November 19, 2007

Scott Towler is striking because even Jesus got residuals from the Bible.

Nobody outside of entertainment really cares about the writer’s strike in Hollywood. But they should. What happens here in Tinseltown directly affects the social fabric of our society today. Oh sure, you can try and deny it, but it’s 100% true. Much of this country’s pathetic identity comes from California’s top export: entertainment. And it doesn’t just stop at our borders. Today, more than ever, movies are being released all over the world. Television is syndicated and broadcast in over 100 different countries. London boasts a theatre row that rivals anything Broadway has ever done. And it just keeps growing. Look at this site for example, with Weiss dissecting artists from all over the globe, many of which I would have never even lent an ear to until I had read about it here. It’s an amazing global marketplace, and it’s all driven by entertainment. That well is about to dry up however, and I’m not sure anybody is ready for the fallout.

Many of you have probably noticed already: where’s the Colbert Report? The Daily Show? And what of Letterman, Leno, Conan, and Ellen!? Within the upcoming weeks, sit-coms will go the same route. By February, all new scripted programming will virtually cease to exist. And should this strike last until the spring or summer as many are speculating? Look for a thin movie going season as well, as studios trying to stretch out their releases to bridge the gap. Literally everything in motion pictures will come to a screeching halt.

Revenge of the Nerds

 

But who really cares about TV right? I mean, between sports and reality shows, we’ll get by, won’t we? Sure we will. And movies? That’s fine…I’ll just use my netflix more, right? Well, for most of us, these are fine alternatives. Heck, it may even encourage kids to go outside and get some exercise. Heaven forbid that ever happens again. Kids these days…I tell ya. Oops, I slipped into old man mode there. The point I’m trying to make is that in general, and I think people tend to forget this, there are a shit ton of people who watch TV. And not just prime time or sports, but everything. From the infomercial to the Soap Opera. From Discovery Channel to E! News. Television didn’t ask to grow as large as it has, but it’s happened, and there’s no turning back now. And the only reason it’s grown so much is because so many damn people watch it.

And while this strike may be good to weed out poor programming, think about how many people lose their jobs, their homes, and their lives because of it. Let’s take my Alma mater, Scrubs, for example. Now, there were something like 13 writers on Scrubs this season. They went on strike. Because they aren’t writing new stuff, new shows aren’t getting filmed, and thus, no crew is needed to make an episode if one isn’t written to begin with. It’s simple business really. Why keep a store open if you have no product to sell? Interpreted through entertainment, that means every single department loses their job: hair, make up, grips, audio, electric, security, craft service, caterers, PA’s, production staff, producers, editors, and yes, finally, the actors. Little old Zach Braff is out of work! Maybe he can do something about that hair, now that he’s free of distraction.

How Dare They Put a Face This Nebbishy Out of Work

 

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Now translate those same lay offs to every single scripted show you know of. It quickly adds up to a lot of people. And then the studios start laying off their development teams because they have no new material to develop, the agencies start laying off agents cause they have no one to represent, and little kids start waking up with the dream of doing something creative cause this trade is in such disarray. OK, a little extreme, I’ll admit, but you get the point.

I’d deliberated a lot about writing this article. Obviously it was a subject I had to broach, but I was hesitant because of how real this thing is; how seriously it’s affected my life directly. I don’t want to sound like a crackpot, but mouthing off too much could someday indirectly affect my chances at joining the guild, or making it as a writer. And again, that’s all conspiracy theory at its best, but the mind does wander. Once it was all said and done though, I realized I had to speak about it. After all, I’m in the throes of this thing here. It’s my duty to tell every one of you exactly what it’s like. Not some filtered news-source version of Timmy lost his dog, but Timmy actually standing up and saying, “I lost my dog.”

Well, I did lose my dog, but that’s another story. And it’s Scott actually, not Timmy, but thanks for the intro. This strike sucks. It laid me off in the middle of the holidays, and it couldn’t have crippled me more. And it’s not really the money that I care about. I can make money. We all can. But knowing that I was on the brink of my first (and possibly only) break into sit-com writing literally days before this began, I can’t help but think that the last year I spent on my creative endeavors has gone to waste. I know that it’s not as simple or extreme as that, but you never know. That could have been my one shot, and it could have slipped through the cracks due to circumstances beyond my control. And what can I do about that save for look up at the sky, shake my fist at a cloud, and wonder if I was born 6 months later, would things have worked out differently?

It Works On So Many Levels

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I guess I just feel like a lot of people see this solely as the studios trying to screw the writers or vice versa. It’s easy to forget there’s a ton of people in the middle who can only stand there with a picket sign that reads “FUCK BOTH SIDES, I’M OUTTA WORK!”

Download:
MP3: Serge Gainsbourg-“Strike”
MP3: Destroyer-“Strike”

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