Thursday, November 08, 2007

The 12,000 man march on Pico

Pictured: Fearless leader Pat Verrone with Late Late Show writers: Joe Strazullo, David Harte, Verrone, Joe O’Brien, John Reynolds, and Tom Straw.

Friday the entire guild membership will converge on Fox (10201 Pico Blvd. in Century City) at 10 AM. Everyone is instructed to wear red. The hope is to attract a large non industry crowd by posing as a pep rally for the Los Angeles Angels.

Some of the major agencies have been providing food to the picketers. Large pizzas with one slice missing.

Michael Eisner has proclaimed our strike “stupid”. The former Disney Grand Poo Bah who hired and fired Michael Ovitz to the tune of $95 million says there’s no profits in online delivery systems. Meanwhile, he’s now head of a private investment firm that’s just launched an online video studio. Even Goofy and Dopey can see the irony here. Eisner is like the guy who kills his parents then asks for leniency because he’s an orphan.

From a fellow scribe: “I see where Hillary, Edwards and Obama have all come out with statements siding with the writers. Yet I haven't even seen one instance in which a Republican candidate has even been asked the QUESTION. Kind of perfect, really.”

Meanwhile, it only took Jesse Jackson three days to get his canned-ham-for-a-face in a picture on the strike line. Of course he showed up at 5:00 just as the march was ending. The man can find a photo-op like a pig can find truffles.

Thanks to Tom Straw for the photos.

The stars that REALLY support the strike will be the ones walking the line in a month. Sending gift baskets from the Grand Wailea on Maui doesn’t count.

There’s all this concern over whether the Oscarcast will be affected by the strike (and by concern I mean from idiots). Interestingly, no one is worried about the Golden Globes, which actually precede the Oscars. I believe the Oscarcast will not only air as planned but because ABC will be so desperate for original content by then, it will expand from three to fifteen hours. If your speech is too short music will come on prodding you to stay on the stage.

No one has handed a writer a script on line yet. But you know that’s coming. Some clown will ask Robert Towne to read their spec GIRLFRIENDS.

The Writers Strike website asked me the following question: A couple days of striking is fun. When does it start to hurt?

Answer: The picketing? Mile eight. Seriously, I worry that being asked to do too much picketing is going to burn the membership out. We need to be judicious after the first week in just how often and for what length of time we plan these demonstrations. Too much picketing can lower morale. Plus, it does no one any good to have five lonely protesters at Paramount for an afternoon and three more exhausted at the AstroBurger at Melrose & Gower. .

Producers would have you believe all writers make $200,000 a year. First of all, 5,000 of the 12,000 WGA members are not working at all. So their salary is considerably less. Secondly, the average writer makes $20,000 not $200,000. On the other hand, how much do all the non-writing producers and artist managers make? Y’know, the ones who attach themselves to projects like leeches. If their average salary is $400,000 it’s low.

Non writing producers will never strike because no one would ever know they’re gone. Production would increase, not decrease.

Meanwhile, our Governator, the former actor and ex-LABOR leader, has chosen to do nothing.

Can someone get out of jury duty by saying they have to picket?

Can someone get out of picketing by saying they have jury duty?

See you at Fox Friday at 10. I’ll be the one wearing red.

35 comments :

l.a. guy said...

"Some of the major agencies have been providing food to the picketers. Large pizzas with one slice missing."
Next time check the bottom of the slice; I'll bet it has an agent's card with "Call Me" scribbled on it.

"Meanwhile, it only took Jesse Jackson three days to get his canned-ham-for-a-face in a picture on the strike line."
Is there a bigger attention whore than Jackson? If Jesse and Gloria Allred had a love child it would be Paris Hilton.

"Meanwhile, our Governator, the former actor and ex-LABOR leader, has chosen to do nothing."
In fairness he claims he's been in touch with both sides and no one has asked for his help. (Same for Villaraigosa) I guess you can't help where you're not wanted. I am disappointed he hasn't gotten involved, he would seem to be uniquely positioned to mediate. I think it's more likely that he's testing the waters and won't get involved unless he's sure that there's a deal to be made.

In the total scheme of things the money in dispute is a tiny fraction of the economic damage this is going to do to the state. The AMPTP may well have the resources and power to get their way but they'll have a lot of blood on there hands from the fall out. In the long run that can't be good for business.

Honk

Bitter Animator said...

If there are no profits in online distribution, then surely there is no reason to object to you getting a percentage of them?

If 24 has shut down, I wonder if Sutherland has offered to go to prison?

