Hollywood looks to strike's end

Writers Guild of America West and their supporters walk the picket line outside 20th Century Fox Studios in Los Angeles.

TEXT OF STORY

KAI RYSSDAL: Lights, camera, and maybe action. That's the latest from the Hollywood labor wars. Talks between the Writer's Guild and the studios are said to be going well. Well enough that there's speculation the strike could end this week. "Grey's Anatomy" and all the rest won't be back on the air right away. But the entertainment industry's rushing to get back to business as usual. Stacey Vanek-Smith reports.


STACEY VANEK-SMITH: Writers are dutifully walking the picket line today, but behind the scenes networks are gearing up to get scripted shows back on the air. Word of a possible resolution to the strike has studios scrambling to lock down shooting locations and former staff. They want to be prepared when the strike ends. TV critic Aaron Barhardt says there's good reason to rush.

Aaron Barhardt: If you don't get these shows back in production by the end of February, you've pretty much lost the rest of the television season. It'd be almost impossible for these scripted shows to get fresh episodes for the all-important May ratings sweep period.

That's when a show's ratings are calculated and ad rates are set. But getting new episodes on the air won't be easy.

TOM TAYLOR: Putting together any kind of show is like assembling an army.

Entertainment analyst Tom Taylor says reigniting an entire industry, and putting 11,000 people back to work doesn't happen overnight.

TAYLOR: You can't just turn on the switch again. There's a lot of forces that are going to have to be mobilized, both on the production side and on the network side on how they're going to continue the marketing efforts for the shows. It's going to be kind of a rocky process at first.

Adding to the pressure is the fact that TV viewership has been waning. Taylor points out that the writer's strike pushed declines into double-digits. And with so many other media competing for our attention, he says, networks will be putting a lot of energy into saving "Heroes," reviving "Grey's Anatomy" and getting people to talk about "Gossip Girl."

TV CLIP: Good. Things were getting a little dull around here.

I'm Stacey Vanek-Smith for Marketplace.

About the author

Stacey Vanek Smith is a senior reporter for Marketplace, where she covers banking, consumer finance, housing and advertising.

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