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Writers Strike Watch: Triple Witching Hour

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood October 30, 2007 at 6:00AM

As the writers' strike looms, there's a palpable sense of rising anger as the entertainment industry faces a long-term work stoppage and a crazy frantic shaking out of projects trying to go forward against all odds. It was one thing to be preparing for a strike next summer by the Writers and Screen Actors Guilds. It's another to actually proceed with TV and film production with no writers.
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As the writers' strike looms, there's a palpable sense of rising anger as the entertainment industry faces a long-term work stoppage and a crazy frantic shaking out of projects trying to go forward against all odds. It was one thing to be preparing for a strike next summer by the Writers and Screen Actors Guilds. It's another to actually proceed with TV and film production with no writers.

That means: no script-writing, no fixes, no late-night comedy monologues, lots of reality TV. One producer-writer expects to be brought on to a movie or two to make writing changes. Another indie producer is signing up non-WGA and writers and Brits. Many writers are dusting off their unfinished novels and plays. The day the strike is resolved, a flood of spec scripts will land on agents' desks.

While a spate of not-so-good movies is likely to emerge from the 2007/2008 strike-film bubble, a boom in original scripts will only be good for the movie industry. But many people will lose money in the meantime. The cost of the five-month 1988 writers strike was some $500 million.

Many Hollywood folks feel that both sides have been irrational so far and have not even begun to talk reasonably about how to break their impasse. Some see Warner studio chief Barry Meyer as representing the far extreme of tough-talking studio brass, while others see the writers, led by Patric M. Verrone, as impossible to deal with too. "How can you make a deal with people who aren't rational?" asks one studio chairman. Everyone is waiting for this year's mediating figure to emerge, the equivalent of moguls Lew Wasserman or Jeffrey Katzenberg or attorney Ken Ziffren, who all played key roles in past strikes.

Serious negotiations will likely only start tomorrow, on the eve of the Halloween midnight strike deadline. And the latest buzz on the street is that talks could go on for another ten days as writers finish up their scripts, hand them in, and get paid. Here's Variety's strike coverage.

Patrick Goldstein's column covers the long history of bad feeling between the writers and studios (or "producers"). Here's Defamer's take. And Time.

Screenwriter Gregg Rossen and his writing partner Brian Sawyer lassooed some fellow WGA members to star in this funny short, Heroes of the Writers Strike:

[Originally appeared on Variety.com]

This article is related to: Hollywood, Stuck In Love, Screenwriters


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