Friday, November 09, 2007

Yet Even More About The Strike

OK, if people feel compelled to rant about the WGA strike that is affecting your favorite movies and TV programs, then they should have at least some idea of what it's about.

A woman named Donna sent this as part of a rant to's Matt Roush: "Has anyone thought about the fans of these shows? When I say anyone, I mean both sides of the strike. It seems that no one gives a rat's butt about those of us who actually like to relax in front of our weekly favorite shows. Fine, if the writers say they need more, then a compromise can be made, but they also need to keep in mind they are part of the few in this world who love their jobs. Most of us get up and go to work because we need to pay the bills, not because we love our jobs. They actually have the best of both worlds. If you ask me, both sides could learn a thing or two. Rant complete."

Yes, because all the writers and studios want to do is screw the fans out of their TV viewing habits.

The writers also need to pay bills, and most of the 40,000 members of the WGA are more often unemployed than employed, so alternative forms of revenuve, such as residual payments and portions of DVD sales and internet downloads are essential for their survival. This isn't a case of the rich getting richer. Writers more often that not have a good income, but aren't driving around in limos and going to mansions. For every David E. Kelley, there are hundreds of writers who may go for a year without work. And if a writer goes too long between jobs, he or she loses their WGA benefits.

Consider that there are only a finite amount of TV jobs out there. Each show may have a staff of 10-12 writers, but many of those shows aren't picked up for even a full season. So the writers lucky enough to get jobs on those shows (as opposed to the writers who aren't able to land a job during TV staffing season) find themselves quickly unemployed, and likely won't be getting any residual money from a show that only aired a few times.

Yes, the strike is hurting the below-the-line talent - the grips, the best boys, the truck drivers, et. al. - but most of these guys work much more consistently than the writers, and there are still plenty of movies and TV shows being shot in Hollywood even now.

People who complain because they may have to wait for new installments of "Grey's Anatomy" or whatever ought to remember that the writers want to bring them to you, but pay taxes and have families to support like everyone else.

WEEKEND'S BEST BETS: Continue to enjoy new episodes of your favorite shows while you can. CBS is all-new with "Ghost Whisperer," "Moonlight" and "Numb3rs," as is ABC with "Men In Trees" and "Women's Murder Club."

Of course, you should be watching "Friday Night Lights" (NBC, 9 p.m.), but you aren't, meaning that by the end of the year you're going to make sure one of TV's best writing staffs in unemployed.

"Flash Gordon" fans, take note: The show has moved up to 8 p.m., followed by a new "Stargate: Atlantis" on Sci-Fi.

Check out a new "Torchwood" (BBC America, Sat., 9 p.m.) This show continues to get better every week.

With the World Series over, everything is all-new on Sunday. As always, the pick is "Dexter" (Showtime, Sun., 9 p.m.) and the new edition of "The Amazing Race" (CBS, Sun., 8 p.m.) People may be upset at the fact that reality shows will be replacing dramatic programming during the strike, but remember, "The Amazing Race" replaced "Viva Laughlin" on the schedule, so the viewers came out ahead in that swap, at least.

Also Sunday is the season finale of "Curb Your Enthusiasm," (HBO, 10 p.m.), which has been brilliant its last two or three episodes.


hotspur said...

I do understand the writers but a lot of workers are being hurt. As an avid viewer I really don't care as with 200 channels there is always something to watch.

Some suggestions for the networks.
Go to their cable channels such as Bravo, Discovery etc

Replay good failing shows such as "Friday Night Lights" and replay them on better nights -Tuesdays through Thursdays"

More sports.

Then people can survive

Phillip Ramati said...

Well, a lot of people are being hurt by the strike in general, such as the restaurants that many writers frequent. But when the auto industry has a strike and other related industries are affected, no one seems to complain.

Phillip Ramati said...

On the Best Bets posting, I should have also listed "The Planman" on Sunday at 8 p.m. on BBC America.

It stars Robbie Coltrane as a burned out attorney playing both sides of the law by being involved in a big heist. Fans of Cracker and other British mysteries will want to check this one out.

zodin2008 said...

You continue to only present the writers' side, when in fact the people hurt the worst are the technicians and production assistants making 30K a year and can barely support a family of 4.

You continue to see there's 100 writers for every rich Tin Fey and Steve Carrell, but that is false and not based on any number you know about.

And a lot of out of work writers are waiting tables or tending bar and still pulling in decent bucks while they wait for their scripts to get sold.

A lot of these out of work writers you moan for, are generally single and have minimal bills, living in an apartment.

The technicians and production and grips, the people far more hurt by this, generally are older, generally are married, have 2-3 kids and a pet and a mortgage.

My sympathy will ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS be for the 50-something technician who's been that his whole life, is blue collar, and has kids and a family and a mortgage.

A 20-something, 3o-something out of work writer that's single with an apartment, can easily float in and out of other jobs, even if it's waiting tables, and is able to save far more money, than a technician who has to pay for daycare, mortgages, bills and schools.

Excuse me if I don't sympathize with Tina Fey and her brethren.

Phillip Ramati said...

A) I've posted here many times that I see things from the studios' perspective as well, which is why this strike is so complicated

B) The big name writers you mention making the big bucks are a clear minority, and it's not even close.

C) The writers aren't out to screw the below-the-line talent, most of whom are still working right now, as opposed to the writers

d) Any strike in any industry is going to have fallout with other unions. It's a fact of life.

e) finally, what would you propose the writers do in lieu of a strike? How can they assure themselves an equitable piece of the pie for all the new emerging technology? If you have any ideas, please post them in all seriousness, because of the thousands of people in Hollywood on both sides of the issue, no one has come up with a solution yet.

Phillip Ramati said...

By the way, Zod, on Broadway, the stagehands - the movie equivalent of the below the line workers like key grips and lighting guys and others - are striking, forcing productions to shut down. In essence, they are putting actors out of work. So should the stagehands not strike? It's a two-way street.

Whenever there is a strike, there is always collateral damage.