Another Film and TV Writers Strike is Likely

The Writers Guild of America (WGA) and an alliance of several major Hollywood studios resumed contract negotiations on Monday. The WGA has been angling for better pay since 2015, when a new board president was elected on a platform of “getting tough” with studios.

The talks heated up this year when the writers notified major ad buyers that a strike was imminent, and what that could mean for them. Put simply, films and movies aren’t very good if they aren’t scripted by quality screenwriters.

If the films and movies aren’t very good, then people won’t watch them.

And if people won’t watch them, then they won’t see the ads.

So, the WGA asks, what are advertisers paying for?

The studios, for their part, contend that the writers’ demands are too high. THR reports via an anonymous source that the studios are unwilling to pay what they call “3x-5x the norm” for union writers.

What a Writers Strike Means for Fans

A scene from the 2007-08 WGA strike.

A scene from the 2007-08 WGA strike.

The WGA has indicated it will strike by May 1 if they and the studios don’t come to an agreement. So how will this affect fans?

Well, it’s a bit different than the other strike I’ve written about. Unlike the SAG-AFTRA video game voice actors strike, a cease-work from WGA could have immediate effects on the media we love.

The SAG-AFTRA strike, which is still ongoing, hasn’t yet hit home for the fans. That’s because of the long lead time between a video game recording its dialog and releasing to store (or digital) shelves.

Voice actors belonging to SAG-AFTRA haven’t taken any new video games work since the strike began in October. However, they’re free to continue work on projects that had already started, and most games record their voices months or even years before release.

It’s different for TV. Weekly shows like, say, Bob’s Burgers don’t have the entire season in the can before they start airing. Oftentimes, they’re continuing to polish, rewrite, and re-record up to the week they air.

That means that if the writers stop working, the next season of shows or even the end of the current season could find itself without seasoned scriptwriters. They’ll have to make do with reruns or, worse, cancellation.

Late-night TV shows like The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and The Late Late Show with James Corden are even more drastically effected, though they aren’t the purview of this site. Those shows often skewer current events, with writers working right up to the moment the host steps onstage.

What Happened Last Time

This has all happened before, of course. The 2007-2008 WGA strike resulted in the rise of reality TV. Shows like American Idol and Survivor don’t particularly need talented writers, after all.

On the bright side, the last strike gave us Doctor Horrible’s Sing-a-long Blog. Joss Whedon needed a creative outlet, and so he got together some friends and family and put on a free show. The friends and family included Neil Patrick Harris, Felicia Day, and Nathan Fillion, and we got something truly unique and enduring out of it.

So there’s that, at least.

But still, would you enjoy another year of nothing but reality shows?

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