Better a Witty Fool than a Foolish Wit

Inner Workings of My Twisted Mind.


Hey guys,

I’m half way through my next favorite movie review, but I’ve recieved a couple of questions about this so I’m going to do a big update on the WGA (Writers Guild of America) strike.  I’m on the writers side in this fight, and not just because I want to be a writer.  Basically, the writers are getting screwed (what else is new?) and here’s why.  So think about this.  In the past seven years the tv on dvd sales have gone from nothing to astronomical.  TV shows on DVD sell as much, if not more, than movies on DVD.  Shows like 90210 or Dynasty or any show that was created before this TV on DVD phenomenon did not contract writers or music or anything of the sort for DVD distribution because it didn’t exist.  That’s why many older shows have different music than was originally aired: they have to renegotiate and pay for the new music licensing.  But that is beside the point.  Basically, when it comes to writers, they don’t make any royalty money from DVD sales.  I’ve heard that Ed O’Neill from Married with Children makes upwards of $50,000 per month in royalties, but the writers make nothing.  That doesn’t seem fair. 

Now the other issue at hand is T.V. on the Internet.  I definitely utilize this, but I don’t know how many of you guys do.  Here’s an example.  I watch Heroes on Monday nights from 9-10 on NBC, but I also really like Samantha Who? which airs on Monday nights from 9:30-10 on ABC.  Five years ago, I would have to choose, but now I can watch Heroes live (or on the Tivo) and I can watch Samantha Who? at work on Wednesday.  TV shows air online for a period of time after their original air date, but writers do not get paid royalties for this.  They get paid royalties for reruns on network and/or cable television, but not for TV on the internet.  Now, if you are a staff writer on a show, I’m not saying that you’re necessarily aching for money.  I mean, if you get story and teleplay credit (meaning if you write the story and the script) you get paid $30,000 but you might only write 3 or 4 of those in a season, and even then you might not be writing both the story and the teleplay, meaning that your earnings are greatly decreased (to approx. $10,000).  That being said, I know this seems like a lot of money, and it is, however, this is also compensation for the fact that you spend 14+ hours a day in a writers room.  You can also imagine that this means that writers depend on royalties for a source of income. 

So that’s what they’re striking about.  There was rumor that SAG and the Teamsters union (the actors and the transportation union) were going to go on strike with the Writers but that hasn’t happened…and you can bet, if it did, the negotiation would be over.

Finally, the big question, how will it effect you?  Well, in the immediate present it will effect only talk shows.  Talk shows like David Letterman and Jay Leno rely on writers for the opening monologues as well as some of the other bits that go into the show.  I haven’t heard word on whether these shows will go to reruns until the strike is over or whether there will be new, but truncated episodes, you’ll have to watch and find out.  I’m not sure how this effects Reality T.V. if at all.  That may seem strange, but I assure you Reality TV is heavily scripted, I just don’t know if they use union writers.  I assume they don’t, and thus assume that Reality TV will be relatively unaffected, though the hosts will have nothing written to say.  That’s right kids, Ryan Seacrest is not clever enough to think up his own lines during American Idol.  Scripted Television might be effected if the strike goes on long enough.  Some shows have taped the vast majority of their seasons already in anticipation of the strike.  All shows have at least a month of camera ready episodes ( a.k.a. scripts that are totally finished and ready to be shot) so they can hold out for at least a month before they hit a problem.  Some shows are completely done filming for the season (everybody hates chris wrapped a month ago and lost is almost done with their season that hasn’t even started airing yet).  Feature films shouldn’t be affected at all seeing as executives have been stockpiling scripts for the past six months.  I know Paramount has stacks of scripts that they’ve acquired and are ready to be shot.  As I hear it, because we don’t have television, Paramount stands to actually make money from the strike….maybe they’ll give me a raise?  Nah, never gonna happen. 

There will, most likely, be effects in the distant future that are, as of yet, unpredicatble, but my psychic power have recently dissappeared.  I’ll talk to Professor X and see what I can do about it.  In the mean time, I hope this answers all of your questions.  If you have more, feel free to ask me, but I think I’ve imparted all my information to you. 

Peace, Love, and Good Writing,



November 5, 2007 - Posted by | Hollywood, Music, Television

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