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Ping the World

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Striking Screenwriters Having an Impact

OK, time to remind oneself I support the Hollywood writers' strike. (Grumble.) I do, I really do. (Grumble.) I'm not a huge TV watcher, but I'm really starting to miss this season's hot new drama — and my newest fave — Cane. The show is about the trials and tribulations of a rich and powerful Cuban-American family, and I was hooked from the very first episode. New episodes of Cane have been noticeably absent, along with those of most other intelligent, well-written shows, for several weeks now. In their place: reality shows, tired re-runs, third-rate movies, and other drivel. Surely viewers are revolting. I'm surprised there haven't been riots in the streets.

With two fizzled awards shows and pending Oscar disaster, Hollywood screenwriters are demonstrating the strength inherent in being able to collectively withdraw labour. This dispute is about the same issues that continue to concern Canadian writers. Movies and television make billions of dollars for producers and investors, and secondary digital uses such as DVDs and Internet downloads add to the windfall. Writers want the right to share in the profits generated by material they have created — a not unreasonable position. Industry executives aren't budging and negotations broke down in December. The strike's economic costs, both direct and trickle-down, are skyrocketing daily. With the Oscars pending, pressure is surely mounting for all parties to kickstart the stalled bargaining process. They writers will win this thing. They have to.