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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Broadway Stage Workers Strike Hurting Theater District

Update: The Broadway strike is over. It lasted from Nov 10 to Nov 29. Details of the 5 year deal between Local One and the League of American Theatres and Producers.

First it was the Hollywood Writers Guild of America strike and now the stage workers on Broadway are striking because they want more stagehands for opening a show and for keeping that show running. Theater owners and producers only want to hire the number of stagehands they think are needed for individual shows. Specifically, owners demanded a reduction in the minimum 22-person staffing level required for preparation of shows and more concessions. East coast and West coast strikes by the rank and file include writers in the West and men and women who move the scenery and props, electricians, carpenters and sound people back East. The businesses surrounding Broadway are also suffering because ot the strike, which eliminates spending by up to 80,000 people a night. Broadway stretches from W. 41st St up to W 53rd St with four theaters physically located on Broadway and the rest located east or west of the 12 block stretch.

The Hollywood writers want a piece of the action from new technologies (distribution of shows via the Internet, cell phones and other digital platforms). The Hollywood producers will not agree to restrictions to their ability to experiment with new digital delivery options for films and TV shows.

By the way, ever wonder why Broadway is called the "Great White Way?" It started in 1904 and was due to the magnificent illumination of the avenues at Times Square. Of course considering the time period that was probably not the only reason. (Sources: Broadway 101, NY Daily News, NY Post)

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