I love my show. I miss my show. I work with some tremendously cool people, and I want us all to be able to come back and finish filming the second season. But, I also support the writer's strike and I want the WGA to get a fair deal - which is how I come to be here in the first place, but that's a story for another day.
Teri Bolke works below-the-line on The Riches, which is currently on forced hiatus. She'll be contributing to the blog until the AMPTP gets around to negotiating a fair deal, so she can go back to her job.
When I was a kid, my dad used to weave long, involved stories for me. Some were set against music - a battle of ghosts in The Grand Canyon Suite - some were simplifications of the giants of science fiction writing - Bradbury, Asimov, Clark, Pohl and Company - but most were just woven from his bizarre, sweet, endless imagination and he always encouraged me to play along, branch a path, change an ending. Story and the collaborative method were things fundamental to my growing up, so I wasn't really surprised when, after 14 years in law enforcement, story came siren calling.
The low budget indy world is rough; little to no pay, long hours, mostly mediocre food, but it lets you learn, makes you lifelong friends and starts the networking. That came in damn handy when my former employer decided to lay me off with no notice, on my day off, after 19 years and 3 months of loyal service. A union buddy called me about a day player gig on a TV show a few weeks later, and that day play got me a paid production assistant job on the same show a couple months after that. Of course, then the writer's strike hit, but my show was lucky enough to make it almost all the way to Christmas before we ran out of script.
The strike was naturally a topic of conversation over the dinner table at my uncle's house on Christmas Day - part of that whole "so what have you been up to this year" roundtable catch up, along with, "Are you dating anyone?", "God, I want grandkids", "That British comic that crossdresses? He's fantastic!", and "I never liked your other job anyway." [Ahhh, family...don't ever change.]
I was happily surprised to find that one of my cousins was so well informed, and furious on the writers' behalf. The rest of the table had only heard bits and pieces - Heaven forbid there should be quality coverage of all aspects of the strike from news outlets - so when I did a really quick sum up of the situation, the room was outraged. My two closest friends had similar experiences with their families as well; my best friend's mom declaring the Alliance literal thieves. To our families it's ridiculously simple: you work, you get paid. And the notion that the AMPTP couldn't afford the deal with the Guild was literally met with laughter.
It was heartening to know that everyday people, joe and jane citizen - or in my family's case, guiseppe and josephina - members of the audience, care strongly about what's happening. But, like everyone else, they too worry about the strike dragging on.
When I brought up the Letterman deal, they all got excited and saw the potential for it being a turning point. Praise was heartfelt for the news that hosts like Leno and Kimmel were paying their staffs out of pocket - my family are WWII refugees on both sides. They appreciate generosity and sacrifice, and they admire all the late-night hosts for theirs.
But the table had nothing but scorn for networks forcing the shows back on the air without their writers. They understand the difference between blaming Leno for a less-than-stellar show that has no writers (they won't) and blaming the network for refusing to make a deal with the WGA so Leno can put on a great show (they will.)
When I brought up some of the issues that could have scuttled the deal, like ad revenues, they were quickly dismissed as happening anyway. My cousin went on to point out the advantage that Letterman would have being back on the air with writers, and how good that would make the Guild look, both in terms of criticisms of being intractable, and in quality of content. Letterman would have an advantage - so his network would have an advantage - because it's back on the air with writers, and that advantage could have the potential to nudge the fence-sitters, "see what happens when you make a deal with the Guild?" And sure, that means there will be writers working while others aren't, but you can only solve a problem one step at a time. Sharp guy, my cousin.
I'm proud of my immigrant roots, proud of my union, working class roots, proud of my below-the-line roots, but I'm also proud of the WGA. The deal with Worldwide Pants is a gamble in a lot of ways, and gambling takes guts, but nothing worth having in this world was ever easy.