As Writers Go On Strike, What Does This Mean For Your Favorite Soaps?
Talk to almost anyone in the business of show, and they’ll tell you the same thing when it comes to the writer’s strike: Nobody wants this. And yet, as of Tuesday morning, the Writers Guild of America — representing over 11,000 TV and movie scribes — is on strike after having failed to reach an agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.
While hundreds of thousands of words have been written about who wants what — and what’s at stake — the question soap fans want answered is a simple one: What happens to the daytime dramas, which tear through an enormous amount of material on a weekly basis. And while numerous sites who don’t regularly report on soaps have claimed that the shows will go dark should the strike last more than a few weeks, that’s actually unlikely to be true.
Want proof that the show not only must but will go on? Look no further than the last writer’s strike, which unfolded a decade ago and lasted for over three months. Despite the difficulties presented by the strike, soaps continued to air. How?
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Shows might wind up relying on several different scenarios to keep things moving. One is to use non-union writers — often referred to as “scabs” — to pump out scripts. But far more likely is the use of writers who decide to go what’s known as “financial core.” This means, in essence, that the scribes in question would quit the Writer’s Guild (and give up all rights and privileges associated with the union) in order to continue working.
Of course, having new (potentially inexperienced) writers come in to pick up where their predecessors left off isn’t necessarily a smooth process. Should this happen, expect to see odd shifts in storylines and potential continuity issues as incoming temporary writers try getting up to speed as soon as possible. They might also see this as an opportunity make their mark, as it were, by crafting attention-getting storylines.
While most soaps tape around three weeks in advance, Days of Our Lives has long been on an advanced production schedule which has it currently working on episodes that will air this winter. As such, one might think the show could simply stop production for several months without an issue. However, that’s not likely to happen as doing so would have a huge impact on the show’s budget. “They would basically have to pay people to sit around and not work,” one source told us. “That’s just not feasible.”
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The best possible solution, of course, is for the situation to be resolved as quickly as possible, allowing everyone to return to work. And with each passing day, pressure mounts for a deal to be met. Already, most late night talk shows — which rely on timely monologues have agreed to go on hiatus.
During Monday’s Late Night With Seth Meyers, the host addressed the topic, warning that his show would likely be going dark. “Look, no one is entitled to a job in show business,” he said. “But for those who have a job in show business, they are entitled to fair compensation.”
Voicing his support for the writers, went on to voice his belief that “everybody at the [negotiating] table right now, be it from the writer side or the studio side, knows that the future of this business is dependent on storytellers.”
Now, as the negotiations continue and nerves fray, we can only hold our breath and do what soap fans have been doing since the dawn of the genre: Tune in tomorrow to find out what happens next!
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