11/13/2007

Fear, Intimidation and the Politics of J. Nicholas Counter III

Hey, folks. Long time no blog. But I just had to add something to the WGA official response to this lovely piece of... disinformation.

As per AMPTP President J. Nicholas Counter III today:

"The WGA is using fear and intimidation to control its membership. Asking members to inform on each other and creating a blacklist of those who question the tactics of the WGA leadership is as unacceptable today as it was when the WGA opposed these tactics in the 1950s."

Well, he got one thing right: It was the WGA who opposed blacklisting in the 1950's. Not, for example, any of the antecedent companies in the 1950's that spawned the conglomerates he currently serves. They were as silent, and callously unconcerned, about defending people's rights then as they are now.

Meet the new boss. You know.

But that's not what I'm here to point out. It's something a little more galling, at least from where I'm sitting.

People coming to this blog may have noticed that we now have people posting anonymously with fair regularity. One of our most popular and often-viewed pieces of content, "Heartbreaking Voices of Uncertainty", was created anonymously.

Care to guess why? I'll give you a hint: Our contributors are scared.

They worry about losing their jobs, their livelihoods, their reputations -- in other words, about being blacklisted. But not by the WGA.

They worry about being blacklisted by the conglomerates that Nick Counter works for, the 6 monoliths that control almost everything you see and hear in the media.

So when Nick Counter shows up with his sudden, touching concern for our emotional well-being -- Don't worry, writers, we here at the AMPTP are your friends, we feel your pain! The WGA is being so mean, but we care about you! -- you'll forgive me if I'm less than moved. More like nauseated.

In his statement, Counter apparently is referring to rumors about writers unhappy with the WGA leadership. But we hear rumors as well: that the conglomerates are the ones doing the threatening, both privately and openly. There are rumors that network executives have told showrunners that if any of their writers are seen speaking up during the strike, they expect them to be fired when the strike is over. We all know showrunners are being threatened with lawsuits for respecting the picket lines. And there's another rumor that one showrunner in particular has been told that the AMPTP is going to use him as "an example," that they're planning to sue him and then see that he doesn't work again.

Gosh, that sounds kinda like... blacklisting.

Mysteriously, big lies are leaked to Variety and printed -- like the "story" that two writers for The Young and the Restless have gone "fi-core" and are, in effect, abandoning the strike effort. And, of course, that isn't true. [Since people are asking in the comments -- later today we'll be publishing the Y&R response today from the writers themselves, but apparently a non-writing producer who has WGA membership from previous work has chosen to go fi-core and become, effectively, a scab. Not multiple members of the writing staff of Y&R choosing to abandon the strike effort, as Variety reported. Just a producer who wasn't writing to begin with choosing to cross the picket line to the detriment of all the writers on that staff, and in this effort. Again, we'll post the full story today.]

If I were a person with a dim view of human nature, I might suspect that there's an organized attempt to break writers' spirits. That the threats and the rumors (you know, the ones about how some writers are breaking ranks to screw the rest of us over) are somehow related.

But since I have a sunny and pleasant outlook on life, I'm sure that these are just coincidences. I'm sure that all the people who are worried about signing their names to what they post here are just paranoid, and the AMPTP really is the benign, generous, concerned entity they make themselves out to be.

But just in case Mr. Counter is still confused about the strike rules: Most members understand that joining the WGA comes with rights, but it also comes with obligations. And one of them is, if there's a strike, you have to abide by the strike rules. Most of us -- if not all of us -- understand the concept of both honor and obligation, and we're abiding by it.

Who knows, now that I've written this, maybe I'll be blacklisted. But if I am, there's one thing I can promise you: It won't be by the WGA.

Laeta Kalogridis
(and yes, that's my real name)

51 comments:

Anonymous said...

The facts are so clear, both the WGA and the AMPTP are blacklisting people.
It's no way one sided. The alliance is keeping track and people will suffer but its the same with the WGA, if one of your members does not fall into step and do as you say, their careers (unless they are one of the multi-mill guys) will be ruined quietly and effectively by your backroom smear campaigns. Whether you admit it or not, your members know it.
Denying it makes you seem disingenous.

