Monday, January 07, 2008

US strike continues

As the US writers' strike continues, in The LA Times Thom Taylor argues that the studios are making the same mistakes as during the last dispute in 1988.
During the 1988 strike, writers worked independently on "spec scripts" (written on the speculation that they would eventually sell them) and a pipeline-dry studio system snapped them up. TV producers also sought alternatives to traditional, high-cost scripted series. The strike resulted in the 1990s' spec script boom and reality television -- two new business models.

It's not strikers' demands but the work stoppage itself that creates a new paradigm. By fighting the writers over the new-media issues today, the studios are effectively creating what they fear most: a major tectonic shift in the entertainment business that will reduce the role of the studios even further.



    I agree with Thom Taylor that what we're seeing here in evolution in action. The Internet and digital platforms have already and will continue to change the old working practices. It's the story of the shark once again: you either move forward in the water or you die.

    May I also take the time to applaud David Letterman, officer, gentleman and one of my comedy heroes? Letterman owns the production company Worldwide Pants, which produces his own show amongst others. He's also a writer and member of the WGA. Letterman has publicly supported the strike from the beginning and last week was the first studio to settle with his own writers. In an interim agreement, Letterman has guaranteed them the DVD and Internet royalties they've asked for. Not only is Letterman back on the air with all his writers in tact, but he also continues to support the striking writers, and uses his show to get the message across to millions of viewers daily. All it takes for evil to triumph is for one good man to do nothing. Well Letterman did something. Hoorah!

  2. It appears today that Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner at United Artists have negotiated a similar side-deal with the WGA.

  3. That's wonderful news, Stephen! I know I'm an optimist (I can make Pollyanna look a depressive) but wouldn't it be great if all this put the industry back into the hands of the passionate, creative Indies, and away from the Corporate giants, who bought their studios in a job lot along with a flange factory?


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