Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 8
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

WGA Writers Strike ends, business getting back to normal in Hollywood

“These past three and a half months have been very tough,” Oscars host Jon Stewart told the crowd at Kodak Theater on Sunday night. “The town was torn apart by a bitter writers strike, but I’m happy to say that the fight is over. So tonight…welcome to the make-up sex.”

Stewart, of course, was referring to the Feb. 12 conclusion to the Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike, which lasted over 100 days and threatened the Feb. 24 Oscars ceremony. At the core of strike was disagreement over new media residuals.

“The studios clearly won,” said Associate Professor of Rhetoric and Film Studies Robert Sickels. “I don’t think they gave much; the writers are still paid a pittance.”

The WGA voted 92.5 percent in favor of returning to work. Under the new agreement, which runs till at least 2011, writers will get a total of $1,200 for streamed programs in the first two years of the deal followed by two percent of the profit from ad-supported streaming in the third year. There will be also be a “promotional” period of 17 days for streaming online content.

“We are confident that the results are a significant achievement not only for ourselves but the entire creative community, now and in the future,” wrote WGA Presidents Patrick Verrone and Michael Winship in an official statement to WGA members. “It is an agreement that protects a future in which the Internet becomes the primary means of both content creation and delivery.”

Meanwhile, Hollywood is getting back on its feet. The Los Angeles economy has suffered an estimated $3.2 billion in direct and indirect losses, according to officials.

Most television programs are returning to production, with some expected to return as early as the end of March (“How I Met Your Mother,” “Two and a Half Men”) and many more in April (“The Office,” “Lost”).

Others will be delayed until next season (“24”), or cancelled permanently (“Bionic Woman”).

“The fact that the half-hour sitcoms are getting back on the air so quickly suggests that the writers were writing through the strike,” Sickels said, adding that there will not be long-term effects felt as a result.

Late night shows affected by the strike: including “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” “Jimmy Kimmel,” Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and “The Colbert Report”: already have their writers back.

“Our writers are back and they are sexy!” Stephen Colbert said at the beginning of “The Colbert Report” on Feb. 22. “Who wrote this?”

Despite the return of the writers and the new deal, however, the future still remains somewhat uncertain.

“A singular, profitable model has yet to emerge when it comes to putting TV online,” Sickels said, “but it’s hard to think it won’t.”

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