Thursday, November 15, 2007

You Say You Want A Revolution...


Of course I support the strike... in theory. It's nice to see the WGA rising up against The Man. They are revolutionaries, and that are just saying NO to being handed crap by the corporations that control us. Would that our political parties might do the same against the corporatists who have taken them over.

But here's the thing. A lot of people are being hurt by this thing. And every day that goes by it gets worse. All the agents and managers I know, well, no deals means no business. I spoke with my motion picture lit attorney yesterday, and he painted a gloomy picture as to having any income anytime soon. Now obviously the big agencies can handle this, but the smaller companies do not have the reserves to weather a protracted strike.

And of course there are the writers themselves. The Guild's decision to strike NOW means thousands of writers have no income for *two months heading into the holidays.* This is horrible.

Worse, the studios don't care, since most of the execs take off for blue unbrella drinks and breezy tropical isles from now through Sundance. And while the Governator is personally trying to bring the two sides together, and I applaud his efforts, the truth is the big media conglomerates have little incentive to resume talks until January. And why should they? Their bottom lines will look much nicer if they can close out the year without paying anyone.From my perspective, the timing here was just plain stupid on the part of the WGA.

For writers' kids this year, Christmas ain't gonna be very merry.

There's one more thing folks generally forget about--all the TV production people in town. These thousands of folks work on a contractor basis; when their show is not in production, they don't get paid. I was in production for many years and left it for precisely that reason--financial uncertainty. But many have made a career as gaffers, grips, photographers, working job to job, simply because there is no alternative. All of them are now screwed. None of them gets any residuals or DVD revenues for the shows they work on. They get a flat fee and that's it. And yet they are part of the creation of the work, too.

And right now a great many of my friends are about to be out of work.

I read somewhere that the hit to the state's economy of the last strike was $500 million. That was in '88. Again, the studios feel little of this pinch and in fact are happy to not have to pay anyone.

Let's hope Arnold is able to get the two sides talking again. Soon.


This is the latest e-mail from WGA president Patric Verrone:

To My Fellow Members:

Day eleven. Good morning. You have stood up to the corporations and made it clear that we won’t quit until we reach a fair deal.

The public supports us. One small example: yesterday, a middle-aged man who had come all the way from Michigan with his wife and children showed up at Paramount studios for the day. But when he saw the writers, he told them he was a member of a mechanics union and has never crossed a picket line in his life. They refused to go in.

As many of you may have seen in the press yesterday, a new poll from Pepperdine University shows that 63% of the American people support us and only four percent support the conglomerates.

But what the poll numbers can’t show is the reason. That reason is you. It is your hard work on the picket lines, your long hours, your rallies, the actors you have reached out to, and the energy you have brought to bear that has created this overwhelming support.

We are all in this together.


Patric M. Verrone
President, WGA West

Friday, November 02, 2007

The Strike is On! Probably.

Today 3,000 writers flooded the Los Angeles Convention Center to vote on whether to strike or not. The vote came down 90% in favor. The strike could be announced as early as Friday. However talks are ongoing, and any strike could vaporize as soon as it begins... depending on how obstinate all the parties feel like being.

The main issue here is that writers want a nice cut of the studios' DVD profits. They have smartly figured out that while theatrical performance is a crap shoot, many films attain profitability on DVD--even ones that tanked in theaters. This DVD revenue has been keeping the lights on at the studios for years. So now writers want the huge media conglomerates to fork it over. Will the studios do so? Stay tuned.

What does the strike mean to you? Well, unless you're in the guild, or have a spec about to go out through a big agency, not much. But what it does mean is that if the strike goes on a while, all those writers will be writing specs. That's very bad news indeed for everyone trying to break in, because it means that the market will be flooded with material from the big boys, crowding out the little guys for a while.

For everyone's sake, let's hope a deal is struck quickly!

This from the WGA web site as of 11-01-07:

Contact: Gregg Mitchell (323) 782-4574
Sherry Goldman (718) 224-4133

News Release: November 2, 2007

WGA Negotiating Committee Recommends Call for Strike
Membership Meeting Draws 3,000

LOS ANGELES -- Before a standing-room-only audience of 3,000 Writers Guild members in the Los Angeles Convention Center’s West Hall in downtown L.A. Thursday night, the Writers Guild of America Negotiating Committee, on behalf of the Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) and the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE), announced its unanimous recommendation to call a strike against the film studios and television networks that make up the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). Screen Actors Guild President Alan Rosenberg joined the Negotiating Committee onstage to voice his union’s support of writers.

During the largest membership meeting in WGAW history, the Negotiating Committee reported that the AMPTP had called a halt to talks by demanding that the Guild accept the extension of the current DVD formula to new media. The committee also informed the audience that in three months of negotiations, the AMPTP has not responded in any serious manner to its initial proposals.

Members spent three hours in frank discussion of the report and recommendation. From microphones on the floor, WGA members expressed their anger at the Companies’ refusal to bargain seriously, reiterating their overwhelming support for the Negotiating Committee, Guild leadership, and for the bargaining agenda of the WGA.

The WGAW Board and the WGAE Council will meet Friday to consider the recommendation of the Negotiating Committee and to decide the next steps.

For more information about the Writers Guild of America, West, please visit For more information about the Writers Guild of America, East, please visit:

The Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) and the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) represent writers in the motion picture, broadcast, cable, and new media industries in both entertainment and news. The unions conduct numerous programs, seminars, and events throughout the world on issues of interest to, and on behalf of, writers.