Something is going down in Hollywood, California reminiscent of 2007 when the entire film and television industry was thrown into disarray and deprived viewers of their favorite shows.
Between November 2007 and February 2008, 12,000 writers prevented the industry from moving forward because members of the Directors Guild and Producers Guild had been taking them for granted.
This widespread strike halted many shows.
And in a similar fashion, Saturday Night Live might be forced to put an end to Alec Baldwin satirizing President Donald Trump because unhappy unions would prevent it.
The Hollywood Reporter reported:
“The ‘Peak TV’ era is great creatively, says a trio of rank-and-file WGA members, but writers suffer financially while companies rake in the profits: ‘I feel like we are willing to work with the AMPTP, and it doesn’t feel like they are willing to work with us.’
As negotiators for the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers sit down Thursday for continued talks just three business days ahead of a threatened walkout, some in Hollywood — fearing the prospect of a strike less than 10 years after the guild’s 2007-08 outing — have been asking, ‘What are the writers thinking?’
So far, those speaking out have included showrunners, negotiators and even WGA West president Howard Rodman, notwithstanding a media blackout.
And many are expressing opinions via social media, an option that largely didn’t exist during the last strike. But while the industry has seen the unity of the rank and file writers — that 96.3 percent’Yes” vote on strike authorization sent a message — with some excptions writers haven’t spoken directly.
So The Hollywood Reporter reached out to a number of the junior and mid-level TV writers who make up the bulk of the guild’s working members.”
Essentially, what this means is that the WGA has the power to halt further development on many television shows because they are notoriously undervalued and overlooked.
A common expression in the performance industry is that film is a director’s medium, theater is the actor’s medium, but television is the writer’s medium.
Writers are the kings of television and it’s no different on a show like Saturday Night Live.
You don’t see them usually, but they have a bigger say-so then the actors.
That is, until the actor becomes too powerful to replace.
Writers don’t have the same luxury because their face, literally, isn’t important.
But nobody wants a strike.
In fact, Trey Parker and Matt Stone of South Park criticized the writers’ strike back in 2007 because had they just worked through that time, they would’ve received even more than they negotiated for at that time.
The Hollywood Reporter continued:
“THR interviewed three of them separately and present their responses here in a roundtable format. Questions and answers have been edited for space and clarity.
Why put Hollywood through another strike?
Shireen Razack (Freeform’s Shadowhunters): Nobody wants a strike. And it’s not that we’re trying to put the industry through it, we’re not trying to put the city [of Los Angeles] through it, we’re not trying to put anybody through a strike. What we want is a fair deal.
Speed Weed (CW’s Arrow, Syfy’s Haven, NBC’s Law & Order: SVU): Honestly, my sense is that [the studios] are trying to see how united we are. The question seems to me to be upside down: Why is it so important to the studios that they shut down business to deny us fair pay for what we do?
Hollie Overton (Shadowhunters, Lifetime’s The Client List): What we’re fighting for is for studios and networks not to be able to hold writers for six straight months [between seasons without pay]. You’re just in career limbo. The companies are making more money than ever before, and it just feels like the writers who are creating all this content are becoming less and less valuable.
I’m married, we want to have a family, we want to buy a house, and all of that’s in limbo if we have a strike. And obviously that’s a sacrifice, but it’s worth it because if we don’t strike now, we’ll accept whatever they offer and then down the line, there is no middle-class writer.
I’m not excited about a strike. When I first started to hear about the word ‘strike,’ I thought, well, I’ll never go for that because I’m finally at a producer level and finally working consistently.”
But there are a lot of legal troubles and loopholes that shows have to avoid if the strike does happen.
Shows could hire a non-union “Scab” to fill-in for the writers, but those Scabs are blacklisted, which means that a show like SNL is not allowed to create (write) any material without the union.
And that would mean no more Trump impersonations from Alec Baldwin.