As expected, networks and studios “with deep tremendous and heartfelt regret” wasted not a nanosecond evoking force majeure to terminate overall deals all over town. Their real regret is that they couldn’t do it Christmas Eve. Over fifty deals killed already.
The 20th Century Fox tear-stained press release said, "Because of the adverse effects of the ongoing WGA strike on our business, we have been forced to terminate overall deals with a number of talented writers and producers.”
FORCED? FOX was forced? The week that AMERICAN IDOL returns? Three weeks before they carry the Superbowl? Two days after their new TERMINATOR show premiered to record numbers? Where's all that money they made by selling the Dodgers?
Any writer or director or non-writing producer who had a deal and didn’t have a HIT show currently on the air was axed. ALIENS IN AMERICA (great buzz, bad numbers), K-VILLE (bad buzz), JOURNEYMAN (no buzz) -- the creators who they loved in July were kicked to the curb in January. Even actors like Hugh Jackman saw his production company heave-ho'ed. Good luck CBS getting him to host the Tony awards anytime in the next ten years.
The worst offender of course was Disney (that bastion of family values). Their TV production arm, Touchstone ABC, dumped thirty overall deals. 20th, CBS Paramount, WBTV, and UMS only terminated half that number. So far. They're the studios with a heart.
When every one of these development deals were originally announced in the trades, invariably the studio president was quoted as saying they were so “thrilled to be in business with X, X has such a unique voice, X is just the kind of writer we want at this studio, X is so gifted, this deal begins what we know will become a long term partnership. “
And now, these same unique gifted talented artists? Get the fuck off the lot! NOW!!!
Most if not all of these writers will work again after the strike. At least one will go on to create a monster hit. And there will be some studio that let him get away thus losing out on a billion dollars. But hey, they sure showed him!
Other fired writers will turn to the internet and other venues when the strike is over. And the studios will get pilots picked up subject to A-list show runners being attached and guess what? They’re not available. Or they’re not interested. Some projects will go up in smoke. And these A-list show runners were already right there on their lots, just sitting in their bullpens, ready to go.
Yes, the networks and studios have tremendous regret…at least they will in another year. In the meantime, enjoy the little money you save. Don’t spend it all on one victory lunch.