Writers Strike Looms – ‘Star Trek’ Ready For It [UPDATE: Strike To Start Monday]

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.

More:
Variety 10/30: Studios prep backup plan – despite strike many films ready to go
Variety 10/31: Strike in limbo as contract expires

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Al
November 1, 2007 12:58 am

Strike means No Shatner for sure

November 1, 2007 1:01 am

First?

This is good. I’m always a little uneasy when writers’ power is taken away, but, you know, it’s a strike, and it sounds like they’re ready. We can just hope for the best, and I doubt it will make a difference to what we see at Christmas next year. Hopefully my favorite television shows–Heroes, Lost, Galactica, ‘Gate–will be similarly undamaged, but this is more doubtful. Although SG:A films in Canadia, so are they similarly affected by the strike?

On the plus side, I didn’t realize shooting was coming up so soon.

Iowagirl
November 1, 2007 1:47 am

#1

Strike doesn’t necessarily mean end of life as we know it.

raulpetersen
November 1, 2007 2:40 am

if there not allowed to write will they still be allowed to post on this site? lol!

Luca AKA RuFFeD_UP AKA Lukas
November 1, 2007 3:08 am

LOL good call by #3

Bono Luthor
November 1, 2007 3:11 am

Only thing that means no Shatner for sure is when the film opens and there is no Shatner.

Until then there are always possibilities…

November 1, 2007 3:56 am

Heard on the radio this morning that Shatner is not in it for sure. Came here and saw no indication of that news…think I’ll trust this site before a local radio station.

BBK.

Sisko Is The Prophet, Peace Be Upon Him
November 1, 2007 4:05 am

i heard about the strike and am glad to see that the movie is OK…but i am still worried about what happens when something isnt working and JJ isnt allowed to get a quick rewrite….which is what they would normally do

also…correct me if I am wrong, but didnt the writer say that they could make the decision about Shater after shooting started? and now isnt he saying they cant do any more writing?

so does that mean that they have a scene written for shatner already? Is this the cameo that Shatner is refusing to do?

Paul
November 1, 2007 6:15 am

What are they striking for? They are generously overpaid already!

November 1, 2007 6:26 am

#9:”What are they striking for? They are generously overpaid already!”

No, they are not. :)

valentine
November 1, 2007 6:26 am

#9

Actors? Yes. Directors? Yes

Writers? Not by a long shot. A writer’s paycheck is *extremely* low, especially given how big their job, and work can be very hard to come by, which makes for a horrible combination.

November 1, 2007 6:42 am

On the one hand, you can work indoors and sitting down if you want to. It ain’t digging ditches.

On the other hand, every time the signatory studios find a new way to resell your work they seem to do their best to screw you out of your share.

There’s never any shortage of folks who either resent anyone they think is making more money than they are or who possess some badly-informed dislike of the very notion of collective bargaining – in fact, the two prejudices tend to travel together in America. C’est la guerre.

Pragmaticus
November 1, 2007 7:44 am

The film shoots until March. If the strike ends before then, rewrites and reshoots can happen.

Roberto, how long do you think the strike will last?

Noleuser
November 1, 2007 7:48 am

Wow, I never knew that about “The Child” or “Shades of Grey” very interesting, and I never knew that no one saw “The Cage” before ’88?!

T2
November 1, 2007 8:13 am

One can only wonder what 4 Season-2 episodes could have been. The reworked “Phase II” scripts, like “The Child” and “Devil’s Due” are episodes I would have loved to see the original crew do. Although I wonder who the mother would have been in “Phase II”, probably Ilia. As long as Trek XI isn’t stalled by the strike, I don’t care about it. It’s always about the money, not the projects/ideas. It’s becoming a disgusting business. And as for Shatner, if he’s not in the film, I’ll still see it. If he’s in the film, I’ll see it with more anticipation. If you’re going to introduce a new Kirk, the original should be there in some way (especially if they’re doing it for Spock).

DavidJ
November 1, 2007 8:20 am

I know they always say that making a movie or TV show is a “collaborative enterprise”, but I gotta imagine that the writers are still at the top of the list in terms of importance. So I’m all for them striking for more money.

It’s just a shame the studios are rushing so many movies (like JLA) into production with scripts that probably aren’t ready yet.

Gazzoo
November 1, 2007 8:23 am

“Star Trek V” was also hindered by a writers strike.

Insert Joke Here…

Cervantes
November 1, 2007 8:43 am

I’m all in favour for scriptwriters getting far more than they do now ( If only the bad ones could’nt be so rewarded too… ), as the majority are not sufficiently paid for their efforts, unlike many spoilt and OVERPAID actors/actresses.

