The Office is closed

and how we can help reopen it

If you’ve been keeping up with any TV sites, you know the Writers Guild of America (WGA) is on strike. In order to show solidarity, show runner Greg Daniels is picketing with the writers, and Steve Carell refuses to cross the line, so production of the show had to be shut down.

How many more new episodes are there?
– There are no new episodes ready after Nov. 15th

Does this mean Season 4 is (almost) over?
– It’s a possibility depending on how long the strike lasts. Greg Daniels said that roughly every month the strike lasts, about 4 episode will be shaved off the season. The last Hollywood writers strike in the late 80’s lasted 22 weeks.

Why are the writers on strike?
– DVDs and “New Media” (Internet, iTunes, etc.)

Writers receive very little “residuals” for DVDs. For a $20 DVD, writers get about 4 cents. This rate was established in 1985 before home video became the huge market that it is today. Writers get the same percentage for Amazon and iTunes downloads, even though downloads don’t have the manufacturing costs DVDs have.

As it stands now, writers (and actors, directors, crew, etc) are getting nothing for “new media”. When you watch a repeat episode of The Office on TV, the writers get residuals per their contracts. However when you stream an episode online, the writers get nothing because the studios consider internet streaming “promotional”. But as we can clearly see, advertisements are run with online videos, meaning money is being made. This isn’t a huge deal now, but it will be in the future as the trend continues towards online streaming and internet downloads. For example, ABC doesn’t air repeats of LOST in favor of streaming it online, and other shows and studios will surely follow suit.

What can I do?Stay informed by reading blogs like United Hollywood or The LiveJournal WGA Supporters community. And of course, OfficeTally.com is your best source of Office-related strike news.

Don’t watch The Office on NBC.com (or any of your favorite scripted shows on any website). I know it’s streaming for free, but this is the issue that’s the very core of the strike. It’s easy for you to stream, it’s easy for studios to sell ads, and it’s easy for them to pass it off as “promotional” and not pay the people who actually created the show a dime. In fact, I’m boycotting NBC.com and other network websites altogether (course, it’s easy for me, I’m not in the US so I can’t view any of the videos anyway).

Don’t watch whatever crap reality show the networks air in place of your favorite scripted shows. There’s a ton of reality shows for a reason: they’re cheap to make, there’s no writers or actors unions to answer to, and they can draw a large audience (American Idol is the #1 show on TV after all). If this strike lasts, we will likely see a crop of new reality shows spring up. Don’t watch them! They’ll probably suck anyways! Edit: NBC just announced that the crap reality show they’re going to air if the strike continues is The Celebrity Apprentice. I would tell you to avoid this show anyway, but the fact that it’s set to air in The Office’s time slot starting Jan. 3rd is making tell you to REALLY avoid the show, and make your friends avoid it too.

*- Send in letters This is the most important one, if you can only do one thing, do this. Yeah, I know, I don’t remember the last time I wrote a letter either, but a thousand letters in someone’s office always has more impact than a thousand emails in someone’s inbox. Show your love for The Office by sending a nicely worded letter about how you love The Office (or any NBC show) to one of these address, or better yet, all of them:

Jeff Zucker
30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY 10112

Universal Studios
100 Universal City Plaza
Universal Studios, CA 91608

NBC Studios
3000 W. Alameda Ave.
Burbank, CA 91523

And spread the word! Blog, email, or just tell your friends. Internet buzz has saved many shows, we can save The Office!

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