Why Strikes Are Weird

My last post on the strike was supposed to be just a collection of strike-related links I’d found interesting lately, but that obviously got away from me.

Deadline Hollywood Daily
has started exclusively posting the misguided WGA Speechless campaign, with actors doing nothing for the camera or insulting Indian call centre employees. Blog author Nikki Finke added the disclaimer to this series: “In the interest of fairness and objectivity, I would be pleased to also debut a similar campaign conceived by members of AMPTP. But, as a journalist with a journalism outlet, I couldn’t pass up any opportunity to have an exclusive.”

Yeah, OK. Nothing wrong with being so obviously in the writers’ camp when she’s in blogger mode and not LA Weekly column mode, and I enjoy her strike updates, but let’s not pretend Finke’s blog has ever been unbiased, or even generally considered accurate — she’s the classic post first, correct later blogger. It’s a common enough choice in breaking news blogs, and not one I admire, but I admire it more if the blogger owns their choices and their bias.

Anyway, it pisses me off that any time a commenter there makes a claim like “the WGA delayed coming to the table in the first place” or “this strike was poorly timed” or “maybe it’s a better world when David Schwimmer is silenced,” they get flamed. No negative word about the WGA or the strike is tolerated by the commenters. Which all helped sidetrack my last strike post into losing the inspiration for it in the first place.

Pamie.com is the blog of blogging pioneer, author, TV writer, pop culture princess and Wonder Killer (whatever that means) Pamela Ribon. I reviewed her second book, Why Moms Are Weird, a while ago, and felt guilty because I didn’t love it, much preferring her first novel, Why Girls Are Weird, which I’ve never reviewed. She’s a former TWoP recapper — before my time there, plus I only ever dipped into the House forums and fled the recaps fairly quickly — who’s now a writer on Samantha Who?, one of the bright spots on the comedy and new series landscape. She linked to her friend Daniel J. Blau’s article about the America’s Next Top Model strike, a strike she marched in. She’s also a strike captain with the WGA.

Recently, she answered some questions about the strike and how that could affect her show, answers that are enlightening and even a little poignant. The writers have walked away from episodes they’ve written and would normally see through until the final cut. Showrunners have, in Ribon’s words, “stopped making sure that the product that will go on the air is reflective of exactly what they do so well.” Her first episode aired last week, but she hadn’t seen or been involved with the final cut, since they were working on it when the strike was called. “I trust the people inside, but it’s very strange to be completely detached from the project, and have nothing to do with the ultimate finished product, when it’s going to say ‘written by’ and my name up there tomorrow,” she says.

She explains the lack of control, the uncertain product viewers will soon be seeing on their screens, and how the strike could affect the show’s survival in her post. Here’s an excerpt:

We just turned in the script for episode twelve when “pencils down” was called. Which means they shot episode twelve without us. So there are six episodes “in the can,” but we aren’t there to complete the product. No editing. No rewriting. No fixing segues or looping dialogue. No input on which take worked the best when we were on the set. No changing music cues or finding music that works great with a scene. No reshoots. Nothing. Six episodes that will have six writers’ names on them that we had to walk away from. …

We don’t know how the next six are going to go in the ratings, and we have less control over what those episodes will look like, so it’s like being on a rollercoaster. What if the show loses fans because the episodes don’t feel like they used to? Or we lose fans because of the strike? Or if the strike goes for a long, long time, will they want us back next season? At a certain point, we aren’t going to be able to make up those ten episodes we haven’t created yet. Which means right now, every person who walked out of our show or was laid off from our show is losing money. Every week. Every day. And they say you don’t make back the money you lose in a strike.

There’s much more to her post, which is worth a read for the peek into the strike from the eyes of someone other than a millionaire showrunner, someone who is undeniably committed to the cause but is cognizant of what’s being sacrificing for it.

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One Response to Why Strikes Are Weird

  1. Anonymous says:

    Thank you so much for your constant updating on WGA strike and ,most of all , for providing such a broad spectrum of views. I am occasionally on the internet so I do appreciate your work!
    What about your new job? How do you like it?
    I read you’re not commenting on House anymore …it’s a pity for me , as a reader! But I understand only watching it could be so good …and, anyway, I’m happy you are commenting on other shows I wouldn’t even know if I din’t read your blog! Thanks!
    Lela

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