Strikers Gain Fan Support

TVWeek's James Hibberd: Rated

By Published on .

Although the Writers Guild of America has received some criticism for its sluggishness in getting its message to the media, last week's headline-grabbing series of protests have attracted the sympathy of some fans.

Seventeen entertainment blogs—among them Televisionary, Give Me My Remote and Glowy Box—will go dark Tuesday, replacing their sites with WGA solidarity statements.

Entertainment Weekly reports that 3,000 "Battlestar Galactica" fans, in town for a convention, are pledging to join a picket line with the show's writing staff at Universal Studios on Friday.

This morning, "CSI" fans funded a Burbank aerial banner fly-by with a statement of support.

Fan site AintItCoolNews.com and others have linked to a petition supporting the writers that claims more than 44,000 signatures. "The sooner the strike is settled, the sooner the writers can return Dwight Schrute, Nancy Botwin, Chloe O'Brien and Hurley Reyes to us," the site says.

By putting showrunners front and center last week, the WGA managed to emphasize that original episodes of fan favorites such as "The Office," "Lost" and "Desperate Housewives" are at risk. The guild also crystallized its complex contract dispute around the very understandable topic of online downloads. This week, the WGA plans to put more prime-time actors on the picket line to continue feeding the media mill.

In this regard, the networks and studios have thus far been at a disadvantage.

The Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers has impressive executives in front of the microphones, but nobody who has come across as sympathetic or relatable. Statements by media moguls such as CBS President Leslie Moonves and News Corp. President Peter Chernin shrugging off the strike are also, in effect, shrugging off the concerns of their viewers.

Moreover, the AMPTP argument that the strike hurts below-the-line workers could effectively paint writers as unduly selfish for going on strike, especially right before the holidays—if it weren't being undermined when Mr. Chernin says the strike is "probably a positive." And: "We save more money in term deals and, you know, story costs and probably the lack of making pilots than we lose in potential advertising."

Makes it tougher to argue writers are being greedy when you're pointing out the bottom-line benefit of hundreds of employees losing their jobs.
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