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Strike Fears Rise As TV Writer Talks Lag; "the only outcome we see is a disaster"
Topic Started: Oct 7 2007, 01:03 AM (1,693 Views)
Steve Frame
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Yes that was the strike in the 70's Jonny. I remember it too. The one in 88 they filled with lots of flashbacks and music, etc. on some shows. AW actually did good during the strike due to Donna Swajeski in 88. She picked up Harding Lemay's excellent Bible and ran with it.
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Jonatha


SteveFrame
Oct 7 2007, 12:35 PM
Yes that was the strike in the 70's Jonny. I remember it too. The one in 88 they filled with lots of flashbacks and music, etc. on some shows. AW actually did good during the strike due to Donna Swajeski in 88. She picked up Harding Lemay's excellent Bible and ran with it.

Thanks Steve. It really was amazing as NBC showed classic episodes from Days, The Doctors, and Another World. It's something I do not believe will ever happen again, sadly.
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Mason
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Exactly, bellcurve, which is why I'm warning those that want this strike to happen. Nothing good will come of it, especially for soaps.
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King
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Quote:
 
Exactly, bellcurve, which is why I'm warning those that want this strike to happen. Nothing good will come of it, especially for soaps.


I just think daytime writers right now are very, very, very cocky and arrogant and very at peace with what they are doing. I would love to see young, talented writers get a shot to write for the soaps. People who would never get a chance to otherwise who are just as/moreso talented than the writers on daytime right now. Not just the headwriters. Some of the dialogue writers on daytime today should be shot.
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Mason
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King, I agree, daytime does need new blood, but as soon as the strike's over, the scabs would be out, and the old burned out writers would be back in.
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Rick
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Dreamlander

Mason AKA Hogan
Oct 7 2007, 02:41 PM
King, I agree, daytime does need new blood, but as soon as the strike's over, the scabs would be out, and the old burned out writers would be back in.

Not necessarily Mason

Perhaps they decide to get rid of some of the writers if the scabs do a better job?
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Winterguy125


Rick
Oct 7 2007, 02:58 PM
Mason AKA Hogan
Oct 7 2007, 02:41 PM
King, I agree, daytime does need new blood, but as soon as the strike's over, the scabs would be out, and the old burned out writers would be back in.

Not necessarily Mason

Perhaps they decide to get rid of some of the writers if the scabs do a better job?

I agree, if the ratings were to go up during the strike, the current writers would no doubt be out of a job.
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bellcurve
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But of those writers that are scabs, how many of them would be truly devoted to the art of soap opera?

You've got people in and fresh out-of-college who write soaps as either a)parody or b)experimental films. Which, a good soap opera is neither and those two things are contibuting factors to the overall decline in ratings for daytime soaps.

And let's say, hypothetically, that daytime soaps do hire scab writers who have watched the soaps for years and years and actually care about the genre. Would the network executives and the executive producers really allow them to be free to write?! In an age where writers have no freedom anyway, who's to say that the shows wouldn't be far worse than they are already?
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juppiter


Actually bellcurve from what I remember the 88 AW reruns got pretty bad (though still better than some of today's soaps) when the strike happened. Things came up out of the blue, made no sense, or were just plain boring. It was amazing to me when Harding Lemay came in and made some crappy storylines suddenly brilliant (the Chris/John/Sharlene thing comes to mind mainly.)

This could ruin soaps, but I agree it's intriguing to think of 7 soaps (I agree that PSNS and B&B would be spared) with brand new writers. Hopefully some of the worse ones (i.e. LML) wouldn't be asked back.
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bellcurve
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OH wow...this is gonna get nasty! I just read this stuff(which was included in Rick's article, but I just read it more closely).

People in REALITY TV wanna get paid too?! Wow...just WOW!

And am I reading it right when I see that Producers don't want to pay royalties for already-in-production films and TV shows until it recoups its losses from a strike?!

Yikes! And apparently, the directors guild and the actor's guild are negotiating next year as well.

Wow...this strike covers alot of ground. I wonder if DVD sales are gonna go up because of the royalties issue the studio will indeed have to pay.
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Mason
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OK, not necessarily, but most likely. If soap execs wanted new blood, they'd have brought it in already. I honestly can't see them sticking with the scabs after the strike (assuming it even happens in the first place), unless ratings go up MAJORLY while they're filling in. And to be realistic, I don't think most people will tune in any more during the strike because they either a) won't know that there are different writers to begin with and/or b) won't care anyway. That's my $ .02
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Rick
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Dreamlander

bellcurve
Oct 7 2007, 07:08 PM

People in REALITY TV wanna get paid too?! Wow...just WOW!

