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
- 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.