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Damon Lindelof on the Writers Strike

Published November 12, 2007 in Television
By Fred Topel | Image property of ABC.
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People living in Los Angeles have grown used to driving by picket lines all around town. Members of the Writer's Guild of America are protesting outside their respective studios in the hopes of negotiating compensation for internet sales. Die hard fans of certain shows may even recognize the creators of their obsessions standing out with their colleagues, getting their hands dirty. Lost show runner Damon Lindelof is committed to getting writers a fair deal.

Lindelof Gives Us the Lastest from the Writers Strike


"I think a turning point is coming soon which is essentially is this sort of a nuisance that we had to deal with for a week or is this our new life," said Lindelof. "The real effects of a writer's strike are being felt immediately I think, but they'll be felt very profoundly in about two months when all of television shuts down and they lose pilot season. I can only assume that the mood on the other side of the gate is the same that it is out here which is very serious and very somber. It's a sad thing. I don't think either side wants there to be a strike and they're conducting themselves accordingly."

The notion of internet sales hit home for Lindelof when he was caught by surprise in his private life. "Two and a half years ago, I walked into an Apple store and saw Lost and Desperate Housewives and Grey's all over the place in signage and nobody had thought to tell J.J. or Carlton or myself that this was happening. So the companies are well aware that the future of the business is in new media. Now we just have to catch up with them."



With Lost already scheduled for a January start and an abbreviated season, the strike could put a kibosh on everything for a while. "We wrote eight scripts and edited two shows, so there are six shows that are not being cut and will be in production through Thanksgiving shooting the eighth episode. Worst case scenario, there will be no season period. It's sort of like only half the season is written, so it'd be like saying to J.K. Rowling, 'Let's take book seven of Harry Potter and break it into two halves. We'll call one book seven and one book eight.' She'd say, 'But it's not a complete book. Why would you do that?' That's kind of how we feel about it."

This is not an easy prospect for guys like Lindelof. They just hope the end justifies the means. "The reality is we're going to lose more money by being on strike for just a month than we'd ever make back over our lifetime if they give us the deal that we're asking for in new media. The problem is that we used to make a fair amount of our residual payments, which would provide us with our health care, our pension, everything else as a result of reruns or VHS or international sales. All those things are going away. The future of the business is migrating completely towards the internet so we're basically doing the same thing that the studios are, which is we're trying to take all of our eggs from the old school basket and put them in the new school basket. That really is a very serious issue. Most writers aren't employed anymore beyond the age of 45. It's a young man's business, young man and women's business. Not unlike professional sports teams, we get compensated so well because they don't want to have us working for them that long."

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Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of ABC.
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