Tori’s Review: The WGA Strike

One Office Fan’s Completely Biased View of the Strike ( … or how you can help the writers of The Office)

Turn off your televisions and get out a pen; or in support of “new media” — write an email.

The people who bring us The Office each week are picketing outside the set, on a vacant cul-de-sac in the middle of nowhere with no media attention. Why? Because the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers can’t come to an agreement about the amount of money the show’s writers should receive from DVD sales, and/or “new media,” a blanket term for shows that are downloaded or streamed on the Internet.

While new media might not seem like a big of a deal right now, it will be in the future. One day, you’ll park your flying car in the garage, float “Second Life”-style to your couch, and have the biggest urge to watch “The Injury.” In less than a second, your home’s central computer will download it to your 200-inch television.

Your DVD player will be rotting in your attic next to your original limbs.

The way it stands now, the cast and writers of The Office won’t be paid for the download. Sure, it looks like they make decent money, but what if by then, one of them has thrown it away on gambling and booze. This could mean bail money. And more importantly, it means income for working writers throughout the WGA who don’t make what a writer on The Office makes. The level of need isn’t the point. It’s partially their money. They created the show.

When the strike started Monday, the AMPTP reminded writers they can resign from the WGA and continue to work without losing their benefits, and demanded all other workers show up for their non-writing jobs. Instead, showrunner Greg Daniels and other actors on the show joined the picket line in an attempt to shut down production on The Office.

As a fan, it might seem like we are being punished with the show out of production. We’re missing out on Michael being an idiot. Possibly, Jim and Pam’s first fight. Maybe, Dwight and Angela’s reconciliation. And definitely, the hilarious black man. This could mean the end of Season 4.

But, it’s part of something much larger: true teamwork, and the only power they have to try and end the strike quickly, and pave the way for future deals with SAG and DGA.

The AMPTP and studio hoped to buy more time by getting The Office to stay in production. This would allow them to find alternate programming like reality shows, sports, and game shows. It wouldn’t help end the strike, only ensure we spend the rest of the season watching “The David Copperfield Show” or “Are You Smarter than a Studio Executive?”

With The Office out of production, in two weeks, the studio will be forced to end November sweeps in reruns.

Don’t watch the reruns, or any alternative programming. Turn off your television and spread the word. Take the remote from Grandma if you have to. Do not let her watch “Deal or No Deal.” You’ve been promising to take her to bingo; now is the time!

Demand what you want to see. You know the impact you can have — your campaign got the Season 2 finale supersized! You’re basically responsible for Pam not getting married. You are powerful!

Here is what you can do to support the writers on The Office:

Write polite, but firm letters to the AMPTP and NBC/Universal. Let them know intelligent viewers are not going watch anything but the television shows we have received from the talented people in WGA.

Just, whatever you do, please do not threaten to burn anything to the ground.

  • Jeff Zucker
    30 Rockefeller Plaza
    New York, NY 10112
  • AMPTP contact form
  • Universal Studios
    100 Universal City Plaza
    Universal Studios, CA 91608
  • NBC Studios
    3000 W. Alameda Ave.
    Burbank, CA 91523

Footnotes:

  • Information gathered from various online sources, including www.wga.org and www.amptp.org.
  • I have no reason to believe any writer or cast member associated with The Office has a potential gambling problem, drinking problem, or is at high risk of being arrested.
  • “The David Copperfield Show” is not a real television show, and I admit “Are You Smarter than a Studio Executive” is a low blow.

Tori Weber is a Web Producer and writer for a television news station in Orlando, FL. Writing keeps her sane, and ice cream makes her happy. Dogs are good too. Visit her here.

83 comments

  1. Very funny, but very true.

    It’s sad to think that whatever crap replaces the office and other quality scripted shows will probably get better ratings even if we all do stop watching.

  2. What a sensible and awesome review. I do love The Office and I am happy to know real people are behind it all, people who aren’t pitching garbage at the writer’s table. Any Office writer (or Jim, Pam, Andy, Toby, or Kelly) is welcomed for dinner in my house! All in all, I’m encouraged.

  3. I don’t even think the replacement programming will be as good as “The David Copperfield Show” or “Are You Smarter Than a Studio Executive”.

    To give a shout out to 30 Rock, the programming will be closer to “Milf Island” or “Gold Case”.

    Send in the emails, folks. I know I will.

