Hollywood is in a bit of a mess right now as the major studios are clashing with not one, but two labor guilds over new media payments. Talks between the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the studios broke down last month over Internet shows, and the Writers Guild of America (WGA) says the studios have yet to pay the online residual owed to the writers.
SAG is making moves to authorize a strike from its 120,000 members — but given the economic climate we’re currently in, there’s deep division amongst the membership over whether that’s a good idea. Perhaps smelling blood, the studios roiled the water over the weekend, posting an open letter in the LA Times saying that should the actors strike, they would lose more money than they’d ever get back.
Speaking of the LA Times, it has a great piece today on why new media is such a big deal for both the actors and the studios. The actors see a big upside in web programming and a chance to get in on the ground floor. The studios say the money isn’t there yet. And neither side is really wrong.
Even if a strike is averted, according to the WGA, there’s no guarantee they’ll get what’s owed. The writers guild, which went on a 100-day strike last year, alleges that the studios aren’t honoring the new media payment portion of its contract. In response, the studios said that some studios had made payments — but others are still implementing new accounting systems to make those payments.