Once the writers strike ended in late September, president of FX Entertainment Nick Grad and his colleagues began to clear their schedules. After a 148-day stoppage, the second longest in Writers Guild of America history, surely there would be a deluge of writers with fresh ideas and new spec scripts coming through, and Grad and team were ready.
But here we are, nearly two and a half months later, and that deluge never came. Not for those FX executives, or, as an informal survey of the television industry suggests, their rivals across the landscape. “It’s eerie, nobody’s buying anything,” says one top producer, echoing a chorus of sources who express surprise at how quiet the marketplace has been since Hollywood’s writers went back to work.
Everybody seems to have a theory, of course. Some are adamant that writers took the “pencils down” mandate more seriously during this strike than they did the last. And while technically they were allowed to pen spec scripts, the consensus is that very few did.
“In my circle, I don’t know anybody who wrote something during the strike to take out,” says One Day at a Time producer Mike Royce, a self-described “unicorn” because he has been able to get a few projects going.
Grad is one of many who suggest that for writers, “It was hard to tune out the noise and be creative.”
Others say that writers and, more notably, their reps are concerned about putting material out there in a considerably softer marketplace. After all, executives across Hollywood have spent the better part of the past year bemoaning a broken model and warning of more belt-tightening and contraction to come.
“Everyone is afraid the market is drying up, and nobody wants to whiff” with their one shot before buyers, explains an exec at one of the big streamers. Adds an agency partner, whose writer roster has largely been laying low: “There are enough places that are not buying aggressively that going out with competitive new stuff has a relative high bar — and anybody who’s sat on anything for nine months isn’t really in the mood to clear the decks and get it passed on. There’s a little bit of, like, ‘Do you dip your toe in the water without knowing its temperature?’ ”♦
Courtesy: Hollywood Reporter