In the ongoing fight between the Writers Guild of America and Hollywood producers, striking writers are taking their cause directly to the Net, the very battlefield they're fighting over with studio executives, channeling their creativity into numerous short videos.
"You're watching this on the Internet," "The Office" writer and actor Mike Schur says in one such spot, entitled "The Office Is Closed." "The thing that pays us zero dollars."
"I gotta say [producers] have a point: It's the Internet, it's not about money," "The Daily Show" writer Jason Roth jokes in another. "Online, intrinsic worth is measured in things like number of tears shed over Britney Spears by a heartbreakingly gay teenager, and while we're sad over the state of affairs, we're clearly not that sad."
The "Daily Show" video seems indicative of many of the spots, (and of "The Daily Show" itself, of course) in so far as it strives to educate while also entertaining. Like "The Office Is Closed," the video contains background information on the strike in addition to mocking comments directed at the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.
But in their bid for the hearts and minds of the public, and to show just how invaluable their work really is, the writers are about to get some help from some very powerful reserve forces.
Beginning Thanksgiving Day, a series of PSAs will air exclusively online — at DeadlineHollywood.com, and then, beginning Monday, also on SpeechlessWithoutWriters.com — showing high-profile actors at a loss for words. The campaign, called "Speechless," is the brainchild of "Factory Girl" writer/director George Hickenlooper and Alan Sereboff and includes appearances by Sean Penn, Holly Hunter, Jay Leno, Kate Beckinsale, Eva Longoria, Charlize Theron and others.
"What better way to bring attention to the issues regarding the Internet than to use the Internet itself?" Hickenlooper and Sereboff thought, according to a press release published on Deadline Hollywood Daily.
The spots will range in length from 15 seconds to four minutes long. Interestingly, many are directed by members of the Directors Guild of America, a sister organization to the WGA. The appearance of actors from the Screen Actors Guild, as well as efforts from the DGA, can be seen as a nonofficial stand of solidarity with striking writers.