11/2/07

Hollywood strike set for Monday

The entire entertainment industry and the state of California must brace itself for a long hard fight to the finish between writers and producers. A group of scribes from the Writer’s Guild of America told the media tonight that President Patric Verrone announced via closed-door session that the strike is definitely on.

“There was a unified feeling in the room. I don’t think anyone wants the strike, but people are behind the negotiation committee,” said screen writer Dave Garrett of “Deuce Bigalow: Europen Gigolo” fame.

Hollywood Today was at the general strike meet conducting exit interviews and the mood was grim and determined. Writers that would go on the record were clear that while complex, a central concern was Internet income and the future royalties from new media. “Why shouldn’t we be paid the same for a DVD whether it’s a download or a disc?” asked a writer named Gavin. “This is about the new media and our future. Everything in the future will be on the Internet in one form or another, even if it’s ultimately seen on the TV set, and the producers won’t share that income.”

The TV and screen writers have not gone on strike in nearly 20 years. It’s a brand new experience for many in the guild who were too young to remember.

The main point of contention is the dispute over royalties regarding new media. New media would be anything like internet downloads, advertising on the internet and new areas that haven’t even been fully explored yet.

The board will meet Friday to make a formal announcement and give the specifics to guild members. All details will be laid out tomorrow.

President of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers Nick Counter said that the alliance was not surprised by the strike announcement. “We are ready to meet and are prepared to close this contract this weekend,” he said.

Many writers said there is more at stake than royalties, but respect for their craft is at stake too. They say they want some of the clout that is bestowed upon the actors and directors that has eluded some of them.

“I don’t think it’s something we can negotiate for,” said Paul Guay to AP, co-writer of the movies “Liar Liar” and “Heartbreakers.” What we can negotiate for is money. How we assess respect and worth in this town is money.”

The first entertainers to feel the pinch will be the late-night talk shows, which are entirely dependent on current events to fill well-timed monologues.

Primetime TV production will feel the pain immediately, but will surely suffer more than film. Many of the studios have already stockpiled stacks of movie scripts, while TV shows work more week to week. Of course, many knew this might be on the horizon and writers hurriedly worked around the clock to complete what they could.

The biggest sticking point in the negotiations involves the changing formula that determines the writer’s share of DVD revenue. Producers want to apply the same formula to money made from material offered over the internet and other digital platforms.

(hollywoodtoday.net)

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