Sunday, November 11, 2007


As if one strike were not enough, the entertainment industry now has two on its hands. One is, in my opinion, justified and I totally support it. The other, not so much.

The writers strike that is currently underway and slowly grinding TV and movie production to a halt is the one I am in support of. I think it's laughable that writers do not get any residuals for their work. The argument that the DVD profit margin is already slender is also laughable, especially when DVDs cost little to produce and the popular titles sell in their millions. Everyone in front of the camera has a lucrative and watertight contract that sees them continue to be paid for it, so why on earth can't the people without whom they wouldn't even be there get something from it too?

Yesterday, the long threatened strike from Local One, the stagehands union, saw 28 of the 36 shows currently on Broadway go dark. I honestly think this is disgusting. The producers are within their rights to question the more ludicrous portions of the Local One contract. The main sticking point has been the load in of a show, where the producers cannot hire how many people it would take to do the load in. They have to hire the amount of people the League dictates to them, regardless of if they are needed or not. There are also thing like a flyperson is to be hired on all productions, even if the show does not have any fly cues. Who in their right mind would agree to that?

Now, the producers have been reasonable about it all, and have said that they are not looking to fire anyone, but reassign unused labor to where it is actually needed. Local One have simply continued to make passive aggressive comments about how much money producers have and how greedy they're being by trying to cut the wages of Local One members. Shut up. First of all, who is being greedy? The producers are trying to be fair, reasonable and sane. Surely asking them to pay people to do nothing just because they have the money is not fair, nor is it a particularly smart argument. Also, starting the strike without any notice is underhanded and mean. It's telling that when the musicians strike darkened Broadway musicals for four days in 2003, the casts of the affected shows were right there on the picket lines supporting them. The first show affected by the strike was The Grinch which had an 11am matinee, one hour after the strike started. Patrick Page stood out front of the theater, apologising to ticket holders for the fact there was no show. I really honestly think Local One are being pig headed and ridiculous and as they are so unwilling to negotiate a contract that is fair to everyone, rather than massively one sided in their favour, who knows how long the strike will last?

And what really sticks in my craw the most is all the comments about how much money the producers have. Well, the lowest paid actor on a Broadway stage is pulling in $60 grand a year. There are some stage hands who, thanks to the insane contract the producers think is unfair, earn a lot more than that and don't have to do all that much to get it.

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