Bill Cunningham and The Lex both write me to ask:
Q. It's still OK for Canadian production companies to hire WGC writers then sell the product to US networks?
Yes. The US market is a big part of the payday for any Canadian project, so if we couldn't sell to the States, we'd have to shut our industry down too. We've agreed not to scab -- write on US shows -- but it would be a bit much to ask Canadian writers, who don't get WGA rates or residuals, to stop work during a US strike.
This is a really minor issue. There are not that many Canadian shows that US audiences would cotton to. Our best shows are as good as anything on American TV, but our bad shows are considerably worse than American TV. (Tiny budgets and tinier writing rooms and non-writing producers will do that to you.) Even if we were to sell you TRAILER PARK BOYS and DURHAM COUNTY and the last 18 episodes of NAKED JOSH, and promote SLINGS AND ARROWS out of the Sundance Channel onto ABC, and throw in the US TV premiere of GINGER SNAPS, and assuming that THE BORDER is as good as I think it will be... that still leaves pretty big gaps in the schedule. You can add in the original British COUPLING (18 episodes over three seasons) and the original OFFICE and all 6 episodes of JEKYLL, but the gaping maw that is the US market will not be appeased even if you got the whole Commonwealth to shovel in product. I don't think a few Canadian shows will make the US network execs any less anxious to get their own scripted shows back on the air.
This would only become a problem if US studios asked Canadian producers to produce shows specifically for the American market, with stories set in the US, starring US stars. Even if the strike were guaranteed
to last six months, I don't see that happening. (If it did happen, I wouldn't work on one.)
Look, we love you guys. We respect you guys. We're turning down a lot of potential income by agreeing not to work for US producers, which will help you get a decent contract that we won't benefit from.
But tell you what. I'll make you a simple deal, WGC to WGA. If you guys will agree to stop selling into our market when we go on strike, we'll agree not to sell into your market when you're on strike.
Labels: guild, strike