MetaFilter, my favorite news aggregator, has a good post on the "tough times for screenwriters" meme, with lots and lots of actual screenwriters commenting
to flesh out the picture. Some say it's the aftermath of the writer's strike followed by the crappy economy. Others say it's the obsession studios have for idiotic projects like, I kid you not, MAGIC 8 BALL: THE MOVIE
Just for the record: any good screenwriter could probably come up with an interesting pitch for MAGIC 8-BALL: THE MOVIE. When you're writing a movie about a toy that comes with no narrative content, you can write anything you want. But why?
Anyway, there's an explanation of one-step deals and lots of other goodies. Check it out.