a new kind of truck, and you're still driving it, you should still get paid. We're switching trucks at this point. But if someone comes up with a three wheel truck, you're still driving!"

I hope the WGA's demands are met as swiftly as possible. Although you won't be able to picket the lines with your favorite shows because of our location, you can show your support by sending emails to the networks and network heads to get negotiations done as quickly as possible.

At this point some people are being laid off while the shows are shut down and more will be laid off if the negotiations persist.

This is truly hard for writers to strike financially, because unlike studio heads, many haven't been saving boats full of money for an event like this, but it is important enough for writers to strike now to insure that future writers will be protected. Just like the WGA did in 1988 (the last writers strike which lasted 6 months and spawned reality TV) when they made a stand for writers to be paid residuals on TV shows.

The WGA, are not trying to be selfish now, but looking to the future of writers and entertainment. To understand the strike and to follow current developments visit Hopefully by the time you see this article the strike would be over, but anything can change.

Link to article.

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