A frightful prospect for an effects house

Not much scares Todd Masters, who has built a career on creating body parts, slimy creatures and ghoulish effects for scores of films and TV shows, including "Snakes on a Plane" and the Showtime series "Dexter."

But he certainly fears what a writers strike might do to his business. His special effects company, which employs 20 people, depends on work commissioned by TV shows that include the new NBC series "Bionic Woman."

A writers strike "basically would take the floor out from underneath us," he said. "So we'll have to start pushing for more foreign production."

In anticipation of a sudden falloff in TV work, the Arleta company is turning to a strategy employed during the 1988 strike: developing a line of scary toys.

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Richard Verrier

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