The entertainment industry loves shipping. Since few things are considered unimportant enough to be sent through regular mail, the cachet of hand-delivery rules. So, inevitably, the current United Parcel Service strike is impacting the business of doing business in Hollywood.

Most immediately disrupted is the delivery of home videos to stores--particularly the independent neighborhood outlets. Distributors are resorting to some extreme means to get new releases out. Steven Gabor, owner of Odyssey Video in West Los Angeles, told the Los Angeles Times that, to pick up The Devil's Own (the Brad Pitt-Harrison Ford IRA debacle) and Mother (Albert Brooks' Oedipal comedy), his store manager had to meet the sales rep at the intersection of two freeways, "like we're going out to do a drug deal by the off ramp!"

Small business owners like Gabor need to go the extra mile to compete with the ubiquitous Blockbuster chain, which has its own trucking tie-ins. (Blockbuster, however has other business woes. Over-expansion--500 more stores opened this year--has necessitated a $323 million write-off in the second quarter and pushed its parent company, Viacom, to a $210 million loss.)

Similar delivery problems will face music retailers if the UPS strike continues, with upcoming CDs not making record stores on time. Albums are usually shipped to arrive in bins one to two weeks prior to release.

And, although the major movie companies insist the shipping of prints to theaters around the country will not be delayed because they don't use UPS, or they have already made adequate contingency plans, your local movie theater may be missing some promotional materials. Posters, trailers and gimmicky merchandise are usually shipped via UPS. That means if the teamsters stay out much longer you may still get to catch the new movie, you just won't be able to buy the T-shirt.

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