Nick Rogers: Will writers strike prove a case of addition by subtraction?

Nick Rogers

Now that the writers’ strike is in full swing, the alarms just keep sounding.

First, a reassurance that network TV shows would be fine into early 2008. Then, producers like “The Office’s” Greg Daniels confirming there’s only one new, completed episode of his show left. It airs tonight, but some might, as bears do with food, TiVo it for some sort of TV hibernation. (Most scripted shows have six finished episodes left, with 14 being the high, for ABC’s “Men in Trees.”)

Now, it’s survival of the fittest in the film world, too.

If Tom Hanks doesn’t like his lines in a planned “Angels and Demons” prequel to “The Da Vinci Code,” he’ll have to dust off his improv skills, because there will be no writer on call to change them.

If an on-location action scene for the next James Bond film proves too costly, expect Daniel Craig to look more like someone to be moved with a Wii paddle than an actual actor.

In a lengthy Variety article about potential problem projects, a Sony producer said there’s no such thing as a “locked” script. Much as it would on TV, film content constantly can change on the fly. The WGA allows a handful of content changes under its strike conditions, but nothing permissible in the way of addition. (Judging from the article, “G.I. Joe” and “Bedtime Stories” with Adam Sandler sound like the high-profile projects in the best shape.)

But is there any rule against addition by subtraction? In the next week, 10 movies will open in wide release. This comes after an October when 15 movies opened in wide release over two weekends.

If the writers’ strike has any benefit, it’s going to be that people will realize there’s just too much crud at the movies to wade through to get to the good stuff. And they could finally crack that book they bought … the one that will be adapted for the big screen once the strike ends.

Nick Rogers can be reached at nick.rogers@sj-r.com. Read his blog, Unpainted Huffhines, at blogs.sj-r.com/unpaintedhuffhines.