This is an ever-evolving story of a girl writer and her two greatest loves, the movies and travel. As she hikes the trenches of Hollywood, you're brought along for the ride.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

A Not-So-Lucky Strike

Like bowling balls, producers have been knocking over writers and finding ways to screw them over since the beginnings of Hollywood.

In the last few years, the internet has brought forth a new generation of writers (and ways to exploit them royally.) Producers grumble about losing money to all those crappy, bootlegged, recorded-on-a-camera-phone copies of their new theatrical releases, but at the same time suggest that perhaps writers don’t really need residuals when the shows and films they write for are downloaded off the internet.

Alas, the used and abused bowling pins have risen, united in their cause, to overtake the bowling balls of Hollywood and make them play fair again. But, as anyone knows, it’s much harder to bowl a perfect game than it seems like it should be and when it comes to labor strikes, no one really wins in the end.

Both writer and producer union reps have stared each other down with crossed arms, deadlocking on key issues in lengthy round-table discussions for long enough. With the failure of playschool-style contract negotiations, the writers and producers have brought in the big guns (No, not the Teamsters, at least not yet), but an official federal mediator. But so far, even with third party involvement, members of the Writer’s Guild Of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers aren’t exactly making nice. WGA members accompanied by some high-profile SAG actors smart enough to know they can’t act without good material, officially went on strike, as of Monday.

For the first since 1988, the year of the last widespread writer’s strike, daytime and late night talk shows have been immediately thrown into re-runs. There will be no more Headlines from Leno (at least not current ones), no hope of another public sob story from Ellen, and no more Top Ten lists from Letterman.

So on this momentous occasion, to which I certainly understand the dilemma between producers, writers, and the quandary of new media compensation, I, as a non-union writer toiling daily "on spec" here in Hollywood, will provide a Top Ten List of my own.

For both producers and writers, I offer hope and creative interjection on how to manage during this questionable time of spitball negotiations, and I hope that both sides can come to a solid agreement (sooner, rather than later.)


10. Stare out the window blankly and contemplate the hopelessness of humanity.
9. Drunk-dial Producers Guild of America members and pitch your very worst script ideas.
8. Learn calligraphy and practice the art of writing without really writing.
7. Stalk the local library and count how many people walk out with FREE DVDs and CDs.
6. Search for your own name on imdb on as many different computers as possible to “up your star meter” (so you’ll be a hotly pursued writer when the strike ends.)
5. Schedule as many medical appointments as possible. You don’t know how long this health care plan is gonna last.
4. Hack into Netflix accounts and rearrange the DVD titles in peoples’ queues.
3. Volunteer to help decorate Beijing’s controversial float entry for the Tournament of Roses Parade, just for the helluva it.
2. Formulate a reality show staged on the front lines of picketing and put all your writer friends on the payroll.
1. After your picketing shift at the studio is over, mosey over to the set of the TV show you formerly wrote for and pocket all the good stuff from the craft service table.


10. Actually read that stack of quality, character-driven scripts that your assistant’s assistant shelved upon arrival.
9. Enroll in that community extension boot camp screenwriting class. After all, how hard could it possibly be?
8. Jump on the sudoku craze so you can keep those number crunching skills healthy.
7. Take the whole family to Aspen. The official “federal mediator” will take care of everything. Might as well get some quality skiing in.
6. Re-watch The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. Try to decipher the thematic elements.
5. Host a back-lot studio BBQ. Appoint Michael Moore as host and have him invite all the documentary and reality filmmakers he knows.
4. Cook you own Thanksgiving dinner for the first time since ’88.
3. Have your assistant search and destroy any bootlegged copies of movies that may be lurking in your office.
2. Bed all the hot, young ingénues while you still can--since SAG and AFTRA contracts expire in June 2008.
1. Remove all writers from the company Christmas list.

Copyright © 2007 Kendra Liedle
Associated Content
"We write alone...So to come together like this is to feel a sense of unity. That you're part of something bigger than you."

~Writer-Director, James L. Brooks, as told to The Los Angeles Times)

Photo Caption: Members of the Writers Guild of America walk a picket line outside CBS studios in Los Angeles.
Photo Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times, November 5, 2007
For more information about the current Writer's Strike, click here

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