It isn’t that I blame the writers for taking action against those who might be exploiting them. I believe in unions. I am completely supportive of the WGA. On the other hand, I am horrified at the thought of a strike. There is a rumble of panic vibrating all over the internet, with some private emails being exposed for all to see. This time, the writers mean business.
The Teamsters, it was reported by Variety, have decided not to cross the picket lines if the Writers Guild decides to strike, which means that crews and tech people will not be working either, so if the industry does try to keep the Hollywood machine moving, whom will they hire for crews? Will Craig’s List be ablaze with work opportunities for the great mass of unemployed citizens of this great city?
In discussions about the potential for a strike, several stop-gap measures were suggested in case the writers do decide to stop the product. Cable TV shows like The Closer could be run on the networks. Prime time could see episodes of The Sopranos, with some serious editing. Feature films will be shown as well. But what they aren’t dredging up from cable and off of Netflix, the rest of it looks pretty bleak. It will be nothing but reality shows.
There would be no Daily Show or Colbert Report, only the endless repeats. Eventually, the new season would play out and there would be no new season for our prime time dramas. TV would essentially be rendered a wasteland. What on earth will most of us do without our seasonal fix of well-written comedies and dramas?
I don’t know about you, but I have completely run out of my ability to watch normal people go through extraordinary things. I tried watching The Biggest Loser, and I couldn’t get through even two episodes. Dancing with the Stars has lost me. The Bachelor, forget it. Even Survivor has become too depressing to watch. American Idol could see a major bump in ratings. So what else is new?
The Writers Guild wants to make sure that writers are also profiting from the new digital platforms we’re all enjoying, like downloads of film and TV from the internet. But many who oppose the strike say that it’s too soon to know if these will be profitable enough to justify it.
Ironically, it is exactly the danger of viewers turning away from TV and to the internet that will be the ultimate fallout of a strike. Scripted television is still the best television, and much of that is due to the diverse talent of writing in this town. Good screenplays may be few and far between, but good teleplays are in abundance.
No one seems to know if there will be a strike or not. Supposedly, every project that might have happened is suddenly happening because all of the producers want to make sure their own films and shows get greenlighted before it all dries up.
By the end of this weekend, the writers will have had an important meeting that will hopefully decide where this thing goes from here. Negotiations could continue for quite some time, though, before an actual strike happens. Still, it’s always sensible to be prepared for life’s emergencies.
Writers have every right to strike and to protect themselves from the ever-changing ways we get our entertainment. This particular TV junkie is in full support of the potential strike if, for no other reason, it will give me an excuse to finally pull myself away from the TV long enough to write the great American novel.