Writers' strike ends most U.S. scripted TV work

Sun Dec 16, 2007 3:39pm EST
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By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Production on all but two of the last few scripted prime-time television shows shooting in Los Angeles ground to a halt on Friday as a crippling strike by Hollywood writers neared the end of its sixth week, an industry group said.

The dwindling production tally reported by the nonprofit FilmL.A. Inc, which handles location permits for the industry, was the latest sign of mounting damage caused by the worst labor confrontation to hit major studios in 20 years.

The cost of the strike in terms of lost TV production spending in Southern California alone has reached about $135 million a week, and idled some 10,000 crew members, according to FilmL.A. President Steve MacDonald.

With work stopped on nearly all the five dozen dramas and comedies normally produced this time of year in the Los Angeles area, and the supply of new episodes rapidly running out, the networks are bracing for a programming upheaval in January.

Viewers, who have seen little change since the strike began, will soon be treated to an onslaught of reality shows and reruns broadcasters plan to use in place of scripted shows halted by the walkout.

That could lead to further ratings woes for the major networks, three of which have already been forced to compensate advertisers with extra commercial time due to a shortfall in viewership at the outset of the current season.

Programming and ad sales for the next TV season are also likely to take a hit as development of "pilot" episodes for new series and networks' annual "upfront" presentations for those shows to advertisers get scaled back or scrapped.


<p>Comedian, writer and actor Richard Belzer walks with supporters and members of the Writers Guild of America as they picket outside the News Corp building in New York December 4, 2007. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton</p>