How the Last Writers’ Strike Changed Things Onscreen

The 2007 writers strike couldn’t have come at a better time for writer Zak Stentz. After three years of unemployment, Mr. Stentz was delighted with his new job as executive story editor for Fox’s “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.” He was working with a talented group of writers on a show he described as “dark, thoughtful, and weird.”

Prior to the strike, the staff had successfully completed nine episodes of a show that follows the events of the blockbuster “Terminator 2: Judgment Day.” When his one-hour drama began airing in January 2008, it garnered solid ratings and a loyal fan base. Still, Stents, who continues to write series such as J.J. Abrams’ Fringe and Greg Berlanti’s Flash, believes the 100-day strike ultimately sealed the show’s fate. Iru: It was a shortened version of 2 seasons and 31 episodes.

Stentz recalled that the show’s budget was cut during the second season as ratings plummeted due to the extended hiatus, adding, “It’s heartbreaking to feel like we’re doing something really special. I thought,” he said. “The conventional wisdom about this show is that it was ahead of its time and probably would have been a much more successful show if it had aired in the 2010s.”

“The Sarah Connor Chronicles” is just one of many TV shows and movies whose fortunes have been changed by the last writers’ strike, which cost the Los Angeles economy $2.1 billion in lost revenue. Movies like James Bond’s Quantum of Solace, G.I. was contained within.

The situation in Quantum of Solace was so dire that star Daniel Craig later admitted he rewrote the scene himself on set. The film’s director Marc Forster, who declined to comment for this article, said: told the website Collider In 2016, he considered quitting what was, at the time, the biggest-budget movie ever.

“At that point, I wanted to withdraw,” he said. “But everybody said, ‘No, we have to make a movie. The strike is almost over, so we’re going to start shooting what we have and then we’ll finish everything else.'”

Not all projects were affected by the work stoppage. Consider the “Breaking Bad” series. According to one of the show’s producers, Mark Johnson, who plays Aaron Paul’s Jesse Pinkman, was originally scheduled to die in the show’s first season finale.

However, the strike forced Breaking Bad to be canceled after just seven episodes. And Johnson said in a recent interview how well the show’s creator, Vince Gilligan, played the character against Bryan Cranston’s chemistry teacher-turned-drug lord Walter White. and decided to keep him alive.

Jesse Pinkman completed the 62-episode run, and Mr. Paul won three Emmy Awards. “We’ve learned a lot about the show because of the strike,” Johnson said. (others Said Other key plot elements of the show were adjusted, but the decision to keep Mr. Paul’s character was made before the strike. )

Of course, the entertainment industry today is very different from 15 years ago, and all the lessons learned from the last strike may not apply. Broadcast networks cut back on scripted programming. Streaming services aren’t obligated to make fall schedules. Major studios said they have enough films in production to keep them releasing at a steady pace through mid-2024.

“The dynamics are different now,” said Kevin Riley, a veteran television executive. “Honestly, the only bottleneck is that at some point the dev pipe gets a little dry. But I don’t think it’s even a speed bump in the streaming world. It takes at least six to really start to feel the pressure.” It’s going to have to last for months, and so will the box office.”

The studio has leaned heavily on this narrative in recent weeks. Netflix co-chief executive Ted Sarandos told investors during the company’s first-quarter earnings that the streaming giant will have a “massive base of upcoming shows and movies around the world.” said it could “perhaps serve its members better than most other companies.” Paramount Global CEO Bob Bakish also said the strike would have little impact on his company’s business in the short term.

“We have a lot of levers to pull that will help us survive the strike, even if it’s extended,” he said on the company’s post-earnings conference call.

But a prolonged strike can have unintended consequences as well. Just a week after the shutdown, TV shows like Netflix’s “Stranger Things,” HBO Max’s “Hucks,” and Apple TV+’s “Root” have stopped production.

It remains unclear how the studio will adjust if the strike is prolonged. As co-author Joe McLean (Resident Evil: Vendetta) pointed out on a picket line last week, the 2007 strike was a new boom in reality shows that are relatively cheap to produce and don’t require a writer. led to

Referring to “The Celebrity Apprentice,” which aired in January 2008 and has already strengthened Trump’s television presence, McLean said, “The last writers’ strike led to Donald Trump’s inauguration. There is a very nice flow that shows that.” “We didn’t have a scriptwriter, we didn’t have good content on TV, so all the viewers went there and that just boosted his star.”

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