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Cut to Black

November 9th, 2007

(Before this week’s column, I’d like to say that I got the first third of the Assholes #2 script… WOW. Hysterical stuff. I can’t wait to draw it). 

 ANYWAYS….

The Sopranos ending — cut to black — couldn’t have been better foreshadowing for the writers’ strike of 2007.

Last Monday the Writers Guild of America put down its pens. Maybe you’ve already felt some of the repercussions.

Jon Stewart pulled the plug on new episodes of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show.” Other late-night comedy shows, such as “The Tonight Show” and “Saturday Night Live,” have also stopped production of new episodes.

But for those of you who watch television dramas or scripted comedies, such as “Lost” or “The Office,” soon you’ll be stuck on reruns, too.

(I’m reminded of the kid from “Back to the Future” —“What’s a rerun?” “You’ll find out.”)
The Los Angeles Times has a pretty good grid detailing the fates of favorite shows. After late night comedy, soap operas will be next to go, then sitcoms and dramas. Most will continue through the next few weeks, depending on how many episodes have been completed.

If the strike is still on, sometime early next year, the 2007-2008 television season could take an early bow. (Deadline for this column is Thursday afternoon. It’s conceivable, but unlikely, that the strike could be over). Some shows have already been outright cancelled, like the spin-off, “Heroes: Origins.”

Movies are basically fine, for now. The studios have their movies slated for well over a year. Depending on how long the strike lasts there could be a dip in quality —before the strike, studios stockpiled as many scripts as they could. Some that could have probably used a few rewrites are now green lit.

Everything I’m reading about the upcoming “Justice League of America” movie screams “rush job.” It’s a team up of the top-tiered DC Comics superheroes, including Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. Supposedly it has nothing to do with the Christopher Nolan Batman movies, the second of which, “The Dark Knight,” comes out next summer. “Justice League” is slated for 2010,  but in Hollywoodtime, that’s soon.

The last time the WGA decided to strike in 1988, it lasted 22 weeks. Assuming something similar happens, everyone — the studios, the public and the writers — will be losers.
I support the writers. To my understanding (I’d recommend the blog unitedhollywood.com), they really had no choice. 

Brian K. Vaughan, one of my favorite writers (I’ve written about him before) posted a few thoughts on his Web site, bkv.tv. He writes a bunch of comics I follow — but he’s
caught up in this due to his involvement in “Lost.” 

“But basically, writers are looking to negotiate modest residuals and protections for use of our TV shows and movies on the Internet, where most of us will likely be getting the majority of our entertainment from in the not-too-distant future,” writes Vaughan. “We’re are also asking for a share of about eight cents —that’s eight stinkin’ pennies — for every DVD of our work sold, as opposed to the criminally insane four cents we receive today.”

Four pennies? Doesn’t sound like much. But, flip it on its head — to a studio executive, writers want a 100 percent raise in their cut, which is after they’ve already been paid.

If there’s anything good to come out of all of this, it’s “Alex Perez.” Go to hollywoodscabwriter.com and watch a few of the videos — super cheese ball self promotional shorts, hoping to get “Perez” a job. They’re quite funny — but as Wired.com suggests, it’s probably a professional inside job, poking fun at the Hollywood bosses.

What do you think? Does any of this bother you? What shows (if any) will you miss? Will this affect us in Prince William County, or is this just a bunch of Hollywood types making a play for money?

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please comment at potomacnews.com.

Staff writer Josh Eiserike can be reached at 703-878-8072.

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