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A TV strike looms

Picketsign_2 It sure sounds like Hollywood screenwriters will go on strike Monday. Thursday night's closed-door meeting of the Writer's Guild was reportedly full of strike rhetoric, with writers booing and hissing when their officers mentioned concessions they'd offered to the studios to get negotiations on a new contract moving. "Take it all back!" one writer yelled. The writers are demanding a bigger cut of the revenue from DVDs, downloads and other digital byproducts of movies and TV shows.

The last strike, in 1988, lasted 22 weeks. (Remember how the networks plugged holes in their schedules with stuff like a remake of the Mission Impossible series, using old scripts?) Most observers think this one will be longer and more bitter: The writers think they settled for too little in 1988, and the studios are now mostly owned by conglomerates with plenty of cash reserves to keep them above water during a strike.

If there's a strike, the late-night shows of Jay Leno, David Letterman and other hosts will disappear almost immediately -- they're written on a day-by-day basis. (Same goes for Saturday Night Live.) Dramas and comedies will probably continue normally until sometime around February -- the producers already have several episodes in the can, and several more completed scripts that they can continue shooting.

Like cockroaches scuttling around in the ruins of a nuclear war, reality and game shows will not only survive but thrive. They're edited together rather than written, so the strike won't affect their production. That's why Fox will be in the best shape of any network during a strike: Can you say American Idol? Not to mention Cops and Are You Smarter Than A Fifth-Grader? Even a ratings dog like The Next Great American Band is likely to seem appealing in a landscape full of reruns. Hey, I wonder if this blog could be made into a reality show? Are You Smarter Than A TV Critic? has a nice ring to it.


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Send Pencils to Support the Writers! A Buck a Box!


What is Pencils2MediaMoguls?
UnitedHollywood.com is asking people to use our site to buy pencils to send to the six media moguls who run the six corporate conglomerates.

Why pencils?
A lot of different fan sites were suggesting that people send pencils to networks and studios. United Hollywood and Strike Points met with some of the television showrunners, and together we decided to follow the fans’ lead.

Pencils have become the symbol of our cause: We are putting them down until we get a fair deal.

Symbolism, whatever. Let’s face it -- isn’t this kind of a waste of pencils?
We were worried about that too, so we found a vendor who makes environmentally sensitive product: California Republic Stationers. Their pencils are made from sustainably harvested wood, which means they don’t deforest.

We’ll also send the media moguls suggestions about where they can donate the pencils to non-profits that teach kids how to write. After all, the CEO’s aren’t writers. It’s not like they can use them.

What happens to the money from the pencils?
Anything we have left over from our costs will go into the Union Solidarity Fund, which was created to help non-WGA members affected by the strike.

So who are these “media moguls”?
They are the six men who run the multi-media conglomerates, the companies that control almost everything you see on tv or in the movies. These individual CEOs have the power and influence to make a fair deal and end the strike, if they choose.

Leslie Moonves, President, CEO
CBS Corporation
51 West 52nd Street
New York, NY 10019

Jeffrey Immelt, CEO
General Electric (NBC/Universal)
100 Universal City Plaza
Universal City, CA 91608

Rupert Murdoch, Chairman, CEO
News Corporation (Fox)
1211 Avenue of the Americas
8th floor
New York, NY 10036

Jeffrey L. Bewkes, President, COO
Time Warner Inc. (Warner Brothers)
1 Time Warner Center
New York, NY 10019

Robert Iger, President, CEO
Walt Disney Company
500 South Buena Vista Street
Burbank, CA 91521

Sumner Redstone, Chairman
1515 Broadway
New York, NY 10036

Why can’t I just buy some pencils and mail them myself?
We’re taking a leaf from the Jericho campaign – where fans contracted with one vendor who could pool all their purchases together. That way, instead of individual bags of nuts, fans sent truckloads of nuts to CBS.

We’ve contracted with a single vendor to buy all the pencils for the same reason. We can deliver all of them in bulk, a truckload at a time, so the impact will be (we hope) greater.

You can mail pencils yourself if you want to, but joining together seems to have a better chance of getting noticed. It’s worked in the past.

But, um, if you do decide to mail pencils yourself, make sure they’re not sharpened. And please be polite. (We know how hard that is. Trust us.)

How come it’s a buck a box?
That price covers purchase and delivery of 12 pencils. (They’ll probably be packed by pallets instead of in individual boxes.)

And did we mention the “sustainably forested” thing?

All right, responsible pencils, I get it. But in the end, what are you trying to accomplish here?

We want the media moguls to start negotiating in good faith. We want the strike to end with a fair deal for both sides.

If we get a fair deal, it helps the actors, the directors, and the below-the-line crew members. Their deals are directly tied to ours.

Send a message to the moguls: It’s time to make a fair deal. We’re all on the same page.

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