By far the biggest news story in the world of film this week is the Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike, which is now officially in effect as of this morning. After last minute negotiations broke down with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), writers began to prepare themselves for some serious picketing. Now if you’re as confused as me about this whole Hollywood strike situation, allow me to try and clear up a few key points.
First of all, this is only one part of the overall Hollywood strike that many people have been talking about for the past few months. The Screen Actors Guild and the Directors Guild of America both have contracts that will expire in July, which is when the entire industry will really break down. For the moment, production can continue on all movies that already have finalized scripts, and the movie industry may not be immediately affected. However, television is another story. Late night talk shows in particular require daily monologues and skits that reference current events, which is why most of them will head into re-runs now that their writing staff is on strike.
The main sticking point in contract negotiations is reportedly the amount of residuals that writers receive from the sale and distribution of their work on DVD and on the internet. A previous writer’s strike happened back in 1988, lasting 22 weeks and costing the industry over $500 million. One would think they would work to avoid a similar long term freeze out. Either way, I’ve probably got months worth of TV to catch up on, so I’m in no hurry to see them settle their differences!