Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The strike is suspended!!!!

The WGA strike has been officially suspended pending ratification (which is pretty much a cinch considering 92% voted yes to suspending the work stoppage). For the first time since the beginning of November writers can go back to work on Wednesday.

What does this mean?

For TV writers on staff this means you say goodbye to your family and friends for the next two to three months. Once you enter the studio you will never leave. You might as well be checking in to the Hotel California. Round the clock writing sessions seven days a week to catch up. For the first few days it’ll be great. You’ll be rarin’ to go. By week two you might be looking back nostalgically to those halcyon days when you just picketed in the rain for four hours.

The good news is the final product will be terrific, probably even better than early season episodes when you had more time. Why? Because you won’t have time anymore to address endless notes. There’s a lesson in that of course but those that need to learn the lesson won’t.

With feature writers the amount of interference depends on whether your script is on the fast track or slow. If it’s fast they’ll want the draft TOMORROW. No time for them to say “What if we changed the drugged out rock star to a nun?” But if they’ve been sitting on your draft there’s no hurry then look out. They’ve had four months to obsess over the script. They’ll want you to change the rock star to the nun even if a rock star is not in your screenplay.

Warning: If you’re an A list feature writer and your phone doesn’t ring on Wednesday – you’re now a B list feature writer.

5,000 half-written screenplays/novels/plays will now go back into the drawer never to be seen again.

The Bill Maher Show will become funny once more. It’s been painfully obvious that you could replace Bill Maher but you can’t replace Chris Kelly and the rest of the writers.

Agents will be inundated with calls from writer clients saying, “Okay. I’m ready. Get me a job.” Every time these writers call back the agents will be “in meetings”.

Even though he can now get top name talent to appear on his show again, Jay Leno will still have Mike Huckabee on.

All the writer/directors who used to give money to both WGA and DGA causes will now make their contributions to WGA and SAG foundations.

And finally….

Pitchers and catchers report this week. I know that isn’t strike related but so what? Pitchers and catchers report!!!!

(photo by Jim Stevenson -- Deadline Hollywood Daily)

24 comments:

RAC said...

What's a "stike?" Hire me as your proofreader and I will be contractually obliged to laugh at all your good jokes.

VP81955 said...

Ken was so excited, he forgot to spellcheck.

Jake Hollywood said...

And it's the last Spring Training @ Dodgertown in Vero Beach...how weird is that?

TCinLA said...

In 1960, ronnie the Ray-Gun lead SAG on a strike that resulted in the studios agreeing to pay residuals. Everyone hated Ronnie for the deal he got, since it only paid forward; only those movies and shows made after 1960 would get residuals. At the time, it was also only for a limited period. It was the SAG of the 1970s that got the :lifetime guarantee" of residuals.

So why, Ken, are you not talking about the fact that we got a frickin percentage of the gross??? Yes, it's a damn small percentage and hardly what work like yours is worth, but - goddamnit! - we're out of the world of what Eddie Murphy so rightly called "monkey points." The day you have to sue Universal to prove that yoyur show was always in profit from Day 1, it won't take 10 years to do it, like it took Jim Garner to prove that "The Rockford Files" was always a profitable show.

This is freakin' HUGE. Right now, it might be small, but this turns out to be the most important strike since the one in 1941 when Ol' Massa had to recognize that all the house slaves and the field slaves existed! Now Ol' Massa has to recognize the fact that the slaves have a right to fair pay. We ain't there yet, but if the Guild of 3 years from now (when you and I may not be there, or may be there only as Certified Auld Phartz) makes this stick with a percentage that works, writers 100 years from now telling stories in ways we can only imagine (though they are certain to still have beginnings, middles and ends) are going to thank us the way everyone today - no matter our politics - has to thank Ronnie the Ray-Gun for getting residuals.

Patric was right, this contract is Historic.

Bitter Animator said...

Well that's just great! Time to put back on those pounds you lost while marching.

