Writers, Producers Turn To Parodies In PR Battle

We're well into week six of the Writers' Guild strike, and I can say from first hand experience that it's creating quite a weird holiday season here in Hollywood. You can't buy a latte in Beverly Hills without a barista complaining about the fact that the picketing is dragging on.

Rodeo Drive and Robertson Blvd are still packed with holiday shoppers, but this year I'm hearing much more Italian and more British accents, as folks from overseas come to take advantage of the weak dollar.

The WGA and AMPTP are still at a standoff. And now the PR battle is extending to the various web sites. A couple of writers launched a fake AMPTP site--AMPTP.com--parodying the producers association. Created by the writing team who regularly grace "Best Week Ever" and "I Love the 80s" shows, it looks really similar to the real AMPTP web site, with all sorts of fake 'Did You Know? ' factlets. My favorite: "Writer" comes from the Latin 'ritem' meaning "unhygeienic and doughy." I recommend checking it out.

Now the real AMPTP site is retaliating by revving up their own site. Now AMPTP.orghas a running counter of how much the strike is costing writers. Last time I checked it looked like abotu $105 million. They also have "Setting the Record Straight, Version 2", continuing the he said she said back and forth.

In related news, a Deutsche Bank analyst report just crossed my desk, saying that NBC is predicting 10 percent EBIT growth for 2008, with revenue expected to grow 5-10 percent. This is really good news considering all the fears of bad ratings in primetime, thanks partly to the strike, and broader fears about an advertising downturn.

Where's the upside coming from? Largely from the Olympics in China next summer--not a bad thing! And here's a chance for me to boast--the cable networks, including CNBC, are growing fast--EBIT growing 15 percent. Yay CNBC growth!

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