Earlier today, we were introduced to Alex "Writer-For-Hire" Perez, the affordable, amazingly versatile scab extraordinaire who may very soon find himself with all the strike-violating work he can handle if the WGA's membership takes to whatever's left of the charred streets of Los Angeles around November 1st. Today's LAT runs down some of the projects that could be touched by the pinch-hitting scribe's genius should harried Guild writers scrambling to meet their deadlines fail to turn in drafts the studios can quickly convert into the substandard product they'll slap up on multiplex screens while strikers burn through their bank accounts:
"G.I Joe" is hardly the only potential 2009 blockbuster rushing to meet the strike deadline. Oscar winner Paul Haggis is plowing through James Bond 22. Since Oct. 1, Oscar nominee Scott Frank has been holed up with director Shawn Levy trying to pound out a shootable version of "Night at the Museum 2."
For the last two weeks, Billy Ray has been polishing up "State of Play," a political thriller starring Brad Pitt and Edward Norton that has already passed through the hands of "The Kingdom's" Matthew Carnahan, "The Bourne Identity's" Tony Gilroy and "The Queen's" Peter Morgan.
Just last week, 20th Century Fox issued an announcement that the studio was laying claim to May 1, 2009, as the release date for its big-budget sci-fi spinoff "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" starring Hugh Jackman. This was just days after it issued an urgent SOS to the major agencies looking for a quick rewrite person. Another 2009 movie recently looking for polishes was "Four Christmases," the Vince Vaughn-Reese Witherspoon holiday yarn. The studios pay top "script doctors" $250,000 to $300,000 per week to polish screenplays. [...]
Indeed, there is a palpable fear around town that even if the strike is averted or short-lived there will be a replay of 2001, when, due to a threatened writers strike, the studios jammed sub-quality films into production, just so the pipelines would stay filled.
"Next year, there's going to be a plethora of bad movies — movies that were rushed because of the supposed strike," said producer Todd Black, who has two films in pre-production at Columbia: "Seven Pounds," a romantic drama starring Will Smith, and a remake of the crime thriller "The Taking of Pelham One Two Three" starring Denzel Washington. Black insists that there's going to be "no rushing" on his movies. "I don't want to make bad movies. And whatever is going to happen is going to happen."
It's a disturbing situation that seems to become grow more nightmarish by the day: Not only may we have to endure a prolonged period of local sidewalks clogged with panhandling, baby-craving agents, but one where a usually escapist trip to the movies will offer no relief from the unrelenting horror surrounding us. Instead, each visit to the theater will bring only the queasy feeling arising from the knowledge that the holes in Wolverine's backstory could easily have been plugged if the studios had budgeted enough time to let the usual complement of fifteen uncredited writers work their script-doctoring magic.