Strike about to cost jobs
Studios move to halt production deals, which would hit rank and file.
If the strike continues for long, some studios are expected to follow suit with their less fruitful movie production deals, using the same escape clause. The employment contracts that studios have with talent contain a provision known as force majeure that allows them in a crisis situation such as a strike to suspend and terminate deals. Before a deal can be ended, a studio must first suspend it for a period of time, typically for four to eight weeks.
Some studios are using this clause to purge expensive and unproductive arrangements, according to industry executives.
"It's so sick," said one television writer worried about getting a suspension letter who asked not to be named for fear of losing his job. "The studios are using the strike to clean their books, getting rid of the writers they don't want and keeping the ones they do."
Dana Gould, a former writer on "The Simpsons," described the studios' tactic as a "controlled burn" strategy that would save these giant companies millions of dollars. He said the timing couldn't be better, amid television's recent poor ratings.
"It's a reboot. They want to hit Control-Alt-Delete on the fall season," Gould said.
Personally, I think it blows that the networks are using the strike to get out of deals they regret signing. That's utter BS, in my book. If a development deal was signed with someone, and it hasn't even *gotten* to the project phase yet to where it would be impacted this soon, then that's just some shady dealings from the networks!
Also from the article:
This week, the studios also warned writer-producers in charge of current shows that they must carry out their production duties or face termination. That can put such show creators as Shawn Ryan ("The Shield"), who is a WGA member, in an awkward position. Should they picket with other members or cross the picket line to run their show?
At least two studios have threatened to sue these top producers, known as show runners, but most of them are staying off the job.
"Should you refuse to perform your show-runner or producer duties because of a WGA strike, please be advised that your refusal may constitute a legal breach under your contract with the studio entitling us to take legal action against you," ABC Studios wrote in a recent memo.
"If you have an episode that's mostly been shot, they expect you to edit," said Marc Cherry, executive producer for ABC's hit show "Desperate Housewives," who refused to cross the picket line Tuesday outside Universal Studios. "It's kind of an ugly situation."
"The show-runners are caught in the middle," said Steven Katleman, an entertainment attorney at Greenberg Traurig. "They're stuck between going against their guild and exposing themselves to sanctions, as opposed to breaching their contract as producers."
Yup, showrunners are definitely in a tough spot if they write as well. And look at shows like The Office, where the writers are triple hyphenates: writer-producer-actor. Those folks don't know which way to turn!!
Speaking of the strike, I donated money yesterday to the effort over at supernatural_tv to take up some donations to show the writers we appreciate them by bringing them some tasty snacks and drinks out on the picket lines. If you want to contribute, I think they're still taking donations--they took some fruit over to the Warner Brothers writers yesterday, and they were very appreciative. Plus, the girls used it as a chance to plus Supernatural, which can always help! ;)
ETA: I read over the strike rules a few days ago in regard to hypehate workers, and the WGA rules *do* say they will not sanction members who are hyphenates and cross the picket lines to perform non writing duties. But I think the problem is, once they cross the picket lines, they're getting pressure from the network suits to actually perform writing duties. I read something about Greg Daniels (from The Office) shutting everything down because he was trying to do non-writing work and he kept getting pressure and network suits telling him to do things like tweak a script (which is definitely against the rules) and just saying, "It's not really writing--we won't tell anyone" etc, etc. So I can easily see why he'd rather not cross the lines.