Alright, so everyone knew that already. Everyone knows the American Writers Guild, both East and West divisions (that’s Hollywood and New York, people), have been on strike for about ten weeks now. The Golden Globes have been cancelled. Letterman and Leno are writing their own jokes. All of my favourite shows, including Jon Stewart’s Daily Show, are off the air. When will the madness end?
This dispute is between the AWG and the AMPTP, which is the trade organisation that represents TV and movie studios. It’s about the contracts that regulate minumum wage, royalties and all that. DVD sales and online broadcasts are the bone of contention – writers want to get paid for these, too.
But do you know what I found out yesterday? The Screen Actor’s Guild (SAG) also has contracts with the AMPTP, and these contracts come up for renewal in about six months. The outcome of this strike could have a lot more impact in Hollywood – if the studios win, they’ll be in a pretty strong position when it comes to negotiations with SAG. If they lose, will SAG take them to the cleaners?
I know it’s been published elsewhere, but the last Hollywood strike lasted for 5 months in 1988, and cost roughly $500 million in lost production. With inflation, what will be the cost of current negotiations? What will happen to Hollywood? Will the Daily Show ever go back on the air? Will we be stuck with repeats and reality television FOREVER?!?
PS: There’s a great blog by Grace Egan, a TV writer who’s written on Smallville, Dark Angel and is currently on House, and she’s discussed the strike at great length. Here is one post that talks about her motives for striking. It’s a great insight into the Hollywood system.