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Hollywood’s Year of Living Dangerously

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Welcome to Below the Line’s “Strike Watch” blog — where we cover the breaking news, the feints and parries of each side (Hollywood’s “management,” its “labor,” and the often blurry line — especially in television — between the two) in Tinsel Town’s current labor woes. Or putative woes, since the WGA and SAG contracts haven’t expired yet, and there’s still no strike.

But will there be? Aye, there’s the rub, as one non-union writer — who has seen most of his work optioned for the screen — once said.

We’ll be posting — and responding — to your comments, observations, and news tips here. We’ll also be trying to “contextualize” the discussion in terms of the larger discussion: What will the larger economy be like by summer and fall? How will the shake-out in subprime mortgages affect real estate everywhere? Or China’s signs it wants to be less heavily invested in
dollars?

There’s been a small uptick in home values in this last month — would the perception of a strong economy make a strike “likelier?” After all, in poker, bluffs only work if you’re not panicked.

Meanwhile, for starters on how a strike might work — or not — it’s instructive to see what Canada just went through at the beginning of the year: Their actors’ union, ACTRA, was able to settle with producers only after the “Internet residual” issue — allegedly the main sticking point here, south of the border — was punted down the road for another year or so. They’re going to wait and see what the Americans come up with.

You can read about it right here in a good “post mortem” written by Etan Vlessing for the Playback Magazine website. It’s instructive to note that at one point, he writes, one of Canada’s IA locals was about to take to the streets “to vent their rage” at the lack of work.

Union solidarity forever?

Meanwhile, chime in here, or email me: [email protected]

The conversation, in what is already a memorable year, is just beginning.

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