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StrikeWatch: Day 12

It's Day 12 of the WGA Strike with no sign of a resolution anywhere in sight. After today's fan-themed protest at Universal, only two days of pre-Thanksgiving strike-related activities planned, including Monday's planned assistant and below-the-line employee strike at Fox.

In other news, the strike has now affected US network productions that shoot outside the country. Both Vancouver-based NBC Universal productions Bionic Woman and Battlestar Galactica have shut down due to the strike.

Bionic Woman, which was supposed to continue shooting until mid December, has instead shut down far ahead of that schedule, ceasing production on November 9th. Across town, fellow NBC Universal drama Battlestar Galactica, which was meant to shoot until March on the final batch of its Season Four episodes, will instead shut down today, as it has run out of scripts.

Production on FX's The Riches was shut down for 15 minutes yesterday due to picketing organized by showrunner Dmitry Lipkin and writer Tim Lea, which delayed the start of a location-based scene starring Minnie Driver that attracted the attention of the Service Employees International Union. The writers then "negotiated a deal with the producers that allowed filming to resume 15 minutes after the shouting forced it to stop."

For fans wondering how many original installments of, say, Pushing Daisies are left, Entertainment Weekly has composed a list of how many episodes remain on most series.

New York City-based fans of 30 Rock and Saturday Night Live are in for a treat, as the casts of both comedies will perform one night only live renditions of unproduced scripts at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre on November 17th and 19th. All proceeds from the sold-out performances benefit the Writers Guide strike fund.

Saturday Night Live, scheduled for November 17th, will feature a collection of "favorite sketches," hosted by Michael Cera. Confirmed to participate is the sketch comedy series' entire cast, with musical guest Yo La Tengo.

30 Rock, to be performed on November 19th, will feature the entire 30 Rock crew, including Tina Fey, Tracy Morgan, Jane Krakowski, and Alec Baldwin.

The Hollywood Reporter's entertainment and media blog, meanwhile, asks whether the casts of these shows can legally mount productions of material that owned by NBC, raising questions of intellectual property ownership as well as contractual--such as non-compete clauses--issues: "[S]triking thesps can create new sketches or stage skits from intellectual property they own, but they can't advertise themselves with trademarks that might violate those associated with the long-running show."

Today's strike-related activities are fan-based (Impromptu Fan Day) and are supposed to start at Universal Studios at 11 am. According to United Hollywood, the following fan communities are already involved and are being deployed to various Universal lot gates:
"Main Gate: Battlestar Galactica
Gate 1: Desperate Housewives
Gate 2: CSI, King of the Hill, Friday Night Lights
Gate 3: Law & Order, Law & Order: SVU, The Office (optional event for them)
Gate 5: Ghost Whisperer, Bionic Woman, Carpoolers

This does not, of course, mean that only fans of these shows should show up for this event. And there remains the real possibility that other writers will be there as well."
While you're out there, you can catch a glimpse of three of the original Lollypop Guild members from The Wizard of Oz, who will be participating in today's strike.

Elsewhere, The New York Times has offered another perspective of the writers strike, this time offering hope for on-the-bubble series such as Journeyman, Life, Big Shots, and Cane, which in other years would have been shelved, due to low ratings, before their initial episodic orders had aired. In an era where new episodes of a series--even ones with mediocre ratings--are a valuable commodity, these series and some holdover series (Friday Night Lights and Men in Trees for example) may even return for another run.

Of course, a protracted strike could shutter pilot season as typically these scripts are rewritten countless times before shooting begins. Expect fewer comedy pilots this development season as those pilots usually need the most rewriting prior to production.

And NBC Universal has invoked the force majeure clause in the SAG contracts for the actors on several series, including The Office, 30 Rock, and Bionic Woman, suspending them at half-pay for five weeks.

Says The Hollywood Reporter, "According to SAG's interpretation of Section 61 of its collective bargaining agreement, the studios have three options in case of a strike: put series regulars on hold at full salary, suspend them for a period of up to five weeks at half-pay or terminate them. If, like Universal, the studios opt for suspension, the performers themselves, according to SAG, can terminate their deals at the end of the five-week period. If they don't do that, the studios can choose to keep the regulars with full pay or end their deals."

Most writers' production deals include the force majeure option after production is suspended, many of those deals have termination clauses that force the studio to wait four to six weeks after a stoppage but others only have a two-week cushion... which means that several writers' deals could be terminated as early as Monday.

Stay tuned.

What's On Tonight

8 pm: Ghost Whisperer (CBS); Deal or No Deal (NBC); Friday Night SmackDown (CW; 8-10 pm); Men in Trees (ABC); Next Great American Band (FOX)

9 pm: Moonlight (CBS); Friday Night Lights (NBC); Women's Murder Club (ABC); Don't Forget the Lyrics (FOX)

10 pm: NUMB3RS (CBS); Las Vegas (NBC); 20/20 (ABC)

What I'll Be Watching

8-11 pm: BBC America.

If you happen to be staying in after a long work week, why not do it in true Anglophile style with back-to-back episodes of The Office, Coupling, Catherine Tate Show, and Mighty Boosh?


The CineManiac said…
As a fan of both Life and Journeyman (Both get better every week) I"m excited by this news and hope that they both get brought back for next season, even if it's only a limited run.
Do you thinkBattlestar is in danger of not being able to finish its final season? That would be fracked up.
Anonymous said…
That EW article is very helpful.

I like Life, too - I agree that it improves every week.

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