Steve Peterson said...

Can you verify that the Variety report about Y&R writers going fi-core is false?

Because there's a recent article up at Variety:

Variety
Claims That It's Fair and Balanced


I think it'd be worthwhile to point out how often and how many AMPTP talking points Variety publishes without doing proper investigation or in-depth research.

Variety seems to fall into the same trap that Old Media has fallen into -- thinking that by copying and pasting quotes from two people with opposing views that they've done as good a job as they can getting at the truth. Well, there's some actual facts out there too...

Anonymous said...

look at this crap variety wrote today (biased f-ers!):

The WGA on Tuesday hit both Wall Street and Universal City -- with the latter attracting a massive picket that included dozens of high-profile stars (see story, page 4).

Meanwhile, the companies' lead negotiator Nick Counter opted for rhetoric over diplomacy, accusing the WGA of blacklisting due to its strike rules requiring members to report scab activity.

LK said...

Laeta - your name literally means happy. that is awesome.

Of course the big six are fighting and using dirty tactics. If they didn't, you wouldn't need a union.

And of course they have a right to fire folks. They shouldn't, because their shows will start to suck right after this mess is over. But they have a right to.

But in terms of blacklisting, which is such an ugly word to throw into this debate:
Neither side is creating lists of people for their political beliefs. That is what the Blacklist was: Congressional oversight/influence that directly violated the right to assembly and indirectly violated the right to free speech/expression.

The WGA is watching its back, because it should. Those who scab are breaking strike rules and making it harder for the WGA to get what it wants. (They are also going to burn in hell, but that is more theological than practical). The WGA needs to know because scabbing is breaking a rule you agreed to, breaking a contract. Maybe the scabbers should renegotiate their contract with the WGA. Meta-strike? The AMPTP is, informally of course, creating a list of people who now have a proven history of defying them. Its a dick thing to do. It is going to mean some really creative people aren't going to get work for a decade. (I think Ron D. Moore is the one being targeted, because he is totally the sort to start shit.) It is also them being practical (heartless bastard) businessmen.
Oh, and this is technically an unofficial blog by people connected with the WGA. So anon#1: I believe you are accusing the wrong people. These guys are just running on too little sleep and trying to keep folks informed.

Anonymous said...

LK...
No matter the length of your post, you are wrong. My post was even handed and fair. Not blaming anyone. Just pointing out the truth and please everyone knows who is behind this blog..

Kay Richardson said...

I've tried calling the studios to offer my writing, but nobody seems interested.

There's not justice in the world.

VDOVault said...

To anonymous

Hey we thousands of fans who are reading this don't know who exactly who is behind this blog.

Not that it matters that much though.

You all need to understand that it is three groups of people who pay the bills

1) the advertisers who sell ads on TV series and make trailers and buy ads in movie theaters, insert them into DVDs, downloaded stuff, online streams, etc. They need to be scared into not going along with BigMedia, and evidence of that is starting to be seen. And in the middle of sweeps. Sweet.

2) the shareholders in the companies behind BigMedia. Good lord why isn't anyone targeting them. After all this fight is about money and the longer Counter behaves like a petulant six year old in the negotiations, the more money the entertainment divisions are going to lose ridiculous sums of money for their parent companies. You need to be taking your case to the big institutional shareholders in the parent companies and asking them why for every $100 million in DVD sales they're holding out to not pay a couple of hundred *thousand* dollars to pay their labor. Granted this is just DVD sales but it's not as if labor is asking for the moon on Internet revenues.

To institutional investors, this is truly chump change that is being squabbled over and it needs to stop sooner rather than later.

If I were a shareholder, I would be so firing Les Moonbat and his cronies for risking these kinds of profits and I would be forcing the books open to really figure out what kind of financial shape my companies are in, plus looking into what kind of ridiculous salaries and perks shareholders were financing for the Moonbat contingent while the company bleeds to death over no new production. Can no one in Hollywood do simple math like calculating percentages the way it's taught in school? If that's the case then shareholders need to step in and retake control of these companies and perhaps put Counter's head in the guillotine.

