I gotta admit to experiencing some Tinseltown schadenfreude during the Writers Guild strike: Unlike my brothers and sisters in print journalism -- whose union can't seem to shield them from endless rounds of layoffs, much less get them more money -- screenwriters hung tough, negotiated hard and got at least some of what they were asking for, in large part by demonstrating how their work stoppage could bring LA county's economy to its knees.
During the three-month strike, the county lost $3.2 billion in direct and indirect costs, according to Jack Kyser, Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation's chief economist. The strike ended Feb. 13 when guild members approved a tentative three-year contract giving them a stake in revenues generated when TV shows and movies they've scripted are distributed online.
The contract is due to be ratified Feb. 25, the day after the Academy Awards are broadcast. And here's where my loyalties divide: I may be a writer, but I'm also a major movie fan, and I get a huge kick out of watching the Oscars, particularly the preshows. I love the glitz and glamor of the red carpet, to say nothing of the occasional swan dress. While I wasn't upset by the cancellation of the Golden Globes, which pale in comparison, I'd have had a bit of a boo-hoo if the guild hadn't gotten it together in time to pen this year's "And the Oscar goes to ..." speeches.