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And you shall know them by their sense of irony ...

November 9, 2007 | 11:17 pm

Wga

Even as they man the lines the old-fashioned way -- with placards and matching shirts -- striking members of the Writers Guild of America have taken their case to the biggest source of negotiation contention: the Internet.  They may not get paid for any of their work that appears in cyberspace, but that doesn't mean they are shunning the medium.  YouTube is currently filled with video blogs of writers and actors explaining the strike in a variety of amusing and informative ways.  And as with any creative endeavor, the results are mixed.

Take this video, where motivating forces behind the strike -- tiny residuals for DVDs, no residuals for new technology -- are explained clearly, and with bar graphs, but the overall effect is reminiscent of a science filmstrip, which is probably not what the guild had in mind.

More humorous, and perhaps more effective, is Fade to Black, in which "The Daily Show" writer Rob Kutner gives us a world without writers -- the black screen hasn't been put to such good use since the finale of "The Sopranos."

If you're looking for star power, the cast of "Grey's Anatomy" is solidly behind the strike.  Sandra Oh has her own segment, explaining that the studios' refusal to pay residuals on content distributed on the Internet affects writers, and actors, and their support systems, down to "the people who feed us" while marchers chant "How greedy can they get, they won't even share the Net."  Which is pretty catchy.

Patrick Dempsey goes solo, looking just as perfectly unshaven as he does on screen (though he needs to take his shades off), with Ellen Pompeo begging viewers to not "download shows from the Internet because the people who created them don't get paid."

Over at "The Office," which is closed, the showrunner and writers explain why this is. "You are watching this on the Internet," says Michael Shum, who then goes on to explain how he and his colleagues managed to win an Emmy for a webisode for which they were never compensated.  "Because it's called promotional. You know what, they can keep calling it promotional as long as they pay me for it."

On "Lost and Desperate," Marc Cherry and David Lindeloff trade hard-knock stories: "Some of the people who did not hire me are on this picket line today," says Cherry, "and I'm trying to keep the bitterness at bay."  For a bit more gravitas, try Gary Marshall, who conjures the ghost of strikes past. "I don't remember having such color coordination on the other strikes," he says to a soundtrack of honking horns.

For the most part, these minute-long segments are fairly standard Public Service Material. If you're longing to know what it feels like on the picket lines, or wanting a quote from your favorite showrunner, the spots provide nice enough little windows. Presumably, as the strike goes on, more creative efforts will appear.

Like "Heroes of the Writers Strike," which shows what film writers are up to now that they can't write. (Hint: It ain't pretty.)  Because as writers all know, when you're trying to make a point -- including that writers are a necessary and irreducible need -- it's much better to show than tell.

-- Mary McNamara


Comments () | Archives (1)
Katie

It's Michael SCHUR. How hard is it to check that?? You also should be covering this strike more. It's affecting countless people and businesses in LA, and it seems as though you're ignoring it on purpose.


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