Tuesday, November 06, 2007

WGA strike

I'm bummed by the Writer's Guild of America (WGA) strike.

You can catch some good pithy insights and links to supportive and antagonistic thoughts on the strike on the DealFatigue blog (and Peter's an insightful, good guy).

But let me talk about why I'm bummed.

I'm bummed because, as a consumer, shows are being put on hold, indefinitely. First casualties were things like Leno, Letterman, Colbert, and Stewart. Shows like Rules of Engagement and Two and a Half Men followed suit. Heroes may go into early re-runs, which it will likely survive, with its rabid fan base. But my being bummed as a consumer is a wee bit selfish.

I'm more bummed because striking writers may be responsible for killing shows like "Friday Night Lights". Almost cancelled after its first season, it's seen new life in a second season on Friday nights. While many folks have cried foul on a time slot where "shows go to die", it was actually probably a strategic network decision -- with little ratings expectations for a Friday night time slot, "FNL" arguably only needs to marginally well to get moved to a better slot in the short term, or renewed for a third season in the medium term.

There are good folks on "FNL", and they're twiddling their thumbs and losing work and may need to go on to other things which will kill that show (if waning interest from early reruns doesn't do it first). And it's the one network show filmed in Austin, so if you pull that, you impact that acting and commercial community.

I'm bummed because this strike probably takes WGA out of the video game opportunity they've obviously been pursuing.

And, yes, I'm bummed that, as a working professional actor, I'm impacted by this strike. Projects I was up for are on hold -- TV, movies, advertising, voice over, and the like. Anything touched by WGA talent.

And I'm bummed, because -- not to be alarmist -- with a stoppage in writing work and slow down in ancillary work, shorting of advertising spend, an indeterminate strike period before being ended by a likely mutually unfulfilling compromise, followed by a return of writers to network slots populated in their absence by reality and game show TV not needing as many of their services, this strike could cause or exacerbate a nationwide recession.

I saw an interesting comment from one of Letterman's writers saying he though many of the strikers didn't realize how emotional the strike would be, because there are other people who are there friends, who are hurt, and "it isn't their fight."

I don't want to be disrespectful, but ... duh.

Peter's more measured about it:
"... a strike would seriously harm the overall health of the industry. Everybody
involved knows that."
"... a strike is a lose-lose outcome for everyone in the business; the writers
in particular, regardless of any gains for the Guild at the negotiating table."
There are pros and cons to unions and strikes. I'm not the guy to debate that.

But should a group have this kind of potential impact on people outside of the group's affiliation?

Or am I overstating the impact?

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