  4. I’m drafting my letter now! Watch out AMPTP and studio people this is exactly what I’ve (and many other fans I assume) have been waiting for, we will bombard you with letters, you’ll see. I want our OFFICE back, I want our television back!! Who’s in!?

  5. Darn, so much for my badass bombs! LOL. Great ideas and I am officially writing a letter to NBC/Universal. Thanks Tanster and Tori!

  6. I agree with the other Andrew. Very well written and extremely funny.

    I hope this ends soon, and peacefully.

  7. Hey! I don’t have the skills but I’m hoping someone who reads this will…
    How about a printable page of 4 postcards that look like the placards the writers are carrying. It would be cheaper to send them than a letter (therefore more could be sent), it would show unity with the writers, and on the back we could write our messages.

    It’s just an idea. I hope someone will know how to do it!

  8. I’m writing. These are a huge group of talented people. They need our support and we need their writing!

  9. Callen – I totally agree. I would actually watch “Gold Case”, anything is better than half the stuff on TV. I guess I’m going to be watching more documentaires on the History Channel. This week on Modern Marvels: The history of the toilet. Yeah, life is getting pretty bleak.

  10. Awesome! The Office is really the only show I watch. After that, I have no problem turning off my TV.

  11. This is beyond ridiculous. I’m on NBC’s side. I love The Office, and have been a fan since the first season, but the writers are completely out of line seeing as they have a binding CONTRACT with the studios and are ignoring it. And don’t even get me started on Steve Carell’s antics. If you have a contract, you are required to follow throught with it. And that means showing up to work every day.

  12. I’m going to handwrite as many letters as my wrist can take! I bought a whole sheet of Disney stamps recently that are too embarrassing to put on any letters addressed to people I know.

    [from tanster: this is one of the funniest comments i’ve ever read. bravo!]

  13. “Just, whatever you do, please do not threaten to burn anything to the ground.”

    Aww, but I was so looking forward to saying ” We will burn Universal Studios to the ground! ” Darn! ;)

  14. Alright, I’m for the WGA.

    I will be writing to NBC. This is a very sad day in television. :[

  15. We will burn the studios to the… oh, right.

    We will write strongly worded letters to the studios!

    And I will go write mine right now, actually.

  16. I just want to add that I absolutely agree with you Tori. I plan on writing my letters to NBC, Universal, AMPTP, and many more in the hope of getting my shows back on the air with proper compensation. I applaud the cast and crew for sticking with the writers of this and many other amazing shows. Everyone can name at least one movie or television show that had a significant impact on their life, and we owe that to the writers first and foremost.

  17. Oh man, this made me laugh when I was feeling down about this whole thing, so thank you!

    I fully support the writers and I hope we can maybe speed up the process! My fingers are crossed!

  18. Tori, you crack me up. I hope you continue to write more pieces on the strike as it progresses. And, amen!

  19. It’s time to take action! The writers and cast are taking action, so now it’s our turn to help. Hopefully our letters will make a difference.

  20. I love this solidarity among the fans. It’s not like there’s anything else but The Office that’s worth watching!

  21. There are probably some fans who would like to send in a letter, but don’t have the time to compose one.

    I’ve been involved in a lot of letter-writing campaigns (mainly for Amnesty International) and organizations often provide templates of letters so that you don’t have to compose the entire thing yourself.

    If anyone could put up a template that people could copy and paste, inserting their own name and making any changes they want, it would be nice. More letters would be sent in, at least :) Any volunteers?

    p.s. Tori, this was so great! Funny and informative.

  22. I sent a letter and I made sure to mention the fact that The Office – as well as every other show I watch – is one that I download onto my iPod, it’s a show that I watch online, the exact thing the writers are striking over, and in my opinion, they absolutely should be compensated for it. I really hope this gets resolved sooner rather than later.

  23. AWESOME TORI!!! Here is my letter I just sent to the AMTMP

    To Whom It May Concern,
    I would like to express my support for the talented writers of TV and Movies on their stand for being paid what they deserve for the entertainment they have provided diligently for us viewers. Without the writers, nothing begins..nothing is created. And Studios and Networks make no money without having writers tell a story for us.
    I will in support not view any Non-WGA programs until this strike is settled in appreciation and respect for the hard work these men and women put in to entertain all of us.