3)the fans and audiences. It is the fans and audiences who watch the shows and films and Internet media, buy movie tickets, DVDs, licensed products, downloads, the products and services. They are the revenue stream and they are slowly but surely waking up to the fact that they are being f*cked with. The real number one rule is not the customer is always right, it's that first you don't f*uck with a revenue stream. Fans and viewers are jumping into this to get this ended ans since way more of them relate to middle class writers than isolated overpaid spoiled studio heads and network executives, guess whose side they're taking? Those honks you hear on the picket lines, those pizzas and donuts that are showing up at strike locations. the online activism. That stuff is overwhelmingly against guys like Counter Chernin and Moonbat. don't just get all gushy over how nice it is to be appreciated. Get past that and help us mobilize and end this BS now.

Worrying about black lists or gray lists is not going to get you paid which if I recall correctly is the whole point of this strike, right.

Eyes on the prize, scribes. Eyes on the prize.

Anonymous said...

While that may be your real name, it is very difficult to spell.

Anonymous said...

You will win. It is only a matter of time.

Kimberly Michelle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kimberly Michelle said...

I just don't understand how Counter and all his buddies can be so heartless. Like Sarah Silverman said in a previous posted article, they'll all still be rich after paying the writers what they deserve. Will that minor loss of their income really make a difference? Instead of being uptight scrooges, they should just make a compromise and then they'll be a lot more respected. Fighting the writers is only making them look like inconceivably greedy assholes. I don't know anyone that's actually going to believe the lies they are spewing.

Anonymous said...

Here's a little something to show the kinds of figures the studios are making. Put that up against the tiny fraction the writers are asking for.

http://www.edwardjayepstein.com/mpa2004.htm

sympathetic lawyer said...

Threatening to fire people strikers for speaking out about the strike is a violation of the National Labor Relations Act. Perhaps there are strategic reasons to not file complaints with the feds, but it may be worth it for the WGA to make a statement about how these threats are not just immoral but also illegal.

David Grenier said...

The Sympathetic Lawyer is right. Blacklisting people for union activity is illegal. It *is* a blacklist and a tactic that is far older than the McCarthy era. It's also something employers tend to do all the time even though it's illegal, and rarely get punished for it because our labor laws and labor law enforcement are tilted so far in the bosses favor.

This is why all yinz (both writers and fans who support them) should support the Employee Free Choice Act.

The thing is that this shit is why the union and its members have to stand strong. The only thing that will stop this shit is if the AMPTP is so afraid of you that they tell their union-busting lawyers to fuck off, its not worth the fight.

Mercutio said...

Well, we're all just MIRED in Akutagawa's Grove aren't we?

All this "they said we said" stuff is growing old already. On the outside it's hard to know who to believe. The bandit? The Samurai's wife? The Samurai? The woodcutter? I tell ya, it's enough to make a fella want to go sit under an ancient gate in the rain!

I, for one, will no longer waste anyone's time (least of all my own) with my posts here. NOT because I disagree with you or your cause (the exact opposite is true), but because this issue is too complex and important for me to waste time and bandwidth that might be used by better informed and more involved people.

I will continue to check out this blog for updates on the strike and I will continue to offer my intellectual support to you worthy efforts.

But that brings me to my final few points. This post may go on for a bit, but as I said, it's my last one so I won't be bothering you all again. You don't have to read it.

Above, I used the phrase "intellectual support." I did this for a very specific reason.

To me (AND AS -IF- YOU READ THE FOLLOWING PLEASE KEEP IN MIND THAT I'M SPEAKING FROM MY OWN PERSPECTIVE AS INFORMED BY IMPERFECT PERCEPTIONS OF THE ISSUES AND PLAYERS INVOVLED IN THIS DISPUTE -- THESE VIEWS ARE MY OWN AND SHOULD BE UNDERSTOOD AS SUCH), this strike can be understood on the intellectual and the emotional levels.

