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-   -   Writers Guild Strikes Over DVD and Download Money ( 11-05-2007 12:13 PM

Writers Guild Strikes Over DVD and Download Money
The Writers Guild of America union today hit the picket line. After weeks of negotiations and the expiration of the writer’s contract last Wednesday, thousands of the people who provide the plots, storylines and jokes for your favorite movies and television shows are slated to hit the picket lines on Monday.

This isn’t your typical auto-worker or transportation worker strike, in that most employed Hollywood writers are well-paid and enjoy many workplace perks, compared to national standards. What the writers are fighting for is a bigger cut of the monies that come in from home video and downloaded content. It is not uncommon today to see a television show be a moderate success on the airwaves, then become a very profitable cult phenomenon on DVD. The off-color Family Guy on Fox was actually canceled and then brought back to the network first-run production, based on its success in syndication and on DVD. The main sticking point is that the writers want to get paid more for their work when it is sold in these relatively new venues.

The effect of a writers strike will be seen right away by many Americans. Daily TV shows rely on their writers to come up with witty lines and “punched up” copy. If you ever wondered just how funny John Stewart or Jay Leno really are – next week is the time to test them. Sitcoms and more complex programs often have as many as a dozen shows “in the can” and depending on the length of the pending strike, these shows can run out quickly, as can the sponsors, whose ad dollars make the shows worth creating.

There is a lot to lose for both sides. The members of the Writers Guild of America create an important element of a product that hundreds of millions of people enjoy each day, and the studios know that. At the same time, Hollywood is packed with up-and-coming writers who could potentially work as scabs. If the two parties can’t find a middle ground in the negotiation, the studios may have no choice but to look to non-union talent to write their shows. Will they be as experienced? Not a chance. Would a young writer jump at a chance to write for a hit show? Bet on it – even with the threat of retaliation. Because in Hollywood, the truth remains that you are only as good as your last hit and if new writers can get it done in this town, they will have work for a long time to come.

Insiders suggest that scabs were not used in the 1988 WGA strike and likely wont widely be used in the 2007 strike because many of the directors of the shows being made today are or were members of the WGA themselves. Also reality show writers were absorbed into the Editors Guild thus many of those shows can continue to be made despite the strike.

David DelGrosso 11-05-2007 05:22 PM

Re: Writers Guild Strikes Over DVD and Download Money
How they resolve this mess, might also become a HUGE precedence... simply because DVD and Download royalties are going to become increasingly important to everyone who contributes to these creative productions.

Meanwhile, some media "experts" are already misleading the public, by summarizing that these writers want to "double the DVD rate".

But their DVD rate is currently 3/10s of one cent on a dollar... and the writers are asking to change that to 6/10s of one cent on a dollar (for discs that cost less than $1 to manufacture and sell for between $11 – $22.)

I wonder why "the suits" feel that this is an unreasonable request?

And does this mean that the upcoming season of LOST, is going to be replaced by reruns of Desperate Housewives? WTF?


JerryDelColliano 11-07-2007 09:54 AM

Re: Writers Guild Strikes Over DVD and Download Money
The Los Angeles Times is reporting today that all of the studios are using the "force majure" clause in their deals to suspend projects that are less than profitable for them. Many of these productions are funded by the studios and would leave companies with steep rent, overhead and other expesnses that will have a DEEP and LASTING impact on the Los Angeles economy.

Without question the issue of home video and downloads is of growing importance. Seemingly an increase of 3/10 of one penny at least on the surface doesn't seem to be too impactful but clearly the studios feel as if this is worth going to war over.

Perhaps it is the war that will help them clear away the dead weight of their past deals now before they settle and get back to production. Is it possible the studios WANTED the strike for just this reason? Do the writers have enough power to UP their demands as the strike goes on?

Wait until the next episode of.....

TheMoose 11-07-2007 04:19 PM

Re: Writers Guild Strikes Over DVD and Download Money
Eisner tells striking writers to blame Steve Jobs

JerryDelColliano 11-13-2007 01:35 PM

Look what the writers can do in their spare time

It seems silly not to pay writers a mere 3/10 of a penny that they are asking for. Its not like digital entertainment doesn't make money now.

I still think the studios want to get out of some bad deals now before settling.

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