Hollywood Writers Strike Over DVD and Internet Revenues

This is a rush transcript from "The Big Story With John Gibson and Heather Nauert," November 5, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

HEATHER NAUERT, CO-HOST: The pens are down and the writers are out.

BILL HEMMER, GUEST HOST: Coast to coast, TV and film writers have hit the picket lines. Where would we be without them we say? Demanding more cash from DVD and internet sales of their movies and TV shows. It is the first walkout by writers in nearly 20 years, 1988. It could affect some of the shows you watch beginning today, soap operas, late-night talk shows. "Big Story" correspondent Douglas Kennedy hit the picket line today with the rats and everybody else out there.

DOUGLAS KENNEDY, BIG STORY CORRESPONDENT: That's right Bill. Yet, tonight, all late-night talk shows will be in reruns, their writers refusing to write. Instead they spent their day picketing producers who they say are cheating them out of the internet revenue.


What do we want?


When do we want it? Now!

KENNEDY (voice-over): They're out here, which means you won't be able to watch fresh material from them in your bedroom tonight. Jon Stewart explained it this way on his show last Thursday.

JON STEWART: You may have noticed tonight that I was using a lot of words. It's because there may or may not be a writer's strike next week and so I was trying to get in as many words as I could before something like that happened.

KENNEDY: Luckily he did, because it did happen. 12,000 members of the Writers Guild exchanged their pens for picket signs and walked the lines in Los Angeles and New York. At Rockefeller Plaza, they were joined by celebrity writers like Tina Fey and John Leguizamo. What are the issues here?

JOHN LEGUIZAMO, ACTOR AND WRITER: DVDs, Internet, they're not getting a taste of any of that.

TINA FEY: We're here to get residuals for the internet. Writers, actors, directors all need their fair share. We deserve it.

STEWART: There is a little bit of a discrepancy. The writers would like to get paid on what's called new media, the internet and such and the corporations are saying, they're just too new. We don't know if we make money or not. I don't know, we can't pay you anything!

KENNEDY: New media also includes DVD's and cell phone content. But the big cahuna for future entertainment is the internet. And it's the internet pie that has writers represented by the Writers Guild of America and media titans represented by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers at lager heads. What are the producers telling you?

JONATHAN BINES, WRITER: They want to say you will get nothing from this. We'll pay you once up front and that will be that. I don't see any writer accepting that proposition.

KENNEDY: Sitcoms and soaps will be affected sometime in the future. But night and daytime comedy shows will suffer immediately. "The Late Show with David Letterman" and "The Tonight Show," rely on writers to come up with fresh material daily.

JAY LENO: I'm a writer. I have always been a writer. See how un-fun I am now.

KENNEDY: It's unclear when and if they could re-staff. Jon Stewart announced his show will be in reruns while making the point how important the internet already is.

STEWART: We won't be here but while we're not here, you know you can check out all of our content on our new website, thedailyshow.com.

KENNEDY: A 1988 strike by the Writer's Guild caused havoc in the entertainment industry and cost media companies more than $500 million.

The last time you guys went out on strike, it lasted almost a half year. How long do you think it will last this time?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As long as it takes.


KENNEDY: That's tough talk that some say could keep the writers on strike for a long time. Industry analysts say soap operas could go first and then be in reruns within a week. The next to go will be sitcoms followed by next year's Hollywood movies. Get ready Bill and Heather for a little rerun watching.

HEMMER: That's why they made the DVR. Every writer in our newsroom right now is saying see Hemmer, see Heather, you're nothing without us! In 1988 when they went six months they ended careers for people. How will the shows go on now?

KENNEDY: You know, the writers have a little bit of a problem, because this time, the sitcoms really prepared for this, and they have scripts for a long time. Some of them have scripts for over a year, so that could be a real problem. It could go well for them if the Teamsters join in. The Teamsters have the casting agents and the truckers. If they join in, then they will shut production down.

NAUERT: Holy cow. Otherwise we might end up with even more reality TV.

KENNEDY: Well "A Team" for you Heather.

NAUERT: I can't wait. Thanks Douglas.

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