The 800 Pound Gorilla

Dave McNary in today's Variety talks the talk in "Ready to bargain or will rhetoric rule?". WGA and AMPTP at loggershead. But McNary's talk is all about not-talking.

Not seen in public, the AMPTP hunkers down wherever they hunker down, while the WGA takes its case public on the streets and outside the studios, with famous politicians (the Rev. Jesse Jackson) and lots of famous actors/actresses.

And the 800 pound gorilla: the DGA. Silent, unseen, the DGA waits in the wings for its time on stage. Dave McNary hints darkly about the DGA's potential role in this story of disfunctionality:

"As of late Thursday, no new talks had been scheduled. And Nick Counter, president of the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers, has indicated that he expects to be negotiating next with the DGA rather than the WGA...The DGA had no comment Thursday."

So who has cast the DGA as the spoiler? The AMPTP, enabled by Dave McNary. What are we to make of journalism that allows one side to use it in the war of words? McNary from his own account didn't talk to the DGA, but that didn't stop him from quoting Nick Counter as though Nick Counter could speak for the DGA (wink, wink).

What's really up with the DGA? I'll make my disclaimer as clear as McNary's: the DGA had no comment for me either.

I have talked to a lot of director and AD friends.

From what I hear, those members don't want Nick Counter to use them as shills. They think the WGA is on the right track: expecting to be paid for their work. They're bewildered by the sophistry of the AMPTP that the internet and all digital media are just for "promotional use".

If that redefinition can be applied to new media, why not to old media? When a feature film plays on television, why isn't that for "promotional use"? And when a network tv series plays in syndication, that's "promotional use" again.

No one can second-guess the DGA any more than we can second-guess SAG or IATSE or the Teamsters. They are all our creative partners. We may fight about a lot of issues, but what family doesn't? We are in this together. A screenplay is just a thing with a lot of pages until a director, the actors, and the crew bring those pages to life.

I'm not going to get all sentimental about our creative family, but I'll be honest, I don't like the divide-and-conquer game Nick Counter plays. He's trying to turn the DGA into a Judas Goat when I'm hoping it'll really be a stalking horse.

If he entices the DGA to the negotiating table, I hope he finds himself surprised that the DGA is not about to be taken advantage of anymore than the WGA, SAG, IATSE, or the Teamsters. Does he really think the DGA will sell out its members and bargain away its future in the digital world for a few perks in the here and now.

Something's up, but Nick Counter and Dave McNary aren't telling that story.

To be continued....


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I think you meant to say Dave "McNary" throughout those first few paragraphs, not Dave "Barry." I don't think Dave Barry, the talented humorist, would want to be mistaken for the AMPTP public relations writer Dave McNary.

Anonymous said...

The DGA doesn't depend on residuals the way the writers do. So they will never get involved.

Hard to imagine from a group that oversees hundreds of people that create a film...and then ask for "A Film By" credit with only their name at the end.

I wish they would be more supportive. We count on directors to translate our visions onto film. Much the way a book is translated from Enlish to Spanish. If the translation is off, our vision is off.

I wish the directors would step up, do something for someone else. We need them involved.

Mutant Poodle said...

Howdy - this is more of a general than specific thought, but has someone considered manufacturing those cheap plastic bracelets (think Livestrong, but in red) that people could wear to show solidarity? It seems (notwithstanding brave Anonymous above) that support for the WGA is pretty broad this time, and it might be a good way to show it...

Alyx said...

"The DGA doesn't depend on residuals the way the writers do. So they will never get involved."

They will if they want good material with which to direct.

Anonymous said...

Who is 399?

Scott McLean said...

Hey, Good luck! And soon! I need to watch something on TV that makes me laugh!

Mercutio said...

I posted on the Scrubs site under the anymous moniker, and then later under "Mercutio." And I just want it known that I was NOT the anonymous who strated this comment thread with the stupid "GO BACK TO WORK!"

My screed would (and has) read: "GO BACK TO TALKING!"

Stay out as long as you need to to get want you deserve!

Just try to mindful that your strike doesn't just impact you and your lives. There are the crew members who will lose their jobs (or at least months of work) over this, and then there's us, the work-a-day schmucks who watch what you write and thus provide both you and the greedy bastards at the studios and networks with all the dollars you're fighting over. Shouldn't we be allowed some say here as well.

I'm on your side, just not all that happy about the whole thing.


Sundry said...

Just wanted to drop in with my support. I work in the industry, for an independent company that does script research. We are not going to get anything out of this and in fact it's already hurting our business. I'm facing a layoff myself.

But I'm proud to say that I and most of my colleagues support what you're doing. We can see the shift toward Internet and other digital content from where we're sitting too.

