You may have heard that the Writers Guild of America has been in negotiations with the studios and producers (along with a federal mediator) for a new contract and according to reports the parties failed to come to an agreement Wednesday before the current contract expired at midnight. Although the WGA did not call for a strike immediately, industry watchers expect one could be called for within a week. [UPDATE: Variety: Strike set to start Monday] However, it appears a strike will not impact Star Trek which starts shooting next Wednesday. Variety lists Star Trek as one of the films Paramount has ‘ready to go’ despite the possible strike. Executive producer and co-writer Roberto Orci tells TrekMovie.com that Paramount and the team have been working on the assumption of a strike for months. “The script is in great shape and we had a long lead time,” said Orci confidently.
Over the last few weeks they have made tweaks to help fit the dialog to the actors cast during October (such as Chris Pine, Karl Urban Simon Pegg, John Cho and Eric Bana). “JJ [Abrams] and I have been up to the wee hours of the morning getting it all together,” Says Orci. The writer joked that they have planned to go ‘pencils down’ at midnight Wednesday, but they will “always take advantage of every minute and second of time to try and improve anything and everything possible” if negotiations continue. Orci even joked that the strike has its benefits. “For once I will actually see our script on screen,” quipped the scribe. That being said there are still opportunities for changes. During a strike neither the writers, nor JJ Abrams (who is a guild member) can add anything to the script, however a producer can choose to use portions of any previous drafts of the script. In addition, spontaneous or ad libbed dialog from the actors is allowed.
Unlike the last strike this one would be limited to the writers. All the other major unions in Hollywood have notified their members to honor their contracts. The one possible snag could be from the Teamsters (drivers, production coordinators and location managers) which will not strike, but did tell its members that they could ‘as individuals’ honor picket lines. However, indications are that this will not impact the film.
Trek’s last writers strike
The is not the first time Paramount and Star Trek have dealt with a WGA strike. The last one started in March of 1988 during the first season of Star Trek The Next Generation. Strikes tend to effect TV more and TNG (which already had problems in its writers room) was not ready. The strike started during the shooting of the season one finale “The Neutral Zone” and the producers had to go forward on a draft that would have normally gone through more of a polish. The strike lasted until August and during that time no scripts could be developed. This shorted the second season by four episodes and delayed the premiere until November. In order to speed up development, the season premiere “The Child” was a reworked Star Trek Phase II script. TNG Executive Producer Rick Berman has also stated that much panned ‘clip show’ season two finale “Shades of Grey” was a result of strike as well. During the period while the show was off the air Paramount produced a two hour special to placate affiliates called “The Star Trek Saga: From One Generation To The Next” which showed the TOS episode “The Cage” in color for the first time.
Variety 10/30: Studios prep backup plan – despite strike many films ready to go
Variety 10/31: Strike in limbo as contract expires