Monday, November 5, 2007

Sharing My Thoughts On the WGA Strike With DHD's Nikki Fikke

Earlier this morning, I sent a e-mail to Nikki Fikke at Deadline Hollywood Daily sharing with her my thoughts on the Writers' Guild strike now impacting the entertainment industry:

Dear Nikki:

It is a matter of time before the ripple effect of the WGA strike is felt -- television tapings cancelled, impacting everyone from those who work behind the camera to those manning the craft services table to even the non-union extras struggling to line up gigs to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. But beyond the potential repercussions and other ramifications stemming from the strike, there are other peripherial stories waiting to be heard as well.

I could have whored around Hollywood as a screenwriter-for-hire, but I instead chose to follow my conscience -- and my better instincts -- by writing for the stage instead.

It is not just the authorial autonomy and the authorial control that attracted me, it is the concept of the primacy of the author -- that amazing, remarkable power from which else all derives. Why do you think there's such an adversarial relationship between writers and the corporate suite, one where writers in Hollywood are viewed with such distain? To quote Gloria Steimen, "The powerless know the powerful better than vice versa."

This is what you need to understand: A dramatist -- be it on the stage or the screen -- may be invisible, but on the written page, the author's personality rings loud and clear -- his personality, his writing style, his intellect, his vocabulary, the milieu of the play's settings -- is all that defines the author and his works.

As I write this, I've penned over thirty full-length plays, with a few more in various stages of completion. One of the basic tenets as a writer is, that as a writer, you write what you know. And knowledge is more often than not acquired through various means -- be it through education, the Internet, the public library, a Lexis-Nexis database, or whatever. Knowledge is power, and power is knowledge. Why do think there's such a strong anti-intellectual strain among those in the executive suites?

My experiences in graduate school mirror those of the writers manning the picket lines: Their raw creativity and originality is being diluted and subverted by knowing-little and caring-even-less business suits whose judgment calls reek of the foul, fetid aroma of hubris. They are too obtuse to see what they have in the source material, and they can't bring themselves to acknowledge that. Perhaps they are so intimidated by originality they feel so inferior to where they have to tear down others just so they can feel better about themselves.

Later today, as I go on my daily power walk, I will be joining the rank-and-file on the picket lines. Perhaps it's my way of making a statement and sending a message to the powerful. If there's strength in numbers, then the numerical might be exercise power in a way no one could even imagine.

For Nikki's up-to-the minute coverage of the WGA strike, visit her web site at Deadline Hollywood Daily. And for more perspectives and news on the WGA strike, go online and visit the Huffington Post.

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