The WGA is simply right. Best of luck.

Anonymous said...

Hey WGA, I'm a novelist who writes only occasionally for the screen but have always been grateful for the Guild. I move more in book circles than film and I just wanted to say that as far as I can see the book world is entirely behind you. People who write books get a piece of the action for every book sold. I don't sell my stories for a fee to a corporate entity who gets to own them outright. Stay hungry and don't let the bastards get you down!

Shannon said...

I am just a television viewer. I wanted to say that I will gladly suffer re-runs and god-awful reality shows until you all get a fair share for your efforts. Don't give in until you get what you deserve.

Anonymous said...

actually, Joshuathesmart@hotmail.com said...

I hate reading, (i did read though) But the video on youtube was sweet!

I heard this on the radio and think that it would be a great idea... dont write on your signs. Chant and walk, but dont have anything written on your signs while picketing.

Also, is their anything I can do? Besides not watch legally online? I think that the writers are getting so screwed, and this strike brought it to my attention. I guess thats the point...

Anyways, try to have some fun on the picket line! Good luck!

Steve Peterson said...

The cut a deal with the DGA strategy just seems irrelevant this time.

SAG's already demonstrated that they wouldn't accept a bad deal any more than the WGA would. Hell, SAG is doing everything it can even before their contract is up. Which is actually a terrific back-up weapon. Even if the AMPTP thinks it can outlast the WGA and break the strike, that just means they'll have to turn around and also outlast SAG.

The only way a DGA deal could work is if the AMPTP used it as a face-saving way of moderating their demands, and gave up large enough internet resids to get the WGA and SAG on board -- and that'd be a great result for everyone.

baby tv writer said...

I spotted MAD TV crew signs at Coldwater and Ventura this morning -- at the lodge next to the gas station, across from Ralphs.

FIGHT ON for the GOOD FIGHT at FOX today!!!

JonJon said...

I support what you are doing, and I hope that it turns out well for you.

Good luck!

UAW Guy said...

A television viewer and fellow union member (UAW Local 1069) posting to show support for you guys and gals.

Hang tough and good luck!

anonymous 399 member said...

399 are Teamsters - the drivers, the location managers, the casting directors, the wranglers and animal handlers. We're another cog in the wheel that is known as "production."

SuperMonk said...

AMPTP tried this divide-and-conquer trick against IATSE during the last round of negotiations... and it worked. They gave all the locals what they wanted except for camera, which they took several things away from. The other locals got what they wanted and couldn't be bothered to stand up for one lone local, so camera got hammered.

I can't wait to see which local AMPTP picks as a target next time.

Hollywood unions must stand together or we're all doomed. Sadly, there's been no history of that kind of solidarity. I've received numerous emails from IATSE telling me that if I honor a WGA picket line I'm in violation of the IA contract and can be immediately replaced. DGA and SAG haven't honored IA strikes, not that there's been one in a while.

What we're fighting for is, literally, our future. If the producers get their way there'll be no incentive to pursue a career in this business, and by the time they realize what they've done it'll be too late. We'll all be realtors.

I can't believe someone hasn't coined the phrase "AMPTP is Counter-Productive" yet.

boadicea said...

Unions have been taking a beating for the last 20 years. Divide and conquer has been a very successful gambit for corporations looking to get a piece of that sweet cheap labor action.

This is the critical moment for the unions in Hollywood, and because you all are so visible to the rest of us, it's a chance to show what a united labor front can really do for rank and file workers.

Keep up the pressure, make bridges with the other guilds more solid, and check your egos for swelling, be ready to talk when the production corps decide to be reasonable.

You're the writers. Change the story.

Anonymous said...

I'm still hoping that SAG begins negotiating early and at the beginning of negotiations stresses how important "New (25 year old) Media" is to them.

In the meantime I'm boycotting as much of the corporations as I can and encourage everybody to do the same. Yes I know it's tough to go without checking your myspace page, but it's for an important cause.

Not yet union actor as well as actor/writer/producer a nonunion nonprofit children's theater company.

Mercutio said...

Here's a question brought up by a good friend of mine (someone who's much smarter than I am too):

Who will the advertisers side with?

I haven't read (from eith side) much on this issue, but it seems like an even heavier gorilla than the DGA.

If the strike goes long enough (and it likely will) they'll be weighing in (pun fully intended).

Could it make a difference?

Anonymous said...

When did Dave Barry get so un-funny?

boadicea said...

I predict the advertisers will be agnostic until they start seeing numbers significantly lower than they paid for when their ad rates were set.

At which point, they'll *shock* *horreur* expect to renegotiate their contract with the network.

