November 1, 2007
Give Frank a chance!
The Hollywood Writers aren't on strike yet, but that could change after their membership meeting tonight. With the growth of streaming and download services, writers are trying to make sure they get paid if their work is used. So if you watch 30 Rock online, or plan to download it through the new NBC/Fox service, Frank and his union brothers may be getting nothing.
You can see WGA updates here. There's a factsheet [PDF] with a quick summary of the issues or a more detailed analysis. The biggest issues are pensions and healthcare, and payment for downloads. Right now if you stream an ad-supported show online, the writers get nothing.
Our beloved Alec Baldwin has already stated that he's on the writers' side: "CITIZEN KANE, ALL ABOUT EVE and SUNSET BOULEVARD...members of the WGA wrote those scripts."
If there is a strike, as now seems likely, you can expect less 30 Rock and more reality (unscripted) shows. The WGA anticipated this last year, and attempted to unionize these shows.
If you're shocked to find out that reality shows have writers, here's an idea of what these writers do from an interview with an ANTM writer:
What we do is take all of the hundreds of hours of basic raw footage of the show -- of girls getting ready in the morning, of them eating cereal, of them talking on the phone to their boyfriends, and going to challenges, and all of the things that they do -- and turn it into 42 minutes of compelling television...So we are the ones who submit treatments, which are story outlines, where we pick usually four girls per episode and give an A, B, C, and D story of what we're going to be concentrating on that week...We submit an actual script, which is a line-by-line beat of what each girl is going to be doing.
The union failed, and the writers were fired. If the reality writers had successfully unionized, the TV networks would have really been screwed by a strike, and they knew this. In a beautiful lack of solidarity, Tyra Banks, union member, would not support the strike. An injury to one is not so much an injury to all, I guess.
So no reality shows are unionized, and you can expect to see a lot more of them.
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