Guess that proves that Reality Television IS scripted.
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bellcurve
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juppiter
Oct 7 2007, 06:05 PM
Things came up out of the blue, made no sense, or were just plain boring. It was amazing to me when Harding Lemay came in and made some crappy storylines suddenly brilliant (the Chris/John/Sharlene thing comes to mind mainly.)

Was Chris the female construction worker that worked with John on the Hudson Farm?

May be in the minority, but I enjoyed that whole "I'm a touch chick think, you better respect me" gender role stuff they did. I do admit that some of the stuff was not that great, but the development of her character as a whole wasn't THAT bad. Was it?
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juppiter


Yep, that was Chris. It was Chris's descent into madness that didn't really make sense. Harding Lemay came in and revealed that she had lost someone in Vietnam, which obviously John could relate to.

Provided that the execuprods don't let the scabs go overboard in putting their stamps on the shows, and that the strike only lasts a couple months, it could be entertaining. Sorta like a vacation in Florida. Fun and unpredictable but at the end of the day you still want to go home to snowy, drab New England.
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Steve Frame
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That story was in Lemay's Bible for the show. Swajeski copied it and went by that while Lemay was out. She had her faults as I am sure the producers had no real plans at that point to keep her. But Lemay ended up not staying long after the strike and Swajeski got his job.
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Sephora
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I know some fan fic writers that could do a damn site better job of writing Days than Hogan does.
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Mason
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Sephora
Oct 8 2007, 10:52 AM
I know some fan fic writers that could do a damn site better job of writing Days than Hogan does.

The same could be said for every other writer in daytime.
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into_the_skyline
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SOAPnet recently aired the strike of '81 or '82 for Ryan's Hope and the show improved. I hear the ratings did as well during this time. Of course some days it was terrible, but overall the replacements did a good job. The show was kinda in a slump and they picked up the pace and gave lots of action.

I'd love to see what a strike could do for soaps today. It couldn't get worse and the positive is that we'd FINALLY be seeing something new!
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Mason
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The thing with the other strikes and today is that, back then, soaps were a lot better off and more secure. Right now, they need all the stability they can hold on to.
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King
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Networks and studios have started thinking about the unthinkable this week.

The harsh rhetoric surrounding the WGA negotiations plus the guild's recent move to seek strike authorization have convinced execs that the threat of a Nov. 1 strike may be very real. A possible lockout is also being discussed.

"We are trying to get as much stuff as possible shoved through," said one studio VP. "It's as hot as I've ever seen it. And whether or not they strike on Nov. 1, we have to act as if they will."

On the feature side, studios are no longer taking writing pitches and are pretty much limiting themselves to making deals on fully developed packages. Warner Bros. and Universal, for example, have put out the word to agents: Don't bring in any spec scripts until the situation resolves itself.

"A strike on Nov. 1 is a real option," WGA West prexy Patric Verrone told Daily Variety on Monday. "What I'm hearing from our screenwriters and showrunners is that they're being asked to schedule additional table reads, prepare additional scripts and squeeze in more shows, which may be physically impossible in that amount of time."
More than one option

* (Co) Daily Variety
* (Co) Daily Variety

On the TV side, the nets are scrambling to figure out how they'll fill primetime with no new scripted shows and trying to get pilot scripts completed as quickly as possible. There's also been a rash of series commitments in recent weeks, with nets handing out an unusually large number of six- and 13-episode orders.

Agents admit that the pace of feature dealmaking has stayed hectic in recent weeks -- but only for short-term projects. "Making any deals in long-term feature development has become really tough," one tenpercenter groused.

Producers and execs say available writing jobs have been drying up in recent days. "Unless you're a triple-A high-end rewriter, you're not getting an assignment now," one prominent producer said.

One agent noted that feature animation writing jobs may become a hot area for scribes in coming months since that arena's not covered by the WGA.

"I am looking more toward open director assignments rather than writing assignments," a manager noted, pointing out that the DGA is unlikely to go on strike and will probably make a deal by the end of year.

The possibility that a writers strike could start in just a few weeks, with the current contract expiring Oct. 31, had not been prominent on the town's radar until recently. The prevailing sentiment had been that the WGA would wait for several months -- perhaps until summer, when both the SAG and DGA contracts expire -- before staging a work stoppage.

The WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers return today to the bargaining table for a seventh day of negotiations in a process that has so far yielded only acrimony and finger-pointing. Verrone said that the guild's stressing the possibility of a Nov. 1 strike to get the companies to come off their proposal to revamp residuals.