Should that happen, it will up the ante, but I hope the strike will be resolved by sanity returning to the executive suites before it gets to that pass.

Batman said...

It would seem a trifle stupid to negotiate with directors that won't have anything to direct if the writers are still on strike....

just a fan said...

In response to mutant poodle's comment about red wristbands: you can find them at www.strikeschwag.com.

Mercutio said...

Good answer. Thank you Boadicea.

Though I still hold that both sides could do with a little restoration of sanity and civility.

And I'm speaking as someone who grew up among the wreckage of the rural Wetern Maryland/West Virgina Coal Industry, and has thus seen people screwed by management (AND unions) far worse than what is happening here.

Perhaps this explains my inability to feel complete sympathy with the writers (though I think they're far far in the right on this issue).

Once you've seen enough very old men suffering from the effects of Black Lung or the horrible injuries and deaths that come from mine collapses, it kind of puts disputes about residuals into perspective.

You're right, of course, but you've never been as wronged as those miners. And you should NEVER claim equity of suffering and injustice with them (and to the credit of many I've only seen a few who've tried... so far).

boadicea said...

Mercutio, the miners of West Virginia have suffered greatly-there's no question about that. They are due justice, and a healthy union movement in general will benefit that.

Writers have a chance to change the labor story from the tired old plot left over from union buster Ronnie's years.

Labor justice, done right, isn't a zero sum game.

Now is the time for firm resolve and cool heads from the WGA. Y'all have done great so far.

Messaging coming out from WGA leadership needs to be that you are ready to go back to the table as soon as the AMPTP is ready to act in a sane and responsible fashion in negotiations.

Don't assume because you've said it once that it doesn't need repeating.

Lather, rinse, repeat. And repeat. And repeat.

Mercutio said...


Fair enough. However, I don't want to dredge up the old saw (historically accurate -- just ask Hoffa... if you can find him) about the connection betweem organized crime and organized labor in the Golden Age of Unions


I'm just uncomfortable with any overly romanticised depictions of Unions...

All human institutions are fallible and prone to corruption and exploitation.

David Thomson's piece in the gaurdian about the WGA opened my eyes a bit.

(Speaking of Brit writers... here's tongue-in-cheek question for the board:

Are any TV writers out there worried by the prospect of the nets airing Brit shows to plug holes in their schedules. After all, if they do that won't the public perhaps come to expect good writing for TV to be the rule rather than the exception?

Just kidding. I don't think TV writing has ever been better in this country than it is right now.)

Maybe I'm confused and wrong-headed, but I don't trust management or unions to ever do what's right for all.

Again; R&J III.I.106

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Viewers should have a -boycott TV only watch TV online day- and see what the difference is in ratings and ad revenue and give the writers evidence :)

boadicea said...

you won't find me making excuses for corruption in any institution. Whether it's Hoffa, Ken Lay, Ted Haggerty or pick a high level Bush official-almost any one, they need to be held accounatable.

Humans (and their institutions) are fallible, and conflict between them is inevitable.

It is the way those institutions (and their humans) address fallibilities and conflict that dictate the health of a society-and that's a struggle we all have a part in.

Mercutio said...


Hard to argue with the truth.

Well, my son has just come home from school and wants to play "Age of Mythology" so I'm off the computer for awhile.

Incidentally, when I told him about the strike he asked "But computer games will still be there right?" When I assured him they would he was fine with the strike.

THERE's the future that should worry the writers and the AMPTP more than anything.

All my support to the WGA -- BUT START TALKING!!!


Ron said...

Do you think the media market slide today -- Fri, Nov.9 -- will put the major corporations (Disney, CBS) at a disadvantage vis a vios the strike and shareholders?

jami674 said...

I'd love to see a list of the people who ARE crossing the picket line and still shooting their shows. I know "Chuck" is shooting today, and people on "My Name Is Earl" are saying they plan to keep shooting until the use up their scripts. I'll give the actors on Chuck are aren't well known a little benefit of the doubt, but is Jason Lee on Earl crossing the picket line?

David Alexander McDonald said...

Mercutio --

If the nets start plugging holes with British shows, it won't end up raising expectations of good writing all the time because we'll end up with all the bad British shows as well. Trust me, there's some 'orrible stuff in the vaults.

It could be worse, mind you. There's always Australian shows.... (The Chaser is apparently in negotiations to bring their show over here in edited form; they're often dangerously funny -- and even tossed in a strike-related nod in last week's show.)

Anonymous said...

All of us old-timers remember when MTV first hit the small screen. No one can refute that "video killed the radio star." Music videos replaced the radio, DVDs replaced the VCR and the Internet will eventually replace the TV. By 2009, my three-year old TV set will no longer receive a signal without a converter box. It makes sense that writers want to be paid for these Internet "promos." Everyone is going to be sitting in front of their laptops. You either change with the times or become extinct.

