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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Write On: Writers silently speak

Published: November 16, 2007
Section: Opinions

Ok, admit it, youre as upset as most other people that Greys Anatomy just may not air for some time after January. So why is this? What would prevent this popular show and countless others from airing?

Well, unless youve been living under a rock or relying on your TiVo to show you everything lately, Im sure youve heard of the writers strike thats going on. The Writers Guild of America recently decided to strike after having just about enough with those oh-so-powerful Hollywood producers.

Writers claim they arent compensated enough for the job they do. They desire more money that theyre being denied from sales of DVDs and the ever-increasing availability of TV shows on the Internet. This all sounds pretty reasonable, so why not approve their demands? Writers of books benefit from a copyright for a certain time to protect their intellectual work.

It seems like the Alliance of Motion Pictures and Television Producers are the ones being ridiculous, not the writers.

Lets think about this. Who are the ones slaving away, draining their intellectual fountains penning the ingenious one-liners we all laugh at during our favorite shows? Who writes those clever monologues for late-night television so many people tune into?

So now that weve established that writers play an extremely important role in the system that is television, why then would they be treated as afterthoughts? When A-list celebrities throw a big tantrum that theyre not earning enough (as if tens of millions isnt enough!), producers mostly jump to satisfy their demands because a happy star is a happy production team. But why are writers demands being ignored?

Sure, actors are the ones we watch on screen, the ones who ultimately are the face of and sell the product. But I tend to think that the writers have the tougher job, and therefore deserve more compensation.

For anyone whos ever pulled an all-nighter to produce that annoying paper you put off for weeks, you must know how daunting the task of creating a piece of writing can sometimes be. Personally, writing is very relaxing for me, but I even shudder to think that in the next few weeks, I have more papers than Id like to write. For these writers, the art of writing is one about which they are passionate, or otherwise they would have found some other career. But even those of us who love to write get stressed when it comes down to crunch time and we must produce something brilliant- and fast.

Not to bash actors, but it seems to me like they get the great end of the deal. They memorize some lines, get pampered and made up in the makeup chair, and get paid millions of dollars. Yet, the very people who write the lines that make these actors look great are often overlooked. The intellectual product seems no longer to be admired, rather the tool through which they are presented is glorified.

Yet, whos going to look good when January or whatever month rolls around and every show affected by the writers strike finds themselves without clever scripts and the guinea pigs who wrote them? Theyre going to have to start showing reruns, thats what. Not like thats anything new though, as they usually take a month off around the holidays anyway.

But still, people are in an uproar because they might just have to do without their favorite TV shows. And Im not going to lie;

Ill be quite upset if Greys Anatomy and Ugly Betty are off the air for a long time. These shows become a part of peoples routines, something to look forward to and laugh at.

But the very writers who create those opportunities to laugh seem to be laughed at by executives. In a recent article on E! News, AMPTP president Nick Counter called the writer one of our most highly regarded assets and one of our most highly rewarded. Now Im no economics expert, but it seems like this statement contradicts itself if writers are complaining that they dont earn as much as other members of the TV team.

Counter goes on to describe how writers demands for additional compensation would more than double the cost to producers. So, celebrities earn millions of dollars to have even just their name associated with a certain project, but the writers who create it cant be compensated a little more? That sounds fishy to me.

As the strike will prove, TV is heavily dependent on the minds of these writers and might just suffer for that if they dont discuss the issue just a little more. If networks just attempted to appreciate writers a little more, this probably wouldnt have happened.

Now theyre faced with the task of shutting down production or finding new, yet different writers. I dont know about you, but I dont think anyone can do justice to the spirit of our favorite TV shows as well as the people who created and cared for them so far.