Unfortunately, it seems that these actors/actresses are planning to follow the writer’s lead, and ALSO ask for more for work that ends up on other mediums such as the internet…the greedy swine…

As for actors being allowed to do ‘spontaneous or ad libbed dialog’…now I DEFINATELY want the Shat in on this thing… ;)

ONE more week till shooting commences!

scott
November 1, 2007 8:45 am

Screw Hollywood!

Trek Man
November 1, 2007 8:51 am

#14 ‘I never knew that no one saw “The Cage” before ‘88?! ‘

People had seen it, but only in black and white!

November 1, 2007 9:20 am

Yeah, since the mid-1970s Roddenberry had been showing the black-and-white work print of “The Cage” at college campuses as part of his speaking engagements (along with the “blooper reel”).

For the 20th anniversary of Trek, Paramount had released a version of “The Cage” which combined black-and-white footage from the work print with color footage from “The Menagerie.” This was available on videotape and LaserDisc in 1986.

Shortly after that release, a color print of “The Cage” was discovered. This was combined (again) with color footage from “The Menagerie” (which was generally of higher quality) to create the all-color version of “The Cage” which aired for the first time as the core of “The Star Trek Saga: From One Generation To The Next” in 1988.

Because of the years-earlier release of the BW/Color version, some folks incorrectly infer that the all-Color version has been “colorized.”

I AM THX-1138
November 1, 2007 9:54 am

I remember rushing out to get that half BW/half color copy of The Cage when it came out in ’88, Dennis. At the time, it was like finding a lost treasure. Imagine, an episode of TOS that I hadn’t seen completely. It was mind blowing for me then.

Randall
November 1, 2007 10:00 am
It’s usually a big plus if a film script is tight and polished before shooting. More often than not, last minute rewrites result in a sloppy film. It isn’t so much that the words aren’t there in final form—it’s that the director and his production crew don’t have the time to properly block out the filming and the actors don’t have time to properly rehearse their roles. Last-minute writing often signals, also, a sloppy and/or hands-off director who isn’t taking proper charge of his project. Whereas, when the script is tight and finished well in advance, this gives time for the director, art director, cinematographer, etc. to plan the film out thoroughly shot-for-shot… which not only saves money and time, but usually makes for a much better, much more polished picture. If the new ST film is ready to go, then… that’s probably a positive sign. As for the how much writers are paid—in Hollywood, writers are paid the least of all the major “talent” in the system. If anything, if anyone was interested in reform, they’d find a way to scale back what actors are paid–which often reaches outlandish heights. On the other hand, the practice of a writer doing a story treatment, then a first draft, second draft… only to have another writer step in to do the final “polish” is sometimes a nasty one—the latecomer is sometimes a hack who ruins a potentially decent script, for no reason other than the fact that he is a disinterested… Read more »
November 1, 2007 10:19 am

#23:”As for the how much writers are paid—in Hollywood, writers are paid the least of all the major “talent” in the system. If anything, if anyone was interested in reform, they’d find a way to scale back what actors are paid–which often reaches outlandish heights.”

I hear ya. Something to bear in mind, though, is that of the talent involved in a movie or TV series probably no one’s career is ruined faster by fronting a couple of bombs than an actor’s – and they’re about as much at the mercy of people and factors beyond their control after they’ve done their work as anybody.

Cygnus-X1
November 1, 2007 10:23 am

Didn’t the WGA strike just a few years ago?

I think I remember them striking back toward the beginning of this decade and thinking, “Maybe that’s why movies of late have exhibited a creepy lack of creativity.”

Sadly, the rest of the decade since has not seen much improvement.

It seems like there’s been a lot of re-makes and lame comic-book films to come out of Hollywood during the past 7 years. Spiderman was the best of that lot and remains one of the top-grossing films of all time.

In that box-office gross seems to be a major indication of why writers are ostensibly undervalued by Hollywood studios.

Movies, especially big, dumb action movies, have a considerable built-in audience. People want to have fun on the weekends. They want to take their kids and their kids’ friends to a movie. What shall they see? Will they simply abstain if the movies showing happen to be of lesser quality because the WAG was on strike months prior? No, they’ll see whatever is being shown.

Hell, I’ve been in that situation plenty myself. Spending time with the family…want to see a movie…something we can all agree on….ah, Pirates of the Caribbean. That was always a fun ride at Disney World, and at long last, they have turned it into a movie. Action and adventure, here we come!

