Friday, November 09, 2007

Understanding the Strike

By now you may have heard that many shows have shut down production. This is true. They cannot produce new episodes until the Writer's Guild strike is over.

You might be confused about the issues of the strike and I'm hoping that this blog can make it a bit clearer.

The big issue in this negotiation involves the internet. If you go to right now, you can watch an episode The Office for free. The network runs advertisements while you're watching it, which gives them an extra source of revenue. The actors, writers, producers and director, the people who created the content you are watching, are not compensated in any way for this.

The Writer's Guild has taken the position that the writers should receive residuals if the show re-airs on the internet just like they receive residuals if it re-airs on television since in both cases the studios are making money. The issue is a huge deal, because the internet is clearly where the future of entertainment lies.

Right now, a number of successful shows (like Lost for one) have stopped showing repeat episodes on TV at all, and have replaced them with ad-supported streaming video on their websites. If you're a Lost writer, or actor, or director, or a teamster that's no residuals at all for that show, and that's a big pay cut. Actors and such all count on the extra income that residuals provide as it can help them through a slump in their career when they aren't working as regularly. It is their safety net. In 10 years they may need those residual checks to cover their electric bill. You never know. Hollywood is a fickle town. If in 10 years, everything is rerun on the internet, the current union contracts say the studios don't have to pay them a dime. And, they will be sitting in the dark.

I hope that helped to explain things a little.

For more go HERE…or This is a great video with snazzy graphics that helps explain the strike.

1 comment:

Recovering said...

The real issue is whether actors should get paid differently than everyone else. If I perform at work and the results of my work benefit others for years after I'm gone, I don't get 'residuals.'

If a show is no longer profitable but a few die-hard fans who've already seen the episode before watch the re-runs years later, should an actor get paid for work they've already been paid a base-salary for? (a generous base salary for most shows in re-runs)

I guess I don't understand why actors who, unlike many other types of artists, have already gotten a generous base salary for their work, need residuals. Same with writers, producers, etc...

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