1. Intellectual level: This is the level where support lives. Anyone with a working brain must realize that your cause is just and that you are fighting a worthwhile fight for a legit grievance. The AMPTP has no legs to stand on at all. Especially after the "Heart Breaking Voices of Uncertainty" video went up. So, on an intellectual level, you have all my support for the long haul. Stay out there until you get what you deserve. (Though as winter sets in it'll be easier to picket in LA than NYC).

However;

2. Emotional. This is the level where sympathy lives. This level is a bit more complicated and, for myself, I cannot quite give your cause my wholehearted sympathy for a number of reasons, all stemming from the fact that you are striking (correctly as I said above) for monetary reasons. This is just and right and you should all get what you deserve. That said, the following considerations and comparisions are, again to me, valid for discussion:

a. You are not striking for safer working conditions. So far as I know, no writer has ever died from black lung, or from a cave-in in a writing room. Don't get me wrong. I'm NOT saying that writing isn't work! I've done enough (non-dramatic) writing to know that writing can be very very friggin' hard! You do real work and should be paid realistic wages for it! I'm just saying that there IS a difference between working in a writer's room and in an auto plant (or coal mine or steel mill or loading dock) in terms of safety. Thus, folks striking for safer working condition are, to me at any rate, a bit more sympathetic.

b. You're not striking against unfair hiring practices. How might one find a breakdown of the ethnic demos of the WGA anyway? So far nearly all the faces I've seen have been white, and most of them have been male. (of course you're a far more diverse and inclusive group than the multi-rich white guys you're fighting -- that should also be ...ahem... paramount in everyone's mind). I don't mean, of course, that there aren't minorities and women in the WGA, or that the organization is exclusive (far from it I would imagine) just that their seeming unrepresentation is not an issue behind this strike. This again, is a more sympathetic cause.

3. Despite your claims to the contrary, there is a CLASS SYSTEM inherent in the Hollywood labor movement. So far as I know, there is only one union in the auto industry, thus making for stronger solidarity. When the UAW strikes, they truly do strike for everyone in the industries labor force. When you have, what, four or five unions in the same industry, and ones that are often in conflict with one another, solidarity may be (or soon come to be) only skin deep. So, while IATSE and the Teamsters offer their vocal (and hopefully soon their physical) support, when and if this thing ever ends and you all get back to the set, I'd check my OJ for urine before drinking it for a while. (Tis last bit was a feeble attempt at humor and not at all meant to be taken seriously!)

Again, I am only pointing out my emotional reactions to this strike. Trying to explain why the strike doesn't quite yet engage my sympathies. Others likely (and perhaps rightly) feel differently.

I'm sure that inside the Guild this strike does (and SHOULD) engage everyone's emotions. You are, after all, fighting for your livlihoods and the future not only of your Guild but also (and to me almost more importantly)the future of your craft (or art, whichever you prefer).

And that brings me to my final consideration:

4. Anger. Thus far, this is the only emotion this strike has triggered in me. I'm furious at the AMPTP's arrogance! Some even say they wanted this strike in order to break the union (see below)! That infuriates me! Despite my many misgivings about the tactics of the Guild at this time, the WGA is an important labor union. As media converge we can't let the congloms set the rates and the rules!

So, while the emotional considerations outlined above inhibit my sympathies for your cause (but NOT my support) at this time, I am angry at your opponents.

It's a start.

So, stay strong and fight as long as it takes.

For now, though, as I close my final post, I'll leave with a line stolen from the current future of American television:

Mercutio out!

PS -- As I said, I won't waste your time here with further posts, but I will continue to check in. So I wanted to ask one last time for clarification on a strike issue: As I wrote above, I've read that some believe the AMPTP is trying to use this strike to bust the union. As my simplistic (dare I say "facile"?) posts have indicated, I don't know much about the labor movement. How does one bust a union, and specifically, how might they be trying to bust yours? And, finally finally, how can you all counter this move?

R&J III.1.106

Daniel S. said...

NBC shut down email addresses for all their writers who are on strike. how unfair is that?

thanks for clearing up the Variety report.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting that you say the Y&R story is not true, since I first heard it from a Y&R writer I met on the picket line.

English Dave said...

''It's interesting that you say the Y&R story is not true, since I first heard it from a Y&R writer I met on the picket line.''

