Writers Strike Expands Beyond Both Coasts

Thursday, November 8th 2007, 7:13 am
By: News On 6

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ While writers picket in Hollywood and New York, the impact of a strike entering its fourth day was being felt beyond the east and west coasts.

In Louisiana, crews on the set of ``K-Ville,'' a Fox police drama set in post-Katrina New Orleans, were filming the last episode written before the strike.

``I hope it ends soon,'' co-star Cole Hauser said Wednesday in between takes. ``I think it's too bad for this show. I think we were just starting to get on a roll, and hopefully the writers and the studios will figure it out in the next 30 days to a month and a half.''

Meanwhile, writers returned to the picket lines after their strike forced at least eight prime-time shows, including the popular NBC sitcom ``The Office,'' to halt production.

No new negotiations have been scheduled on the main sticking points between writers and producers: payments from DVDs and shows offered on the Internet.

One of the largest rallies Wednesday occurred outside the gates of the Disney studio in Burbank. About 60 people, including a number of powerful producer-writers known in the industry as ``showrunners,'' joined the protest, even though the networks expected many of them to report to work as managers during the strike.

Among them was Greg Daniels, executive producer of the ``The Office,'' who said filming stopped on the show after star Steve Carell refused to cross picket lines. Writers and actors from the show used their time on the picket line to make a video and post it on YouTube.

Sally Field, who won the best actress Oscar in 1979 for the pro-union film ``Norma Rae,'' left the set of her ABC show, ``Brothers & Sisters,'' to visit strikers outside the Disney lot.

Writers ``are not being allowed to participate in the future of the business,'' Field said. ``This can be a very lucrative field, but also incredibly insecure for all of the artists, writers, actors and directors.''

Mark Perry, executive producer of ``Brothers & Sisters,'' said filming on the show would end next week as it runs out of scripts.

At a Los Angeles studio, the cast of the ABC medical drama ``Grey's Anatomy,'' which joined writers on a picket line, said they were shooting scenes for their last scripted episode.

Patrick Dempsey, Ellen Pompeo, Sandra Oh, T.R. Knight, Justin Chambers, James Pickens Jr., Sara Ramirez, Eric Dane and Katherine Heigl spent their lunch breaks outside the Prospect Studios, where ``Grey's'' is filmed.

``We're supposed to be going until the end of May and right now our last shooting day will be Tuesday or Wednesday,'' Knight said. ``As actors, we're paid a different way than the writers, but there's also the crew to keep in mind. They are out of work as of next Wednesday.''

The strike began Monday after last-minute negotiations failed to produce a deal. The Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers said no new talks had been scheduled. Neither group offered further comment Wednesday.

Production of at least seven sitcoms has been halted because of the strike, and the hit ABC drama ``Desperate Housewives'' was scheduled to finish filming its latest episode because it had run out of scripts.

Along with ``The Office,'' sitcoms that will stop the cameras include ``Back to You,'' ``The New Adventures of Old Christine.'' ``Til Death,'' ``Rules of Engagement,'' ``Two and a Half Men'' and ``The Big Bang Theory.''

Networks were expected to announce plans for alternative programming in the coming days.

The strike immediately brought repeats of late-night comedy shows, but it was not expected to have an immediate impact on production of movies. Most studios have stockpiled dozens of movie scripts, and many TV shows have scripts or completed shows in hand to last until early next year.

Writers have not gone on strike since 1988, when the walkout lasted 22 weeks and cost the industry more than $500 million.