As someone who works in the movie business, I’ve been following the WGA strike very closely, although so far it has affected me a lot more as a fan of television than as an employee of the Hollywood Dream Machine TM. I’m not sure I’ve ever even worked on a movie that had a WGA writer. Yeah, it’s a glamorous life. I am in the Editors Guild, which is part of IATSE, which is officially mad at the WGA for putting us all out of work. But I’m definitely in favor of the writers. They should take whatever they can get. I wouldn’t mind getting a piece of those new media revenues too, but editors don’t get any residuals for old media either.
The news so far has been pretty boring. Our favorite TV shows are dropping like flies, while movies will continue for a long time without any theaters going empty or filling their screens with artsy foreign and independent films. But I think the recent news that the WGA refused to allow the Golden Globes or the Academy Awards to show any movie clips is fascinating. I can imagine an awards show without writers. It might even be fun. But take away clips from the movies and previous awards shows, and we’re getting pretty close to the pure, masturbatory essence of the Oscars.
WGA member Jon Stewart is hosting the Oscars this year and it seems pretty unlikely that he’ll do anything more creative than introduce people. Even if he starts with some prepared remarks about supporting the strike, that would be writing. In fact, his main job as a WGA member should be to make the show as boring as possible. A lot of people will be watching the show, and the Worst Oscars Ever would be a good reminder of the importance of writers.
In other strike news, the WGA wants to negotiate separate contracts with everyone now. They’re sick of dealing with the AMPTP (who was already refusing to negotiate with them anyway) and now want to divide and conquer. One of the first producers to make a deal will be David Letterman. His production company Worldwide Pants owns his and Craig Ferguson’s shows, and as a long-time WGA member he will be happy to make a good deal with the WGA. If he can bring his shows back along with is writers, it will give him an advantage over Jay and Conan, who are both just hired guns at NBC and will have to convince the network to make a deal with the WGA in order to get their writers back. It will put some nice pressure on NBC. Jay and Conan are coming back January 2nd, with or without their writers. I’d love to see Jay’s ratings finally plummet, but the truth is he’ll probably be just fine. People who watch Leno are obviously not watching it because it’s so well written.
Throughout the strike, the members of the WGA have been busy making their case on the Internets. The Late Show Writers on Strike blog—written by Letterman’s writing staff—is my favorite. There’s been a mostly lame series called “Speechless” where famous actors don’t say any of the witty or moving things they usually say, you know, indicating that they don’t make it up on their own. The only one that I’ve really liked is with Woody Allen, who actually does make it up on his own.
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The Late Show Writers did their own version which is also funny.
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