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As the Storm Clouds Gather

Happy New Year, Hollywood!

Break out the bubbly. Dance the night away. Plant kisses on your true love’s cheek. You might even swing from chandeliers or jump into the pool at the Beverly Hills Hotel in your tuxes and gowns. If the doomsayers are right, the next six months could be the last happy times for Tinseltown for quite a while.

At 12:01 a.m. on May 2, the Writers Guild of America contract expires with the movie studios and major film and TV producers. Two months later, on June 30, the Screen Actors Guild contract expires too.

What happens after that is really anybody’s guess, but with the very likely prospect of two crippling strikes shutting down movie and television production over the summer and into the fall, Hollywood is on a frenetic pace to green-light and rush into production as many films as possible before actors take to the picket lines to join their writing brethren.

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In TV, networks are speeding up orders of movies and miniseries, and the producers of reality programming that doesn’t require scripts or actors are revving up production and pitching new concepts to networks, who will scramble to fill schedules if strikes put comedy and drama production on hold.

In a special report by Calendar movie and television reporters, we examine the impact of the potential strikes. And a TV writer-producer who found himself on both sides of the protracted 1988 writers’ strike recalls how labor discord can escalate into a bitter shutdown that no one really wants.


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