Average Age: Late thirties
When Writers Guild of America members went on strike last November over residuals from digital media, the pain inflicted on TV watchers was almost immediate: marathons of The Amazing Race. But by the time the strikers agreed to terms, in February, the consequences were considerably more serious and lasting. Upwards of $342 million in writers' and crew members' wages was lost in the strike's first two months alone, according to the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. The Milken Institute projected that the L.A. economy would suffer a 37,000-job, $2 billion hit. When the striking writers returned to their jobs, networks found themselves mired in backlogged programming, which led to a string of premature cancellations and a steady decline in ratings. By May sweeps, television viewing was down 10 percent across all networks. Now Hollywood is facing another dreadful repeat: The Screen Actors Guild is locked in a staring contest with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers over new-media residuals. If SAG members hit the picket lines, they risk doing more than reopening a few wounds. As NBC Universal president and CEO Jeff Zucker said in an address to advertisers, "I don't think the economy or the television business would be able to survive something like that."