Art and Entertainment

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Striking TV Writers Gravitate to the Web

December 24, 2007 12:01 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
As dramas and talk shows dry up, and pressured networks ponder a season rife with new reality shows, writers look to Internet start-ups to evade the Hollywood studio system.

30-Second Summary

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The Los Angeles Times reports that dozens of Writers Guild of America strikers are negotiating with Silicon Valley investors to set up Web-based video entertainment companies. 

Although the number of writers engaged in these initial talks is relatively small, the Times notes that the prospective loss of talent could pressure studios to reach an agreement with the Guild and end the nearly seven-week-old strike.

Indeed, the impact of these new Web ventures could have repercussions beyond the current walkout. Facebook director Jim Breyer, and his venture firm Accel Partners, has been mulling over content deals that would rely strictly on his Web site’s platform.

“It is likely we will make investments in Los Angeles screenwriter/content-oriented companies in 2008,” Breyer told the Times. Breyer and Facebook are apparently not alone among investors looking to harness the dormant writers.

This latest development comes nearly two weeks after the four major networks—ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox—announced plans to increase their reality television offerings by 50 percent.

The push for reality programming could allow these new ventures to snap up bored audiences, in addition to wooing the younger, more Internet-savvy viewers who already watch Web-based entertainment.

"We are one Connecticut hedge-fund checkbook, one Silicon Valley server farm and two creators away from having channels on YouTube, where the studios don't own anything," the executive produce of one TV show told the Los Angeles Times.

Headline Link: Writers look to the Web

Background: The coming flood of reality TV

Historical Context: The 1988 strike and ‘Cops’

Analysis: The strike hits network pocketbooks

Related Topics: Viewers venture onto the Internet

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