Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Is T.V. as we know it comming to an end?

The 2007 Writers Guild of America strike is a strike by both the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) and the Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) that started on November 5, 2007. The WGAE and WGAW are two labor unions that represent film, television, and radio writers working in the United States. The strike is against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), a trade organization that represents the interests of American film and television producers. The strike affects over 12,000 writers. The last strike of this kind was the 1988 Writers Guild of America strike; it lasted 22 weeks, costing the American entertainment industry an estimated 500 million dollars. Every three year, the Writers Guilds negotiate a new basic contract with the AMPTP by which its members are employed. This is the contract by which its members are employed and is called the Minimum Basic Agreement (MBA).

As a result of the strike, there will be fewer episodes to air for each of the shows affected by it. How will the strike affect viewers? It depends on the type of show. Some of televisions most popular shows have already been affected, with many more to soon feel the blow. The good news for fans of scripted T.V.: Because of the already long lead for most sitcoms and television dramas — and particularly because of planned stockpiling in the months leading up to the strike — many shows have a number of episodes already in the can or, at the very least, already scripted. The bad news: Even with a considerable number of shows ready to go, a bank of around 10 episodes will only take a program into late December or, at best, early January or February, depending on each individual shows airing schedule. What will likely happen in the next few months will be the effect of shows having to resort to airing reruns. They are faced with the choice of either airing reruns or going off the air until the strike is resolved. We can only hope that a settlement will be reached before the stockpile of scripts run out.

How will the strike affect the different types of shows? Talk shows are especially affected. The absence of monologues and skits is forcing CBS to run repeats. Soap operas will start disappearing in several weeks, since that is how much in advance they work, and because they rarely run repeats; advertisers don't like soap reruns. Scripted television series will run out of new episodes sometime around the beginning of 2008, since they are put together some six weeks in advance. After that, the networks will probably run repeats, or replace these series with reality shows or news programs. Reality shows will not be affected by the strike, and indeed may replace some of the scripted series. News and "magazine" shows are not affected by the strike since news writers have a different contract. Since game shows are largely unscripted, they will not be much affected. Since animated series take a long time to produce, they are ready as much as a year in advance.

By now you are probably wondering which of your favorite shows will be affected by this strike? To see a chart a complete listing of shows affected please go to http://www.latimes.com/business/la-striketvgrid-html,0,7606966.htmlstory?coll=la-home-center .

"I'm disappointed. I thought the writers were better than this. They are not only affecting the actors and actresses, they are also affecting the entertainment that people have at home," said Amy Mann, who is a strong follower of the T.V. shows Prison Break and 24. Brett Watson said, "I don't care, I watch Antique Roadshow on Channel 2, those writers don't strike." We can only hope that a settlement will be reached before the stockpile of scripts run out and were left with only reality T.V. shows and the news for entertainment.

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