“Writer Interruptus” A Writers’ Strike Screenplay


A WRITER sits at his desk, hunched over a keyboard. He types in a few words; we see over his shoulder the words are FADE TO BLACK.

The writer pushes back from the computer and wipes a tear from his eye.

He picks up a nearby phone and dials.

Hi, Bill. It’s your favorite screenwriter….that’s right.
(beat; blowing on his fingernails triumphantly)
I’ve just finished it. It’s the greatest script anyone’s ever seen. It will win an Emmy, a Golden Globe, an Oscar…maybe even an MTV Movie Award. It will do over $500 million in China alone.
I know the strike is on, but I’m not WGA. I heard agents and managers have plenty of time to read now.
(beat; triumph deflating)
Well, if you have other scripts you need to push I understand. What if I tried some non-WGA companies?
I know they get their financing from WGA companies, but they can at least read it, right?
(beat; fingers wrapping nervously around phone cord)
What if I attached some talent?
They might go on strike too?!
I can’t self-finance. I haven’t got two nickels to rub together. That’s why I want to be a writer, so I can make the big bucks.
What should I do then?

The writer, infuriated, hangs up. He stares at the screen, the words FADE TO BLACK…

Flash! He has an idea. He erases the words FADE TO BLACK and replaces them with THE FINAL CURTAIN FALLS…

A wry grin crosses the writer’s face. He gets back on the phone.

(blowing on fingernails, again triumphant)
Hi, Frank. It’s your favorite playwright. I’ve just finished it. It’s the greatest play anyone’s ever seen. It will win the Tony, run forever on Broadway…
The writer’s voice FADES OUT as we…


Scratch that…

The writer continues to talk into the phone as a…



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Randy Steinberg has taught screenwriting at Boston University.