Scribe strife takes on extra bite on the Web
Never before have so many with so much to say been so well equipped with the tools of mass discussion.
The blogosphere has lent an especially personal dimension to the WGA strike, bringing to life the struggles of rank-and-file showbiz scribes in a way that the picket-hoisters of the previous WGA strike in 1988 could never have imagined.
And it’s not just long, rambling written diatribes; much of the commentary and coverage has been video-enhanced.
A three-minute on-the-picket-lines video produced by some of the scribe-thesps from NBC’s “The Office,” riffing on why new-media residuals are important to scribes, was viewed more than 175,000 times in 24 hours on YouTube, crystallizing the issue for the lay “Office” fan in a way that no WGA position paper ever could.
The blog brigade is not only helping stoke the emotional resolve of the strikers, it is also influencing the tenor of discussion between the writers and the studios — in some cases inflaming tensions as unsubstantiated bits of rumor and gossip are spread far and wide with just a few keystrokes.
The central hub of strike blogdom so far has been UnitedHollywood.com, an electronic tribune launched by John Aboud and a handful of other scribes just days before the strike began Nov. 5.
Aboud and the other stewards of United Hollywood — including David Latt, Laeta Kalogridis, Daniel Thomsen and Kate Purdy — were mostly strangers until they met through WGA pre-strike prep meetings. Together with fellow scribe-blogger Peter Rader, who happened to be handy with his DV cam, UnitedHollywood produced the vid with the “Office” crew as well as other strike vignettes that were pinging around the web last week.
“I swore I would never blog,” Aboud says. “I have resisted the siren call of blogging for years. But we knew we’d need to have a place to communicate with each other and a place to get the writers’ message out.”
Other scribes say with so many suddenly unburdened of their need to hash out assignments and make deadlines, it’s a no-brainer that so many would turn to blogging.
“I look at it as stretching exercises as a writer,” says comedy scribe Ken Levine, who has had penned an eponymous blog for more than two years, and was surprised at how many of his regular readers are entirely unconnected to showbiz. (“I’m stunned that anyone in Kuwait would care what I think of ‘Bionic Woman,’ but they do,” he says.)
And now that he’s spending most of what would be his work time on a picket line, Levine has an abundance of great material.
“I walked behind a dog for about an hour,” Levine wrote of his time on the march in front of 20th Century Fox on Nov. 7. “His last job was writing ‘Here’s Boomer,’ but God love him he was there supporting the new generation.”