Strike News For November 7th, 2007

by Paul William Tenny

There are only a couple of interesting news bits this afternoon regarding the writers' strike. The guy who was hit by a car yesterday is "Tom Johnson, head writer for Talkshow With Spike Feresten" according to Deadline Hollywood's Nikke Finke. Tom suffered a broken leg but presumably will be ok. I sincerely hope whoever hit him and then fled the scene (an automatic crime no matter what the circumstances are) ends up spending at least some amount of time in the local jail, though knowing how pathetic the L.A. justice system is, he'll probably get even less time than Paris Hilton even though he/she damn near murdered this poor guy.

The "breaking talks news" that Nikke alluded to on her blog while leaving people hanging for nearly seven hours (Nikke sweety, that's not breaking anything) was simply giving air to the WGA's side of what happened during the 11th hour talks on Sunday evening. Nothing new to it, the writers said they were promised movement on the new/digital media front if they dropped the DVD demand, and instead the producers simply walked out of the room once it came off the table.

Since the producers have been lying about profits for traditional media for much of the last 20+ years, this wasn't exactly a surprise.
As has now been widely reported, Desperate Housewives has been shutdown disrupted along with a handful of other shows, although none of them can compare to DH in the ratings and pain ABC will be suffering a lot sooner than they thought they would be. From what I gather, most shows figured they would be able to produce about 11 episodes, but are finding that with the walkouts happening with such unity amongst showrunners and SAG members, some of them will only scrape by with about 10.

Many won't even make it that far:

Picketing writers targeted a neighborhood in the suburb of Toluca Lake, disrupting a location shoot for ABC's "Desperate Housewives" that featured star Eva Longoria Parker. More than 30 picketers, including Julia Louis-Dreyfus, managed to stop production outside the home. [..] ("Desperate" creator/executive producer Marc Cherry, a member of the WGA negotiating committee, walked the picket line Monday.)

According to that report from Hollywood Reporter,  the disrupted episode is the last script they have that was finished before the strike began on Monday. Some shows that don't or can't work as far in advance as hour-long dramas were reported to have only one or two scripts banked and a number more are projected to run out in advance of the traditional Holiday break.

Unfortunately the parties that will suffer from this strike the soonest are those that end up caught in the middle of the fight between billion dollar corporations and union writers - low level staffers. Variety's Josef Adalian and Michael Schneider wrote yesterday that below-the-line workers on the late night talk shows could be looking for new jobs well before the end of November:

"The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" have told their support staffs they would be laid off in two weeks, barring a strike settlement. "Late Show with David Letterman" has also put its staffers on notice.

Something that irkes me though is how some people who are still working on these shows (and are legally obligated to by their own union contracts which I understand) are crossing the line when it comes to trying to break the strike. The writers and actors who were picketing the location shoot for Desperate Housewives were doing their job so effecitvely that an assistant director called the police to - get this - make them stop chanting (and protesting) from the sidewalk.

Ever heard of the freedom of speech pal? Some freakin union member he is - typical DGA though. Why do they even have a union again?
in Labor, Television


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