Strike! (or: We refuse to write even a clever slogan for our picket signs!)

“Audiences don’t know somebody sits down and writes a picture. They think the actors make it up as they go along.” –Sunset Boulevard, written by D.M. Marshman Jr., Charles Brackett, and the great and holy Billy Wilder.

Okay, so audiences are a little savvier now than in 1950. Some screenwriters even have their very own fans: witness the cult of Whedon, wherein not only the mighty Joss himself, but writers such as Jane Espenson, Marti Noxon, Tim Minear, Drew Goddard and others are pretty much worshipped. But, in general, writers are pretty invisible next to actors and directors. Everyone might have been hearting all over The Departed and its director Martin Scorsese at the last Oscar ceremony, but I’m betting not a lot of people outside of Hollywood can tell you who grabbed a statue for the screenplay. (Fun fact: said writer, whose name is William Monahan, appears to be doing the script for the sadly inevitable Jurassic Park IV. Ah, dinosaurs.)

tina-fey.jpgSo now these phantoms–and Tina Fey, we recognize her!–are on strike. While there are lots of issues on the table, the main one is the cut writers get for DVDs, downloads and the like. Currently that stands at four cents per unit, a lame rate negotiated back in 1988 when DVD technology for mass consumption was little more than a glimmer in some Sony worker’s eye. A few years ago I dropped close to $100 on the special edition of Freaks & Geeks. It depresses me that only four cents of that went to the brilliant writers, and much more than that went to the network suits who moved the show around the schedule like monstrous nitwits until eventually putting it to death after only 18 episodes.

Writers don’t usually get to share in much of the glory that comes with making movies and TV. They should at least get a fair share of residuals, which help writers who aren’t Joss Whedon or Tina Fey be able to pay their bills between gigs. So please, producers, give the writers what they want. Because if this strike goes on long enough to push back the premiere of Lost, I’m gonna be even more pissed than I am now. And also, I want to be in that union someday. Solidarity.


4 Responses to “Strike! (or: We refuse to write even a clever slogan for our picket signs!)”

  1. 1 Chelsea November 7, 2007 at 12:06 pm

    I’m hearing that LOST might be postponed until Feb 2009!!!!!

  2. 2 Aaron November 15, 2007 at 6:49 pm

    yeah. It sucks they can’t get their requests met. I herd all they were asking for was a bump to 8 cents, shure thats double the current rate, but 8 cents is nothing. Then I herd that the industry stating that 4 additional cents would cut too much into their profits. And last I herd they were willing to compromise to 4 cents per unit until sales reached one million and then they would want 8 cents per unit for sales over 1 million. seriously? The writers union is being more than fair and willing to compromised. the entertainment industry is becoming the next oil suppliers. i would gladly pay 8 cents extra per dvd that i buy to end the strike and get my shows back.

  3. 3 nicky November 16, 2007 at 9:49 am

    omg they cannnot postpone Lost!! hi brandi! can’t wait to see u!

  4. 4 Aaron November 24, 2007 at 1:54 pm

    for anyone interested, some of the striking writers started a food blog. There are some great stories there

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Other projects:

Downton Gabby: podcasting about Downton Abbey from a funny, foul-mouthed, feminist perspective

Quick Lit: reading one short story a day in 2015

Grand Dames: collecting sundry achievements of admirable women

The MacGuffin: archive of my days as a film critic

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