There's an article in today's NYT , "Hollywood Puts The Squeeze on Talent."
The average cost of making amd marketing a major motion picture these days is a whopping $96.2 mil, up from a mere $54.1 ten years ago. Since ticket sales have been dropping off and video sales have flattened, studio execs are looking for a few corners to cut. So they're offering the talent less pay.
Obviously the actors, directors and writers are not happy about this. Russell Crowe has pitched a couple of public tantrums already, and who knows what those fabulous directors are saying. Except that they're still fabulous, of course.
I can understand the prima donnas throwing a few fits- the actors, the genius directors without whom obviously the world would stop turning. But writers? Where do they get off?
Writers have been getting screwed by the powers that be since time began. "Did you hear about the Polish starlet? She slept with all the writers." Oops, that one came out a little more literally than DIH in tended. But you get the idea.
Writers get copied from, stolen from, plagiarized. Years ago I was watching a Bill Moyers special on PBS about race relations. After a couple of minutes his voiceover started to sound awfully familiar. I went to my bookshelf and took down a brilliant but woefully undersold book by a not-yet-famous friend and turned to the introduction. Yep. There it was. Paragraph by paragraph. Well, at least he could say he had admirers in TV land.
I had a couple of TV land friends, too. One writer I knew won an Emmy for her work on a soap opera. A month later a new show-runner fired all the writers. Our friend had an Emmy on her nightstand but had to take a job answering phone calls for the Clairol help line. "No, madam, our product is not intended for dogs. I'm sorry your poodle turned purple, but...."
That is the writing life. Writers write because they have to. If they could do anything more useful they probably would have done it. But the ranks of writers are full of people who really and truly could not do anything else, because if they did, a) they' be really lousy at it and b) they'd go off the deep end because they're not writing.