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Go ahead writers, strike! I DARE ya!

by What Really Happened Friday, Nov. 02, 2007 at 9:51 AM

Let me start out by saying that I have a lot of mixed feelings about the current labor strife between the Writer’s Guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture Producers.

On the one hand, I sympathize with the writers. They do not get a lot of the respect they deserve, going all the way back to the days when Jack Warner used to call them “Schmucks with Underwoods” (a then-popular brand of mechanical typewriter). I myself write, and not just for whatreallyhappened.com. I have had a few screenplays optioned, but failed to get the necessary number of points to join the Writer’s Guild of America when I got ripped off for a script by a producer, the exact circumstances of which is beyond the scope of the current document.

On the other hand, I understand where the producers are coming from. Budgets are tight, and while there are a few very rich people in the entertainment industry, the vast majority, producers included, are just making the mortgage payments. Higher residuals often means less showings by equally budget-minded distributors.

I have been in show business most of my life. Movies and TV have been very, very, good to me! I have a lot of friends in the industry. It is hard enough to find work in the best of times, and sadly, a writer’s strike shuts down production for almost everybody. The last time the Writer’s Guild struck was in 1988 and they shut down production for 22 weeks. That’s 22 weeks nobody was working. The TV networks switched to reality shows that do not need writers, and when it was all over, they had lost ten percent of their audience that had switched to alternative means of entertainment and had never returned. We will come back to this point in a moment.

There is never a good time for a strike, but right now is even less fortuitous than usual. Southern California has been devastated by wildfires, and a lot of people who work in the industry have lost their homes. A strike right now would amount to a kick while they are down, and not only to the people who work directly in entertainment, but all those secondary businesses such as catering, vehicle and furniture rental, security, etc. who rely on the entertainment industry for a large portion of their revenue streams. They too will take a huge financial hit, and they too have lost homes and places of business in the recent fires. It is hard to imagine the public looking with sympathy on either group, writers or producers, who shuts down production right now.

So, there are a lot of reasons why a strike is a BAD THING.

But …

There is a reason why a writer’s strike would be a GOOD thing. For some people. Like those of us who got ripped off by a producer some years back.

One of the major sticking points in the new contract is the residuals that would be paid for internet distribution of content. And it’s the “Internet” that would gain the most from a writer’s strike. Just as the 1988 writer’s strike permanently sent a sizeable chunk of the TV network audience to alternative forms of entertainment, a prolonged writer’s strike today will accelerate the migration of viewers from mainstream non-interactive old media to alternative interactive new media.

Which for those us already working in new media, is a great opportunity to steal more audience away from the TV networks.

Yeah, that could really take the sting out of a writer’s strike! Might be a good time to start cranking out those documentary videos I have been planning to make. There will be people out there looking for something to watch and if a strike hits, my main competition at ABCNNBBCBS will be playing nothing but re-runs and reality shows. This would be the perfect time to “Viral Video” a half-hour documentary on the TWA 800 Magic Wingbox, or why it was obvious all along that Bush lied us into a war.

Yeah, this could really be a GOOD thing! A writer’s strike would paralyze the old media just when the new media is starting to really come on strong!

So, go to it, writers; nurse those grudges you still carry from 1988. Argue over a penny here and a percentage point there. Prove how butch you all are! Shut down the town. Leave the entertainment field wide open for the new media and the new media entrepreneurs who long to escape your shadow and claim their own piece of the sunlight!

Prove Jack Warner was right!

[Insert sound of tongue sticking out.]

FADE OUT

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