Months after the threat was raised and less than a week after their contract expired, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) has gone on strike. Close to 12,000 screenwriters are expected to cease work in what is the first strike by the WGA since 1988. That strike lasted for 22 weeks, costing the film and television industry over $500 million. Economist Jack Kyser estimates that this strike could end up in close to $1 billion in losses.
Despite negotiations continuing late Sunday night, a contract could not be agreed upon, forcing WGA East to declare a strike at 12:01 a.m. EST, with the West Coast branch following three hours later. The two most significant points of contention have been the writers’ demand for larger portions of DVD profits as well as a new deal regarding their residuals for Internet downloads and replays. The WGA claims to have withdrawn its demands for a larger percentage of DVD revenues, but their desire for a better deal concerning Internet residuals continues to prevent negotiations from continuing.
The strike will immediately affect late-night talk shows, forcing shows like the “Late Show with David Letterman” and “The Daily Show” to go into reruns, as much of the writing for these shows takes place on the day of filming. Other scripted shows will soon be affected as well, requiring production to stop. Many films studios, on the other hand, have prepared for this event, stockpiling scripts to last into 2008. Reality programming addicts rejoice!