The Writers Guild of America is on strike. You may have noticed that the late-night talk shows have already gone into reruns. In a few weeks scripted television shows will have to stop shooting. The movie industry will be able to hold out a little longer, but soon something is gonna need a re-write and the only people skilled enough for the job will be out on the picket lines.
This affects me in a handful of ways. First of all, I watch an appalling amount of television, particularly the hour-long serial dramas. I am glad to know that the fourth season of Lost is already in the can, and shouldn’t be affected by the strike. But what about Friday Night Lights? Or Pushing Daisies? Or Battlestar Galactica, for the love of Jebus?!? If those shows have to wrap their seasons early I may break out in hives, or worse: I might have to find something useful to do with my spare time.
Second, I have friends in New York and LA who are directly affected by the strike. They are effectively out of work until the dispute is resolved. They have not quite reached the status of a Joss Whedon or a Tina Fey, however, so things could get tight for them a lot sooner than other, more well-known writers. When they do go back to work, I hope they feel they got a fair deal.
Third, I fancy myself a writer. I even have a completed screenplay sitting in the bottom of a drawer (where it will STAY FOREVER, if I have any say in it). I am more interested in writing novels, but I’d love to take another crack at a screenplay some day. Or I’d love to write a novel, and then adapt it into a screenplay. That’d be sweet. But if I want to make a career out of it I need to know that I will be treated fairly for my work.
The movies and television shows we all love would not exist if it weren’t for the writers. They create the worlds, the characters, the stories. So many flaws can be forgiven if they are in service of a decent script. It’s the writers who deserve top billing.
More information about the strike and about the profession of screenwriting can be found at the Writers Guild of America website.