Anyone know what the deal was for animation writers? I heard a rumour that they have to go for a separate deal but can't seem to find an article on it. They haven't been booted fom the guild or anything? Anyone know?

Ken Levine said...

Hey guys,

Give me a break on spelling. This is not Random House.

Mary Stella said...

Thank God baseball is starting up again!

Rac, if you're hired by Ken, you're contractually obliged to laugh at ALL jokes, good or otherwise.

Not that Ken ever creates a bad joke, but we have to cross the t and dot the i on your proofing contract. *g*

David J. Loehr said...

"Endless notes" reminded me of a sketch from the recent British series, That Mitchell and Webb Look, which probably cuts too close to the bone...

Here's the YouTube link. (I don't like to go embedding clips in other peoples' blogs without asking.) (That sounds kinkier than it really is...)

Tom Quigley said...

...Anyone know what the deal was for animation writers?...

I think they might still be in suspended animation...

But seriously, Ken, congrats to you and the entire Writers Guild for standing your ground and getting this deal done.

Paul Duca said...

This may not be Random House, Ken...but you're even funnier than Bennett Cerf.

And note to David Loehr...."That Mitchell and Webb Look" is now airing Fridays on BBC America.

gwangung said...

Well, like I said elsewhere, it's not a great deal, but it's definitely a poor one if you're not ready to strike in three years. Studios are banking on the fact that the writers will have no stomach to strike the next time around.

RAC said...

Hi Mary Stella,

Well, I thought I could sneak the word "good" in there amongst all the contractual fine print, but you caught me. And he corrected the headline, so now I'm out of work.

maven said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
maven said...

Hey, Ken, saw your quote about what writers did during the strike (notice I used the "r") in the LA Times today. Your's was in first position! LOL

Congratulations to the WGA and all the writers who stood their ground and made some great inroads into New Media. Now, why aren't all of you at your computers working on some material?

Ben K. said...

Ken: So is this the best time ever for new writers to try to get into the business, or the worst?

Gail Renard said...

Congratulations, Ken, and all your WGA colleagues. I admire your courage, conviction and the way you all looked in your red strike t-shirts. All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. You all did something. Now live long and prosper, and reap the rewards of your success!

Michael Zand said...

Not only Bill Maher, but maybe Jon Stewart will be funny again too. I thought Maher fared better because his show was mostly a panel discussion. Stewart was painfully unfunny. I found myself fast forwarding through most of the bits. It got so bad that I actually wondered if the show could ever be funny again.

Mary Stella said...

Rac said:
Well, I thought I could sneak the word "good" in there amongst all the contractual fine print, but you caught me. And he corrected the headline, so now I'm out of work.

Easy come; easy go. It's our lot as writers. *aggrieved sigh*

Anonymous said...

Is "suspended" different from "settled?"

Brock said...

So who thinks that NBC will keep airing Rod Serling's Night Gallery repeats on Wednesdays?

VP81955 said...

I wish I was in Viera, Fla., this weekend...go Nats!

A. Buck Short said...

RAC said…What's a "stike?"

I looked it up in the Dictionary of American Slang. Stike is the disparaging term for a Jewish saint. So be careful next time Levine.

But that’s not why I called, Larry. It’s such forced terminology, does anybody think “suspend” has any kind of a shot at becoming the “don’t tase me bro’” of 2008? Yesterday I used a headline in dKos, “Romney Suspends Campaign to Enter Bitch in Westminster Kennel Club Contention,” and it got more hits than anything since “Ben Stein Explains the Bush Rosh Hashanah Faux Pas.”

PS The Family Guy with the "Wings" allusion aired last night on the CW. Still funny.

Anonymous said...

The funniest strike comment was your observation on how Patric Verrone looks like Hitler. But he pulled off a great victory. Just wish it were a blitzkrieg.

Tom Quigley said...

Hey, I just realized that now I can go back to watching CSI:MIAMI on the CBS website without feeling guilty....