  24. As much as it is going to kill me, I refuse to watch the Office on the interweb. No episodes. No deleted scenes. It’s small, but action always speaks louder than words.

    But if I’m wrong, I also wrote a letter. Just in case.

  25. I don’t know if it matters, but for font snobs the Writers Guild logo’s font is called “Spartan Classified” (95% sure).

    :) Happy writing. I’m doing it when I get home.

    …that’s what she said.

  26. Thanks for this Tori. I completely agree that it’s about teamwork. We are part of this team, therefore we have to do whatever it takes for the writers to get what they deserve!

  27. Regarding #17 John;
    I believe they are striking because their contract with AMPTP is up. It’s not just The Office against NBC, it’s the basic standard of what writers everywhere deserve as a fair cut.
    If each show were to wait until every individual contract was up, when would they strike? There’d be no impact whatsoever. I think it shows incredible compassion that a show the calibre of the Office is shutting down. They’re the one’s who’ve “made it”. By striking they’re only losing money, but it will be the “little” guys that reap the benefits.

  28. Well, it seems that Office fans are on the same side as the writers (represent!)…so why doesn’t someone start an online petition and try to get as many signatures as possible, then send it to AMPTP.

  29. I just wrote my letter! I hope this gets resolved quickly. Those writers are extremely talented and deserve to be compensated fairly. Also, I’m feeling a little selfish and I just don’t know what I’ll do without The Office. Everyone… unite!

  30. I have sent my letters, and encourage all Office fans to do the same. The writers can have unprecedented solidarity, as fans join the cause to add pressure on the studios to do what’s right. We have demonstrated our effectiveness; let’s put it to good use!

  31. This is one cause where letter writing will have no effect. Trying to save a canceled show, a la Veronica Mars or Jericho, perhaps; but this is an industry-wide situation that I’m sure will be resolved in the coming week, or weeks.

    Relax, Tallyers. This is one of the pillars of America at work: right to assemble and striking. Let’s enjoy the process and hope everyone can get an equitable piece of the proverbial pie.

  32. Kaytor and DestroyPhone! Thank you so much! I’m sending a couple in the mail today! You guys are nifty.

  33. # 38 your comment made me laugh out loud while i was in computer class..everyone turned to look at me. that was fun. Even though i have to write a ton of scholarship essays for college, i will write to NBC studios and AMPTP. They won’t know what hit them.

  34. Do you think they’ll take my letter seriously if I write on my “I love Jim” paper from Target?

    “Dear Network Big-Wigs,

    I write to you with my Dwight K. Schute brand pen to inform you that I will not be watching any non-WGA programing. Please note the Dunder Mifflin brand paper that I am using as well to show what sort of fan I am. There are thousands out there just like me, and you will be losing a lot of loyal viewers during this strike. I recommend you commend the writers of The Office and every show on your network for their talent and hard work, thank your lucky stars that people like this are working hard to make your network a success, and then reward them accordingly.”

    Writing strongly worded letter now….I wish I had Disney stamps to go with it.

  35. I may be off in left field here, but it seems like the things we should really be avoiding the most are supporting the DVD sales and the internet promos. I would say to make a real and immediate difference, don’t visit NBC.com and don’t watch the episodes online. I know most of us have it already, but if you’re one of the unfortunate few, don’t go buy the Season 3 DVD set. Wait until the strike is over. I you need to get your fix, I’ve got all three seasons. You can borrow mine. These are the main points of contention and by showing them that we will not support the things the writers aren’t getting paid for, it will make more of an impact. Let’s see what happens when their website activity drops to nil.

  36. Responding to #49:
    I totally agree. I am not going to nbc.com anymore. Even though I want to watch The Office convention footage, am a resisting.

  37. Consider this. Should this strike go on for a while, and all of our favorite seasons are cut in half, or a third, the DVDs will still go on sale for the price of a whole season. Some shows do this with their full seasons, releasing them in 2 parts, but still the same high price. Maybe we, the consumers, should join the strike and bring movie tickets down from $10, and TV shows on DVD down from the outrageous $50-$60-$70 they can sometimes be! I support the writers and definitely agree that they deserve to be paid for all sales of the shows they create, but I also believe that the industry as a whole makes way too much money off of us.

  38. What about Dunder Mifflin Infinity? I’m an RM. Should I boycott the site and encourage my employees to strike as well? Seriously, what do we do?

