Television viewers may face a fall season of reruns instead of new shows as a result of a strike July 21 that has shut down most movie and TV productions across the United States.
The walkout by members of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), over wages and other contract issues, stopped production of almost all network programs except news broadcasts, educational programs, daytime soap operas, and game shows, which are under separate union contracts.
Network officials say that some series episodes scheduled for early fall already have been shot, and that generally the new 1980-81 season could get under way as planned. But privately, they conceded that a long strike could disrupt programming and seriously affect the network's battle for prime-time ratings.
One suggested that rather than begin new programming with a prospect of having to suspend new shows and revert to reruns, the start of the new season might be delayed indefinitely if the strike goes on into late summer or fall.
The unions are demanding a 40 percent increase over three years in the minimum wage for performers in motion pictures and television productions. The daily rate would go up from $225 to $315, and the weekly rate from $785 to $1, 100.
SAG and AFTRA also want a profit-sharing plan for those in movies and TV shows, and also a share in income from new home-video markets such as pay TV and video casettes.
Liza Minnelli, Dudley Moore, Burt Reynolds, Candice Bergen, and Jacqueline Bissett, all on location in New York, halted the filming of three movies by failing to show up on the set.