Really? I'm sure the WGA would be interested in any details you have on this.

If there any.

Justine Bateman said...

L-You rock. S.A.G. stands with you. Everyone looks good in black. The internet is color-blind.
Justine Bateman

Marco said...

It's going to be very easy to bust the WGA union. Simply, the studios can last much longer with this strike than the writers. As a matter of fact, the studios will save money by having this strike. By the time the studios need the writers again, they will be so despearate to work due to no income that they will come back to work hat in hand. The haves and the have nots in the union will fracture and there will be increased pressure to take any deal the studios want to give. There are many writers who earn so much money that they can afford to sit out the strike for a long time, but that is not the case for the rank and file WGA members. I hear from a lot of those WGA members and they feel that this is exactly what will happen. It's not that the WGA is bad union, it's just that the way economics work today you cannot fight these corporate monoliths.

English Dave said...

Marco, I could pick holes in just about every single ''point'' you make but I have the feeling it wouldn't make any difference.

Suffice to say you have to seperate AMPTP bluff and bluster from fact.

They are not saving money. They are not spending it. There is a difference. The difference being the huge hit their bottom line will be taking on advertiser give backs.

And monolith or not, these corporations answer to shareholders. Shareholders are going to be up in arms when they discover how little writers are actually asking for compared to bottom line losses.

Marco said...

English Dave,
I haven't heard any shareholders complain. As long as stocks are going up, shareholders will not say anything. If stocks go down, they will complain but it won't be because they care about the writers, it will be because they are losing money. That's the one criteria I look at with companies I own stock in - not how they treat their workers. Your view is naive and outdated.

English Dave said...

Marco, did I give the impression I thought shareholders would complain because they cared about writers? My apologies. I was referring to the economics of the cost/benefit not the 'cause'

I hope that clarifies it for you?

Steve Peterson said...

For those of you who care, there are socially responsible ways of investing:

Calvert Mutual Funds

Investing is a powerful way of voting with your dollars.

denny said...

Just a musician and teacher union member who found this blog and decided to dropped by. If you don't stand up for your rights, corporate American will screw you every time. Long live your strike and I hope you get everything you ask for. Union solidarity!

Too bad teachers don't have the right to strike :-(

Anonymous said...

The new Y&R writing staff, all 18 of them, are hacks who have destroyed the show. I'd like to hope they go FiCore, so they won't be allowed to continue destroying the show post-strike.

But really, what is the big deal about soaps hiring scabs during the strike? They have very little to gain, but all 8 will likely be cancelled if they stupidly go off the air during the strike. During the OJ trial soaps lost 8 million viewers, now soaps have between 6-2 million, with the promise of a long strike.

Plus daytime soaps will be returning with ZERO promotion. The networks barely even air promos these days. Primetime will have endless promotion and will be able to get viewers back. Soaps won't.

I just hope the scab writers are better than the hacks we have now. Hopefully the news that Headwriter/Executive Producer/Hack Lynn Latham's office has been cleaned out is a sign of good things to come!

- Chris

Ben Highes said...

As someone who works in the film and television industry (yes unfortunately I have to be a union member) I am sickened by the selfish tactics and avarice being displayed by the WGA and it's members.

WGA calls itself a union of workers and is attempting to show solidarity with other unions and liberal organizations across the country.. this makes me sick. If everyone in these organizations new the full story about WGA members existing compensation they'd probably ask why they're getting involved to provide a bunch of millionaire fat cat writers even more millions.

In David Young's recent letter to the Membership he says "This is a paltry amount for work that we have created" (www.wga.org/subpage_member.aspx?id=2572). This is an extremely offensive statement to the rest of the Hollywood creative community who're not nearly as greedy as this union and by your actions you've put out of work.... this statement is repeated in an even more offensive manner in additional rhetoric being issued and supported by the WGA and it's members like the video titled "Why We Strike" (www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJ55Ir2jCxk). It opens with the words "When an author writes a book, they get paid for every copy sold, and a songwriter gets paid every time their song is performed or published". True, but you cannot compare the creative process of books to movies and television! Tom Clancy and Stephen King are the ONLY creative contributors to their work, movies and television programs are a creative collaboration of hundreds, sometime thousands of creative artists... and don't tell me you're going to try and compare yourselves with Lennon and McCartney or Carole King or Bob Dylan? These singer songwriters have amazing talents when it comes to producing, arranging performing and recording their material... talents you do NOT have, talents that you need the rest of the Hollywood creative community for.. a creative community that you seem quite happy to drive away from the industry by putting us out of work with no resolution in sight.

