Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Writers Strike
UH has made a post at their blog about a possible deal upcoming in the writer's strike. Interestingly, Joss Whedon has responded in a comment below, telling people not to jump too quickly into thinking it's the end, and to let the studios know they are still willing to remain on strike. He writes it in the way only he can (this has been confirmed as a post by Joss Whedon, and not just someone signing his name).

The best appeal on behalf of the writers that I've read yet was in this morning's Globe and Mail, by Joanna Schneller. In it she argues that writers should be given their due -- which is at the top of the food chain in Hollywood. "A tremendous number of people make their livings off the backs of writers," she writes. "Go to the taping of any TV sitcom, and 10 network suits are lined up, monitoring the laughs they didn't write. Meet a star for an interview in a restaurant, but first greet her phalanx of publicists and agents - none of whom would have anything to do had someone not written the movie she's in. Attend an awards show, and try to count the number of people employed - from caterers, red-carpet manufacturers and makeup artists to limo drivers and cleaning staff - because someone wrote a good movie or TV series, and someone else wrote copy to honour it. Then try to estimate their salaries: The New York Times figured that the revenue lost by the cancellation of the Golden Globes alone - one awards show, one time - was $80-million (U.S.). That's real money, even in L.A."

Schneller is correct; from the beginning, writers have been the butt of Hollywood jokes, and earlier this week, NBC entertainment co-chairman made a hideous comment about the writers when the Golden Globe awards were cancelled, saying, "Sadly, it feels like the nerdiest, ugliest, meanest kids in the high school are trying to cancel the prom. But NBC wants to try to keep that prom alive."

No, I didn't make that quote up. He actually said that.

When the Globes were cancelled, I remember looking at some online forums and seeing comments directed at the writers by viewers, saying, essentially, "HOW DARE YOU?!" They called the writers greedy, whiny, losers, assholes... you name it. A few quiet voices rang through on the forums, piping up to type, "Um... but don't you think what the writers are asking for is fair?" only to be shot down again by the boobs who were all upset that their widdle awards show was cancelled. Boo. Hoo.

Hollywood has come to a standstill. Doesn't this highlight for the studios just how important these writers are? At this point, the writers are holding their ground, and the studios are furiously holding theirs. When a deal is reached, whenever that may be, the blood between these two won't be bad -- it'll be festering. It'll take years for that relationship to build back up again.

I started watching The Daily Show again this week, and it's appalling. It's had its moments, but the whole show appears to be one big ad lib by Jon Stewart, and some of it is TERRIBLE. On Wednesday night he actually looked around at the non-laughing audience and said, "Sometimes it feels incredibly alone up here... at home, you're looking at a guy getting no laughs, while I'm staring into a sea of faces who are just staring right back at me. Not laughing." Uh huh. Too bad those hacks out on the picket lines weren't valued enough by the studios. On another night, he and John Oliver did an extended ad lib just showing old clips of Stewart in bad hair and worse suits, and it was clearly something sprung on Stewart. The two of them sat there giggling their arses off, and it was funny for a bit, and after a while you just wished the biting humour was back.

As Joanna Schneller says in her column this morning, "The writers are asking for the equivalent of a freaking cup of coffee. Give them this fraction of their due."



Daisy said...

Well said!!!

I cannot share how SICK AND TIRED I am of this Writer's Strike. I mean to say that I am absolutely in favor of the Writers...they should be given their due and MORE.

I love TV -- LOVE IT and I'm tired of having "nothing on TV" lately. I really miss my shows, CSI, Journeyman, Life, Prison Break, LOST (but it's a'comin'!!!) and so many others. The crap that's on these days makes me so sad!!!

Now, we're watching Mythbusters and Project Runway, which are two of our favs.

But I'm with ya -- corporate cronies are greedy and should REVERE the writers and not treat them as the "ugliest, meanest kids who want to cancel the prom." (how awful to say that).

Hit 'em where it hurts -- in the pocketbook and I hope the writers out there know that the public (that would be MY friends!) are supporting you and want good writing BACK!

Stick to your guns men/ladies. Stick to your guns.

K J Gillenwater said...

As a writer myself...of books, not TV shows...I completely sympathize with the writers on strike. Writing for entertainment takes a heck of a lot of work. For a book, it is months of writing and rewriting. I can't even imagine the stress a writer is under in Hollywood writing a weekly tv show. Getting scripts in on time, keeping the audience guessing, etc. It is hard work.

And you are right, without the writers, there would be no jobs in Hollywood.

What always gets me is that during Oscar time, the big awards are Best Director and Best Film. The screenplay awards are near the bottom of the heap. But how did that director get to make that lovely-looking film? Why, with a stellar script!

More attention and money should be given to writers. The actors look pretty, but they only speak lines written for them. And yet the actors rake in the money. As do the multiple producers and co-producers and assistant producers. Makes me sick.

Anonymous said...

NBC certainly has not endeared themselves to me throughout this whole affair.
Stars like America Ferrera and the rest of the cast of Ugly Betty, just for one example, deserve major kudos for their support.