Networks scaling back on pilots
Post-strike TV production in Hollywood has been getting back on its feet but remains well behind the levels of a year ago, according to permitting agency Film L.A.
Features, on the other hand, saw little impact from the strike and a 25% increase once the work stoppage ended, rising to 36 from 25 during the two-week post-strike period. Studios have been stockpiling features as a hedge against a possible actors strike this summer.
“We didn’t see a ‘run on the store’ for TV permits the week after the strike concluded (Feb. 13-20),” said the agency in a recently released report. “We issued 60% fewer TV permits the week after the strike as compared to the same week the year prior (14 vs. 36).”
During the following week (Feb. 21-27), the agency — which handles permitting on public property in much of Los Angeles County — issued 30 permits, off 32% from the same period of 2007. That included six pilots, two sitcoms, 18 reality and two dramas.
The agency also said there are indications that networks are scaling back on pilots in the wake of the 100-day WGA strike. “We have seen new shows get the greenlight and go straight to production without shooting a traditional pilot,” the report added.
Film LA also said returning productions are filming fewer episodes than they would have without the strike.
The final tally of TV permits issued during the strike saw a 31% decline to 417 from 604 during the same period a year ago. Sitcoms fell from 64 to 20 and dramas slid from 278 to 91 while reality — which isn’t covered by the WGA — stayed unaffected by the strike and rose to 178 from 161.
The agency noted that the post-strike TV landscape includes some shows with no new episodes this season — “24,” “Chuck” and “Heroes.” Series with new episodes shooting include “Brothers and Sisters,” “Bones,” “Boston Legal,” “Criminal Minds,” “CSI: Miami,” “CSI: NY,” “NCIS,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Shark,” “Ugly Betty,” “My Name Is Earl,” “Rules of Engagement,” “The Office,” “Two and a Half Men,” How I Met Your Mother and “Scrubs.”
Film LA said it issued 15% more feature permits during the strike, rising from 227 in the year-ago period to 262 during the strike. And it noted that during the fifth through seventh weeks in December, permits soared by 80% to 82 from 46 during the same period of 2006, but then has slowed compared with early 2007 — even with the post-strike pickup.
“That growth began to taper off in January,” the report noted. “From Jan. 2 through the present, we’ve released about 7% fewer feature permits than we’d expect to in a normal year.”