America’s movie and TV industry is experiencing a different kind of writer’s block. 12 000 screenwriters are on strike, forcing some of America’s – and the world’s – favourite shows out of production. The dispute is over how writers should be further compensated, now that digital technologies like broadband internet are having such a fundamental impact on the entertainment industry.
Michael Winship, the president of the Writers’ Guild of America in New York, said: “We feel like we have in the past. We did not get the fair deal that we wanted on home video and DVD. We don;t want the same thing to happen in new media. We’re saying to the studios and networks, ‘when you make money, we make money’.”
The networks’ late-night talk show hosts, like NBC’s Jay Leno, will be among the first to feel the pinch, relying as they do on a constant flow of up-to-the minute topical jokes from their writing teams.
The last major Hollywood strike nearly 20 years ago lasted 22 weeks and cost the industry an estimated half a billion dollars.
Analysts predict this one could be twice as costly.