The sounds of silence

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The sounds of silence
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The week of November 12, 2007
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As the writers' strike continues, questions loom about what it could mean for the future of Guiding Light, and the future of daytime in general.

It occurred to me last week as I was furiously typing (which is how I usually do the column each week) that I was writing about the story and not about the show itself - and the writers strike that now affects most television productions in this country. Since the show tapes so far in advance, I thought in my heart of hearts that we would be safe. That the show could "go on" and we'd have nothing to worry about.

But each day the strike continues makes me a little more nervous. Before you go assuming I am for (or against) the strike let me give full disclosure. My dad worked for 47 years for Bethlehem Steel until he retired in 1998. He was a union guy through and through - I've even walked the picket line with him on occasion - and wrote essays about it for school. It was a pretty interesting experience. I can't recall all of what they were striking for, but it was a cool thing to see up close and personal.

I do know that this strike is - as most strikes are - at least in part - about money. And that television shows re-package their product and get more ad revenue than just the money from ads you see each day during the show. I have watched GL online (although not at work anymore - the boss isn't a fan of it - even on a lunch break) and they do run ads several times during the hour. Most primetime shows also sell DVD's of their seasons (and I have bought a number of these myself) and make even more money than they did on just the one airing of the show itself. Which means there is more money out there to be divided however the networks see fit. The writers are striking to get a better piece of the pie.

But when all is said and done, there are some fundamental things that worry me. While the writers strike - as is there right - people aren't working. And not getting paid. Gas is $3.00/gallon here in Maryland (and I live in the boonies) and getting higher. Everything is more expensive these days, and being the practical person I am I do worry about the strikers and those they affect. How will they live? How will they eat? I am a huge worrywart, I know - but it does worry me nonetheless. I know that many unions have strike funds - but how long will they last? Believe me, when my Dad was on strike I had a million questions - mostly about how it would affect me ; )

Then my thoughts take a totally selfish turn. What if this strike lasts so long that GL - and other shows - are taken off the air? I seriously doubt GL would air re-runs and if we go off the air - and even come back on at some point - will the fans return? Our ratings can't get a whole lot worse - so this is a major concern for many fans I've heard from.

I mean I've watched GL since I was 9 years old (and I'm 40 now). Other than my blood relatives this is the longest relationship of my life. The characters, the show, it's like a family to me. And I know that many of you feel the same way. But I also feel that the writers deserve to be paid fairly - as do all of the cast and crew. GL is cutting budgets right and left - going to more remotes around NYC and doing hand held camera work - so how will this affect their bottom line?

Thanksgiving is just weeks away now, and I'd love to see this strike resolved so that the writers can get their fair share. And the cast and crew can go back to work (not all of them are as well paid as you think - and living in the NYC area is not cheap at all). And the fans can keep on tuning in to our beloved little corner of the world called Springfield.


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