Writers strike updates: The apocalypse deepens


I’m guessing the average person doesn’t have Variety and The Hollywood Reporter on their newsfeed, and probably isn’t interested in the minor details of the Writers Guild of America strike anyway. So here’s a brief recap on the latest, and how it affects YOU, John and Jane Q. Public-Citizen. (You hyphenated when you got married.)

• First, don’t hold your breath for a quick resolution. The opposing sides — the WGA (the good guys) and the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers (the greedy fat cats) — became so polarized and incensed during the pre-strike negotiations that now everybody just hates each other. The AMPTP says it has no interest in resuming talks as long as the WGA members are picketing; the WGA isn’t going to end the strike until talks are resumed. Sigh.

• Variety says that “without reviving the WGA talks, the scribes’ work stoppage could easily bleed into the middle of next year” (!!!!!!!!!!) (emphasis mine).

• It was initially thought that even with the writers gone, most shows could go ahead and produce the few scripts that had already been handed in. But that’s turning out not to be the case. Why? Because most TV shows’ producers are also writers. The networks said, basically, “We understand that Joe Schmo the writer isn’t coming to work this week. But that doesn’t mean Joe Schmo the producer can’t come in and do non-writing work.” And most of the writer/producers have basically said, “Actually, um, yeah, it does mean that.” Out of solidarity with their fellow writers, most show-runners are for all intents and purposes on strike, too. This means the networks will run out of new episodes to air even sooner than they thought they would.

• “Family Guy” head Seth MacFarlane says this Sunday’s episode is the last one that’s finished. A few others are in various stages of completion, but he ain’t liftin’ a finger, and if Fox tried to bring in scab talent to finish them, MacFarlane would be seriously P.O.’ed.

• Fox has postponed “24” indefinitely. Apparently the show wasn’t as far along as I thought it was, and Fox doesn’t want to launch it until they’re sure they can show all 24 episodes without interruption. Let’s be glad they have that much sense.

• Here’s something I hadn’t thought of: Without late-night talk shows as a platform to promote films, how will anyone know who the Oscar front-runners are supposed to be?

• “The Office” will be in reruns after next week’s episode. Production shut down today when several key actors — many of whom are also writers — didn’t show up for work. According to one source, Steve Carell called NBC and said he couldn’t come to work because he was suffering from a case of “enlarged balls.” Whether he really said that or not, it’s hilarious. (And vulgar. Sorry, Mom.)

• For the most part, we don’t know how many episodes are already finished on various shows. The networks don’t want to say, since they don’t want to give competing networks a heads-up. What info we do have comes from the writers speaking up.

• “The Office” is on the forefront of this battle, part of which has to do with writers wanting a piece of the action when TV shows are sold on iTunes or viewed for free on ad-supported (and thus revenue-earning) network websites. “The Office” is one of the most commonly downloaded shows, and the writers aren’t getting a dime. Below is a great video of some of the writer/producer/actors on the picket line, explaining the problem.