Hollywood United? Strike's Star Supporters May Turn

Most of the writers currently on strike in Hollywood are no doubt struggling, but walking the picket lines with them are some of the most powerful names in Hollywood.

They include "Knocked Up" director Judd Apatow, "The Simpsons" creator and producer Matt Groening, "Million Dollar Baby" producer Paul Haggis, and "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and "Seinfeld" producer Larry David.

And entertainment legends like Steven Spielberg, Robert Redford and Garry Marshall have expressed their support for the strike by the 12,000 members of the Writers Guild of America. Writers went on strike after negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers broke down Sunday over the scribes' demand for a bigger share of DVD sales and a piece of Internet sales.

But don't expect the love to last -- the longer the strike continues, the more that Hollywood heavyweights will begin opposing the walkout, say longtime observers of the industry. And some high-profile directors have already criticized the strike and ridiculed actors who support it.

And if the strike lasts for several months, it will have a much more devastating impact on the economy of Los Angeles than the last one, the 22-week walkout in 1988 that cost the industry more than $500 million.

"As time goes by, support for strike will erode," said entertainment lawyer Jonathan Handel, who used to work as an associate counsel for the Writers Guild. "A few months from now, people will lose their jobs."

Handel said that Apatow, Groening, Haggis and other "writer-producers" might be loyal for now to the WGA because they started out as writers in their careers and still wear that badge proudly.

Apatow, the powerful comedy king behind "Superbad," "The Forty-Year-Old Virgin" and "Knocked Up," walked with the strikers outside the Sony lot Tuesday. "I do know that I agree with everything that the Writers Guild is trying to accomplish," he told IGN.com.

Haggis, who reportedly received close to $5 million to write the script for the next James Bond movie, walked the picket line Tuesday and described the deadlock with the studios as "yet another example of corporate greed." (But most writers don't circulate in this altitude. The average WGA member earns about $30,000 a year, according to the guild.)

But these mini-moguls are in a conflicted position because if the writers are paid more, it means less money available in the production budget. "The more there is for you, the less there is for me," said Handel.

In addition, these writer-producers may start to change their minds when shows start to shut down. "Some of these shows employ hundreds of people and only a few of them are writers," said Handel. "The rest are production assistants, catering folks and others. And [writer-producers] will come under pressure because they feel responsible for the employment of people working on their show."

Although strikes have walked the picket lines in both Los Angeles and New York, the impact will be felt the most on the West Coast.

Fallout Could Be Huge in L.A.

Both cities are cultural capitals, but Los Angeles is dominated by the movie business -- more than six in 10 jobs in the city's entertainment sector are in movie and video production, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In comparison, New York City is much more diversified. No single sector -- film, publishing, TV -- represents more than a quarter of the jobs in what the bureau calls the "creative arts."

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...