Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Tina Fey and Martha Rae Part 2

Well, originally, I did a post on the Writers Strike when it first struck. It has been almost eight weeks since the writers decided to put down their pens and pick up their picket signs, and in eight weeks there have been no new developments. Nothing has happened... well I shouldn't say nothing has happened.

  1. No More Original Scripted Shows: Many folks are scanning their DVR's and noticing the same thing I have noticed in the last few weeks, no NEW shows. This is equally disconcerting for promising new shows like Pushing Daisies or Big Bang Theory which will have to reintroduce their shows to the public if they return. Also, the crop of 'new reality shows' that the network has trumped out like ABC's failed "The Duel" have not lived up to the hope of delivering viable new content during the strike. The end result at this point is that consumers are indicating that they will turn now to vendors like Netflix and the movie theaters for their entertainment of choice, or worse of the media world... books!
  2. Economic Impact: The state of California alone lost 200 million dollars in revenue tax dollars in the month of November. The clear drop in cash flow will eventually leak over to affect the California Real Estate Market as the lack of usable cash in the market will provide yet another blow to the real estate market and subsequently the credit and loan business. This has many folks outside the industry concerned as well as those in the industry who are already seeing a steady decline in business for vendors who supply the entertainment industry.
  3. Lost Jobs: The Writers Strike does not present an immediate financial burden to the parties involved in the strike on a personal level. Writers depending on who you believe (the WGA says $60,000.00 and the AMPTE says $200,000.00) make about $125,000.00 dollars a year. Well over the median income in California. Obviously producers, studio and network executives make far more (Les Moonves made about eight figures in 2008) So, on a personal level neither the writers nor the AMPTE members are really impacted by this strike. It is the folks making middle income in the industry that will find themselves without a job during the holiday season. For example, Costume Departments, Casting Directors, Hair and Make Up, Transportation, Electricians, Camera Assistants, Production Assistants, Editorial and Craft Services all will suffer without shows to work on. These are lean times.
The frustrating part of this strike is the failure of both parties to develop and maintain a consistent dialogue in regards to settling the dispute. Both sides point the finger at the other as the main reason for breakdown in talks. However, it is clear that without two sides coming together there is a need for third party mediation in this dispute. That will be the responsibility of the federal government as it is obvious both the WGA and AMPTE will not be able to agree on their own mediator. They already turned down Bill Clinton's attempt to aide in negotiations, and he brokered a peace deal with Palestinians and Israelis. A somewhat faded light of hope comes in the form of a sister union, the DGA. The DGA (or Directors Guild of America) is the next major heavy weight to have their contract expire (around March). The DGA has deliberately backed off on their own negotiations (or even starting them) to see if the WGA could come up with a fair and reasonable deal. The DGA and it's members are already out of work, so they have supposedly come up with a deal that the AMPTE is rumored to like in pre-talks. It is unclear if the WGA is equally excited about the proposal. However the DGA is not going to even start their negotiations with the AMPTE until January 2nd of 2008. So, if a deal is not brokered with in the first few weeks of the new year, we will not see new shows until perhaps late February or March.

Early on many people picked a side to fight on. Many creative types sided with the Writers, etc. Now, it is clear that the actions of the WGA is causing some divisiveness amongst the Teamsters and Creative. Bitterness is starting to finally settle in. So, it is important that public opinion shifts from uncertain uneasiness to a push for resolution. Resolution is better for the greater community of industry professionals in the short and long term. There is not enough Art being generated in Hollywood these days, and the only thing preventing it from happening... is Greed.

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