The Crutnacker said...

"Meanwhile, it only took Jesse Jackson three days to get his canned-ham-for-a-face in a picture on the strike line."

With any luck, Don Imus, on his return, will call you a bunch of nappy penciled strikers and you'll get Al Sharpton rallying for you.

Michael Eisner has proclaimed our strike “stupid”. The former Disney Grand Poo Bah who hired and fired Michael Ovitz to the tune of $95 million says there’s no profits in online delivery systems.

Actually, you misquoted him, he said, "there's no profits in online delivery systems for writers." The last two words were whispered.

I haven't even seen one instance in which a Republican candidate has even been asked the QUESTION. Kind of perfect, really.

Actually, the Republicans HAVE prepared a response to the writer's strike. Operation Enduring Distraction begins tomorrow when we invade Iran.

As for the Golden Globes, I understand that members of the Foreign Press will be writing the telecast as soon as they're done with their shift bussing tables at the local Big Boy.

Easiest way to get out of picketing AND jury duty is to kill someone. Don't worry, it's LA. You'll get off.

brian t said...

I think Jamie Lee Curtus has it right: you need some better slogans! You are writers, aren't you..? 8)

Anonymous said...

The only letters written about the strike to the New York Daily News have been very negative toward both the writers and the actors supporting them, especially Tina Fey. Surprising, coming from New Yorkers.

The strike really won't have much effect on the viewers at this time of year. Now is when networks start showing re-runs anyway, from Thanksgiving until after the new year. We endure more re-runs than first-run episodes, it seems. Maybe that's why the public isn't very sympathetic to the strikers; at least not here in Brooklyn.

Mary Stella said...

Is there a bigger attention whore than Jackson? If Jesse and Gloria Allred had a love child it would be Paris Hilton.

Al Sharpton's in the running.

Danny Cohen said...

After the coordinated red shirts, I want to see the mass recreation of Thriller.

Jason said...

I've already gone on the record (with my friends and co-workers) that once the last few new episodes are gone, I'll be boycotting reality shows. I have a secret plan that the AMPTP doesn't want anyone to know about...books.

Until then, I'll be looking for a picket line to break out in Dallas.

Anonymous said...

I'm not questioning your stats, but it is not humanly possible to live in Los Angeles or New York on $20,000 a year, even with residuals. Rent alone costs that much. That must be average between guys who make $200,000, and those who make absolutely nothing.

Courtney said...

Ken, thanks so much for pointing out how little most writers make. I was reading comments on another blog where someone assumed the starting salary was 200k, and I'm sure they were not alone in their naiveté.

I think people outside the industry assume that everyone who works for television or film makes big bucks. If that were true, I would have moved to LA after film school instead of choosing a low-but-steady income at a local T.V. station.

Courtney said...

OH, and P.S.-

I used to work for Eisner at a job in the Midwest. He'd send all employees Christmas cards with two tickets to Disneyland in them. Being paid about 10.50 an hour, how the heck was I going to afford to get out to Disneyland? Great freakin' gift, man. I would have preferred the cash value.

Ken Levine said...

You're right. Not everyone can live on $20,000 a year. A lot of writers have to get other jobs as well to make ends meet.

Christina said...

You're right. Not everyone can live on $20,000 a year. A lot of writers have to get other jobs as well to make ends meet.

Or have high-earning spouses who work as lawyers or directors of marketing, etc.

A. Buck Short (now more than ever) said...

Wow Ken, you’re omnipresent. Not only are you out there “pounding the beat,” (oh excuse me, that’s a line of stage direction from the “American Pie 3” script they’ve now been reduced to yanking out of turnaround.) Wait, I think that one’s from “American Pie 4?”) – but, when last I looked, your interview led the Writers Strike website. Way to go, you’re like our friggin’ Ed Asner of the literary world.

Ken Levine wrote:
Everyone is instructed to wear red. The hope is to attract a large non-industry crowd by posing as a pep rally for the Los Angeles Angels.

Well, there you guys go again with that “nothing-between-the-coasts" mentality. For your consideration: Nebraska Cornhuskers?

And if there will be no Golden Globes, for that “better red than read” look, maybe the writers can borrow the ensembles worn by Eva Longoria, Scartlett Johanssen, and Jennifer Garner two years ago. Looked like a mammarian-thoracic hemorrhage epidemic, but they were only trying to hide in the carpet from Joan and Melissa. Yes, that’s right, I remember what Longoria, Johanssen and Garner wore two years ago at the Golden Globes. Pick one, either my life is fashion or I got no life at all.

