Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The verdict is still out

It appears to be over, and like most victories of this sort, it's highly Pyhrric:
It is equally true, however, that the strike was bad for writers in the short term. The delays caused by the strike prompted the studios to ask themselves a fundamental question about the need to finance all manner of pilots for a traditional upfront extravaganza followed by a traditional introduction in the fall. That system, fairly unchanged through the years, has historically been lucrative for writers.

Emboldened by the strike, the studios severed existing contracts with writers, successfully turned over more of their prime-time schedules to reality programming and vowed to hold the line on filming new shows for next season.

Some 70 development deals in which writers were essentially paid lucrative stipends to come up with shows that might not ever be broadcast are now gone, and they will not be coming back any time soon.

The events are likely to bring at least a few lean years to the workaday writers. With less spending on pilots, established writers will be in the hunt because they lost their cushy deals on the lot. With increased incursion from all forms of reality programs, finding work that pays the bills, never mind the residuals, is going to be a slog.

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