Anonymous said...

They're not just striking for themselves and for today's writers, they're keeping the freedom to strike alive for the future.

God help us if we cannot strike.

Daniel J. Davis said...

One major assumption here is that a writer (or any laborer, of which a writer is but one type) is entitled to anything at all outside what is stipulated in his contract.

Now, if a writer has his contract negotiated through some representative organization, such as the WGA, and if one party of that organization is in violation of the contract, then a suit is the appropriate action.

The same would be the case if a writer, all by himself, negotiated a contract with a studio (or with some hypothetical rich guy with a camera, cast, etc., who had the capacity to produce everything for a show save for the script).

If the studio (or imaginary super rich guy) breaks the contract, then the appropriate action would be to bring the matter before a court or an arbitrator.

Preventing others from working with him, whether through violence or through intimidation, is wrong.

Anonymous said...


This may be why the AMPTP has chosen draconian tactics in there negotiation process.

2007 at the half:http://www.videobusiness.com/info/CA6436202.html

2006 totals:http://www.videobusiness.com/info/CA6411771.html

boadicea said...

Anonymous at 1:44 must be a specially trained studio acct-tries to game the data by linking to q1 of 2007 and annual totals of 2006 as if the two were measuring the same time period.

Lazy, dishonest, and can't form a proper link. It's like a trifecta of troll stupid.

Nick said...

Great blog! You really seem to know what your doing, I am new at this. I would appriciate it if you checked my blog out.

Jessica Burkhart said...

Stay strong, guys! :) I've been blogging every day about the strike and I hope there's a resolution in your favor soon.

Anonymous said...

"Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it."--George Santayana

During the many years I worked on the studio side of the fence, the phrase "Below-the-Line" meant those "other" people--the crew, the IA--the people someone else dealt with. For me, it was WGA, DGA and SAG.

Then I came to work for a Below-the-Line agency.

My perspective on the industry hasn't changed; rather, its EXPANDED.

I now work with the various IA guilds, and the majority of our clients are IA members. These people are the backbone of production: The reality isn't the trilogy of WGA, DGA and SAG that make the studios and networks revenues, its a QUARTET that includes the crew: Cinematographers, art directors, editors, costume designers, caterers, hair and makeup artists, grips, gaffers, assistants....

As the television shows and feature films shut down because of the strike, its rare that we hear the effect of it on the crew--often, the lowest paid people on the set, and rarely "worthy" of a commitment more than week to week employment. So the moment a project shuts down, the crew is let go, with if they're lucky, 1 week of severance pay.

In the '88 strike, I don't recall hearing about the below-the-line people losing their homes. Almost 20 years later, I'm still feeling the lack of admission on the part of anyone that the strike's greatest negative effect will be on the now unemployed crew members.

I'm a firm believer in the studios' right to make money. I'm also a firm believer that the writers, directors, actors and crew members have a right to better their deals as time advances and alters technology and revenue streams.

But destroying lives to get there is unconscionable.

According to ProAction Media, it costs about $1,000 to master a DVD and about 30 cents per unit to replicate them. And what ever the cost is to design and package the DVDs, I'm certain that even at a $9.99 sale price, the profit margin is pretty high. Why? Because no one would be making and selling DVDs if it was a losing proposition.

Contracts often use the phrase "and markets not yet known or devised" to protect the buyer's right to future revenue stream income when buying a script or engaging one's services. I've seen that phrase a thousand times over the last 17 years--so it would be safe to assume that although the exact "what" was unknown, the producers were contemplating future markets from which to garner revenues.

The point I'm trying to make is this: Both sides have rights; both sides have a responsibility to prepare and work toward the future. In this instance, it seems that neither side took their responsibility seriously, and the consequences are the loss of work, homes, automobiles, Christmas presents for all who were laid off because no one wanted to contemplate the future and prepare even a skeleton construct for discussion.

And let's be honest--all of the businesses affected because of the strike and the loss of buying power due to many's return to near poverty because of the strike. The entertainment industry isn't a vacuum--its 7% of California's economy. It effects all products, the stores who sell them and the people who manufacture them. So if thousands upon thousands of people are unable to buy a pair of shoes, shoe stores will have layoffs, too.

And with the layoffs come a loss of healthcare to many. So many children will not get the care they need.

According to the Consumer Price Index calculator, the estimated $500 million loss the industry took in 1988 would now be $859 million.

Is the cumulative loss of almost $1 trillion worth the few extra pennies per unit, or an already existing residual schedule that can be applied to the new media market until its more fully understood?

