I imagine every writer who has a blog is offering his/her thoughts on the pending WGA strike today. Here, in no particular order, are mine.
And yes, I will continue to blog if there is a strike.
Make no mistake about it – industry strikes only occur when management forces the issue. ALWAYS. Every time. No exceptions. Who do you think can hold out longer? The story editor of KIM POSSIBLE with two kids in private school or Sumner Redstone? So who do you think has more to gain by playing hardball?
What’s scary is this: in the old days, one of the unions would strike, it would last for a few months and Lew Wasserman of Universal would say, “Okay, this has gone on long enough.” and it would be over. This year there is no Lew Wasserman. There is not even Universal as we knew it.
Some network officials are saying that since this season is already a bust with no breakout hits (and whose fault is that I ask those same network visionaries who programmed CAVEMEN, VIVA LAUGHLIN, and NASHVILLE?) a strike would be welcomed. They could cut losses from runaway production. That’s fine except that after the last strike in 1988 the combined network share dropped 10% and has continued to fall ever since. The industry suffered a half-billion dollars in lost revenue, and MOONLIGHTING ratings never recovered. Can the AMPTP really afford another big strike?
It’s like if you’re a restaurant that’s struggling is it a good idea to close on weekends?
How’s this for an idiotic remark? In a recent article in the LA TIMES, TV writer Robert Eisele suggested that in light of the strike if writers “can afford a Bentley, get a Mercedes.” Yeah, that helps the WGA’s image. We’re all driving Bentleys. Newsflash: NO writer I know drives a Bentley. And none will until they start putting Prius engines in the damn things! Oh...and we don’t light our cigars with hundred dollar bills either.
This acrimony between writers and management has been going on since the 1930s when scribes first rose up and had the audacity to…well, ask for things. Warner Brother czar Jack Warner warned that any writer who joined the union would “find themselves out of work forever”. And he claimed this wasn’t blacklisting because “it would all be done over the telephone”. Darryl Zanuck of 20th Century Fox once said, “Throw that writer off the lot until I need him again!” Critic David Thomson says Hollywood writers are like divorce lawyers or private eyes. When you want them you have to have them, but later you despise them.
Is there any wonder we “Schmucks with Underwoods” have an inferiority complex and assume a defensive posture? We spend our entire careers trying to protect our work against studios, directors, actors, fellow writers, research gurus, networks, and girlfriends of the all of the above.
Networks claim that streaming shows on the internet and making them available for ipods is merely for “promotional purposes only”. If that’s true, why do they CHARGE for them on itunes? And even if they didn’t, by making shows available on the internet they reduce their value for reruns and syndication.
Nice timing of NBC Universal and News Corp to begin testing their joint venture – a video site focused solely on TV and film content – three days before the WGA contract was up.
And is it just me, or don’t writers who feverishly try to finish and turn in their drafts right before the deadline undermine the WGA’s cause? If Paul Haggis DIDN’T turn in the latest installment of the James Bond series, the studio might have a tad more incentive to make a deal, don’tcha think??
Meanwhile, other writers turned in multiple variations of scripts so the studios would have flexibility filming them. That to me is unconscionable. These are the screenwriters who stand to benefit from DVD and other delivery system royalties. All the rest of us are giving up work to fight for them and they turn in multiple drafts to accommodate the studios?? No wonder the producers think we’re idiots.
And thank you to actors like Vince Vaughn, who since he isn’t in the WGA, finds nothing morally wrong with agreeing to polish scripts during a strike. The fact that we go out on strike to craft a deal that will be the template for the SAG deal so HE won’t have to go out on strike apparently means nothing to him.
Without credit arbitration (won by the union in a hard fought battle) Jeffrey Katzenberg and Brad Grey might each have four Oscars for co-writing screenplays.
I will never make another joke about the Teamsters. I love those guys!!! If the Teamsters refuse to cross the picket lines this could be a much shorter strike than management expected.
I know WGA President Patrick Verrone. Worked with him on a project. Being in a writers room with someone on a show with problems is how you can really learn about a person. Pat is talented, reasonable, dedicated, and cool under pressure. He is far from the John Wayne his detractors claim him to be. We need to give him our support and we need to remain unified and strong.
I’ve been through three strikes already. Many of the companies I struck are no longer in business. Two-thirds of the people I struck with are no longer in the guild. And unlike actors and directors, when we go out it doesn’t just shut down the industry. It slows it. Hair restoration crèmes have faster results. But as someone who has prospered and enjoyed the gains writers before me have won, I feel it’s my obligation to fight the good fight for the next generation. And hopefully in twenty years, when the issue is holograms transmitted directly to the back of viewers’ eye lids, WGA members will hang tough for a piece of that pie.
We’re just looking for our fair share. MyPiece not MySpace. iShare not iTunes. NetWorth not NetFlix.