Post industry sees light, but damage may be done

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LOS ANGELES -- A settlement of the WGA strike appears imminent, but members of the postproduction industry are worried that it's already be too late to repair irreparable harm.

Insiders calculate that the number of post industry members that have now lost their jobs or were put on "hiatus" is in the thousands. That figure includes great numbers of freelance workers such as editors, assistants and post coordinators as well as staffers at post facilities all over town, including Ascent Media Group, Laser Pacific, Matchframe, Modern Videofilm, the Post Group and Technicolor.

"I don't think the long-term impact on the post industry and its infrastructure has been understood," said Leon Silverman, the president of Laser Pacific who also serves as president of the nonprofit trade association Hollywood Post Alliance.

Some facilities have put employees on hiatus or on reduced work weeks, enabling them to maintain their benefits -- though not their salaries.

Some managers on reduced work weeks are said to still be working around the clock. "A lot of people are coming in and working anyway," one insider said. "We're doing the best we can to make sure (employees) have jobs to come back to when the strike is over."

"Real estate taxes were due Feb. 1," added another. "People are really worried they won't be able to recover." Sources said some colleagues have started to consider new industries to find work.

Some also question if the way in which pilots and TV programs are created will be a casualty of the strike. "The lost production we've seen might mean idle workers might not start back up again for a while, maybe late spring or early summer," one insider said.

Other concerns lie ahead. "The actors will probably strike, and this could be a time for the business to change, that's the bigger fear -- a change in broadcast TV and the general work force in Hollywood," said another. "This has exposed Hollywood's entertainment industry as weak."
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