It pains me to see all that is NOT being talked about in connection with the effects of this strike. It saddens me to see that a community so talented as to create streaming video and blue ray technology, and a corporate industry with the foresight to fund the exploration and creation of these technologies, can't have the talent or foresight to find the word "compromise".

With every day this strike continues and the unmentioned talent called "Below-the-Line" employees begin to lose more, Santayana's words get louder, and his unheeded wisdom, more frightening.

There is time to undo the damage. But its running out.

Please stop us from suffering as we did 19 years ago. Both sides have the power to ensure that history remains just that--history.

Eric Klein
Montana Artists Agency

T said...

Has anyone seen this?


Korvar The Fox said...

To the anonymous person quoting "Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it."--George Santayana...

What is the alternative for the WGA? The only actual leverage they have to get decent terms from the AMPTP is to strike - that's the only thing they can do, other than capitulate. There literally isn't anything else in their arsenal.

Mercutio said...

The sad truth is, that by calling this strike the WGA has probably played right into the AMPTP's hands. You've already given them their victory. They'll be able to cut tons of jobs, get out of a lot of bad deals without paying penalties, and cancel many low rated shows and get a "do over" on this bad new season now. AND they'll be able to blame it all on the strike.

If this was the only weapon in their aresenal, they lost before the fight even began.

And, in the process, they've likely brought about the beginning of the end of scripted TV as we know it.

They're right in their demands, but they've lost with their methods.

Mercutio said...

And btw "Kovar"... how anonymous was he? He friggin' signed his full name at the end of his post.

And while we're on the subject, a fake user name such as Kovar the Fox (and Mercutio) is just a different kind of anonymity. At least he signed his full name.

Ames said...

My Dad striked once right before Christmas. He ended up taking a small job at a local grocery store just to help pay the bills. I had a lot of respect for him for that.
Go Union.

Dwacon® said...

Although I still haven't earned credits to make WGA membership, I am with you guys in spirit. New media is in its infancy... like television was in the 1950's...

Let's win this!

Tumor Girl said...

I work in the industry and I understand where the writers are coming from but I am afraid that when I run out of disability that there will not be enough work out there for me to be able to pay my accumulating medical bills. Its a tough spot everyone is in but they should at least be talking, they are messing with thousands of other peoples lives here, not just their own.

Mercutio said...

There was great line at techdirt.com about the whole thing:

Titanic Crew Strikes pVer Arrangement of Deck Chairs

Anonymous said...

To Kovar,

I think you missed my point--the writers do have the right to better terms. And without a union or the ability to strike, they would certainly have been powerless.

I said "compromise"--a midway point between where they're at and where they want to be (and maybe an increasing scale) on DVD, and use the basic residual structure for first runs and reruns until all 3 guilds can figure out a calculation that works for all.

And by the way, my first blog, so I didn't know it would say "anonymous said"....anonymous is my brother...

Eric Klein

Christy G said...

hey guys. i just wanted to give a shout of support and encouragement!! keep it up and as a fan i will continue to support you guys, despite what everyone else may say. best of luck!!

Greg said...

*No* TV network wants to write off the billions of dollars they've invested in a new TV season and lose viewer loyalty to some potentially really good shows like "Pushing Daisies." That's studio spin, but it's laughable even at that.
We already know the AMPTP wasn't able to stockpile nearly as many episodes as they claimed, and public opinion has been surprisingly pro-writer. Studios are already getting nervous. In short, studio spin is just that. Don't let the bastards get you down.

" Mercutio said...

The sad truth is, that by calling this strike the WGA has probably played right into the AMPTP's hands. …They'll be able to cut tons of jobs, get out of a lot of bad deals without paying penalties, and cancel many low rated shows and get a "do over" on this bad new season now.

Greg said...

Anonymous/Eric Klein--"
"I said "compromise"--a midway point between where they're at and where they want to be (and maybe an increasing scale) on DVD,"

The writers have already dropped their (perfectly reasonable) demand for an increase in the DVD rate. The *only* issue is that the writers want money for episodes/films/webisodes shown online.

Tumor girl--who told you the writers weren't talking? They want to negotiate an internet rate. Studios are offering *nothing.* They want permission to make $ off writers' work by posting it online, selling ads, but demanding the work for free.

Anonymous said...

Promotional material? Isn't that normally free, and handed out selectively? I purchase episodes, sometimes entire seasons of a series in advance, as do family and friends. My eldest does the same as she lives in a dorm and would miss favorite programs otherwise.

There is advertising income coming in on even free full episodes on network sites.

I feel your frustration. So many across the country are made to feel powerless in this horrible economy. Corporate interests dictating the terms, and our government giving them a wink and a nod.

