As a writer (*sort of), as a television viewer of shows with writer-heavy content (The Office, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report - not so much The Amazing Race or The Hills, but still...), and as a supporter of workers' rights to take on mega-corporation conglomerates like Sony or Viacom or Disney or whoever the hell else is controlling the Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers, I'm wholeheartedly supporting the writers in the ongoing strike for some portion of proceeds from the Internet broadcast of the work that they wrote. Right now, the writers get zero dollars for any Internet broadcasts, even those on, say, the CBS website with advertising involved before you can watch the latest episode of CSI... which somebody wrote. And is getting paid nothing for. That's right. Zero. I think the AMPTP are claiming that Internet broadcasts are simply "promotional." Yet, there is advertising on it. And I'm pretty sure that the advertisers are paying for their "promotions." I don't think they're getting paid for sales on iTunes either, but I'm less sure of that. And the point is more that the Internet and these other advanced media are the most likely avenue of future viewership of these programs and if the writers accept not being paid now for these broadcasts, they never will be. This is why actors and show-runners have been so supportive, essentially shutting down all original content on network television within the next couple weeks, because this affects everyone in the industry. The writers just happen to be the first to contest the fact that no one is being paid for advanced media broadcasts (except for the AMPTP, of course). The writers have already dropped a demand for 8 cents per DVD sale (up from 4 cents agreed upon in their last contract). But the AMPTP have not budged. We could be in for the long haul.
One of the first shows to shut down production because of the WGA strike was The Office. One of the reasons? WGA member Steve Carell refused to cross the picket line, with what, if the rumor is true, would have to be one of the great reasons of all time:
Additionally, I've been told that Steve Carell informed NBC he is unable to report to work because he is suffering from “enlarged balls.” Not just enlarged, I'd say, but brass ones. The source on this one adds, "We wish him a happy, slow recovery."
Well done, Steve. You can go to United Hollywood for more information on the strike and how you can support the writers. And the immortal Joss Whedon has a wonderful recap of his day spent on the picket lines at this link. This video below is a pretty funny rendering from The Office writers, including many of its stars (who are also its writers).