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Guest Editorial: The Impending Abyss Actors Call a Strike

Friend and FSR interviewee (Spider-Man 3), Michael F. Blake, a member of just about every entertainment union, expresses dumbfoundedness about the impending SAG strike. Is it counter-intelligent? Or is it just the way actors think? Blake welcomes your opinions:

Okay, the nimrods they call actors are on the verge of plunging this industry (and all who work in it) into an abyss called a strike. That is something we do not need. But let’s face it, actors have never been terribly smart.

Now, borrowing from Mr. Dickens, they are being shown by the Ghost of Prime-Time-To-Come what network TV will soon be.

Jay Leno has signed a deal to do a nightly show in Prime Time at 10pm. That’s right, for 5 days a week at 10pm, we’ll get a “variety” show (a la TONIGHT SHOW).

In that previous slot we had such TV shows as Miami Vice, Hill Street Blues, ER, Law & Order, Police Story, LA Law, Quantum Leap, Hunter, St. Elsewhere, Remington Steele, Quincy, Police Woman, Night Gallery, I Spy and a science fiction show called Star Trek.

Add to the programming of such “reality” shows as Biggest Loser, Big Brother, Survivor, Deal or No Deal and the ubiquitous Dateline, 20/20 and you have at least 6 additional hours of programming on Network TV. If they toss in a few cheaply produced game shows (say 4, at 1-hour slot) you have 15 hours of programming tied up.

And how many actors will appear on those shows? How many directors & writers will work on it? Crew members MAY be a bit better off, but not by much as most of those shows will be on tape, not film, and most likely will not cover their ability to qualify for health insurance or pension.

What is happening with Leno taking over the 10pm slot is “peppy & cheap” TV. Producing Leno’s show will be MUCH cheaper than 5 1-hour dramas.

It also means LESS WORK for actors (and writers, directors & crew members). An average 1-hour drama employs at least 80 crew members, has at least 5-10 regular/semi-regular actors, as well as an additional 10-20 actors per episode. You figure in 13 episodes, at least 5-7 directors will be hired and at least the same number of writers. Add on the various companies that supply material to shows (prop houses, makeup/hair supply shops, caterers, wardrobe rentals and retail stores, etc.) and the number of people/companies that do business with a 1-hour show adds up.

Now, 5 hours worth of employment & business is being taken away.

And the actors STILL want to strike?

Reminds me of Strother Martin’s line from “Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid”: ‘Morons. I’ve got morons on my team.'”

If this gets you mad, says Blake, “Take a tickey and stand in line!”

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