191. Writers Go on Strike

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"A DVD retails for $10 or more. Out of that, we writers currently get 4 or 5 cents. We're asking to get 8 cents per DVD. The producers and others say we're asking for too much." That is television writer Saul Bloom's argument as to why the Writers Guild of America is going on strike tomorrow.

The strike by TV and movie writers will greatly affect TV and movie production. The last such strike, in 1988, cost the industry half a billion dollars. That strike lasted five months. Such a strike affects everyone in the business, from TV and movie industry executives all the way down to the people selling popcorn at local movie theaters.

All movies currently in production that require the skills of active writers will halt production. TV networks will substitute new game shows and "reality" shows that don't require professional writers. In addition, of course, there will be plenty of reruns. TV viewers in search of fresh programs might have to switch to cable TV or rent DVDs. A recent nationwide poll indicates that the general public strongly supports the writers, who are thought to be underpaid and unappreciated.

"Writers are too demanding," complained Reese Majors, vice president of CEC Entertainment, a production company with seven shows airing weekly on network TV. "They think they are so special. All they do is type a bunch of words onto a piece of paper. My six-year-old can do that. They claim that writing is work. But how can it be work when it is done in the comfort of their homes? How can you call sitting at home 'work'? The actors and the crew have to go on location, where they must battle the cold, the heat, the jet lag, and the loneliness of being away from home. No home cooking for them—they have to eat catered meals. But you don't hear them whining for four more cents per DVD!"


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