Wednesday, May 07, 2008

More Hollywood Labor Fun

Remember the strike that crippled the movie and TV industry for several months? It's hard not to; we are still feeling the effects of the truncated TV season.

Well, the possibility exists that labor troubles may not be over.

It just moved across the wires this morning that the studios have broken off talks with the Screen Actors Guild, claiming their demands are "too high."

Does this mean we are looking at another potential work stoppage during the summer, when the actors' contract expires?

I'm guessing not. The last strike, between the studios and the writers guild (the actors joined the strike in sympathy), lasted months and centered around issues that included residuals for new media and DVD sales. At the end of the strike, both sides took a hit in the public opinion and cost the movie industry hundreds of millions of dollars.

I doubt the public would be willing to endure another work stoppage, nor can many people in the industry afford to be out of work again. Also, now that the writers guild and directors guild contracts are in place, there is a framework for the actors and the studios to work with in crunching the numbers.

Part of the problem here is that the studios are dealing with two unions this time around - SAG and the smaller AFTRA. Though many actors are members of both, there is a lot of animosity between the two unions, which are negotiating separately. With that wedge, it puts more power into the hands of the studios, which broke off contract talks after 18 days of negotiations.

But the studios should remember that their attempt to break the writers' solidarity failed and not count on breaking the actors' unions.

WEDNESDAY'S BEST BETS: Part of the fallout from the labor issues was the increase in non-scripted shows on the air, and it's no more apparent than tonight.

Only CBS has more scripted fare tonight than so-called reality, but even The Eye kicks things off with "The Price Is Right" before going into new episodes of "Criminal Minds" and "CSI: NY."

Fox has new episodes of "Til Death" and "Back To You," beginning at 8 p.m. before the "American Idol" results show at 9 p.m.

A new "Law & Order" (NBC, 10 p.m.) airs after a two-hour "Deal Or No Deal."

Finally, both ABC and The CW are completely unscripted. The former airs a lineup of "Wife Swap," "Supernanny" and the Barbara Walters hour-long special about her new autobiography, "Audition." The latter gives us the likes of "America's Next Top Model" and "Farmer Wants A Wife."

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