Monday, November 12, 2007

WGA strike: Outside looking in

So, eventually, I have to join the world of the info/entertainment and like every self-respecting entertainment blogger, some things have to be said about the WGA strike, and the rumored upcoming SAG strike.

When the writer's strike hit, I read up a bunch on who was walking out, what the producers were doing, and so on; seemed interesting to me to see which show producers actually cared about their shit and which didn't. I read about Jon Stewart's production company paying his striking writers for two weeks, which warmed my heart, and then unsurprisingly reading recently about Ellen DeGeneres crossing the picket line. So, even though there's support and opposition from virtually every angle of the entertainment business, the strike doesn't look like it'll be resolved any time soon, and most shows have halted production.

Being a film student, and one who actively doesn't really watch TV as it is, but rather electronically obtains it (disclaimer: no I don't), I wondered how much networks are going to be hurt by piling in reruns of shows; during the winter months, people tend to watch more TV as it is, so if they start to lose that audience, I can see how advertising money will start to go out the door, and ultimately they'll cave to the demands. Good for writers, bad for networks.

Although, there's another route this strike could take. If both sides stand firm and there isn't much progress made after a few months, you could see a massive revolution in how entertainment is produced. I understand that the union-side of work is important - but if networks find out they can pluck talent cheaply from other sources, they'll do it. Imagine a world where some small comedy troupes get their chance - everyone's seen creative videos on YouTube from people you've never heard of. If the networks start offering money, you can see a ton of new, creative, taking-a-chance kind of shows, with more freedom to the artists - at the same time, you'll see less crap shows, like pointless, high-budget reality shows that harp on the same theme endlessly, or Sitcoms that suck.

Even imagine ads; if they start losing money from the strike they could hold competitions for ads - small crews, small money, lots of creativity.

In my experience, what the industry/networks lack is a kind of balls. If something works it'll take a catastrophe to change plans; reality shows are a great example. But there's talent out there that would do anything to get into the industry; by basically giving them the equipment budget, which could even be as low as 20,000, and giving a cut of the profits, you'll ensure quality television, and it makes taking a chance more financially viable.

It's a very interesting strike, from an outsider's perspective. Of course, the strike could end in a week and all could back to normal in the business.

Let's just hope this strike brings changes - not just for the writers and producers, but for the audience that wants to be entertained.


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