  39. And remember – the writers on hits like The Office and other big shows are the minority. Much of the WGA are currently between jobs; those residuals keep their homes away from the auction blocks and their kids in Cheerios. I’m a working writer – not WGA, books, but still. That money keeps the wolf from the door for the WGA members who aren’t currently working, which is a lot of them.

  40. I just wrote a longer version of this to the AMPTP:
    In support of the WGA, I will not be watching any episodes of network shows online. I will not watch any repeats that are played while shows are shut down. I will not allow myself to be exposed to the advertising that funnels money into an organization that refuses to fairly allocate it. I don’t care if I miss something funny, or dramatic, or important. It is far more necessary to stand behind the people who create the content that I love. The executives at NBC don’t make The Office funny and entertaining. The writers and actors do. They should be paid for it.

  41. #17
    “the writers are completely out of line seeing as they have a binding CONTRACT with the studios and are ignoring it”

    I am pretty sure their contract is up and that is why they are in a position to renegotiate. I would recommend reading James Gunn’s blog on his MySpace page, he explains the situation pretty well. I have been reading anything and everything about the strike, I am totally behind the writers. Gotta go write my letter!

  42. Am I the only one that was completely put off by this video? They remind me of the snobby kids in creative writing class who *knew* they were better than everyone else. I’m not saying I don’t support their cause but their “omg we’re so right, let’s all be funny now” attitude towards it all is kind of annoying… they are not the blue collar strikers of the past.

  43. I just sent this to AMPTP and NBC..

    I want to let you know that in support of the strike I will be turning off my TV. I will not watch any of the replacement programming offered by the networks. Without words you wouldn’t have these wonderful shows and movies. These hard working people who often get none of the glory deserve to be compensated for their work. When episodes are streamed online and sold online the writers should get paid. I’m a huge fan of The Office and I will miss going to NBC.com to watch the deleted scenes and extras, but I will boycott the site until the strike and the NBC store (where I was planning to do some Christmas shopping) is settled.

  44. If you do send a letter or email to AMPTP, Universal Studios, or NBC, please consider sending a copy to the WGA. I think it would boost their spirits trememdously to know they have fan support on this.

  45. #44, I’m not so sure it’ll all be over soon. I mean, I hope to God it is, but the last time this happened (in 88) it went on for five months.

    Five months is a long time.

    I just find it ironic that in a world where Hollywood screams ‘theft’ at every peer-to-peer download, they are more than ready to steal themselves. Denying writers money for ‘New Media’ releases is nothing short of theft, plain and simple.

  46. I don’t understand the comment about bail money. It’s acceptable that a writer or producer is a drunk or an addict?

    As usual, the lines of this strike are blurred by the idea that the writers “own” the show. Just like an employee of McDonald’s “owns” the restaurant. Wrong. While the studio should encourage sharing the fruits of labor to increase productivity and creativity, to imply that they are owed more is not appropriate. And just to make sure I’m clear, the actors make too much already.

    Capitalism has run amok in media, sports and big business, no doubt, but to just think that the writers are entitled to more ‘just because’ is ludicrous. They ought to call their actor friends to bail ’em out anyway.

  47. I wrote my letter to the AMPTP but it’s too long to put on here. In case anyone wants to see it you can find it here

    I hope all these letters do something. Good idea about sending copies to the WGA, maybe they would like to see our support.

  48. I had only heard a little bit about this strike. Now that I am informed, I’m shutting off my tv in support. I agree w/Jennifer, someone should open a site for signatures of support for these fantastic writers.

  49. #62 I respectfully suggest you learn more about the issue. It is not “just because”.

    The WGA has created a video to explain their side. Very informative.

    Tanster, thank you for keeping us updated on this.
    I am a long-time poster on the NBC Office message board, but have decided not to visit the entire NBC site until this is resolved.

  50. I’m totally in support of the writers. I think they need all of our support-they are trying to get a fair deal for their futures. I wish we could send paperclips or something to the studio.

    Also, it’s great to have fansites like this so we don’t have to patronize NBC.com

  51. I get what your saying, but in theory, wouldn’t it maybe be better if we did watch a LOT of the online content. I mean, if we’re not watching it, then the studios aren’t making much money off of it…which just “proves” their argument for gypping the writers.