Randall
November 1, 2007 10:31 am
#24: ” hear ya. Something to bear in mind, though, is that of the talent involved in a movie or TV series probably no one’s career is ruined faster by fronting a couple of bombs than an actor’s – and they’re about as much at the mercy of people and factors beyond their control after they’ve done their work as anybody.” Very true; but actors can quickly recover from a bomb or two, provided the films weren’t hugely egregious in their level of “suckage” and especially if the actor wasn’t the central lead. A series of bombs, of course, can spell death to an actor’s career, certainly. (And sure, sometimes all it takes is one BAD one). A bomb for a director, though, can be especially debilitating, unless he/she has already garnered a reputation that overcomes it. (a director’s career can also be killed off if they turn in film after film that runs overbudget). But the thing we have to remember about actors is—the only thing there’s a “glut” of in Hollywood (in terms of talent) is actors. Talented writers are rare; most are hacks. Talented AND businesslike, efficient directors are perhaps even rarer. But one thing there’s a lot of is hungry actors and actresses. Sure, a Harrison Ford, a Tom Cruise, a Nicole Kidman, etc.—they have star power and bring people in. But for every one of them there are ten dozen others waiting in the wings who oftentimes have the same potential. The problem with paying… Read more »
Randall
November 1, 2007 10:35 am

#25: this is because of the economics of Hollywood today… as opposed to the economics of Hollywood in, say, the 40s. See my post above, in part… but also, what’s behind this in large measure is the takeover, of all the major Hollywood studios, 30 or so years ago, by the vast corporations that run Hollywood to this day. At that time Hollywood stopped being an industry whose *purpose* was to sell entertainment, and became a sub-industry whose *specialty* was selling entertainment, but whose *purpose* had become making money for the larger corporate overlord.

Kev-1
November 1, 2007 10:41 am

At the beginning of the strike residuals were an issue;that is the studios wanted writers to give up residual payments for reruns and DVDs. I presume the studios wanted to keep profiting in perpetuity but give writers something up front. Don’t know if that’s still the case.

Marvin the Martian
November 1, 2007 10:50 am
What’s driving this strike is not “the writers want more money.” WGA members have had the opportunity to strike a few times since their last strike in the 1980s, but have not, because they–like everyone else in Hollywood–realizes that a strike is bad for business and bad for everyone. There has to be a compelling reason, and this time, they have one. It’s all about the writers’ share of DVD sales and downloadable internet content. Since the last contract negotiation, TV boxed sets have exploded in popularity, and the writers’ share of these residuals are paltry at best. A few years ago, I had lunch with one of the executive producers of 24, and he admitted that their residuals on those boxed sets was almost negligible, even though it was the sales success of the Season One boxed set that drove the series to be a hit (the audience share rose 25% the following season and has remained high ever since). Now, with studios extending series like Lost and Battlestar Galactica into additional runs in order to squeeze another boxed set out of the remaining episodes, this has become a huge issue for many writers. Even bigger now, though, is internet content, like iTunes and Xbox downloads, and content sent to your cellphone. Writers get pretty much nothing out of these new broadcasting technologies, which are even cheaper to distribute than videotapes were in the 1980s, which prompted the last strike. I’ve read that anywhere from 20 to 50 percent… Read more »
I AM THX-1138
November 1, 2007 11:13 am

As a gifted writer on this site, I am compelled to honor the writer’s strike.

It’s just that right now is not a good time for me. Perhaps this weekend or later, when I don’t feel like sharing my thoughts. I know I might be busy around the Holidays. Does that work for everyone else?

Anthony, when can we expect our residuals? I have gift shopping coming up and I have deliberately underbooked myself to spend time with the fam.

roberto Orci
November 1, 2007 11:37 am

13

I really have no idea. The last one was 22 weeks. But I was in high school.

Harry Ballz
November 1, 2007 11:40 am

THX…..don’t worry, I’m sure Anthony will give that suggestion of yours all the consideration it deserves!

om
November 1, 2007 11:51 am
“I’ve read that anywhere from 20 to 50 percent of a writer’s income is from residuals, so this is why this has become such a major issue and a reason to strike. ” …Yeah, and 30-60% of the cost of VHS tapes during their heyday were due to the extortion extolled by the mafi…er, “unions” in their residuals scam. If the unions and “guilds” had their way, we’d not only be paying them “residuals” every time we watched a show, any time we referenced it or even *thought* about it. …Unions actually had a purpose once. A hundred fracking years ago, when the workers *were* getting the shaft. Nowadays, they exist for three purposes: 1) Extorting more money from the companies. 2) Guaranteeing less work for more money with lesser demands for higher quality work for their members. 3) Lining the pockets of those in charge of the unions. …That’s it. They exist not to protect the workers from abuse and neglect, they’re pulling what’s tadamount to an extortion scam whose sole purpose is to get more gold from the king and give nothing back in return. If the studios had any balls – much less common sense – they’d lock out the unions, hire only scabs, and when Congress claims that’s “illegal”, the studios then, en masse, point out that by supporting the unions, they’re going against the non-union *voters* – who, thanks to the unions in Hollywood being *very* closed-shop about letting new people in – would easily… Read more »
November 1, 2007 12:21 pm

#33 is sufficiently addressed in #12, paragraph 3.