"We're hoping that possibility will get companies to negotiate seriously," he added.

But AMPTP president Nick Counter told Daily Variety that the prospect of an early strike has always been part of the planning for studios and nets.

"The companies all have contingencies and will be ready in the event a strike occurs," Counter added.

One industry insider believes writers will wait to see if any progress is being made before deciding to walk out.

"If there's absolutely no progress being made, they'll go out," the insider said. "If there is some movement, they might give it a few more weeks."

Endeavor partner Rick Rosen said he remains hopeful that a strike can be averted altogether.

"I'd hate to see this turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy, like the Iraq war," Rosen said. "I'd like to see people trying to engage in some meaningful and constructive dialogue rather than making pronouncements."

TV types are split as to when a strike would hurt the most, but almost all are now convinced one is coming -- and sooner rather than later. Many believe a November walkout could be particularly crippling since it could affect both the current TV season and the next one.

By Nov. 1, nets will have enough episodes of current shows in the can to get them through mid-January. But the February sweeps would be decimated, and new shows would halt production well before they'd filled their initial 13 episode orders.

As a result, an early strike could spell doom for some newer shows struggling in the ratings.

"If Fox has to shut down a show like 'K-Ville' in the middle of filming the seventh episode, they might just decide it makes more sense to simply cancel it," one agent said.

That's because keeping the "K-Ville" sets in place and its cast together would be costly. If the show were a hit, keeping the skein in a holding pattern would make sense, but given its weak early numbers, Fox might simply decide it makes sense to cut and run.

That decision would have a cost, too. TV shows generally need to produce 13 episodes to earn international coin. If shows such as "K-Ville" -- or CBS' ratings-challenged "Cane" or NBC's "Bionic Woman" -- wrap before they get to 13 segs, they'll likely end up a total loss for both the network and the studio that produces the show.

A writers' walkout before Thanksgiving could also cripple pilot season if scribes stay out for several months. While nets have purchased the bulk of their pilot scripts by now, they've seen only a few completed drafts. Most pilot scripts don't come in until late November or early December. An early strike would put pilot season on hold.

There are some observers, however, who think a January strike might make more strategic sense. The TV season would still be hurt, with original episodes of shows running out by late February. Pilot season would still be affected, since nets might be reluctant to lense $4 million pilot segs without scribes available to do rewrites -- especially for comedies.

If scribes wait until January, they can also claim to have gone the extra mile on negotiations by working without a deal for two months. On the other hand, almost all nets have made early pilot commitments to at least two or three projects, some of which are expected to lense in December.

So a November strike could put a crimp in nets' plans to get a jump on development. To some, waiting until the end of June -- when SAG and the DGA see their contracts expire -- has become a less likely option.

"The writers have realized if they do that, they're just letting the studios fill their pipelines," one agent said. "They know that if they want to have an impact, they go out now."

Fox reality prexy Mike Darnell said a few months ago that he'd never been so busy. Two cycles of the red-hot "Hell's Kitchen" are in the works, while the net held back the buzzworthy "When Women Rule the World" for a later date. And, of course, "American Idol" wouldn't be affected by a strike.

CBS alternative chief Ghen Maynard is said to have two dozen concepts in the works for CBS and sister net the CW. Emmy magnet "The Amazing Race" is also on the shelf.

Over at NBC, new chief Ben Silverman has been greenlighting project after project, while shows that pre-date his arrival -- the provocative "Baby Borrowers," for example -- are ready whenever he needs them. He's also said he's been talking to international broadcasters about snapping up shows already produced for English-speaking markets such as Canada and Blighty.

ABC's got a high-profile skein from Oprah Winfrey called "The Big Give," as well as a spinoff of "Dancing With the Stars."

Newsmags like "20/20" and "48 Hours" are also gearing up to add nights if needed. And with gameshows proving to be very popular lately --especially as short-term plays -- don't be surprised if quizzers multiply quickly.

One daypart that would be immediately crippled by a strike is latenight. Both Johnny Carson's and David Letterman's shows went dark for a couple months during the last big WGA strike in 1988, and it's almost certain the current batch of talking heads would sign off for at least a few weeks if there's a walkout.

While the WGA might ultimately grant the talkers a waiver, nets would instantly lose millions in ad revenue.

One writer too young to remember the last strike said he's trying to proceed as normal even though he knows it's not.

"We're just going ahead with the show," he said. "Everyone's a little bit in the dark about what's going to happen. I think everyone is finally realizing this could be real, and everyone's freaked out about what it means."
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