That said, I have had a lot of questions about how the strike will affect daytime. But when I asked these questions of assorted friends in the industry, I found most of their answers were complex and/or puzzling. Some questions elicited no answer at all. Like, how will we viewers know for sure when non-union, scab-written scripts start to air? Will the crawl accurately reflect who is really writing this stuff?
My old buddy Snark, ever the shrewd observer, says he only knew when a script was scab-written during the 1988 strike when the headwriter's name was run alone, with no dialogue writers’ names following.
Does it mean the scabs are writing their episodes from headwriters' longterm stories? Or are the scabs making up the scripts and plots themselves?
And just who are the scabs who will be writing the shows anyway? Jill Farren Phelps' (executive producer, General Hospital) nieces and nephews? Ron Carlivati's (headwriter, One Life To Live) bodyguard? Barbara Esensten's (co-head headwriter, All My Childen) hypnotist? Jim Reilly's (creator, Passions) beloved Irish setters, typing out the dialog with their paws?
Just when I had a million more jokes about who the scabs are, I got an email from my friend Esther, who has worked on soaps and thus witnessed the grim reality of sausage being made. She said I could not condemn the scabs wholesale because a lot of the writers who will be writing during the strike are just regular soap writers who got "hardship" status in the strike in exchange for not being able to run in union elections or attend WGA film screenings. (Marlena calls that a real hardship!) They have a special status called “'Core.”
So as a journalist, I am buckling down to write about the scab scripts whenever they appear, although as a union sympathizer I find the chore terribly distasteful. As in 1988, when scab writers almost derailed the late Doug Marland’s As the World Turns, I’m expecting the worst.
Oh gosh, these shows are going to be even more terrible than they have been, if that is possible! Mr. or Ms. Scab X soon will be torturing us with characters who act out of character, pretzel-like plot twists, and long, wordy speeches that are agony to the ear. Writer wannabes will “show what they can do” now that someone at the network has finally let them in through a mouse hole.
Read more Marlena at www.marlenadelacroix.com.