Shatner_Fan_2000
November 1, 2007 12:27 pm

#30 … THX, I think someone should pay ME to have to read your posts!

(Just kidding, just kidding. :))

JCool
November 1, 2007 12:28 pm

I am ready for this movie!

I especially want to check out the PINE/QUINTO/URBAN dynamic

if they have chemistry or not..

RandyYeoman
November 1, 2007 12:42 pm

Mr. Orci
I hate to bring this up…but what of Shatner?

you said previously that you guys could make the shatner decision after shooting starts. And now you are saying the script is totally done.Assuming those two to be true there can be only one conclusion….Shatner’s role is in the script (or at least in one version).

I believe (as future President Colbert would say) I just ‘nailed you’

care to comment? and I, in advance, accept your appology

Lord Garth Formerly of Izar
November 1, 2007 12:58 pm

There will never be a strike in Imaginationland!!!!!

Imagination,,, Imagination!!! Imaaaaaaaaagination

November 1, 2007 1:20 pm

#37 You did not NAIL anyone. They will make an annoucement when and if they feel like it. It is our great fortune that roberto visits AND actually replies to us here….I would not try to FORCE an answer out of him or “NAIL” him. I am just thankful for any scraps and tidbits he chooses to throw our way.

November 1, 2007 1:21 pm

Oh and please just let Shatner go already. :-)

I AM THX-1138
November 1, 2007 1:28 pm

Shatner_Fan, you and I don’t always see eye-to-eye on everything. Still, that does not discount my brilliance.

(OK, that one made me throw up in my mouth a little.)

CmdrR
November 1, 2007 1:44 pm

Although, it would be cool if they didn’t have a new script so they had to spend $140M to remake “The Doomsday Machine.”
Ha. Just trying to stir up trouble….

David Sturm
November 1, 2007 1:49 pm

I’m still wondering what most WGA writers will do during a strike?

Write new things for future presentation, I suspect?

What a wonderful opportunity a strike presents to start developing new ideas and stories, new projects, etc.

And what of all the writers yet to achieve WGA status? Will it be an era of ‘we’ll read contributed scripts’ again in Hollywood while the strike goes on and on?

I’m glad to hear that Abrams and Orci approached Star Trek with the timeframe of the potential strike in mind! Sounds like it must have been a frenetic experience, trying to get all the revisions thought through and worked out and into the script pages before the ‘moke of stridnight’?

VulcanBabe
November 1, 2007 3:29 pm

“The script is in great shape and we had a long lead time,” said Orci confidently.

Is that a definite way of saying “No Shatner”? If they can’t change anything before filming, and the Shatner-less script is the only viable option…

November 1, 2007 6:43 pm

#43:”And what of all the writers yet to achieve WGA status? Will it be an era of ‘we’ll read contributed scripts’ again in Hollywood while the strike goes on and on?”

No. As in 1988, strikebreakers will be denied Guild membership thereafter.

Silhouette
November 1, 2007 6:58 pm

For most of us, news of the writer’s strike does not immediately bring up thoughts about William Shatner or if he will appear. It is not the subject.

GaryS
November 1, 2007 7:19 pm

glad to hear the script is in good shape cant wait to see the final result

Marvin the Martian
November 1, 2007 8:32 pm

#33. Gee, did that rant make you feel better? I hope so, because everything you said was horse manure, including your “figures” on home video, which were pulled out of your ass.

It helps to know what you’re talking about before ranting.

People asked what the reasons were behind the current move of the WGA membership to strike, and I provided some. If you don’t like unions as a general rule, that’s fine. But it’s irrelevant to the questions that were raised.

Harry Ballz
November 1, 2007 9:15 pm

Anthony, if any of us regular posters wrote anything like #48, you’d be threatening to ban us! Where’s the fairness in letting others come out with “flaming” remarks and then slapping us down for much less provocative stuff?

November 1, 2007 11:17 pm

Looks like the strike is happening. Here is to the writers getting their fair share! After all they are the basis of all the entertainment you are enjoying out there.

wpDiscuz