Don't lose heart, and do not give up. I've mentioned this in another posting, but wanted to do the same. To those who are boycotting online viewing or purchasing downloads of content, make sure to email the companies to inform them that you are doing so in solidarity with the WGA, and why. They need to hear that the public is with the Guild.


TFree said...

I have to say, I support your cause, but anytime Jesse Jackson takes a side, I, and many other rational human beings, tend to take the other side. Not sure he's someone you want to mention as a key backer.

Anonymous said...

nice story...
lol. nywayz

Luke said...

this may sound dumb but what is dga

Lets Talk About How To Make Money

SexCircle.com said...

I hope you do go back to work mate!


Anonymous said...

fuck you

Anonymous said...

Does anyone care about the damage being done to IATSE crew members? I don't know what to do or where to turn for help. This strike is already ruining many hard working folks. I have lost the ability to laugh at the anecdotes about the strike as I worry about my family and earning power while this strike instantly strips my income and future prospects entirely away. I am walking around with a huge pit in my stomach of severe angst. This story needs to get out. Not to blame or shed the WGA in any bad light; I personally support the action and blame the studios (greed is part of it, but discovery of the accounting and books is probably the non-starter for the AMPTP in offering internet revenue sharing), but it is hard to be strong on principals while being utterly ruined. Can the public airing of the economic fallout on hardworking, good people somehow start a continuation of talks so that some small hope may return to crews? Where is IATSE on this? No help. No PR. Woefully absent in suggestions, or protection as its members get decimated. That is enough of a story in and of itself.

Please help get this angle out and talked about. IATSE sure isn't doing it.

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Hold strong, don't cross. I miss your shows already but this fight is worth the effort. They WILL break before you do. You have an entire country behind you. Brilliant minds should not be unrewarded. Never let tyrannical corporations rule your life, you're wallet, or your livelihood. Show them there is some fight let in our people after all.

Anonymous said...

get back to work u lazy ass niggers

Roger Green said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Roger Green said...

Luke- DGA.org=Directors Guild of America.
BTW, I'm not in the business (I'm a librarian), but I note my support for the strike in my personal blog today:

Julian McAuslan's Blog said...


As a huge movie and television fan from the United Kingdom.
I am not happy about this strike.

What i would like to know from the writers is the following.

1) In plain English what do you want from the studios etc.

2)What are you demanding and what are the studios offering ??

3)Why cant both of the warring parties keep talking?

4)Arnt you worried about your jobs.
ie: the longer the strikes go on, new tv seasons will be cancelled etc and writers sacked etc.

I am just a fan, and am trying to understand all this.

Julian McAuslan

Satellite TV said...

AHAHAHAHAHA,U wanna get naughty in a strange land where you find only mamals?right watch it on tv

Mercutio said...

Julian asks some excellent questions. I think if the writers explained things in layperson's terms many of us would feel better. I know, I know all about the animation and the blogs that try to do just that. Still though, it would be nice.

Also, I would very much like to ask:

Why did the writers refuse the AMPTP's request to stop the clock and keep talking rather than walk?

I'm sure I'll hear all about "They wouldn't budge, etc." and while that may all be true, I think you're going to be asked this question by regular folks like me and Julian and below-the-line folks like the eloquent poster above more and more as the weeks and months drag on.

Aren't you even a little bit worried that not only will the studios learn they can live without you, but that we can too?

And, as I've said before, to those of us on the outside, working crap jobs, seeing someone who's job is a priviledge and a gift acting as if it's an entitlement leaves a stale taste in the mouth, and one that will only get ranker and ranker as this drags on.

They won't budge? Doesn't seem like you're trying very hard either. DVD deal or no DVD deal.

Why not talk and work at the same time?

Explain that to me in way that I can understand (and that doesn't sound like selfish carping) and you'll continue to have my support (not that you probably care about that one way or the other), fail or refuse to explain it and my support will start to decay. And I don't think I'm alone.

And, lest you think I'm on the side of the studios, let me just say that I would never EVER ask the studios to better explain their position. It is so transparently selfish and greedy that they're beneath my contempt.

I respect writers (I wrote my dissertation on TV writing for cryin' out loud) more than I can ever say, and I really want to keep it that way.

Anonymous said...


deuddersun said...

As a member of IATSE, Local #52, NYC, I will certainly honor your picket lines, but I have a few questions for you and the other creatives we work for.

Why do you allow your work to be done by non-union crews?

Why do actors sign on to films that are done by non-union crews?

We don't enjoy any residuals. We get paid for our work and that is that. It is, therefore, critical to us to ensure that all film work is done completely Union, from the top down to the bottom.

