Clare Bergman â08 walked downstairs on a recent weekday morning to find her father, actor Peter Bergman of the soap opera âThe Young and the Restless,â making an omelet breakfast for her.
Peterâs production schedule is arduous, and he is usually out the door by 6:30 a.m., before Clare is even halfway out of bed.
But a breakfast cooked by dad was out of the ordinary for Clare. As for the reason behind this unexpected development, Peter Bergman is at a loss for words. Literally. On Nov. 5, the approximately 12,000 members of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) began a strike that has already begun to drastically alter the lives of numerous members of the school communityâperhaps indefinitely.
The strike is against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), an organization that represents the interests of film and television production companies and studios. Every three years, the WGA negotiates a contract with the AMPTP that keeps WGA members employed. A stalemate was reached in the contract negotiations, at which point the WGA membership officially authorized the strike.
The central issue of the strike is so-called ânew media.â The members of the WGA are seeking greater compensation for broadband, on-demand and streaming video viewing of their shows.
Though the conflicting groups have been negotiating throughout the strike, talks ended contentiously last Friday, and a resolution seems unlikely until at least early 2008.
For most, the strike will have minimal impact beyond a TiVo playlist with more reruns and reality shows than usual. But for the children of the striking writers and countless other television crew members, the strike may soon begin to affect the quality of their lives.
The strike has put Clare and her family in what she calls a âdifficult situation.â
âI understand why they are doing it, but they are taking my dadâs job away, â Clare said.
CBS Studio Center on Radford Avenue in Studio City is a full-scale television production studio. Now CBS Studio Center is just another picketing zone, one of 15 throughout the Los Angeles area. Amy Shaughnessyâs â08 mother Anne and Rebecca Contrerasâs â09 father Ernie often walk the picket line together on Radford.
Amy said that, with the holidays on the horizon, she is a little worried about asking for gifts. âMoney isnât so tight right now, but if the strike continues it could get worse,â she said.
For now, she says that the aspect of the strike she is most concerned about is her truncated television viewing schedule. âIt sucks because Iâm dying without âThe Office,â she said.
An âemergency strike fundâ has been established by the WGA for those hit hardest fiscally by the strike,Â but only members who can prove that they are in serious financial jeopardy are eligible for aid, according to the WGAâs bylaws.
Rebecca feels that the WGA-AMPTP conflict shouldnât have even escalated to this point.Â âThe writers arenât asking for much. Striking shouldnât be necessary over money that makes no real difference to the studios,â Rebecca said.
Carlton Cuse (Nick â08, Caroline â09) has been a high-profile figure throughout the strike. Cuse is the co-showrunner of ABCâs serial drama âLost,â meaning that he serves as both a writer and producer for the show.Â Though Cuse serves on the WGAâs negotiation committee, he recently decided to return to work on âLost.â Cuse claimed that his duties as showrunner required that he continue post-production work on the show, though he recently apologized for his actions and vowed to continue his support of the strike in an e-mail to the guild.
Caroline says that her father is in an uncomfortable position due to the clash of his responsibilities as both producer and writer. âItâs hard for my dad because heâs torn between the two sides,â she said.
For her part, Caroline supports the writers wholeheartedly.
âI think the writers are fighting for a very important and legitimate cause,â she said. âThe writers should get credit for their work regardless of where it is viewed.â
Still, she is eager for a resolution to the conflict.
âThe studios and the writers need to compromise soon because the strike is taking a huge toll on a lot of individuals and families.âÂ Â
Â Â ÂÂâAdditional reporting by Mac Taylor
Related item: Podcast of English teacher Jeff Kwitney talking about his experience with the 1988 writer’s strike.