November 03, 2007

Writers Guild of America set for strike

The Writers Guild of America is poised for an industry strike from Monday, November 5 following three and a half months of negotiations over compensation for web content and higher residuals for DVD sales.

What does that mean for your favorite TV shows? Well, it if is anything like the last writers’ strike in 1988, the industry will be severely affected. The strike delayed the TV season after the writers’ stopped working for 22 weeks.

If Monday's scheduled strike continues, late night TV shows like “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” “The Late Show with David Letterman” and Jon Stewart’s popular “The Daily Show” will be sent into re-runs, as they all require monologue and script writing. Daytime soaps will be forced into repeats within the month. And if the strike continues into 2008? Hmm, prime time viewing will be affected, as the episodes already filmed run out.

Nick Counter, President of the Producers Alliance said the Writers Guild's call for a strike was "precipitous and irresponsible." Yet he held out some hope that a deal could be reached: "Our goal continues to be to reach a fair and reasonable agreement that will keep the industry working", he said.

Already, informal behind-the-scenes talks have been begun between high-level members of the writers' negotiating committee and the studio and network executives they work for. The committee is headed by comedy writer John F. Bowman ("Saturday Night Live") and includes such top writer-producers as Neal Baer ("Law & Order: Special Victims Unit") and Marc Cherry ("Desperate Housewives").

Another high-profile member of the committee, Carlton Cuse, an executive producer of "Lost," confirmed Friday that members of the guild and the negotiating committee were having "back-channel" meetings with leaders of the alliance.

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