If we are truly "all in this together", I expect the same consideration from you that you ask of me.


Anonymous said...


Caitlin said...

I'm with mercutio on this. When it comes to the arguement at hand, I 100% believe that the WGA is fully in the right and the AMPTP fully in the wrong. But I feel as though everything I read on this matter is making me angry, because no matter how many times I get told this isn't a fight among two wealthy parties, I honestly think that to some extent, it is.

Don't get me wrong, I understand about the writer's pay- how they're out of work most of the time, and how they make almost nothing compared to actors, directors, execs, etc. But every different statistic I've read- and believe me, they've been all over the board- has at least indicated that the writers make a good deal more than the average American worker.

What about the people who work under you, the people who will suffer far more in this matter and yet had no voice in it whatsoever? What about the hard-working folk who just want to sit down and watch TV at the end of a long day? Yes, it's just television and there are other things to do and more important things in the world. But that still doesn't make it okay to deprive millios of a small pleasure in their lives.

The thing that stands out to me is that the writers *can* strike for this long. Most people can't survive off work for any more than 3 months before they'd be out of house and home. And it's so hard to feel sorry for the highest-paid writers in their industry when they talk, for example, about how "Christmas will be a little worse this year". So your kids only get an Iphone, not an Iphone and a big-screen TV? Of course, most writers aren't paid at all this much. But the thing is, many of the ones picketing are.

Don't get me wrong, I support the writers. I want to be one, and I would adore to be a part of the WGA. I think writers are horribly, disgustingly underrated because shows, movies, the industry itself would be NOTHING without them. Nothing. But, like mercutio says, this needs to be about getting something done.

The AMPTP? They can fall back on sh*t reality programming. What's going to happen if everyone is left jobless? What will the point of the strike have been then? To keep pressuring for something more until you have nothing whatsoever? And thousands are out on the streets due to measures beyond their control? And millions will never have their beloved television shows again? Will it have been worth it then?

Once more, I am fully with the writers on this. People siding with the studios are so ingnorant and blinded that I can't find words to express my outrage. Maybe that's why I'm vocalizing my frustrations more to the side I'm on than the one I'm against.

I'm trying to remain optimistic, to support the writers and praise all the actors, showrunners and everyone coming after already long days of shooting to add their voices to the mix. But it really does needs to be about finding a solution. The point of a strike is not just to yell and scream and show that you have power. The point is to get something done. So, I desperately hope that Ah-nold, the mayor of LA and everyone else trying to make people sit down and talk can achieve their goals. Because those are what the goals should be- getting something done so *everyone* can be happy.

God bless you, WGA. You're fighting the good fight here. But you need to watch the sob stories and you need to keep the focus where it should be. There is no sympathy whatsoever to be had for your opponents, but that means you need to be the bigger man. Talk. For yourselves, for your cast and crew, for the thousands whose lives are in danger, and for millions who love your shows. Talk. It's the best thing for everyone involved.

Anonymous said...

Chin's up WGA members, when the vicious attacks begin you know you're winning.. it's a sign the other side needs to make you feel insecure, afraid, or to get those who support you to doubt.

We aren't fooled, WGA members and supporters in related areas like actors for example have written about the realities. We know the WGA isn't making frivolous demands. This is about being paid for your work. Average American citizens who are struggling along in this lousy economy know full well that big corporate interests, like those represented by Rupert Murdoch are looking to squeeze as much profit for themselves as possible, while screwing the people over. Whether it's reduced wages, or bad product like poisonous pet food, toothpaste, food or toys.. they don't respect us, only seek to exploit us.

We hear the same arguments and rationales against our rights and wages as workers across the entire US. We're with you 100%.

Mercutio said...


Clearly your glass of water is still half full. Mine's half-empty at this point (and it's so damn early yet!).

And besides, "Pushing Daisies," while a excellent show, has only been a modest success so far. What incentive to bring it back will there be if whatever crap they replace it with does as good or better in the same slot? Especially if its cheaper to produce. Now apply that to other shows not doing nearly so well ("30 Rock" for example, which was, let's face it, basically renewed out of the "goodness" of NBC's "heart" and not because of its rotten ratings). At the very least, it seems to me, most shows "on the bubble" (and thus the jobs they provide both above and below the line) are likely to be killed by this conflict.

Again, I agree with the fella a techdirt.com. This stike is probably a bit suicidal to both sides. It really may be an argument about thee arrangement of deck chairs on the Titanic.

The writers are the crew while the studios are Bruce J. Ismay: and we all know who got off the ship and survuved and who got sucked down into the dark abyss of history don't we? In other words, the White Star Line (read "studios") went on, the crew members (read, well, "crew members"), not so much.


