Tuned In

Strike Watch: Tuned In Forces Sides Back to Bargaining Table!

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No sooner did the sun go down on Friday, the last official day of my vacation work stoppage, than I saw that my bold labor action had its intended effect, as the producers and writers agreed to resume contract negotiations a week from today. Because let’s face it. People can go a few months without new episodes of The Office. But take away their TV recaps and gadfly pop-culture criticism, and the whole freakin’ house of cards falls down. Not just Hollywood, but our nation’s very economy is threatened.

That said, I’m surprised (pleasantly) to see this happen so soon, and will be shocked (pleasantly) if much comes of it right away. Both sides seem to believe believe they can put a major hurt on the other once the pipeline of scripted TV starts to dry up. And if that’s the case, I don’t see either side having incentive to give much until we get into next year and we start seeing what kind of ratings the networks’ substitute programming pulls. (And whether the losses from advertising are offset by lower production costs, plus the money saved when and if the studios use the strike as an excuse to get out of pricey contracts with writer-producers.)

Unless, of course, the parties mutually realize that they both stand to lose far more in a prolonged strike, if some of the audience (especially for expensive scripted network shows) gets so used to the alternatives that they don’t come back. But that would require an outbreak of common sense.

So don’t get your hopes up yet. Also, get your hopes up! Way up!