Last Updated: November 5, 2007By

(By Ali Naderzad, SCREEN COMMENT) As of press time the strike, which was scheduled to start at 12:01 am today looked like a concerted effort. 12,000 screenwriters represented by Writers Guild East and Writers Guild West have begun the first industry-wide walkout since 1988. A contract between the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents the studios and other producers, expired on Wednesday night. The Guild is demanding a bigger taste of profits from DVD sales and internet downloads, among other things. A spokesman for the studio has commented that the average income for a guild writer is $200,000 a year. Starting today picketing rallies are taking place in four-hour shifts around Hollywood’s production lots–the aim? The shutdown of as many productions as possible. In New York City picketing will take place in front of Rockefeller Center, which houses a number of media companies. As the first day of the Writers Guild strike gets underway, a closer look at its demographics seems pertinent–who are these men and women who are responsible for everything spoken on-screen, from feature films to late-night talk shows? Not everyone in your Writers Guild is earning 50,000 to 75,000 a year (the median salary for Los Angeles county is about 55,000). “Name” screenwriters who are also guild members can expect to take home from $1 to $4 million per year. How does this disparity affect the strike effort? At first this may not have a major effect. Should the strike carry on for a while, however, those better positioned writers may start feeling the contractual pinch as well as the networks’ resentment. Stay tuned to SCREEN COMMENT for news from the picket line (photo from CNN.COM) © 2007 Ali Naderzad

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