Sunday, December 9, 2007

The Writer's Strike

The Writer's Strike

I know that it is a little annoying having many of our favorite television shows prematurely sent into reruns, but it is necessary.  If you watched the videos above, you know a little bit about what is at stake and how little comparatively the writers are asking for compared to what the studios are making.  Personally, I am willing to go without some of my favorite shows in order for those who make them so good to get a little bit of the pie that wouldn't even exist if it weren't for them.
The crux of the talks right now is new media.  Mainly the internet.  Every time that you purchase a show from itunes or amazon unbox, or watch it on,,, or, you are providing money to the studios to experience that product, either directly by paying for it from itunes or amazon, or indirectly by sitting through the same commercial four or five times while watching the show online.  Either way, the studio is making money, just like they do when the show is shown on television.  The difference is, the writers (as well as the actors, the director, and all of the below the line crew that helped create that television episode) are seeing none of it.  This borders on criminal.  The big rich companies are using the hard work of it's employees to make themselves more money while not paying those who actually did the work.

Recently, the Writer's Guild pulled the request for an increase in DVD residuals off of the table in the hopes of making a deal.  It was a show of good faith.  The Studios responded with no offer of residuals for new money, and lied about it when the talks fell apart again.

The issue of home video residuals shows how important the issue of new media residuals actually is.  Twenty years ago, when the last writer's strike occurred, home video was in it's infancy.  The industry wasn't sure that it would last.  In order to help the industry grow, writers agreed to cut the percentage that they were owed off of video sales by 80%, meaning that they only get 2.5% of video sales.  Now, 20 years later, the video industry is probably the biggest portion of the money made off of television and movies, and the writers are still only seeing 2.5% of the money.  I guarantee you that they are doing far more than 2.5% of the work.  After all, without the screenplay or teleplay, there wouldn't be any dvd.
The writers are determined not to take such a bad deal again with new media, since whatever deal that they make will last for a long time, and chances are that the Studios will be unwilling to up the writers residuals even if the industry becomes the largest revenue stream, which everyone projects that the internet will.

Sure, writers can make good money, but not all of them do.  At any given time, nearly half of the writers guild members are out of work.  Residuals are what pays the bills in those times.  And even those members who never strike it rich are still given health care benefits for being a member, and those benefits are paid for by residuals.

Sure, it sucks that there aren't any new episodes of The Office ( or Numb3rs, if you prefer), but it isn't the writers that you should blame for that, it is the Studios.  The writers just want what they are due, and have already shown that they will accept even less than that, but the Studio won't even offer something close to fair, and therefore, that is where your anger should be directed.  Be pissed at CBS, owned by Viacom, that there isn't any new Numb3rs, be pissed at NBC, owned by General Electric, that we're currently without episodes featuring our favorite Scranton paper pushers at The Office, blame ABC, owned by Walt Disney, that we may only get the eight already completed episodes of LOST, and blame Fox and Rupert Murdoch that we might not get a season of 24 at all.  If only we could send Jack Bauer after the Studios.

Remember, it's writers who come up with the characters, situations, and stories that make any of the shows worth watching in the first place.  Without them, nothing else can go on, as we are learning as more and more shows go dark, but also, none of it would have been there in the first place.

Let me leave you with some of my favorite quotes from the new shows this season, brought to you by writers...


Ned: I'm not a fan of the hug.
Chuck: Then you haven't been hugged properly, it's like an emotional Heimlich.

Emerson: You know what?  I'm glad you did it.  It makes the worst thing I ever did seem insignificant.
Ned: Listen to you all Judgey-judge.
Emerson: "Judgey-judge"?

Chuck: Good day, which I think is much better than hello, cause what does that say? That says I'm here, your turn to talk.  Kinda selfish.


Kasey: I don't kid about quiche.

Chuck: So, in this plan I basically do nothing?
Kasey: Yup.
Chuck: Let's do this.

Lester: Are you kidding?  You have to be better than yourself, by like a factor of 10.
Jeff: More, like 11.


Ted: A bloody customer isn't a happy customer.

Ben: Winston, you are one freaky ass bird who scared the Hell out of me and ruined the way I will feel about birds forever.  Just wanted you to know that.


LAPD.  You're lucky I'm enlightened.

Crews: If I were a cowboy, he'd be my goofy sidekick.
Reese: Kinda like you're mine?

Crews: We've got to use his strength against him.
Reese: What's his strength?
Crews: His weakness.
Reese: His weakness is his strength?


The Darling's Public Relation's Lady: Patrick's lying.  Patrick's going to be the next lying president of the United States of Lying America.

Rev. Brian Darling: Sure, I get weepy at Christmas, the Crucifixion kind of gets to me, but that's not the same as actually having faith.

So, Until Next Time have a little compassion for the writers, and save your anger for the studios,  if you don't believe me, maybe you'll listen to the greatest rock band of all time.  That's right, The D.

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