LOS ANGELES — In Hollywood, everyone loves a sequel. There’s one multimillion-dollar misadventure, however, that few want to revisit.
“The SAG strike can definitely stop you from shooting. It stops everything,” “Office Space” writer/director Mike Judge said recently when we asked him about the work stoppage due to hit Hollywood next week. “So I guess it’s a pretty big deal.”
Just four months after the Writers Guild of America strike brought Hollywood to its knees, the powerful Screen Actors Guild is bracing for the expiration of its contract on Monday, while the smaller American Federation of Television and Radio Artists could share its fate. As before, virtually all work would stop if a strike were to occur, and many of the films and television shows you’re eager to watch would return to a sad state of limbo.
“We do have some other movies going, and we have a TV show going through Will and mine’s production company,” explained Adam McKay, the longtime writer/director pal to Will Ferrell who is currently working with the funnyman on the show “Church of Steve” and movies like “King Dork,” “Step Brothers” and an eagerly anticipated “Anchorman” sequel. “We have a TV show shooting in the fall for HBO. We have a new movie that was going to go into production in about two months. So this would knock our legs out from underneath us.”
According to various reports, it has similarly affected Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood drama “Nottingham” (delayed) and the “Da Vinci Code” prequel “Angels and Demons” (put on hold until after the strike), and has put pressure on talents like Martin Scorsese (“Shutter Island”), Steven Soderbergh (“The Informant”), Peter Jackson (“The Lovely Bones”) and Marc Forster (the next James Bond flick, “Quantum of Solace”) to wrap things up before the buzzer. “High School Musical 3: Senior Year,” “Race to Witch Mountain” and “G.I. Joe” are also said to be rushing through the intersection as the light turns red.
“It’s really odd, because we’re doing such a big film, and it’s taking such a long time,” marveled actor Matthew Marsden, whose “Transformers” sequel is going to deal with the strike much like “Demons,” using the time to send actors home and work on special-effects shots. “You don’t know how long it’s going to be paused for and whether we’re going to shut down. A lot of movies aren’t filming at all, or they’re saying that by June 30th, we’ve got to finish. Well, with ‘Transformers,’ it’s so huge that [director Michael Bay, producer Steven Spielberg and others] can go: ‘We’ll shut it down and open it back up again.’ ”
On the television side, there seems to be only one strike-safe scripted program (“24,” which canceled a season due to the last strike and now has a full 24 episodes in the can) and a bunch of others who were smart enough to shoot earlier than usual this year just in case. According to Variety, such shows as “Bones” and “My Name Is Earl” embraced such plans, while “Heroes” and “Prison Break” have played reruns and banked new episodes, positioning them well.
“Apparently they’ve been canceling a lot of promotions so I guess won’t be promoting the movie as much,” grinned Seth Rogen, the “Pineapple Express” star, who cited the main reason why next month’s Comic-Con may be significantly less star-studded than usual. “But whatever. I can live without that.”
“[The strike] meant that we are here today,” explained Anna Faris, swept up in a massive publicity whirlwind that has the stars of such films as “Pineapple,” “Hellboy II: The Golden Army,” “Step Brothers,” “The Dark Knight” and her “House Bunny” doing hundreds of interviews this weekend, even though some of their release dates are two months away.
“All the projects that I’m working on had to finish before it,” Faris said of the strike. “Except for the animated film [‘Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs’], because that will be over the next year that [animators] will be working on that.”
Embattled projects also include the comedy “Observe and Report,” which Faris and Rogen had to race through earlier this month. “We went into production more quickly than we normally do,” she explained of the film, which recently wrapped. “I was brought onboard maybe a week before I was supposed to start shooting — that’s a little unusual.”
The same applies to Ferrell’s “Land of the Lost,” the big-budget remake of the classic TV show that discovered striking actors were far scarier than giant dinosaurs. “Oh yeah, they definitely were [racing],” admitted producer McKay with a sigh of relief. “But they wrapped. They’re done.”
Over the next few months, many TV shows will return, and movies will be released with the usual fanfare. But if this strike lingers for as long as the last one, the well will once again begin to run dry, and Hollywood could be looking at a horror movie that doesn’t star Jason, Freddy or Michael Myers.
“I pray that it will not be six months like the WGA strike,” said “Superbad” actress Emma Stone. “But at the same time, the writers really banded together and all stood behind it. … The general idea is that none of us really want a strike. We really hope this gets settled. But if they do strike, hopefully it’s not enough time to go on a big vacation.
“Hopefully, we go back to work really soon. Because that was really damaging, the writers’ strike, to the industry. We lost $2.5 billion! That’s crazy.”
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