And thanks to Caitlin! I've been feeling so lonely here in my hatred of the AMPTP and my (potential) disappointment with the WGA.

Mercutio said...

And, for the record Anonymous, they're not "whining"! They've got a legit grievance here.

What they don't have, I'm afraid, is the power or the access to media outlets, to prevail.

thom taylor said...

Will the DGA sell out the Writers Guild? Highly doubtful. Michael Apted, Steven Soderbergh, and their negotiating committee are probably licking their chops right now as they await word from J. Nicholas Counter III for early negotiations to proceed. DGA knows all too well that the WGA's proposals and strike give them enhanced leverage. It's as if the WGA has taken the first blow in storming the castle, and the DGA is closely observing the blood-loss; they are your back-up right now, so make them your good friends. And all the more reason to fight your fight. ADVICE TO EVERY WGA MEMBER: this holiday season could be very chilly, so start a toy-drive to provide a children's book to every SAG and DGA members' families. In addition to creating goodwill with all your union brothers and sisters, it will be a reminder that it all starts with the word.

Scott Kraft said...

I will try to address a couple of questions. As to the IATSE/399/independent crew question: every writer I know has mentioned on the line that these are the first folks to get screwed and no one is pleased about that. The problem, of course, is that any other effectove tactic we can think of is illegal and usually involved pain and explosions. Striking is what we got so striking is what we do.

As to why the guilds did not hold off on the strike. As I understand it, and I was not there but have only heard it third hand, the Guild, as a quid pro for pulling DVD's, was waiting for the AMPTP to give them their plan for internet payments. There was an agreement "in principle" for some sort of internet residual formula after a window of a few months. The WGA wanted to know what the numbers were. I heard the AMPTP claimed they couldn't give numbers at that time. Now, the problem with that scenario (and I'm guessing here) is everyone knew this moment was coming. The WGA demands were sent months and months ago. The idea that the AMPTP guys would have shown up at the hotel ready to give on internet but with no pay rate plan I would imagine seemed as absurd to Patric and David as it does to me. I think they saw the whole thing as a feint to knock some wind out of the strike sail and to find out how far the WGA would come.

As to the DGA. I am really hoping that the AMPTP hopes to use the DGA as a face-saving white knight. If Patric is as smart as I think he is (and he was very careful not to say anything negative about the DGA in the big strike meeting) he has downloaded every bit of negotiating info he and the commitee have picked up over the past year and the DGA is ready to go in and basically close the WGA deal that was on the table Sunday night, with some hard numbers and little push-pull. Then WGA has an out and as long internet in the deal we will all sign off and live to fight another day. (I'm hoping for that scenario and hoping for it by Xmas. The bad news of it is that the studios will have killed a lot of development deals by then.)

If internet is not in the DGA deal, I bet we stay out until the SAG contract. Just my opinion, for what it is worth.

Anonymous said...

I am behind the WGA 100%! Hold strong, the vast majority of people are behind you.

I don't see how the DGA could roll over on the WGA, many of the members of the DGA (the ones with clout) are part of the WGA.

Great job so far WGA members and supporters, keep it up!

deuddersun said...

Scott Kraft, you are the only one who even addressed my questions and unfortunately, somewhat inadequately.

I have no problem with your strike, even though I know it will affect my income. Hell, it already has. In anticipation of your strike the producers have been stockpiling shows and making films out of substandard scripts, just to have product.

What this means to us Below the Line folks is that, while we have been unindated with work, this has forced us to allow a lot of "permit" workers onto our jobs. Normally, the work would be more spread out and we wouldn't have to take such a drastic step. So, as far as we are concerned, we will be out of work for a period of time whether you settle right away or not.

My question relates to the fact that you allow your wok to be done by non-union crews, as does SAG. Where is the "solidarity" in this?

As I mentioned in my previous post, I will honor your picket lines because I am a union man all the time, not just when my own ass is on the line.

I hope you will remember our support if and when we are forced to strike, rather than continuing to crank out scripts regardless of where they are done and who is doing them.


lurkingnomore said...

The DGA doesn't depend on residuals, and they aren't aligned with the WGA the way SAG is. They'll come to their own agreement, and once again the WGA's lack of business acumen will bite them in the behinds.

The real problem with the WGA is who is running it, and the strike. The guy used to organize factory labor unions, which are entirely different creatures. He's using the same tactics this time, except he's in very a different industry. If he was removed, negotiations would go foward. As it stands, the WGA has been reduced to the equivalent of a child throwing a temper tantrum, and are costing thousands of people jobs.

I have no sympathy for the WGA anymore. I can at least respect the DGA and the studios for being business savvy.