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'Big Love' creator: 'This may be it'

February 8, 2008 |  2:09 pm

Will Scheffer, co-creator of HBO’s “Big Love,” said he and his partner Mark V. Olsen are eagerly anticipating diving back into work after this weekend, when many in the industry expect the WGA strike will be resolved.

“I do think there’s a great amount of excitement and optimism, people feeling like this may be it,” he said.

The Writers Guild is holding meetings Saturday with its membership in Los Angeles and New York to discuss the tentative deal that's been hashed out during the last few weeks, and union leaders promise they won't take action on the agreement until they hear from the rank-and-file.

Scheffer said some writers will be willing to accept whatever deal is put before them in order to end the strike, and others won't accept “anything less than 150% of what we’ve been struggling for.”

But the vast majority feels that “if our leadership is presenting this to us, we really believe in them and we’re ready to support them and get back to work,” Scheffer added.

The “Big Love” writers were in the midst of drafting the first six episodes of the show’s third season when the strike was called in early November.

“We have to get back on our feet and catch up and remind ourselves what we were writing,” said Scheffer, who added that they will probably end up reworking quite a bit of the original material. “That’s an interesting effect of the strike: That forced downtime changes your creative mandate in a way that never would have happened had there not been a strike.”

“Things kind of have a way of shaking down,” he added. “In the shower, you get new ideas. We’ll revisit all the scripts. There will be some minor changes and maybe a few major changes that we didn’t expect that kind of presented themselves.”

The “Big Love” team will have some time to sort all of it out. They won’t go into production for another three months or so, and the series likely won’t air until late 2008 or early 2009, several months after HBO originally planned to have it back on the schedule.

The producers aren’t thrilled about delaying the return of the show, which finished its second season last August, but said they’re glad they’re not being forced to scramble to get it ready.

“I think people can bail if they’re made to wait too long,” Scheffer said. “That said, it’s great we can have that much time to work on the quality of the show. A lot of networks will be rushing things into production, and people won’t have much time to think.”

As for the strike itself, Scheffer said he believes that it’s been “very successful.”

“It’s going to establish the writers’ position in Hollywood as being a little bit more substantial,” he said. “I think we showed there is an importance to the work, to scripts, that couldn’t be underestimated. That’s a huge aspirational thing .... But the more practical result is that I think we have established the beginning of jurisdiction in the Internet model in which we will be able to negotiate fair value for our work created for the Internet. Not knowing what the deal is, I’m not sure we’ve gotten all the way there yet, but from what I’ve heard, I believe we’ve gotten a toehold.”

In the short term, Scheffer added, “I feel the strike has created a kind of sense that we’re all dependent on each other.”

“No one came out of the strike completely victorious,” he added. “We all came out limping and bleeding, and I think we all recognized that we are capable of hurting each other, and realized that it’s time to start to help each other again.”

-- Matea Gold