Writers strike: Showrunners swaying the script

Wga1120rallyrhimesThe real value of a good script in this town hinges not on the eloquence of the prose or the cleverness of the plot but in its execution from page to screen. Nobody understands this Hollywood truism better than television showrunners; it’s the challenge they tackle with every week.

As such, it comes as no surprise that these multitasking members of Writers Guild of America should have played such a pivotal role in the first and second acts of the scribe strike of ’07. The determination of a wide swath of showrunners shut the biz down, for all intents and purposes, in a hurry in the first 72 hours after the strike began on Nov. 5. And by many accounts, it was the growing restlessness of many of the same showrunners last week that prodded both the studios and the guild off of their rhetorical high horses to agree to resume formal negotiations on Monday.

“The showrunners were the tip of the spear in this fight,” said a top tenpercenter who’s been piped into the backchannel discussions among scribes, CEOs and top agency partners during the past fortnight of discontent.

(Pictured above: “Grey’s Anatomy” star Sandra Oh marches with “Grey’s” showrunner Shonda Rhimes, to Oh’s right, and “Back to You” co-creator/exec producer Steve Levitan, on Rhimes’ right, during WGA’s Tuesday march and rally on Hollywood Boulevard. Below, the march at its peak covered three blocks. Pics by Matthew Simmons/WireImage)

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  1. cgee says:

    Question: If the AMPTP position is so solid and rational why has almost every article I’ve read in Variety on the subject of the strike used un-named sources from top to toe?
    In your most recent Variety piece (“WGA strike redefines TV business”) I counted nine-plus quotes from “a honcho,” “a suit” “a conglom topper” or some such nonsense. NOT ONE on-the-record quote from a current studio executive. And NO quotes from either the WGA or a writer/producer.
    BASIC journalism 101 that you learn in the first week of J-school: Un-named sources want to be un-named because they are self-serving and don’t want to be held accountable. Journalists should use them sparingly if at all.
    What are the “conglom chiefs” afraid of? Being beaten over the head with a cardboard “On Strike” sign? For all his tough guy swagger, Peter Bart seems spooked at the idea of losing just one of those “For Your Consideration” Oscar ads. So much for telling it like it is. In the case of DV, it seems to be more “telling it like they want it to be told.”

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