In addition when he announced the strike Patric Verrone said "The companies are seeking to take advantage of new technology to drastically reduce the residual income that sustains middle class writers and keeps them in this business". Really Patric? You call yourselves middle class! Well let's look at that for a moment, for writing 1 episode of an hour television drama WGA members get paid a minimum of $56,653 (www.wga.org/subpage_writersresources.aspx?id=1610) ... so for a series (around 4-5 months work) that's over half a million dollars! I know, I know I've heard the rhetoric, WGA's already on record saying that it takes many years to reach that level of success, it's often months between projects for writers and what sustains them through these dry spells are residuals... you know what? Everyone else in this industry has to battle for years and years to achieve "success" except our paycheck are considerably smaller than yours (for the same episode of television our minimums are less than $2,000) and we do not get residuals to tie us over between projects!

WGA and WGA members; you are going to kill an entire industry with these selfish, gluttonous tactics that you're employing... you're going to drive REAL middle class people out of the industry, people who aren't as disgustingly selfish as yourselves, people who don't have agents and multi-million dollar production deals, people who don't need their ego's stroked to go to work everyday, people who just want to work and are now not able because you decided in your greedy best interests to put us out of work so that one day you can make more millions whilst we continue to struggle with paying mortgages and putting our children through school.

Anonymous said...

This is getting ridiculous...both sides are threatening to take away the livlihood of anyone who doesn't take their side in this dispute. While the WGA is right in my opinion on the issues, they are starting to look like a big bully against their own members. You aren't the one taking the call from the mortgage company when the payment is late. A good union negotiator would have known how to posture this so that they didn't piss everyone off when it's members have so much more to lose than the suits. What do you really need a union for anyway...If you work for State Farm Insurance for example, you get great health insurance and a pension without a union.

Anonymous said...

"Ben Highes" ??

How appropriate...

English Dave said...

With the greatest respect Ben, you have picked the wrong figure.

The fee for a TV drama 60 minutes or less is $30,823.

Yeah, 10 of those make nearly $400,000.

Guess how many the average writer does in a year?

Nowhere near 10 I can assure you. so you got your facts wrong and are clearly completely misinformed about writers earnings either freelance or in writer's room.

You know what makes me sick? Illinformed trols

Captain Obvious said...

marco:


There *is* a strike fund, after all...

Anonymous said...

Ben Highes:

Wow, that doesn't sound like a troll comment at all. So how much do you make in the writing industry?

not so obvious said...

Captain Obvious,

Please stop bringing up the Strike Fund. It does not benefit your sister unions that will be out of work as long as the strike continues. It is a slap in the face everytime it is brought up. I support your cause and I'm on the writer's side, but continually mentioning that you guys can stay out for months and months and months (after all you have a fund!) does not sit well with crew members, assistants, and all others forced to bear your cross.

Besides, the strike fund must be paid back, so it isn't like free money. It's a loan.

David Grenier said...

Your strike pay is a loan? Wierd.

Many unions have a "hardship fund" that can be used to help members at various times. For example, my wife's union (TWU 555) had a lot of members in New Orleans who were given money from the hardship fund after Katrina to help them get resettled and such (also, because they had a union contract with seniority rights, they had the ability to transfer to other stations around the country - another benefit of standing together). I think you're generally expected to pay back money from a hardship fund, but that probably varies from union to union.

Anyway, non-WGA workers affected by the strike should be checking to see if they have a hardship fund to help them through these times. Also, I've heard the WGA has some sort of "Solidarity Fund" set up specifically to assist "below the line" workers affected by the strike, but I know nothing about it.

not so obvious said...

