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Writers Guild goes on strike, closes up shop

The Writers Guild of America (WGA) went on strike last Mon., Nov. 5. This does not seem to mean much to those who are not close to a member of the WGA, but it is soon going to affect anyone who watches TV.

Anyone who regularly tunes in to daily shows such as talk shows and soap operas will have already noticed that they’ve turned to reruns. Sitcoms, however, with scripts constantly edited, will halt production much sooner.

To replace these scripted shows, expect reruns and a new pile of reality TV shows.

“When you download a movie from Amazon or a TV show on iTunes, the people who created that content, who devised it, wrote it, acted in it and directed it, get exactly 0% of the profits,” James Gunn, writer of Scooby-Doo, wrote in his MySpace blog.

The WGA on put out a video of The Office writers on the picket line, explaining their personal reasons for going on strike.

“NBC asked us to put out ‘webisodes,'” said head writer and producer of The Office, Greg Daniels. “Eight or nine of a series’ regulars acted in them. They’re all available on [the NBC Web site] and they’ve been selling ads since the beginning of the summer.”

“They won an Emmy!” interrupted Mindy Kaling, The Office writer and actor, “and no one has been compensated.”

On her MySpace blog, The Office actress Jenna Fischer explained that many successful shows, such as Lost, now only show reruns online. “If you [do creative work] for Lost, you get no residuals at all. and that’s a big pay cut. We all count on the extra income that residuals provide to help us through a slump in our career when we aren’t working as regularly.”

According to a WGA video, on average, 48% of the WGA’s members aren’t working at any given time.

The same video states that for every dollar that is made on reruns and DVD sales, the show or movie’s creative minds get two and a half cents. The WGA is asking to raise their residual pay to five cents on the dollar, for reruns, DVDs and internet streaming.

Fischer is just one of many actors who are showing solidarity for their show’s writers. Desperate Housewives‘ Eva Longoria brought the strikers pizza. Ellen DeGeneres is required by contract to continue filming as long as possible, but flatly refused to go to work on Monday.

“It’s important to support the writers,” said Grey’s Anatomy regular Patrick Dempsey in a WGA video on “Without the writers we don’t have any program.”

It is not known when the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers will come to an agreement and the two organizations have not yet made plans to begin contract talks.