Hollywood Grabs Ankles, Awaits Seemingly Inevitable Strike-Buggering

While we realize that the doomsday pronouncements now being issued with increasing frequency by both the Writers Guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers following bargaining sessions in which the only thing being discussed seriously is which side is more committed to destroying Hollywood contain their fair share of public posturing, that knowledge doesn't stop our sphincters from reflexively tightening following each bellicose statement lamenting the inevitability of a disastrous work-stoppage.

The latest installment of Variety's "Strike Fever: Catch It!" series on the acrimonious contract-renewal talks contains more than its fair share of ass-puckering quotes from the writers, studio execs, and agents who all hope for peace (at least secretly), but who are quietly trying to figure out which of their children will fetch the highest price on the black market to help them weather the strike or lockout that could arrive in just three weeks. Reports Var:

"We are trying to get as much stuff as possible shoved through," said one studio VP. "It's as hot as I've ever seen it. And whether or not they strike on Nov. 1, we have to act as if they will."

On the feature side, studios are no longer taking writing pitches and are pretty much limiting themselves to making deals on fully developed packages. Warner Bros. and Universal, for example, have put out the word to agents: Don't bring in any spec scripts until the situation resolves itself.

"A strike on Nov. 1 is a real option," WGA West prexy Patric Verrone told Daily Variety on Monday. "What I'm hearing from our screenwriters and showrunners is that they're being asked to schedule additional table reads, prepare additional scripts and squeeze in more shows, which may be physically impossible in that amount of time." [...]

Endeavor partner Rick Rosen said he remains hopeful that a strike can be averted altogether.

"I'd hate to see this turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy, like the Iraq war," Rosen said. "I'd like to see people trying to engage in some meaningful and constructive dialogue rather than making pronouncements."

You can always count on an agent to put an explosive situation in its proper perspective, as the run-up to the possible strike is exactly like the Iraq War. After months of tough talk about needing more time to study the financials of the internet fad and threats to blow up the residuals system that's been in place for decades, the studios will have little choice but to bunker down within their studio lot Green Zones, hoping their surge of hastily produced movies and primetime network schedules consisting of nothing but episodes of Fat March, The Singing Bee, and Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? can break the writers' resolve before they lose too many executives to WGA Prius-bombing in Brentwood.