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StrikeWatch: And... It's Over

It's official: the WGA strike, which began November 5th, has finally come to a close, following a member vote overwhelmingly in favor of ending the strike (92.5% to be precise) and getting back to work during the official ten-day ratification process.

You can literally hear the sound of relief echoing through Hollywood today as writers return to their keyboards to try to pound out as many scripts as possible in time to salvage the 2007-08 season.

"Our membership has voted, and writers can go back to work," said WGA West President Patric Verrone in a statement. "This was not a strike we wanted, but one we had to conduct in order to win jurisdiction and establish appropriate residuals for writing in new media and on the Internet. Those advances now give us a foothold in the digital age. Rather than being shut out of the future of content creation and delivery, writers will lead the way as TV migrates to the Internet and platforms for new media are developed."

So what series will be the first to make it back on air? Most likely it will be NBC's Saturday Night Live, scheduled to return on February 23rd with 30 Rock's Tina Fey as the host (the following week brings Juno's Ellen Page).

As for dramas and comedies, don't expect to see any new episodes of series like Two and a Half Men, The Office, or Ugly Betty until mid-March (for multi-cam comedies) or April (for dramas and single-camera comedies).

As for how many episodes each series will be able to deliver, that depends entirely on the speed of the writing staff and the production schedule. The Office is expected to shoot six more episodes this year, possibly seven. The writing staff on that series had completed a script before the strike began (but were unable to film due to star Steve Carell joining the picket line) but will have to scrap another, a Christmas-themed episode, in an early stage.

"We're going to throw that one out," executive producer Greg Daniels told The New York Times as he explained how the writers would meet this week to plot out the series' storylines. "I'm tempted to just leap ahead to where we would have been."

Five episodes of 30 Rock are expected to be completed before May, depending on Alec Baldwin's availability; the star recently signed on to a feature film, making production slightly more difficult. (And yet something tells me it will all work out.)

The fates of ER and Scrubs are up in the air. It was widely thought that both NBC series would end at the end of this season but without filmed finales, one or both might head back to produce more episodes.... and ER could end up on the fall schedule again, should certain economic factors be worked out. As for Scrubs, NBC has not yet made a decision on the fate of those final six unproduced episodes.

CBS has handed out additional orders for two of its series, giving a six-episode order for comedy Rules of Engagement and four-episode order to Shark.

The network is also in discussions with Warner Bros. Television about restarting production on midseason comedy Old Christine, which was unable to fulfill its entire 13-episode order.

HBO will push the premieres of returning series Entourage and Big Love; Entourage is now expected to be shifted from summer to Fall 2008 while Big Love could launch in either fourth quarter or 2009.

For others, it's the end of the road. On the bubble for renewal (and not producing any further episodes this season): Journeyman, Bionic Woman, Cane, and Big Shots.

While ABC has not yet decided about ordering additional episodes of drama Women's Murder Club this season, if it does return, it will be without showrunners Sarah Fain and Elizabeth Craft and executive producer R. Scot Gemmill, who have all been let go from the series.

Comments

Did the writers get what they wanted or did they have to make compromises?
Unknown said…
I saw the details in the Wall Street Journal. They got--I think--2% of digital distribution. The percentage is a (big) win, but I'm sure they'd've liked more than 2%.
Anonymous said…
http://harlanellison.com/heboard/unca.htm
A different perspective

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