Countdown to Hollywood writers strike!

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As you may have heard, the union that represents movie and TV writers is about to launch a strike. As of October 31, Guild members are to lay down their pens and refuse to write another word for their studio bosses. Of course, as a good buddy of mine who’s a successful TV producer grumbles, this edict won’t affect 90% of members, whom nobody pays to write anyway. Still, he and most others have all vowed to honor the plan.

We ink-stained equivalents in the journalism world are watching the developments with interest. Newspaper writers have been known to strike. At magazines, not so much, if only because so few magazines even employ full-time staff writers anymore. Still, what would that be like–to walk out on the job in the interests of the group? United we strike, divided we make our mortgage payments?

More interestingly: what does a writer do when she isn’t allowed to write? I don’t know that a day goes by that I don’t jot down something, whether it’s for an article, a blog post or a future imaginary project. But as Brooks Barns of The New York Times reported yesterday,

…the writers union also tossed in a provision called a “script validation program” that has some members rooting, at least behind the scenes, for the enemy on this one topic.

The union wants members to submit copies of any half-finished scripts to headquarters.

So not only can writers not write during the strike, they have to turn in any fractionally finished project. For instance, as Reuters reports,


..scribes are feverishly putting finishing touches on their projects and having them biked or messenger-pouched over to the studios. One sigh of relief went up over at Sony Pictures late last week: Oscar-winning “Crash” filmmaker Paul Haggis delivered his draft for the 22nd Bond installment.

To which I was like, wha–Crash guy is writing the new Bond movie? What has the world come to?

So what will these temporarily out-of-work screenwriters do? Here’s how Guild members Gregg Rossen and Bryan Sawyer imagine the likes of Paul Guay (who wrote Liar, Liar) and Douglas Eboch (Sweet Home Alabama) will while the time away: