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Hollywood Writers Hit the Picket Line

Members of the Writers Guild of America are on strike and walking the picket lines Monday. The guild members are striking over the revenues from DVD sales and the potential future revenues studios could make off of content on the Internet.

Brian Watt from member station KPCC, who is standing outside the Fox studios in Century City, says as many as 75 marchers gathered for what appears to be a very organized strike. Although none of the writers say they are glad to be there, none are scared of striking.

Watt says the writers have given up hope on getting a great deal from the studio and now just want a fair one.

The guild has backed off its demand for more revenue from DVD sales and is focusing on the potential revenue from the Internet, Watt says. The studios are not sure how much money there is to be made on the Internet and are unwilling to work out a deal on the new media with the writers yet. However, the writers say that's what the studios said about the DVD revenues a few years ago. Considering how many people buy DVDs of television shows, the writers don't want to wait this time and are prepared for a long strike.

Watt talks to Alex Cohen about the latest developments.

Then Margot Adler reports from the picket lines in New York City's Rockefeller Center, where writers, entertainers and a 10-foot inflatable rat have gathered to demand some percentage of the money being made in new media. One of the strikers is John Oliver of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart." Oliver says the strike is an effort to push the contract negotiations with the studios. He says the studios are generating revenue with the writers' work, but the writers are not being compensated.

Adler talks to Madeleine Brand

Sally Sussman Morina, who has written for soap operas for more than 20 years, speaks to Cohen. Morina says soap operas have grueling daily schedules and generally don't stockpile episodes.

During previous strikes, the soap operas would bring in scab, or non-guild members, to write for the shows. In many instances, these writers would eventually join the guild and go on to have flourishing careers. But by initially working for the shows during a strike, these non-guild writers undermine the strike effort.

Morina says the last major strike was in 1988 and lasted five months. The strike significantly hurt the soap operas' quality and drove off viewers. She says the shows never fully recovered and cannot afford to go through such a long strike again.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.