With no writers, will the Globes producers try to recycle unused teleprompTer lines from the aforementioned telecast? E.G. Larry McMurtry, “As usual, I’m positively giddy about all of this.”

Or to add a little bling to the color statement (so important to accessorize), consider dispatching someone up the Avenue of the Stars to find out what the Century Plaza did with all those old Beefeater outfits they used to force the hapless doormen to wear? They couldn’t have sold them all to the Sir Francis Drake in SF. (Hospitality industry etiquette: the size of your tip should always be in proportion to the ridiculousness of the outfits the hotel makes the doormen and porters wear.)

BTW: In LA the WGA is marching against Fox, essentially on Avenue of the Stars. In NYC they’re picketing against News Corp. on Avenue of the Americas. As writers, while you’re out there, do you think at least somebody, could consider striking against hyperbole?

Anonymous said...

Curious...what does a WGA member have to earn annually to qualify for medical benefits? And are staff writer's being paid now...and is there such a thing as a guaranteed deal, or does a writer worry about getting fired in 13 week cycles?

LannyGrant said...

Writers bash and ridicule Republicans in every TV sitcom, and in most movies, and people are wondering why the GOP candidates are now not rushing to their aid? Hillary, Obama and Edwards get campaign contributions from the mainly-Democrat showrunners and writers (who can afford to contribute.) I'd be stunned if the Democrat candidates didn't show up in support.

Anonymous said...

Well said, lannygrant.

CJ said...

Jamie Lee says that the writers need to come up with better chants, but can you really take anything she says seriously when you think about her new movie South of The Border? For those who haven't heard it's about a talking chihuahua that gets kidnapped to Mexico and is involved in a dog fighting ring...
If she chose to get involved with that,does she really have a right to complain about the picket line chants?

Adrastos said...

Any plans to live blog from the picket lines, Ken? It could be a first; unless, that is, it's not...

Cage Free Brown said...

I heard that You Tube was going to sponsor the Oscars with either the Snowman or the rednecks assuming host duties.

that's what I heard.

Cage Free Brown said...

I heard Herr Governor saying you guys are just as unreasonable as management. he says the grips and etc.. are the ones who will REALLY be hurt. where does he get this stuff? HIS writers didn't walk. are they on goofballs?

sure, it'll hurt a lot of people but how many writers on the line were even working when the strike hit? what a maroon!

Grubber said...

"Some of the major agencies have been providing food to the picketers. Large pizzas with one slice missing."
Next time check the bottom of the slice; I'll bet it has an agent's card with "Call Me" scribbled on it.

That reminded me of William Goldmans book and the part about the agent stealing a client. In this version....

"If you were my client, I could have you picketing WB instead of this crappy Fox gate".

Best of luck to all the protesters/picketors(?)...you are right.
cheers
Dave.

HouseFrau said...

Lannygrant,
Whatever money Democratic candidates get from writers and showrunners is dwarfed by the amount they get from studio executives. (A quick Google search reveals that Peter Chernin at Fox, for example, has given thousands to both Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama.)

I think people are wondering why the Republican candidates haven't even been asked about the strike-- not wondering whether they will voluntarily make a comment about it.

John said...

Really, only Giuliani or Thompson have any presence of even medium-profile support at all in the entertainment community. So they only have minimal risk/benefit from commenting on the strike and the others don't have to give a damn at all -- it's not as if a Mitt Romney statement in support of the writers or the studios is going to scuttle all the impending Mormon jokes for the Fall 2008 season if he gets the nomination (it's also why a lot of groups like to hedge their bets and support both political parties, so when you get in trouble you've got to chips to cash in with whichever side happens to be in power at the time).

Add to that the fact that so many people in the public believe all writers are living on mid-six figure salaries in 10,000 square foot homes in the hills means there's no pressure on them to say anything meaningful, if they say anything at all because they thinks this is just a feud between rich people (though you'd think if any of them show up in Southern California in the next week or so to campaign, it might actually be a question someone will ask, since it does figure to start making a dent in the Southland economy pretty soon).

Dhppy said...

Jesse Jackson made the rounds on Thursday. He was outside of Paramount around 11:30. As was I. It was my first day of striking in sympathy with the WGA; a guild I hope to join someday. I lasted an hour and a half before I had to go find a bathroom. The Peets on Larchmont was busy, so I headed home. I learned my first strike lesson: no large Jamba juices beforehand.

I think Jamie Lee Curtus has it right: you need some better slogans!
I thought “More money, Les Moonves!” was kinda cute.

