Office writers, others explain their side on YouTube

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"You're watching this on the Internet, a thing that pays us zero dollars."

Those are the words uttered by The Office writer and producer Michael Schur on a YouTube video put together by striking members of the NBC comedy.

Alongside fellow Office writer-producer-actors B. J. Novak (who plays Ryan Howard), Mindy Kaling (Kelly Kapoor), and Paul Lieberstein (Toby Flenderson), Schur and other Writers Guild of America members decided to attack the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers by using the strike's main point of contention--the Internet.

The two sides are currently at odds, and at the center of the argument is compensation for sales of DVDs and profits made off of Internet streams and digital downloads--aka "new media." The writers say they don't get their fair share, the producers say it's too early to come up with a profit-sharing model.

The aforementioned crew of The Office, NBC's number-one comedy, grabbed a video camera and filmed themselves on the picket line talking about why they're striking. The comedy writers mange to make light of the situation while at the same time driving across serious points.

Among the topics discussed are Steve Carell's absence (he refuses to cross the picket line), the fact that writers didn't get paid for exclusive online-only "webisodes" commissioned by NBC, and studio lawyers using the term "promotion" as a loophole around paying the scribes.

The writers also use the video to promote United Hollywood, a Web site designed to support the WGA while on strike. On one post, actors Patrick Dempsey and Sandra Oh from ABC's hit med-drama Grey's Anatomy, explain on video why they're supporting the writers.

While writers have made their voices (and chants) heard, studio execs have been largely quiet. However, one former studio head had no problem opining on the hubbub.

Former Disney CEO Michael Eisner, speaking at the Media and Money conference, said "I've seen stupid strikes, I've seen less stupid strikes... This is a stupid strike," according to Reuters. "It's a waste of [the writers'] time. [The studios] have nothing to give. They don't know what to give."

The Office was one of the first shows to halt production in the wake of the strike. There are currently only two more new episodes ready to air, and barring a resolution to the strike, the show will see its season ended unexpectedly and be forced into repeats early.

For more on the writers strike, check out TV.com's Strike Source, featuring up-to-date statuses on shows, the latest information, and more.

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