Gelbart Says Long Writers Strike Is What AMPTP Wants
Larry Gelbart thinks it's going to be a long strike, "because it suits the Alliance [of Motion Picture & Television Producers]," he said Friday night at the Jack Oakie Celebration of Comedy in Film.
The veteran writer ("M*A*S*H") joined James L. Brooks and Judd Apatow at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences' Samuel Goldwyn Theater for an event billed as "Three of the funniest forces in filmmaking come together to crack the code of contemporary screen comedy." Inevitably, the topic of the Writers Guild of America strike bubbled up.
Mr. Brooks mentioned it first. After Mr. Apatow praised the episode of "Taxi" where Judd Hirsch's character has a gambling problem, Mr. Brooks said he had been discussing that very episode as he walked the picket line.
Mr. Apatow later drew healthy applause when he mentioned he'd been at Fox earlier in the day—a reference to the writers' show of force outside the studio, which by some estimates drew about 4,000 people.
But it was Mr. Gelbart who actually addressed the issue head-on. First, after talking about how creative control has been consolidated in the hands of the corporations rather than the creators, he said, "I think we struck just in time."
Then, asked directly by Mr. Apatow what he thought about the strike, Mr. Gelbart said, "It's the new technology but all the old tactics. I think we have a case. I think it will be a long strike [because] it suits the Alliance. They can clean up a lot of their losses, make a deal with the DGA, make us look greedy and grasping.
"This is probably the unfunniest thing we could talk about tonight," he concluded, before changing the subject.
His statement was greeted with applause from the audience, which included writer-director Curtis Hanson, writer-actor Garry Shandling, actor Jonah Hill and Mr. Apatow's actress wife, Leslie Mann.