Hello again, my friends. Last week the WGA and the Studios failed to reach a deal and each left with a sour taste in their mouth. The writer’s responded with a Star Trek day, where they dressed as characters from the popular films on the picket line. The studios responded by issuing a statement likening the WGA heads to a car full of clowns capable of witty gimmicks but failing at actual compromise. And the rest of Hollywood responded by visiting the website of the Unemployment Offices.
With Christmas upcoming, most shows had planned on halting before the 21st at the latest for a Christmas break, but the Strike has changed that. Many shows have been on the halt since the beginning, but this week is when the house of cards fell. While the production companies had planned to keep working another week, that included a month of writing. That hasn’t happened and now nearly all the shows are out of scripts which means they’re out of things to film. A few post houses are still working, but most of the on-set work will be finishing up this Friday.
And an estimated 15,000 people will stop working. That’s the deal. No work to be had here, anymore. And there aren’t 15,000 positions opening up at Border’s Bookstores or some trendy restaurant either. 15,000 people are going to lose their jobs in the next 48 hours. Each day they don’t work some 20+ million dollars won’t be made in the city of Los Angeles, because the productions aren’t buying anything anymore.
Caterers and coffee trucks will have nowhere to go, no one to sell to. Grips and gaffers aren’t going to help hang your Christmas decorations, unless you’ve got $125 a day for them. So this is it. I don’t really have a witty punch line for this one.
Hope may be in store with the DGA (Directors Guild of America) who may or may not move to the table. The play here would be for the Studios to deal with the Directors and then show the writers what the DGA agreed to and offer it to them. If the WGA declines, they look greedy. If they accept, they will likely take less than they want.
The DGA contracts expire shortly and there are thousands of DGA members that will rely on the DGA leadership to keep the boat afloat as with no writers, there is no need for directors, either. Michael Apted, President of the DGA, has said that they can no longer ignore the responsibilities to their members who have also suffered job loss in the thousands.
So while your television may show images of happy writers chanting and waving signs in their matching shirts and steaming cups of coffee, what they won’t show you are the empty sound stages, the idling caterers, screen savers on editing suite computers, and the 15,000 plus people sitting at home with no knowledge of when, or even if, their job will come back.
Picture the 22 year old production assistant, fresh out of college, managing to grab maybe $500 a week. Subtract from that California Car Insurance (at least $125 a month with a clean record), Health Insurance (if he’s lucky enough to have it, $130 a month), rent (a great rent is $1700 a month for a 2 bedroom), food, utilities. Let’s hope he’s still on good terms with his mom, because a loan is probably in his future.
So please, by all means, discuss below. I’m interested in hearing what everyone thinks. Most likely everyone still supports the writers (see my last article for why) and this won’t impact your life at all, except maybe a few reruns, but it’s the Holiday Season anyways. But there are 15,000 of us about to walk out the office door for the last time in who knows how long for no fault of our own.
Talking Points: Just speak your peace below…