David, the strike fund to which I refer is a hardship fund. I'm not sure what the WGA is getting as far as a weekly "strike pay". I don't think they are getting any strike pay that I've heard, but I'm not in the WGA.

The IATSE strike fund, for examples, is currently only available when IATSE goes on strike, not during other union strikes.

Anonymous said...

I have one basic question for the AMPTP and their supporters: If the economic facts are truly on the AMPTP's side then why hasn't Nick Counter done a better job of making that case?

If Counter's job is truly to negotiate an agreement, shouldn't his first responsibility be to present a convincing argument of the AMPTP's position so that even the most radical elements of the WGA would have little ammunition for a strike? Aren't effective debate and diplomacy the most basic requirements of a successful negotiator?

The only conclusions I can draw are:

A) The AMPTP really wants to make a fair and reasonable deal and just doesn't realize what a terrible job their hired gun is doing for them.

B) They have no interest in making a fair deal, sought a strike as an excuse to try and break the WGA and empowered Counter as the snarling bulldog they thought best qualified for the task.

Assuming for a moment it's the former, I feel compelled to let the AMPTP executives know that, for all their blaming of Patrick Verrone for instigating a strike, it was far and away Nick Counter and his rhetoric that elicited a Strike Authorization Vote from this WGAE member. If the Companies really want labor peace, I suggest they take matters into their own hands, the hands that built massively successful businesses by working effectively with creative people, in spite of often differing perspectives.

And if it is the latter, I would remind the Companies of the period in history Mr. Counter referenced in his latest attack. The final undoing of the Blacklist and the McCarthy Era came when McCarthy finally pushed far enough to offend the basic humanity of even those who had previously supported him. The naked opportunism and abuse of power were finally seen for what they were.

And if Counter continues the course he’s on in doing the companies bidding, the simple question that brought down McCarthy and all who stood with him could easily be asked of him:

“Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”

Donal Lardner Ward

Anonymous said...

"Well, he got one thing right: It was the WGA who opposed blacklisting in the 1950's."

Did not the Screen Writers Guild permit the studios in 1952 to remove the names of certain writers from the credits of certain movies? Credits that were not restored until years (sometimes decades) later?

Perhaps their opposition to the blacklist could have been a touch more steadfast.

English Dave said...

''Did not the Screen Writers Guild permit the studios in 1952 to remove the names of certain writers from the credits of certain movies? Credits that were not restored until years (sometimes decades) later?

Perhaps their opposition to the blacklist could have been a touch more steadfast.''

Absolutely. All the more reason for not being the bunch of pussies the AMPTP take them for now.

Captain Obvious said...

Not So Obvious:


That was the first time I've mentioned the strike fund. Last time I checked I was able to speak my mind. I mentioned it in reference to Marco talking about how writers won't be able to last long and if they can they must be extremely well-paid already; undeserving of what they're striking over. Seems like a reasonable time to mention it to me.


Writers want to be out less than anyone, but necessity is the mother of all evil. It's anguish to not be working on these creations. A writer must write out of passion, not out of hunger, even if hungry. That passion makes it harder than anything else to stop working on these creations...

Greg said...

Ben Highes--
What a bizarre comment "yes unfortunately I have to be a union member."
Take your salary. Divide it by *four.* That's how much you'd be paid without a union. Take away your health care plan & reduce your pension to zero. That's what you'd have without a union.
Did I miss something? What union do you belong to? In fact, what *is* your job? Don't they negotiate a minimum salary you need to be paid?

You seem like a studio troll. Of course, your assumption that a TV drama writer writes *ten* episodes over the course of four to five months (instead of, you know, one or two) is pretty odd, coming from someone who claims to work in the industry.

As for your comment "Tom Clancy and Stephen King are the ONLY creative contributors to their work, movies and television programs are a creative collaboration of hundreds, sometime thousands of creative artists... and don't tell me you're going to try and compare yourselves with Lennon and McCartney or Carole King or Bob Dylan? These singer songwriters have amazing talents when it comes to producing, arranging performing and recording their material... talents you do NOT have, talents that you need the rest of the Hollywood creative community for."