The Golden Globes will be fine. They’ve got all those international writers who can make jokes about futbol and the Eurovision Song Contest: “When I first saw Finns Klingon, they couldn’t hit their pitch faster than my red card! Am I right? Am I right?”

Karen said...

Well, if it's any consolation, Doonesbury's online readership is pretty solidly in sympathy with the strike: http://cgi.doonesbury.com/cgi-bin/view_poll.cgi

To "anonymous," who is surprised that the letters in the NY Daily News are mostly negative: the NYC tabloids are the papers of the working class, who don't have much sympathy with the sort of people they believe to make up the writers working pool. THey, of course, don't realize how little money the average writer makes.

K said...

I think this article is an interesting look at what may be making the producers dig in their heels in such a senseless manner -- they feel their power slipping away and want to grab hard while they still can.

See (I don't know how to link) http://mjroseblog.typepad.com/buzz_balls_hype/2007/11/first-madonna-a.html

Do it yourself media is the next big thing. While I can see this with music and book publishing, I don't see the TV and movie business switching over so easily (besides distribution, the studios also manage talent and crew, a key job that is not inexpensive).

Hope the marching went well today -- you all looked amazing on the TV news (the red shirts added to the picture of unified masses).

Kelly

A. Buck Short said...

CJ said...
but can you really take anything [Jamie Lee] says seriously when you think about her new movie South of the Border? ...it's about a talking chihuahua that gets kidnapped to Mexico and is involved in a dog fighting ring...

Not so fast, C. Let’s consider ourselves lucky. The dog fighting Chihuahua role was first offered to Mickey Rourke. I can believe the talking dog part (God knows somebody’s got to make up for the fact that there were only two lines of human dialogue in Benji The Hunted. Nobody had ever tried that since Stallone. But who ever heard of anybody getting kidnapped in Mexico?

And I, for juan, hope Jamie seizes the moment to reprise her fabulous “Come a little bit closer” Latin production number with the inimitable Taylor Negron for that Anything But Love episode:

In a little cafe just the other side of the border
She was just sitting there givin' me looks that made my mouth water
So I started walking her way
She belonged to bad man, Jose….


Seriously, everything that Cop Rock and Viva Laughlin should have aspired to be. Not to mention Jay and the Americanos.

As for the good reverend, my guess is that after even Disney passed on the Hymietown pilot, Jessie was just making the rounds trying to find a nice Jewish writer who could give him something better to rhyme with strike.

What do we want?
.Residuals.
When do we want ‘em?
Now!
Huh?
O.K., timeframe negotiable.

tb said...

Yeah, some writers are lucky to make 20,000 a year. In fact me and Ken talked about that as he dragged a steamer trunk full of cash out to his Prius after his recent sitcom seminar. zing!

Anonymous said...

Hey, if you can't make more than 20K a year as a writer, here's a thought - get a different job!. If you're smart enough to write, then you're smart enough to do another job. And if you don't want to do another job, then you deserve the pay that the market sets. Frankly, I hope all of you writers stay on strike forever - maybe people will get exercise, read books, etc. instead of watching TV. You writers need to stop be so self-righteous - when you're working, you're contributing to the decline of our culture. So please stop working!

Anonymous said...

Wow, who knew the Amish were so cranky?

Buttermilk Sky said...

No Oscars? Why, did you run into Bruce Vilanch on the line?

VP81955 said...

HouseFrau said...

Lannygrant,

Whatever money Democratic candidates get from writers and showrunners is dwarfed by the amount they get from studio executives. (A quick Google search reveals that Peter Chernin at Fox, for example, has given thousands to both Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama.)


Which reminds me...just how many executives have given money to John Edwards? I can't think of any (his progressive labor policies probably make studio execs blanch) -- just one more reason I like him. (Also, Hillary spent her college years at Wellesley and Yale, Barack at Columbia and Harvard. I don't think many studio bigwigs went to N.C. State and North Carolina, as Edwards did for undergrad and law studies, respectively.)

Dwacon® said...

Where was Al Sharpton?

lannygrant said...

Yes, studio execs dwarf the average showrunner and writer in campaign contributions. My point was Hillary, Obama and Edwards are turning out for the writers because Democrats love David vs. Goliath scenarios when David is a Working Man and Goliath is a Big, Evil Coporation. More importantly, though, the Democrat candidates are turning out because showrunners and writers are mostly Democrats. I doubt you'd see this same show of support from them if showrunners and writers ran more GOP.