  52. I understand people’s will to join the fight and the good cause, and #49’s point, but turn off my Kid Nation and I Love NY, no way! This thing will blow over in a few weeks/days… hopefully. The writers will win because they are awesome, and they are like locusts. To quote Presidental nominee Stephen T. Colbert, “as any farmer or biblical scholar will tell you, locusts are damn hard to get rid of!”

  53. Kate (#68), I think the right thing to do is to NOT watch the online content, but we have to make sure AMPTP knows we’re not watching it. The link up above marked AMPTP Contact Form is a really easy way to do this!

    A silent boycott of online content won’t help. A loud one may help. Let’s flood the AMPTP Contact site!

    To the person who was interested in a sort of ‘form letter’ — it’s probably more effective if people use their own words. Tell the AMPTP what you’re going to do and what you think they’re doing wrong with regard to the writers.

  54. Kate (#68): Actually, it wouldn’t be better to watch a lot of online stuff — maybe after the strike is resolved, but not now. The point here is to not watch FOR A REASON, to make a point. If people aren’t watching online stuff because they’re not interested, then networks lose money forever. But if people aren’t watching because they’re boycotting, networks know things will change when demands are met. That’s how we use whatever power we have.

    And I’d like to point out that the outcome of this strike affects all the other unions about to renegotiate their deals. It’s easy to point at the rich and make fun, but it’s the people who are struggling to get by who really need the rich and well-known to fight for them.

  55. HELP THEM?! Yes, they are brilliant, but this is a bit outrageous. I’m a big fan, but this much drama will cause me not to watch the show anymore. They have problems, but they shouldn’t take them out on us.

  56. This makes me wonder if the demands are met and there will be more compensation for online media does that mean prices will increase for us to view it? Will everyone still be supporting the writers when they have to pay more for downloading an episode or purchasing a DVD? I guess it kind of makes me think of how freakishly upset everyone got over the whole I-Tunes deal, which I think shows some similarities to the current situation.

  57. 62,

    The writers do own what they write, and that’s how their compensation is measured.

    To use the McD’s example, a burger flipper is paid based on the number of hours worked. A writer is paid based on the number of times their writing is used. Say McD’s decided that certain hours worked were new and experimental (maybe those hours are spend making a new burger for test marketing), and the burger flipper will not be paid for those hours.

    That’s what is happening to the writers when they aren’t paid for Internet and other new media use of their writing.

  58. I wrote in:

    I’m writing in support of the WGA strike. End the strike and give the writers a fair deal. Writers deserve the extra 4 cents the industry promised them 20 years ago. You need the writers and they’re not backing down any time soon. Settle. Settle and get The Office back on the air. In the meantime I’m certainly happy to watch my DVDs and various youtube fan videos for my Office fix. I can wait till you come to your senses. The fans will wait. Don’t think for a second we’re gonna turn on the people that have brought us so much laughter and entertainment. Give the writers what they deserve. It’s really your only option.

  59. RE: 70 | Too Late Kev

    I agree that the letters would have more meaning if they were all individually written, but I bet there are some people who just don’t have the time to write their own. If there was a form letter, then the people who wouldn’t send one because of time would. It would just up the volume of letters. And I doubt the studio heads are reading them all beginning to end anyways :) Volume is what is going to make an impact, i think.

  60. Hey – does anybody know if DVR/Tivo counts towards the ratings? Will watching my DVR add fuel to the fire? What about the stuff it is already recording? Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated…

  61. The link to the comment site is so great! Even if you just take the time to type a few sentences, the AMPTP will know that you are ONE MORE person in support of the writers. It’s the only way to voice your power as a consumer.

    My comment to the AMPTP:
    I am just officially submitting my intention to stop watching online episodes of television shows, visiting show websites or watching any other programing that, in two weeks, may replace any network shows I usually watch. I watch quite a lot of shows regularly and frequently view “new media” content. However, in the coming weeks my TV will be OFF for The Office, Grey’s Anatomy, The Big Bang Theory, Pushing Daisies, Desperate Housewives, Samantha Who, Back to You and Ugly Betty until the strike is over. I know it’s not much, but I’m just want the AMPTP to know that there are people who care and that myself and millions of other viewers will be using our power as consumers to help turn the tide.

  62. Stephanie– DVR counts in the ratings. (not the stuff you’ve already recorded though… I don’t think)

    Be sure to cancel your regularly scheduled recordings :)

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