Tags: writers | strike

Politicians Weigh in on Hollywood Writers' Strike

Monday, 12 Nov 2007 09:10 AM

By James Hirsen

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Maybe it’s because if Los Angeles were a state it would be the fourth largest economy in the nation.

Or maybe it’s because the entertainment business generates more than $30 billion annually.

Anyway here they come, politicians to the rescue of Hollywood’s writers’ strike.

Former movie star and current California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, former labor negotiator and current L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and former president and current Hillary stumper Bill Clinton have all offered their services as mediators. Even Jesse Jackson is here cheerleading the picketers and posing for the press.

The governor seems poised to jump in like an action hero; the mayor has already met with reps from both sides; rumors are rampant that Hillary would like Bill to take a trip to the left coast; and Jesse has the pompoms at the ready.

The problem is that the writers don’t trust Arnold because he’s been chummy with studio execs, the execs don’t trust Villaraigosa because he used to work for unions, no one believes Clinton is going to leave the Hillary campaign when it’s in trouble, and Jesse just continues to float from one activist photo-op to another.

One exec described the writers’ decision to strike as having “declared war.” The writers want a bigger share of DVDs and a piece of the Internet and cell phones. The studios say that the revenue from new technology is an unknown speculative projection, and therefore they can’t lock in on a percentage.

A simple solution would be to give the writers a share when the revenue reaches a specified level. If both sides could conceptually agree, it would be the start of talks that could lead to a resolution, and thankfully, more to watch than reruns and reality shows.

Come to think of it, Hollywood really needs someone who’s apolitical to settle the strike, able to communicate in monosyllables, and is experienced in bringing emotionally charged sides together. Sounds like a job for Dr. Phil.

James Hirsen is a media analyst, Trinity Law School professor, and teacher of mass media law at Biola University.

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