I work in Hollywood, but not as part of “Hollywood” – my closest connection to “the industry” is my brother-in-law, who manages several local production studios for a cable-TV company. But the writers’ strike is the talk of our town right now, and if it lasts too long – the last time one happened, in 1988, it lasted 22 weeks – it will probably be the talk of your town too, since there won’t be anything new on TV.
There are multiple updates daily on the LA Times‘ website – who said what about negotiations between the writers and the studios, what productions have stopped, which actors and other non-writers have joined the picket lines – and news and opinion from other media outlets and local bloggers.
Right now, the sympathies of most people you talk to, regardless of any connection to the entertainment industry, are with the writers. Without them, there would be no content, period, and the additional compensation they’re asking for from “new media” revenues (DVD and Internet downloads now, who knows what technology in another 5 or 10 years?) doesn’t seem unreasonable, especially since they haven’t had a new contract for 20 years – and it sure looks like the studios are making money (although production accounting is infamously muddy). But the tide could change over time. If either side gets too entrenched in its refusal to negotiate alternatives, observers will lose interest and patience.
One of the things that’s been different in this year’s strike is that more of the participating writers are also the creators and/or producers of their shows (thus known as “showrunners”), and they’ve been much quicker to close down productions due to the strike. The people who will feel the effects of that soonest are those that work behind the scenes and in the less glamorous, recognized aspects of “the business,” but if production work is shut down until well after the holidays, it’s going to have fallout throughout the local economy, and then things could get really bitter. It could be a very bleak holiday for a lot of people if this goes on for too long.
Here on the outside, I’m just hoping the two sides can find some common ground, and a fair resolution, before public opinion sours on all of them. Meanwhile, I suspect there will be a boom in entertainment via “new media,” which could only strengthen the writers’ case. And it occurs to me that it’s lucky that NaBloPoMo has come along at this time, providing the alternative of blogging entertainment for all!