Writers Guild of America Strike

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On November 5, 2007, writers for film and TV Shows, including “Supernatural”, began a strike after the breakdown of negotiations between the union and AMPTP - the association representing more than 350 production companies and studios which employ them. The strike continued for over two months. As it went on it became unclear as to whether some series would return to complete their season or even return at all. Fandom throughout was anxious, but very supportive of the writers' cause, including organising petitions and fundraisers. When the strike was resolved, Supernatural ended up with a shortened season of 16 episodes, rather than the scheduled 22.

The main issues in dispute concerned payment (“residuals”) to writers arising from the distribution of film and TV in new media areas including DVD and the Internet. Playbill.

  • This short video provides an easy to understand explanation of what the WGA were asking for.

When the strike commenced, episodes up until 3.12 Jus in Bello were written for Supernatural, and shooting continued on them until the Christmas break. Jensen mentioned at Salute to Supernatural L.A. 2008 that while Kripke still had input as a producer, he couldn't make any changes to the scripts or comment on it from a writers' point of view, which Jensen joked meant he could do what he liked!

Originally 3.11 Mystery Spot, which was shot first, was to air after 3.12 Jus in Bello. Kripke said "It's such a big episode for us. And Phil Sgriccia, who directed some of our best episodes... he's directing this episode and it's just has an epic sweep to it. It's really on point with the demon mythology that we said we should slug this last and use it as a jerry-rigged season climax, in case we don't come back this season." Source

At the Nerd HQ panel at Comic Con 2011, Jared described how that Mystery Spot was originally considered to be an episode end that could be the season on, or even the series with a possible movie to tie up the story.

The strike finished on February 12th 2008 and four more episodes were filmed making a shortened season of sixteen episodes. 3.12 Jus in Bello - which introduced Lilith ended up airing after 3.11 Mystery Spot as a lead into another short break before the final four episodes for the season aired.

Kripke has discussed that the major effect on the plot arcs, was that the final episodes focused on the approach of Dean's deal deadline. Bela's story arc was also truncated. Kripke said of the main arc "We didn't have time to tell the story about Sam's powers and all that had to move to season 4. In the original versions we were thinking of before the strike, Sam was going to save Dean, and in typical Supernatural fashion, it was going to cost the boys dearly. But because we didn't have the time to develop Sam's powers there wasn't really anybody left to save Dean, so Dean had to go to Hell.

He continued; "Yes, we were going to save Dean, maybe even before the Season finale, but at the cost that Sam was now this fully operational dark force. Then Sam wants to make an assault on Lilith and he's working on his powers, and that's a big problem with Dean. So we get to end up roughly in the same place we were going to end up anyway, it's just instead of at the end of Season 3, it's later." (Source:Supernatural: Official Magazine Issue 8)

On March 3 2008, for the first time Supernatural's renewal for the next season was confirmed before the season ended.

Supernatural Writers

For details of what Jared and Jensen did during the extended hiatus check out the Supernatural Scrapbook Jan-June 2008.

Fandom Support

Timeline

Edlund at the picket l;ine
  • As the strike began Supernatural has 10-12 episodes completed; roughly five scripts that are ready to shoot. La Times

Trade publications state that fans view the strike as "as a bunch of rich people fighting over billions of dollars. They just want their shows to stay on; they don't care who gets what." Source

  • A new campaign,Pencils2MediaMoguls, was commenced to demonstrate that fans support for the writers. Inspired by the Jericho peanut campaign it involves sending boxes of pencils en masse to the studio and network bosses. (Fans of the show Jericho sent 20 tons of nuts to CBS as show of support for the show when it was cancelled, resulting in it belong renewed for a limited season]
  • On November 19th, media reports that Supernatural will be shutting down December, 5th. (Source)
  • After resuming negotiations on 26th November, negotiations again broke down on December 7. Source
  • December 29, the WGA have announced that they have made a deal with Worldwide Pants, the production company owned by Letterman, which produces both his and Craig Ferguson's shows. The deal includes the rights/residuals pertaining to new media that the WGA have been after, and which the AMPTP have refused to consider. This follows the WGA announcing it was willing to deal with individual production companies. Some see it as breaking the collective effect of everyone being on strike, and that it's unfair that some writers will return to getting paid while most don't. Others see that it demonstrates that the conditions being sought are affordable, although a show like Letterman is probably affected less by new media (such as internet DLs or streaming) than scripted TV.
  • December 31 fans4writers.com organise skywriters to print messages of support for writers in the sky above the Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena.
  • At the beginning of January, 2008 AMPTP still had not agreed to resume negotiations.
  • January 4. Variety announces upcoming network programming revised due to the strike. Supernatural has four episodes remaining to air (3.09-3.12), which will recommence on January 31st. After that the following has been reported for the CW schedule:
On Thursdays, "Smallville" will continue at 8 p.m., while a handful of remaining original "Reaper" segs will run at 9 p.m. starting Feb. 28.
"We're giving 'Reaper' a few Thursday airings, which means for the first time a real compatible lead-in for the show, from 'Smallville,'" Kahl said.
Not in the mix: "Supernatural," which goes on hiatus, but will return at some point; and family drama "Life is Wild," which isn't expected to return. On the reality side, "Crowned" ends its run at the start of February; other shows, including "Farmer Takes a Wife," are still waiting in the wings.
  • Variety announces the WGA and film studio United Artists are to make a deal allowing film writers to return to work.
  • Eric Kripke in an interview with tv.com talks about the effect of the strike on the Supernatural team.
  • January 2008: Sweet Charity runs "A Very Special Sweet Charity" - fans auction their writing, vidding, art and craft talents and raise over $19,000 to support of those affected by the writer's strike.
  • January 23, 2008: The WGA and AMPTP reneter negotiations, under a media blackout.
  • January 30, 2008: E!Online interviews Eric Kripke who says:
"If the strike ends by mid-February, we could probably still gear up and get two or three episodes done. If it ends tomorrow, which it won't, we could do three or four. With any luck, the strike will be over in time for us to bang out a couple more."
  • February 2, 2008:

While the media blackout on negotiations is still in force, The New York Times credits 'unamed sources' with indicating that major hurdles have been overcomes between the WGA and AMPTP and that a resolution could be reached as early as next week.

  • February 6, 2008. WGA Negotiating Chair John Bowman writes to the membership 'major hurdles' have been overcome in negotiations. A later letter advises that terms of an agreement will be presented to the WGA membership on February 9th.
  • March 3, 2008: Driven by the strike, the CW announces an early renewal for Supernatural for Season 4.

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