Thursday, October 25, 2007

More On a Pential WGA Strike

From the latest issue of Soap Opera Digest:
Members of the Writers Guild of America [WGA], whose current contract expires on October 31, were, at press time, in the midst of negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Productions [AMPTP]. But if the two groups fail to come to terms, a writer's strike could commence as early as midnight October 31st.

"I've got friends who tell me it's going to happen for sure," declares DAYS Head Writer Hogan Sheffer, "Then, I've got more thoughtful friends who say the Writers Guild doesn't want to go out alone because they think they're going to get their asses kicked. What they're going to try to do is wait for the spring when the Directors Guild goes on negotiations and the feeling is that the directors will almost certainly go out on strike."

At issue, explains one longtime soap writer and WGA member, is "the new technology and how you get paid for it, how you get residuals for distribution. At one of the meetings they had in dealing with the strike, they said that for Night Shift [on SoapNet] and [ATWT/Y&R web series] and LA Diaries and for Passions, they had done separate contract deals because they didn't have anything that would cover that." Similarly, under their current contract, writers aren't compensated for soap episodes that can be downloaded for a fee, as DAYS can be on iTunes. "There's all this Internet money now," offers Sheffer. "Somebody's got it and we don't have any of it."

The last WGA strike lasted from March to August 1988, preceded by a 13-week walkout in 1981 [threatened strikes were averted at the 11th hour in both 2001 and 2004.] Should this strike happen, says GH Head Writer Robert Guza, Jr., "There is no contingency plan. We're all members of the Writers Guild, so we'd all be out striking. We're certainly hoping there will be a way to reach some kind of accommodation so that we don't have to."

How would networks deal with the loss of the shows' writing staffs? "They'll probably be asking people to scab [cross the picket line.]" shared the veteran soap writer, who has weathered a previous WGA strike. "Last time, I think network people wrote some scripts," An ABC spokesperson would not give specifics about its contingency plans, saying only, "Hope for the best, prepare for the worst."

Like Guza, Sheffer is hoping that a strike can be avoided. "Writers are so namby-pamby. 'Should we strike?' I don't know. I don't want to carry a picket sign. I don't like the sun..."

Warns Guza, "Some of the nightime shows can run repeats, but we can't do that. There is definitely concern for how daytime would survive a long-lasting strike."

"Echoes one veteran scribe, "I hate to sound dire, but I don't know how soaps could bounce back from a strike. For now, though, it's business as usual. We're writing our shows and keeping our fingers crossed."

No comments:

Post a Comment