I've been trying my hand at screenwriting, so of course I've been following the development of the WGA writers' strike with interest.
A few minutes ago I saw a headline on the Yahoo! Finance site titled, "Strike rewrites rules in Hollywood." The article itself was interesting, but the overall web page was even more telling. Click on the image to see a screenshot if you like.
There is a theory that the studios helped engineer this strike because it will let them shake up the industry, send U.S. jobs overseas, and basically break the backs of the unions. This Reuters news story sure bears out the part about sending U.S. jobs overseas.
One of the main sticking points in the negotiations is that the studios don't want to pay any residuals -- meaning zero, zip, nada -- when films or TV shows or 'webisodes' are broadcast over the internet. Even if people pay to view those shows, or the shows make money from advertising, the studios don't want to pay the writers.
The studios claim that no one can predict whether internet broadcasting will make any money -- even though it already does -- so naturally they can't pay out even the three-tenths of one percent residual fee that writers get from DVD sales today.
Of course we all know that the future of broadcasting runs straight through the internet.
There next to the article about the strike changing all the rules is a Sony ad about watching video from the Yahoo! Video site on your TV. "Watch web video like never before" says the headline.
So no one knows if this internet video things will ever take off, but Sony's already selling product?
Right below that ad on the page is the MY TV pod that's supposed to show me all the great shows I can watch during prime time tonight. It says simply 'No results found."
Hmm, maybe that's because there aren't any writers? (Yes I probably never set some preferences in my Yahoo account, but still it seems like poetic justice).
Finally. there is a bit of hope. One of the most popular videos on the Yahoo! Video site right now is the "Why We Fight" video posted by wgaamerica. If you want to learn more about what the writers are striking for, watch this video now.