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Survey strings many fiery theories

<i>Variety</i> subscribers hold nothing back in poll

No, seriously — tell us what you really think.

Variety surveyed subscribers last month in an effort to gauge the industry’s perceptions of the Writers Guild of America strike that has crippled film and TV production. The poll of 999 subscribers, conducted Nov. 16-21 by Frank N. Magid Associates, found that while the writers are killing the majors in the PR war, most in the biz expect the studios to get the better end of the deal when the picket signs finally come down.

One of the 25 questions in the online survey invited respondents to submit in their own words what they thought the long-term impact of the strike will be if it persists past December. Variety readers had plenty to say on the subject.

Some of the more provocative responses:

  • “Most below-the-line workers will starve.”

  • “Relationships between producers and writers will sour beyond salvation.”

  • “No one will trust Variety to be impartial ever again.”

  • “Thousands of innocent people will lose their jobs.”

  • “Ratings for this TV season will be lower, and there will be no next season.”

  • “The industry is basically fucked.”

Of the more than 120 responses in this category, most fall within three schools of thought: doomsayers, idealists and misanthropes.

The Cassandras see malevolence and conspiracy at every turn:

  • “Corporations will take short-term losses to crush the WGA.”

  • “The studios are hurting everyone from the lowest production assistant to the highest-paid writers. And they couldn’t care less. They are actually laughing about the power they wield. I’ve seen it myself.”

  • “Companies will be more confident proposing ridiculous contract elements initially, as a negotiation strategy (e.g., elimination of residuals).”

The idealists believe that the justness of the cause will see the writers through to victory:

n “Writers internationally will get on the bandwagon for residuals on webcasts.”

  • “Writers will finally have more power and command more respect.”

  • “Viewers won’t forget the writers and (while the strike continues) won’t show loyalty to their favorite shows.”

The cynics think it’s all a waste of time and energy:

  • “Just like baseball — six months and we’re back where we started.”

  • “The quality and variety of TV shows will be worse than it already is.”

  • “Much the same as happened to SAG commercial players six years ago.”

Out there in the wilderness are a few voices who are undoubtedly mindful of the danger of over-reaching with predictions in the midst of a traumatic event. (Anyone remember the “death of irony” in the immediate post-9/11 haze?)

In the words of one pragmatic survey-taker: “It will eventually get settled and things will go back to normal.”

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