PORTLAND, (AP)There are no screenwriter pickets in Maine, but about 25 Mainers are part of the national strike.

Most members of the Writers Guild of America toil in relative obscurity in Maine. For instance, Kelli Pryor of Windham, isn’t well known in her home state even though two of her films were produced for television last year. One of them, “More of Me,” was a Lifetime Channel comedy starring former “Saturday Night Live” star Molly Shannon.

Others are well known, like “Empire Falls” author Richard Russo. Russo will travel from his Camden home to New York City this week to join picket.

Stephen King, a former Guild member, supports the striking writers and is refusing to promote his latest book, “Duma Key,” on television talk shows.

A central demand in the 2-month-old strike has been compensation for projects distributed on the Internet. Contract talks broke off on Dec. 7.

For writers, the issue is whether they will earn money in the future when the Internet matures, said Russo, who wrote the screenplay for “Empire Falls,” his book depicting life in a blue-collar Maine town with an abandoned mill.

And the ramifications go beyond the Writers Guild, he said. “It would be very bad for unions in general if the writers end up humiliated here,” he said.

As for Pryor, she was hoping to be fielding calls from TV and movie producers after her success last year. Instead, she cooked Christmas dinner in a toaster oven after canceling plans to replace her broken stove because of the strike.

“It makes a huge difference in our family life and our budget and our prospects,” she said. “It was like hitting the brick wall when the strike started.”

Kent Pierce, 51, of Yarmouth, was pitching two finished scripts for feature films when the strike put a hold on all business transactions.

Last month, he gave up his office, and now he’s home looking for freelance-writing work in areas outside the Guild’s jurisdiction of entertainment television and motion pictures.

“Personally, it has hit hard,” he said.

AP-ES-01-13-08 1155EST


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