Writers’ Strike: Show Status

Digital Spy posted a round up of the status of US shows in production affected by the Writers Guild strike at the weekend. 4,000 attended a protest rally on Los Angeles’ Avenue of the Stars as the strike completed its first week, with production on night time chat shows already shut down and some networks with just six weeks left of first run material.

There have been rumours that US studios are scouting for UK writers, but UK writers downthetubes has contacted have not commented on whether they would strike break or not. (The Writers Guild of Great Britain has pitched into the Hollywood battle over digital distribution rights, calling for UK writers to support the strike and not supply material to US broadcasters).

The dispute is complicated but is essentially over the payment of residuals for internet and DVD use of writers’ work. (The UK Writers Guild says it has been able to negotiate satisfactory terms with UK broadcasters covering DVDs, internet downloads, mobile phones, etc.: details here).

Writer Mark Evanier explains in plain English how the residuals system works on his blog here and this YouTube video outlines it for those of you who don’t have time to read:

Not for the first time, writers are getting a poor (i.e no) deal at the hands of the US networks: writer Paul Dini recounts how he and many others were treated by Nickelodeon when they joined the WGA in an effort to secure residuals for their work back in 2001 in this blog post. “They destroyed three people’s careers and put 250 artists out of work and f***** up their own channel for a year,” he angrily recounts.

Here’s details on the SF/Fantasy shows alone and a full list of showrunners supporting the strike appears on the WGA web site.

Lost – 8 episodes out of 16 ordered have been shot. Lost showrunner hopes ABC will hold back 8 produced episodes for 2008-09 rather than running them as a mini-season. Carlton Cuse and
Damon Lindelof support the strike.

Cavemen: 12 episodes out of 13 ordered taped. Bill Martin and Mike Schiff support the strike.

Ghost Whisperer: 9 episodes out of 22 ordered taped.
Jericho: Production completed on 7 episode order. Executive Producer and Head Writer Carol Barbee supports the strike

24: Production shut down with 8 episodes taped. Show on hiatus.
Family Guy: Production shut down; last taped episode aired this Sunday in the US. David A. Goodman, Seth MacFarlane and Chris Sheridan support the strike
Simpsons: Production shut down. James L. Brooks, Matt Groening and Al Jean support the strike. “When we took the vote to authorizethe strike, I think it was very clear how the membership felt,” commented Simpsons Executive producer Al Jean. “We are united.”

Heroes: The Heroes: Origins spinoff has been suspended. 11 episodes taped. It is understood that NBC is planning for the December 3 episode to serve as a season finale in the event of a protracted strike, with the show returning for special episodes in the run-up to 2008-09. Tim Kring supports the strike.
Journeyman: Production continues. (Sky has started airing the show here on Thursday nights at 10.00pm). Producer Kevin Fails supports the strike
Medium: 9 episodes out of a 22 episode order completed.

The CW
Smallville: 8 episodes in the can; production continues. The writing team completed scripts for 15 episodes an episode 15 is a cliffhanger. Al Gough and Miles Millar support the strike but hope it will soon be resolved.
Supernatural: 11 episodes in the can; 5 scripts are available for production.

Comedy Central
South Park: Writers not members of the WGA (common for many animated shows); production continues.

Despite the serious matters at stake with mass layoffs, the team of the US The Office have delivered their own inventive take on the strike from the picket line, inviting lawyers to write their shows as they have proven so creative at not paying residuals…

Films affected by the strike are those Comics2Film cites as on the cusp of going into production: projects like Wolverine, The Punisher: War Zone, G.I. Joe and Justice League. Should the producers of those films decide the scripts aren’t ready for filming, work could halt until guild writers return to their posts.

DreamWorks/Paramount’s Transformers 2 is far enough along to proceed with pre-production, location scouting and advance visual effects work, but will face serious issues if the strike continues for several months. Filming isn’t set to start filming until June.

Movies that have been filmed for 2008 release – Iron Man, Incredible Hulk, The Dark Knight, Whiteout, Hellboy II and others – are unlikely to be affected by the situation.

Categories: Film, Television

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