Hollywood Writers Strike Begins

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!

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  • What about scabs like Rodriguez or Tarantino? Surely their movies will become a high priority now that the crybaby guilds have stopped working… I definitely don’t have a problem with Michael Bay, Renny Harlin and Brett Ratner not working, and Quintin Tarantino or George Lucas gaining all the attention that those other guys projects might have gotten.

  • Unfortunately, most people don’t seem to care about the writers striking at all. If they don’t see the effects right in front of their face immediately, they won’t even notice.

    Given the proliferation of reality programming on both networks and, especially, cable, it might not seem like there’s anything different at the moment. Give it a few weeks and then people will take notice, like when Heroes ends its season on December 3rd.

    It will be a bit longer before the effects of a strike hit the movie industry, and sorry to say that the rush jobs coming down the pipe pre-strike won’t look too different from the hack jobs already released.

  • Ian

    Looks like they went on strike before they wrote those signs.

  • According to a post on MySpace by Brian K. Vaughn (writer of LOST and a few in-the-works big screen adaptations of his creator owned comic book series’), writers are trying to bump the amount of money they make per DVD from $0.04 to $0.08 a piece. I’m sure there’s more to it than that, but that’s really the extent of my knowledge on the subject. I guess time will tell if this event will have a big enough effect on the industry to make people like me who just don’t seem to care all that much open their eyes and take notice.

  • Goon

    i know quite a bit about the strike now, and especially on the Internet issues the writers are absolutely in the right and the studios are absolutely in the wrong. its drastically unfair and in the case of an upset artist not getting their fair residuals people would of course understand, but since its writers i guess people somehow disconnect themselves from it and come up with piss poor analogies.

    The Movie Blog’s video on this greatly upset me. Its that very attitude that is devaluing art and forcing the most principled and best writers to abandon the industry, leaving on desperate hacks and wannabes to stand around, who will sell out on a dime.

  • John posted on TMB about people who disagree with him:
    “fuck them if that’s the case. I have little to no patience for weak minded people who can’t accept other people have different points of view.”

    i totally snapped on him and probably wont be posting there at all anymore. thats just… this is the statement of an ego out of control. especially with that commenting policy which habitually deletes comments that simply disagree with him strongly.

  • I was intrigued but couldn’t find your post? Did it get deleted? I wasn’t allowed to response to his strawman arguments myself, even though I didn’t bring up anything controversial. Just noticed if he was against residuals alltogether, he should mention it, and if he is going to use a word like spin he should note what definition he is using, and bring up an example where spin has been used, so as to not open up a can of worms.

  • Dies this really surprise anyone coming from someone who doesn’t seem to believe in creative ownership at all? It also must really shape your worldview when you can piggyback on the talents of your friends whom don’t mind you reaping the bulk of the rewards.

  • Henrik, of course it was. You and I both know (and sure we’re feisty posters, but still) that a LOT of tame posts disappear off the face of the earth there, and that ANY criticism that he can construe as ‘personal’ gets taken down, even if the brings his own personal stories into the argument himself. I can’t believe I’ve watched a film fan site turn into The O’Movie Factor, but I have.

  • The thing I don’t understand about his post is that writers already get residuals, and it’s obviously a system that worked and everyone was happy with. The strike is mainly over applying these residuals to the distribution over the internet. So then John comes along and says, “Wait a minute… they don’t deserve any residuals at all!”

    I have a hard time taking some of his posts seriously though, I don’t know if he seriously believes them or if he’s just trying to spark an argument. Either way, I wouldn’t get too worried Goon because I think he’s in the minority.

  • it isnt a matter of who has the majority opinion. but his attitude on this issue has huge stock with a lot of the powers that be within corporations, and has so much to do with how art is devalued. I can appreciate that since studios put up the money that they get the majority of the profits, but their sense of entitlement grows to such a dangerous level that they lose all respect for their content providers.

    I see posts on TMB saying things like “Why should the writer of Shrek 3 get residuals? THAT SUCKED!” – a lot of things suck, a lot of things make a shitload of money, and the studio was the one who decided it was worth publishing. you dont get to change the rules just because someone within the company fucked up along the way. when you consider the amount of work that flops on screen and does well on DVD, and vice versa, this weird flexible mindset people seem to have that only quality work deserves residual payment is just mindblowingly insane… and the mindset that anyone who puts up the lions share reaps the benefit – to the extent that John believes in it – seems to reflect in the way he treats many of his friends, even when it comes to something as simple as credit for their work.

  • Interesting interview with Tim Minear about the WGA strike:

    http://www.blogtalkradio.com/Geekerati/2007/11/17/Tim-Minear-Talks-the-Strike