eyes striking writers


Online video site is the first new-media outlet to court striking writers, even as agents continue to ready their digital strike plans.

The Los Angeles-based Break is set to distribute today a solicitation for video submissions from striking writers. "Have some free time lately? You can finally knock out that video you wanted to make and distribute it on Break," reads the note from the site, which, with 2.2 million unique visitors in September according to Comscore Media Metrix, is the top-ranked comedy Web site. The note goes on to offer $5,000 to the highest-rated video from a striking scribe.

According to WGA strike rules any digital work is a violation, but Break CEO Keith Richman said in an interview that he wasn't convinced that the WGA would strictly enforce that clause. "Let's test it and find out," he said.

Agents, too, were plotting a digital strategy that could see them lining up brand sponsors for writers who will pen original Web content, then distributing that content via select Web portals.

A number of insiders said they believed the guild was unlikely to crack down on writers who wrote for sites unaffiliated with struck companies, such as YouTube and Yahoo, instead focusing on sites like MySpace, whose parent company is News Corp. "The WGA is going to want to find a way to feed its writers," said one agent.