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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Susan Campbell of Québec AM pre-interviewed me about the strike today. If you're in Québec but not in Montreal, you can listen to me pontificate at 8:20 tomorrow morning. If you're not, here are a few of the things that came up.

The main question for us is, what will the fallout be North of the border if the strike continues?

If you're a crew person or director, and you work on service productions (US shows shot in Canada), the strike is a disaster. Not many producers want to go into production with a "locked" script. Productions always need production rewrites -- cuts for budget and schedule, new scenes to bridge the cuts, changes for cast purposes or because the location is impossible or too expensive. So a lot of US shows won't be shooting up here, because they won't be shooting anywhere. (The strong Canadian dollar was already impacting US production in Canada, so the effect of the strike will be correspondingly diminished.)

The strike won't mean more work for WGC members. WGC members are bound to respect the strike and cannot work for struck employers in the US. That means WGC members also can't sell scripts or ideas to, or taking meetings with, struck US producers.

How about a silver lining?

You mean, aside from getting to go meet the staff of 30 ROCK on the picket line outside 30 Rockefeller Plaza? (And yes, I am TOTALLY going to go and join the picket line when I'm down in New York in two weeks. Yes, I know Ms. Fey will be on the set as an actor and producer.)

There could be a silver lining. If the strike goes for a long time, then the US networks will be needing content to fill their schedules. (Hell, CTV and Global will be needing content to fill their schedules. Isn't the CBC laughing now?) And there are only so many cool Brit shows they can air. Will they look to Canada?

I think they'll have to at least look. A few Canadian shows are airing in the States: DE GRASSI, SLINGS AND ARROWS, CORNER GAS, WHISTLER. My show NAKED JOSH aired on Oxygen. I think these shows ought to have put to bed the notion that Canadian shows are all poor-quality low-budget rip-offs of American shows. There ought to be a home for DURHAM COUNTY. There ought to be a home for TRAILER PARK BOYS. And how about LITTLE MOSQUE ON THE PRAIRIE?

I'm developing a show for The Movie Network that might be right for HBO. Would they buy a Canadian show? Unlikely. Would they buy a Canadian show if they have nothing else to air? Hmmmm... HBO can't exactly survive on reruns and reality shows.

My fond hope is that at some point media in the States will notice that we make a lot of good stuff here and start talking about the Canadian New Wave, the way they talked about the Australian New Wave when Peter Weir was shiny and new. That'll happen faster if there no US content to yak about.

The biggest fallout will have to wait until we find out who won the strike. If the WGA gets internet residuals, then the WGC might be able to get them. If the WGA caves, then there is no way the WGC is going to get them. So their strike is ours.

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Is a "pre-interview" an interview that takes place before the interview or what?

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:57 PM  

I have it on good authority from parties involved that a network that shall not be named is looking very seriously at both Durham County and Billable Hours ... hate to say this and not support my own countrymen on this score, but these two shows are being distributed by big international (read: non-Canadian) companies that had the clout to get them in the door in L.A. in a serious way.

By Blogger CAROLINE, at 6:58 PM  

Be sure to check the WGAe Web site for picket locations, which have been different each day so far --

Monday was Rockefeller Center in Manhattan, today was Silvercup Studios out in Queens County. Back in Manhattan tomorrow and Thursday --


"Wednesday, November 7th, the WGAE will be picketing Chelsea Piers in NYC from 9:00am – 5:00pm. Directions are below. We will be meeting on West Street/West Side Hwy. across from the Piers between 20th and 21st Streets.

"Thursday, November 8th, the WGAE will be picketing at the Time Warner Center from 9:00am – 5:00pm. Directions are below. We will be meeting on the sidewalk outside of the Time Warner Studio, between 58th and 60th Streets, Columbus Circle.

"... We will continue to picket various locations around New York City every day."

By Blogger dkbrklyn, at 2:16 AM  

Wow, I didn’t realize it would be so difficult for Canadian shows to get sold too. I’m British but have written a very US themed screenplay. A few British production companies have given good feedback (“strong writing, economically told and inventively structured script” but “because this is such an American story [this production company] isn't quite the right home for this one,” for example.) If you guys are having trouble getting stuff sold stateside then what chance have I got? Maybe I have to start writing about floppy haired fools and their amusing misunderstandings in polite social situations. Or go back to working in the bar.

By Blogger Jim, at 4:28 AM  

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