November 08, 2007

So I Wasn't Going to Post About This

Because I was busy, and I had already spent the whole morning semi-illegally reading about it on every blog and news outlet out there. But when I mentioned the writer's strike to my sister, and told her not to watch any of her programming online, she said "Uh, that's in California. How does that mean anything about the shows here?"

So now I'm writing about this.

A quick recap: These TV writers, like all extremely fortunate writers in the world, write for a living. This is usually not a 9-5 gig, so they make money more erratically that most people, much like actors, musicians and any other artists. If they write an episode for a show, they are paid when it airs. It it reruns, they are paid again, although less. They get a very small amount from VHS sales, due to a compromise that was struck when VHS technology was new. Unfortunately, that precedent was used also with the advent of DVD technology, and they make the same percentage. What happened when these shows decided to show programming over this newfangled device called the internet?

These writers are paid exactly nothing.

Not only that, but studios refuse to even discuss paying them for any future technologic advancement that would show the program. You know, the program that these writers create. Sort of like if you wrote a book that was made into a movie, then that movie made millions--say, Gone with the Wind. When Gone With the Wind is shown over the internet, or Blu-ray, or whatever technology renders DVD obsolete?--you get nothing. Even if the movie made ten cents, you get nothing--your name isn't on the package. Your idea, something that would not exist without your very being, is taken from you without acknowledgement or recompense. And they can't understand why you're reluctant to share more of these ideas with them.

Writers make a show good. The only reason you have ever loved a television program was because of the writing. The actors go a long way, but f they had no script, or a mediocre one, you'd watch three episodes and then get bored. You wouldn't be compelled week after week, chucking family members and dogs over your shoulder because Grey's Anatomy was on. Hell, even the cast of Grey's Anatomy knows that.

The number of actors and showrunners joining the picket lines in solidarity and posting online has been staggering... and awesome, in the ancient literal sense. (My especial favorites being Steven Weber's piece (sorry I said you were scary and weird on S60! Love you!) and my longtime Bop-magazine boyfriend Steve Carell's fantastic balls.) Actors know, the writers know, the teamsters know, and now you know. Let's stick it to the one guy who doesn't seem to understand. Please sign; it's the least the Midwest can do.

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