Why words are still important

Bob Taylor

If you are a fan of any television shows other than reality, listen up. Greedy megalomaniacs may cause the early hiatus or cancellation of your favorite sitcoms and dramas.

Early last week, the Writers Guild of America decided to go on strike because they weren’t getting enough money from online downloads and DVD sales of their products. How little are they getting, while producers make billions, you ask? Less than a nickel.

Without writers actually doing the writing that actors say on camera, most television shows immediately stalled production as some of their most important contributors screamed on picket lines for their voice to be heard. Many actors, such as Julia Louis Dreyfuss and Patrick Dempsey, showed support by standing with their writers on the picket lines.

In the case of shows such as “30 Rock” and “The Office,” stars Tina Fey and Steve Carell are members of the WGA, and effectively shut down their shows entirely by joining the picket lines, along with other members of the cast who write for the respective shows.

What does this mean for you? Not much at first. Most of your favorite shows have up to six episodes pretty much finished, which will mean the shows will air unimpeded until around December.

But if the strike continues? No new episodes for the foreseeable future. Most of the talk shows will be on hiatus. Reality dreck will fill the airwaves instead. Soap operas may go dark. And movies may be really bad in 2009, since they are working two years in advance.

But this isn’t just about us, although if I don’t get my “Brothers and Sisters” fix after Christmas, there will be a problem. It isn’t about the secrets of the island not getting revealed on “Lost” for another year, or whether or not Meredith and Derek break up again on “Grey’s Anatomy.” The industry cannot afford this, and to not allow writers to get their fair share of the pie is greedy and infuriating. Film companies and producers are destroying hundreds to thousands of lives as you read these words.

Big business needs to understand that they cannot simply marginalize us to the point where we lose our voice and stop standing up for our rights. The writers of America deserve much praise and support from all of us for putting their lives on hold for a cause they should be fighting for, and we need to do everything we can to support them. After all, in the words of a former president, “If not us, who? If not now, when?”

Find out more about the WGA strike at www.wga.org.