The sky is falling! The sky is falling! Hollyweird’s going on strike:
Hollywood writers have called a strike for next week, a move that would shut down production of a vast array of television programs and, if it lasts, slow the pipeline of movies.
Board members of the Writers Guild of America, a labor union representing more than 12,000 TV and movie writers, met Friday in Los Angeles and told members to walk off their jobs at 12:01 a.m. PT Monday, barring last-minute negotiations with studios over the weekend. Talks ended Wednesday, the same day their contracts with studios expired.
The impasse, as usual, is financial. The major sticking points: Royalty payments for the use of movies and TV shows on the Internet and mobile phones, and increased payments for sales of DVDs, which now earn writers just pennies per disc.
“The studios would rather shut down this town than reach a reasonable deal,” said Writers Guild West president Patric Verroneat a Friday afternoon press conference.
The strike marks the first Hollywood walkout since 1988, when a 22-week impasse led to a rash of repeats and a slowdown in film production. A threatened strike by both writers and actors was averted in 2001.
Comedy and late-night shows will be “hardest hit.” Oh, the tragedy:
Popular comedy shows “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and “The Colbert Report” are vulnerable to a Hollywood writers’ strike since they require fresh writing about current events, Viacom Inc said on Friday.
Both shows air on Viacom’s Comedy Central cable television channel and would likely be replaced by reruns for a period if a strike happened. But the company does not expect much of its other television programming to be affected.
“Probably the couple of shows that … over the next few months are impacted that we have to look at are ‘The Daily Show with Jon Stewart’ and Stephen Colbert, because of their topical nature,” Viacom Chief Executive Philippe Dauman told analysts on a conference call to discuss financial results.
One reader e-mailed in mock agony: “But where will the college kids get their news?”