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The NeedCoffee Guide to the WGA Strike

WGA logo

Well, it’s official–barring any last second deals, the Writers Guild of America is set to walk out on their jobs today.

The top concern this go round seems to revolve around the writers seeking higher royalties for DVD sales and receiving any payment at all for internet streaming of their material.

But you really don’t care about the plight of the writers, do you? After all, should the strike go long enough–most of the writing staffs of both Lost and Heroes could simply go back to writing comics.

And really, being paid for written material on the internet? That’s just ridiculous.

What you really want to know about the impending strike is how your precious television serials and movies will be affected by all this work stopping action. Well, the answer is: depends on who you ask, and depends and what you watch.

[ad#longpost]Many network series already have a small stockpile of completed, unaired episodes. Beyond that–many of these same shows have a stockpile of completed and unproduced scripts, which can be filmed during a strike.

Also keep in mind several series that have been in production- such as Lost, Battlestar Galactica, The Shield, The Riches, and 24–aren’t due to return to the air until 2008 and should return as scheduled. The Wire wrapped production back in September. And for the four people who still care, Jericho‘s seven-episode second season has already been completed.

The need to stockpile scripts for established shows has caused the nets to go soft on mid-season series. Fox halted production onNew Amsterdam, and cut episode orders on additional series. NBC even put its Heroes: Origins project on hold.

Animated series–which have to be written far ahead of schedule–should roll out on schedule throughout the season. The length of strike will determine, however, what you will most likely see next season.

British Television is, after all, NOT affected by the WGA strike–so you can expect the upcoming new episodes of Torchwood and Doctor Who (along with the premiere of the Life on Mars spin off Ashes to Ashes) to ….um, show up when you would expect them to (y’know–having paid for the television license and such…).

Then, the first real casualties of the WGA strike will be the Late Night shows. Saturday Night Live, Leno, Letterman, Conan, Kimmel, Ferguson, and Daly go to reruns immediately.

Although, doesn’t it scare you to know that Carson Daly’s show would otherwise A) need writers OR B) still be in production?

And while the “real” news media won’t be affected by the WGA action, the fake news will. Comedy Central announced on Thursday that both The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report will also go dark as of Monday. News which will no doubt come as a relief to the political parties in South Carolina, at least.

Talk shows, game shows, news and sports programming, and reality shows will not be affected in any capacity. Just don’t ask the staffers at America’s Next Top Model.

So to recap: Jon Stewart goes off the air while Star Jones still has a TV show. And somewhere, a baby seal is being clubbed.

The next step depends on how long the strike runs. At the two week mark, daytime soaps will be forced to cease production. And–spoiler alert–while you’ll find out who slept with whom during the blackout and who survived the wrath of the serial killer, you won’t find out that the lead detective is carrying the serial killer’s baby. Devastating, I know.

On the film side of the fence–the studios will move to take advantage of indie and foreign filmmakers. Expect a lot of low budget dramas about farms and building fences–possibly directed as a vanity project by Kevin Spacey, Kevin Bacon, or some other semi-famous Kevin. Shirt Tails: The Movie will get a green light. Someone will be approved to remake Buckaroo Banzai. Or Innerspace. Or SpaceCamp. And there will be sequels. Horrible sequels.

Basically, business as usual–except that everything will get two fewer re-writes than is actually needed.

Then again, what are we really going to be missing–because it’s all been done, right? The rule of perpetual development means there’s a draft for an adaptation of everything, isn’t there? Do you really care that much about the trained monkey who typed it? Should you care more about the WGA, when we know the Screen Actors Guild and Director’s Guild are going to come to blows over many of the same issues in the summer?

And then, there’s the very mediums that (insert Guild here) is fighting with the studios to get paid for: DVD and the internet. And if you have access to what’s come before if its all been done, then what is left?

Ah, screw it–you know what? Just read a book.