Monday, November 05, 2007

On Strike

The Writers’ Guild of America has begun its strike, affecting television’s late-night comedy shows and, when their scripts run out, the prime-time programs as well. The writers seem to have a legitimate gripe: their work is being sold on DVD, the Internet and who knows where else, yet the studios are getting the whole pie with no pieces for those who made it all possible.

So the $200,000/year writers are on the sidewalk, idling the $17 million Jay Leno and his peers, paid more and less, the prime-time actors and such.

But home, with expenses and (I suspect) no income are the camera operators, the make-up people, the off-camera announcers, the show runners, the stage managers, and all those people you see when you get a wide shot of the studio. They don’t make $200k/year, nor will they get an increase for DVD sales.

It’s probably not much different when the star of a show decides to do something else. As one crew member put it, “If you quit doing this, we’re all out of a job.” The lack of work for someone making a million dollars per episode isn’t bad at all; for someone who is pulling a regular salary, it can be a disaster.

If any trade craft decides to hit the bricks, do they take into account how their own gripe will affect others in the building? Not only are they out of work (read “$$”), but they don’t gain anything, no matter how the strike is settled. They only lose.


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