The Hollywood Blog
By Adam Margolis
No matter where you live, by now you have probably heard about the Writers Guild strike that is currently happening in Hollywood. Living
in Los Angeles, just a few minutes drive from the Writers Guild, I
have witnessed many picketers and noticed the overall somberness
and fear that has settled over the Entertainment Industry.
Leno, Letterman, John Stewart…most of our favorite talk shows are in re-runs. Some of our favorite shows have been postponed for a season and even threaten to go on an indefinite hiatus. What’s happening?
As it grows older, the Entertainment industry becomes an ever more complicated machine. The world is moving at lightning speed and we live in a generation of instant gratification. One can find just about anything to provide entertainment online, and people rarely tune into their favorite shows during their original air time. The
way Hollywood has chosen to attack the problem of the growing source of alternative to TV, is to not beat them but join them. So, if you missed the last two episodes of ‘Lost’, don’t worry. You can either sign on to ABC.com
to watch recent episodes or you can purchase episodes at high quality
off of ‘i-tunes’ for a very low price (how did we ever survive with so few
opportunities to entertain ourselves?). So,
with more and more people watching their favorite programs on other
mediums besides the television, writers are demanding that they be
compensated appropriately. If Studios see a
profit from the itunes sales or the advertising during their online
episodes, why shouldn’t the writers see any cash?
the last writers strike in the late 1980’s, writers were promised a
mere 5 cents per VHS sale, a percentage that has traveled through the
evolution to DVDs. This seems pretty dismal
compared to the money that the studios make and even the money that
producers and starts make on backend deals and percentages. Writers feel that without them,
there would be no content to shoot in the first place, so why are their
wages so low, and why are they so easily tossed to the side once their
creative input has been given? In the 80’s television suffered quite a bit, but it’s a new day.
Reality Shows already dominates the airwaves. The format has long been accepted as a staple of television programming. So are the writers actually shooting themselves in the foot by holding out for more dollars? In
my opinion, the writers are absolutely entitled to be compensated and
considered for their work in new mediums, but this strike isn’t a
battle of morals. It’s an overblown battle of egos, and the big guys have to pretend like they are unscathed by the strike. While
everyone from writers to script supervisors to caterers will suffer
over the coming months of the strike, the television studios have
possibilities to benefit.
Fox network states that it will air American Idol in the 2008 season, allowing Ryan Seacrest and the Judges to “improvise”. The
network even believes that because there will be no new shows or
episodes to really compete with the ratings giant, Idol will probably
see a boost in viewership next year. Just when
we thought that reality TV might be running out of steam, the writers
have given it the boost that it so desperately did not need.
Someone is eventually going to have to give. The writers will most likely settle on some agreement that doesn’t quite meet their requests, but pacifies them enough to get Hollywood back on its feet. However,
if the networks see no loss in advertiser dollars or even a gain in
certain cases, there might be no rush to give the writers what they
want. This could be the end of many people’s careers. The
one thing that we can hope for is that many production companies are
hesitant to present new ideas to networks in fear that writers will not
want to work for those who ignored the strike. There could be a real shift in power in Hollywood over the next few months, so I recommend that everyone stay tuned. In
the mean time, maybe a sweep of re-runs and tired, recycled, idiotic
reality ideas might just force people to get outside of pick up a book. Sadly
it will probably just boost the numbers of sites like youtube which
offers infinite clips and outlets for original fan programming. More to come…
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.