I'll Never Write a Novel

The Memoir of a Personal Essayist OR Confessions of a Theatre Widow

Monday, December 03, 2007

How's This Supposed to Work?

Sorry to be away so long... I have a couple items in the hopper, but nothing is completed to my liking. And, I know if I don't like it, God help me in amusing anyone else.

There's a writer's strike on. It is merely coincidence that my last post and the beginning of the strike match up, but I could say something about solidarity here. I can't. In any case, I caught a blurb today on imdb.com, an entertainment website, and it piqued my fancy (can fancy be piqued?).

When Does Ad-Libbing Constitute Writing?
Although it is commonplace for actors to ad-lib lines during the production of motion pictures, a thorny question has arisen over whether actors who are also members of the Writers Guild of America may be allowed to do so, the Los Angeles Times observed Saturday. The newspaper noted that while motion picture production has gone ahead on schedule, "habitual" on-set script polishing has been eliminated and some filmmakers, including WGA members, have been left "unsure about what is permissible." The Times commented that comedies, in which many funny lines are made up on the set, have been particularly affected by the strike. "Although actors are still free to improvise," the newspaper observed, "they can't be directly coached into what to say, creating bizarre situations in which writers and directors are using every technique short of hypnosis to get actors to change dialogue."

This is mind-blowing to me. Actors and writers are artists and you would think that the point of the strike is to be able to have creative license and benefit from good work. This is like binding a dancer's feet and asking them to dance, isn't it? What result will this have on the films and TV shows being produced during the strike? Are you telling me ad-libbers, like Vince Vaughn, Ben Stiller, etc., can't do what they do best on set? Will their be a glut of lackluster film on the market just before the stuff runs out completely?

Wow! I know a lot of actors and this sounds counter to how they work best.

As for the strike itself, I am so sad. Sad because tonight's my last night of new episodes of "Heroes" and "How I Met Your Mother." Sad because I have a real place in my heart for out of work actors and artists. Sad, also, because I hate seeing art being short-changed and taken for granted. Clearly the writers are the reason everything we see happens. The entertainment business is coming to a standstill without them. They should be able to benefit from their work every time people enjoy it. We do, don't we.

So, now, I am stepping down from my soap box, and asking... What do you think about actors being restricted on set? What are your thoughts on the WGA strike? Ideas for a solution, anyone?


Blogger BethanyWD said...

I am totally pro-writer's guild, but the type of issues that you wrote about are SO VERY interesting to me. I can't wait to see how this thing plays out...

9:52 PM  
Blogger Camille said...

I am also totally pro-writers guild. They are trying to make things better for the future and also all future writer who will join (hopefully Matt will be one of them after the strike is done). I just try to remember that things will be better once it's over.

Right now it's having a negative effect in town - local economy is losing 20+ million dollars a day, jobs are scarce, and still everyone wants a piece of the industry. It is an interesting process to watch and in a way, be a part of.

I've also talked to a lot of people who just don't think about how much writers contribute to entertainment as a whole, which really upsets me.

5:08 PM  
Anonymous Noreen said...

For the record, I am also Pro-Writer. They are clearly the heart of the work that goes on, and you can tell because Hollywood has basically come to a standstill without them. Their claims are totally valid and I hope they get what they need, and soon!! Go writers!

10:14 AM  

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