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Writers’ Strike: Now We Mean It



It’s been two months. We’re all sure our favorite shows are on their last reserves of scripts.

And now the Writers Guild of America finally means it. They’re bringing in the big guns. Er, pens.

Today is the deadline for “Strike TV” proposals. And what is Strike TV? It will be an online video channel featuring professional WGA scripts.

This is a step in the right direction for the strike, especially if they can quickly show that they can make profits from their content on the Internet by cutting out the middleman. Then, if online video viewing increases (and TV viewership decreases), then I think even Andy and I will buy the connection—and more importantly, so will the AMPTP.

However, we all know that there’s more to succeeding online than throwing a lot of content at the viewers to see what sticks. But it sounds like they’ll be doing quite a bit of that. According to the Strike TV MySpace profile (oh, doesn’t that feel official), any show of any quality, featuring any “actors,” could be accepted and aired. If you’ve ever wondered how many shows are unsuccessfully pitched each season, this could be your chance to find out.

So, while the dialogue may be better than your average YouTube fare, the production quality and acting might not. However, it’s highly likely that many WGA members have enough friends in high places (and actors who have nothing to do now that their sitcoms are out of scripts) to create slick, professional-quality content direct to the web. (Hooray for us!) At an informational meeting last week, “nearly 400 writers, DPs, camera operators, directors, actors, editors, casting directors and craftsmen” came, so the writers definitely have some support that could crank out good video.

The WGA does acknowledge that some of the shows may be successful, in which case, the owners of the show (ie its writers) are free to take it wherever they need to, including to other online channels (but probably not back onto television until the strike’s over).

Ultimately, though, the WGA isn’t framing Strike TV as the potential straw to break the camel’s back. It describes the effort as “an Internet fundraiser.” The shows, which will be up to 40 minutes long, will be ad-supported, with revenue from the ads going toward others affected by the strike, “including IATSE [stage hands et al.] and Teamsters.” While I certainly appreciate this gesture, I think the WGA is selling themselves short here—or maybe just hedging their bets.

  • http://www.wannatech.com Marguerite Jasmin

    There are still many tv shows running with new episodes and even new ones that have yet to debute. And I’m not even talking about reality shows. I think there is still a lot of new content on TV at this time. And it’s going to take more than a really long writers strike to have TV buffs watching an online video channel instead.

  • Jordan McCollum

    Which is why I said, “We’re all sure our favorite shows are on their last reserves of scripts” instead of “there’s nothing new on TV anymore” like everyone else seems to think. People have been saying that since the strike began.

    However, I do know that many shows (especially shows other than the midseason premieres) actually have run out of scripts—30 Rock, for example, has been out of production for some time.

    More and more people are already going online for video content (cite); how many reruns of their favorite shows will it take to drive even more people to the Internet?

  • http://www.wannatech.com Marguerite Jasmin

    I think I understand what you meant.

  • http://www.thevanblog.com Steven Bradley

    I think people started saying there’s nothing new on tv the day after tv debuted. I’m not sure that has to be about the strike.

    It’s been interesting to watch the networks ration out shows lately. Last Thursday’s episode of Earl was clearly meant to be shown much closer to Christmas.

    Of course reality shows are springing up even more than usual.

    And amidst the writers strike it’s the director’s turn next.

  • http://www.theratingblog.com Alan Johnson

    As far as I’m concerned, I try to keep the time I waste by watching TV to a bare minimum. There are simply a lot of better things you can do with your time than sitting in front of a screen and watching useless shows.

    Alan Johnson

  • EM KENT

    I was supporting the writer’s in the beginning, but enough’s enough. They are truly biting the hand that feeds them now. The tv audience will turn their attentions elsewhere and have already. We are fickle group, and are done with repeats and reality shows. Once people discover that they can fill their evenings with books, family time, and time on the computer, as well as nights out of the house, and catching up on some sleep because they’re not staying up for 10pm shows, they may not be back in the Fall or whenever the new season deems to begin. Meet me at the bowling alley or the clubs, because I’m done being held hostage by the writer’s strike.