There are an awful lot of songwriters who *aren't* as good as the ones you named… but if the song sells, they still get paid. If a writer generates money for someone else, the writer should get paid. It's a fairly simple principle.

And are you really claiming Woody Allen, M. Night Shymalan, Charlie Kaufman, Aaron Sorkin, Joss Whedon, aren't talented, and don't also use many of their talents (several direct, many cast, etc.…)

Again, I'm fully aware you're either too emotionally involved and bitter to comment rationally or are a studio troll; I'm responding for the benefit of those who might be taken in by your argument.

English Dave said...

GREG - You nailed him too soon! Make him work for his money!

a.c. the ac said...

I'm really very tired of the "writers are all millionaires so why should we care. We only get a little money" argument. In my opinion, as a member of Iatse 600 (Camera), I only wish MY union would ever freaking stand up. When was the last time IA had an industry-wide strike.

Our wages, in real spending power, have fallen and fallen dramatically. 12 years ago you could bill 150 to 200 days, make good money, buy a house in LA, a car, take a vacation, etc. Now it's a bitch just to pay the rent working as many days as you can get.

So let's not blame the WGA / writers for fighting -- let's wonder why we don't ALL fight for a more equitable share of the profits that ALL our labors make for these folks. Yeah, it sucks to be out of work, but in the end (as it's been said a few places) whatever formula the WGA / SAG can get for residuals DIRECTLY relates to the money paid for IA's Health & Pensions. If they get nothing, then eventually our Health Ins. will go away too.

Ok. Done with the rant. Passing the soapbox now.

Anonymous said...

Marco,

Speak for yourself. I'd prefer to leave behind a successful screenwriting career then bend over backward for these studio bastards. Every day I am in awe of writers I'm picketing with -- in awe of their talent AND their conviction to strike for as long as it takes.

And to you Laeta -- you are a special gal. Thanks for being yet another inspiration.

...Feature film writer and mother

not so obvious said...

Sorry Captain Obvious. I didn't mean to rail on you, it is just that I hear the war cries of "we can last forever because we have a strike fund" on blog after blog and it leaves the ones without a strike fund crapping their pants. The point is that both sides need to get back to the table now and put the egos aside. And where the hell is this federal mediator?

Captain Obvious said...

Apology accepted. Nerves are frayed right now so I didn't think much of it. Good to see we're all trying to stay civil. Brings joy to my heart.

I think I speak for everyone (non-pompously, I might add) when I say that all writers want negotiations to resume; provided actual negotiation will occur and their concerns will be discussed. The AMPTP needs to drop the lies and the "do what we ask or else" attitude and return to civil discourse of the issues at hand.

Anonymous said...

"And David took a stone from his bag and slung it, knocking the Philistine to the ground."

Anonymous said...

"if one of your members does not fall into step and do as you say, their careers (unless they are one of the multi-mill guys) will be ruined"

Do you not understand what a unionized workplace is? It means that if you do not possess a union card, you are unable to work there.

Not abiding strike rules (which are written down in the union constitution) puts individual union cards in jeopardy. A member not in good standing can have their cards pulled. Which means that those unionized workplaces suddenly have very large iron doors on them. If there are any people suddenly complaining about the after-effects of scabbing, they have no one to blame but themselves. The consequences are clearly laid out...some people have had decades to grill them into their brains.

Stay strong, WGAers. Mental intertron hug right here.

Anonymous said...

Laeta and others: please don't forget to publish the promised "Y&R response...from the writers themselves" regarding reports of soap writers going fi-core and continuing to write during the strike. It will really help your case to put a final coffin nail in this rumor. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Most of America is too busy browsing the internet. TV is a dying medium, this will help kill it. Those in the video game industry are laughing at you.

Angel said...

Well if television really is a dying medium, I suppose it's really lucky that the internet is a very large portion of what is at stake here.

Thumbs up for proving the necessity of the strike.

Anonymous said...

Even though I will miss my favorite shows while this is going on, I am backing the writers completly! It's about time! I think it is completly unfair to the writers! I hope this strike changes things! Way to go! Good Luck!!!!!!!