Strike Stops Production on 3 More Shows

November 7, 2007 at 4:12 pm Leave a comment

Strike Stops Production on 3 More ShowsProduction of three sitcoms filmed before live audiences has been halted because of the Hollywood writers strike, networks said Tuesday.

“Back to You,” starring Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton, will not return from a planned hiatus on Wednesday, said Chris Alexander, a spokesman for 20th Century Fox Television.

In addition, the sitcoms “‘Til Death,” which airs on Fox, and “Rules of Engagement,” on CBS, will also stop production immediately because of the strike, according to a Sony Pictures Television executive not authorized to be quoted who requested anonymity.

The shows are typically written the same week they are filmed, with jokes being sharpened by writers even on the day of production.

It was not immediately clear how many shows might already be finished.

The disclosures came as the strike by the Writers Guild of America entered its second day. Pickets returned to studios in Los Angeles and New York.

In Toluca Lake, near Warner Bros. studio, writers converged on a house that serves as a location shoot for “Desperate Housewives.”

“We write the story-a, Eva Longoria,” about 30 strikers chanted, referring to one star of the hit ABC show.

“It is a very serious business,” said Larry Wilmore, a writer on “The Daily Show,” explaining the protesters were marching “so we can get back to being funny.”

Shooting continued inside the house despite the protests, said Chandler Hayes, a spokesman for ABC.

The protesters were joined by actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

“I’m really here because I’m a union member,” said Louis-Dreyfus, a member of the Screen Actors Guild whose husband is a member of the writers guild.

“If we prevent them from working today, that’s a small victory,” she said.

In New York, strikers picketed outside Silver Cup Studios in Queens, the site of shooting for “30 Rock” and “Gossip Girls.”

The strike began Monday after last-minute negotiations between the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers failed to produce a deal on how much writers are paid when shows are offered on the Internet.

No new negotiations were scheduled.

The walkout immediately sent late-night comedy shows going into reruns.

It will not immediately have an impact on production of movies or most prime-time TV programs. Most studios have stockpiled dozens of movie scripts, and many TV shows have enough scripts or completed shows in hand to last until early next year.

Nick Counter, chief negotiator for the producers union, said he expected a long standoff.

“We’re hunkered down for a long one,” he said Monday. “From our standpoint, we made every good faith effort to negotiate a deal, and they went on strike. At some point, conversations will take place. But not now.”

Writers said the next move was up to the studios.

“My hope is that it won’t be too long,” said John Bowman, chief negotiator for the writers.

Some producers were torn about trying to keep filming finished scripts.

Tim Kring, a producer and writer of the NBC hit “Heroes,” said he had to revise the ending of the show’s 11th episode on the chance that it might be the last one to air this season.

“Fortunately we were able to hustle back,” Kring said from a picket line in an effort to shut down the show. “The audience won’t be left in a lurch.”

While scripted shows suffer from the strike, reality shows could flourish because they don’t use union writers, despite an aggressive attempt by the writers guild to organize the staffers on the programs.

Viewers could also check out more entertainment on the Internet, ranging from user-generated fare on YouTube to professionally produced shows such as “Quarterlife.”

Writers have not gone on strike since 1988, when the walkout lasted 22 weeks and cost the industry more than $500 million.



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