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Thursday November 1, 2007 6:39 pm

No Agreement Yet Between Writers and Producers




Posted by K.C. Morgan Categories: Reality, Syndication, News,

Hand writingDespite a federal mediator and plenty of bargaining sessions, the and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers failed to come to terms on a new three-year contract. Talks ended after several not-so-fruitful hours, three hundred and sixty minutes before the current contract expired. The writers and producers are stymied over one central issue: the pay writers receive when work is released on DVD. DVD sales are huge, and have been since the discovery that people will actually pay to own episodes of television shows they watched the first time they aired. Even syndication hasn’t hurt the DVD sales of old TV episodes, and the writers want their cut. Well, the producers don’t want to give it to them. That, in a nutshell, is what all this strike talk is about.

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It doesn’t mean a walkout or strike is definitely going to happen, but it doesn’t safeguard that one won’t happen, either. If a strike occurs, it will happen soon. In the meantime, Hollywood’s movie and TV writers can continue work without a contract. Of course, that’s something most writers just plain don’t want to do. The writers haven’t staged a strike since 1988. At that time, the strike lasted 22 weeks and reality wasn’t a huge TV genre. The industry was out an estimated $500 million during the last strike, and Hollywood definitely doesn’t want history to repeat itself.

Members of the Writers Guild have voted (by a 90% majority, no less) to authorize a strike any time after the contract expires. Approximately 12,000 writers are covered by the current contract. The Guild will hold a meeting at the end of this week to discuss their next move. If they strike, it means TV fans won’t get installments of their favorite scripted shows. It could even put a huge damper on next year’s fall season, as writing work on TV shows begins early.

But Hollywood won’t take a writer’s strike lying down, not when re-runs and reality can become a saving grace for scripts without writers. Reality TV is already huge, and some networks exist solely on unscripted programming alone. Are the writers asking for too much? Are they, essentially, biting the hand that feeds them? Would everyone continue to watch TV if there was nothing on but reality? You bet they would, and that’s why the Writer’s Guild needs to explore all their options before they slam the door on negotiations and commit to a walkout. Hollywood is far bigger than its writers, as much as I hate to admit it. The movie and TV industry has been recycling scripts for years…so who’s to say entertainment can’t exist on its own backlog of ideas? Considering all the blasted remakes that have hit the theatres of late, I thought they had already stopped using writers. I haven’t seen a truly original idea in years.

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