11/24/2007

Picketing: Now It Gets Interesting

With the AMPTP returning to the bargaining table, there's hope that a new contract can be worked out. But the coming week presents a challenge to all of us who have been picketing.

Over the Thanksgiving Day holiday, the Los Angeles Times ran two articles about showrunners: Scott Collins' "Who really runs things" and Maria Elena Fernandez and Meg James' "Key role is also a tough one".

After weeks of coverage that favored the AMPTP point of view--denigrating writers and minimizing the impact of a work stoppage--the LA and NY Times have begun to print articles that, if not sympathetic to writers, are at least respectful. Let's cross our fingers that the press will cover the restarted negotiations in a balanced way.

What part does picketing play in all this? The pickets are the visible sign of Guild solidarity.

As positive as is the Fernandez-James article, the reporters are looking for fissures, the way factions weakened the negotiation in 1988.

This coming week, the press will be searching for new stories about the strike that will get the public's attention.

The story we don't want the reporters to write is "Picketing numbers down, WGA strike loses steam" just as the AMPTP is pushing back at the bargaining table.

The story we should give them is the one that empowers our negotiators: "WGA remains strong on the picket line and at the table."

Let's build on the newly discovered respect for writers in the press. Let's picket as if our future depended on it.

34 comments:

Frank Uslan Charlie Kartler said...

I wish you all the best of luck at the table tomorrow. I just hope a fair deal is made so everything could go back to normal.

Justine Bateman said...

I agree that we must picket like our futures depended on it. I know a deal will eventually be worked out, but this is the same AMPTP that said, "Tricked You!" after WGA took DVD's off the table.
I don't trust this monday meeting. I think part of the reason it is happening is because the corporations saw too many e-mails and blogs from FANS flying around, asking the writers, "How can we help? Do you want us to boycott buying DVD's and downloads this Christmas?".
So I feel we not only picket like there is no agreement yet (because there isn't), but because the future of production will not include the AMPTP when we are consistently producing content directly for the internet.

Anonymous said...

I don't live in the US but I wish the WGA the best of luck in the negotiations. I make my living by my pen as well, and I think all writers deserve to be respected and paid farily for their work and talent.

Ang Li Cru said...

I think the two articles to which you link demonstrate more of a divide among writers than I was previously aware. If this truly is an improvement in coverage, then things have not been good.

I don't believe coverage has been all that bad, actually. I read earlier posts shaming media for not covering the big rally on Hollywood Blvd, but when I got home from work that evening, my wife said she had seen it on Channel 7 news.

At any rate, this week is going to be a huge indicator of how the rest of the strike is going to go.

Are Writers going to get a fair deal quickly, or is this going to drag out til April, May or later? This is the week that will truly tell the future.

I'm not saying that a deal's gotta be done by Friday, but we'll have a pretty good idea by then how far apart the Writers and Producers remain.

My personal belief from the get-go has been that the strike would last less than two weeks or longer than four months.

I could live with being wrong. Four weeks doesn't seem that bad...

Good luck at the bargaining table! I hope both sides leave their egos at the door, and that both sides recognize that they have made serious mistakes in this negotiation.

Let's get this resolved and get Hollywood back to work!!

Best of luck! Get what you deserve, but get it quickly!

- A crew member hoping to avoid the unemployment line (1 week of production left on my show)

Anonymous said...

Well guys I and many americans are praying a negotiation this week. I really hope that the writers come to an agreement BC believe it or not the water cooler talk around town is that some people will truly stop watching shows, movies, etc. I really hope that the writers know that this could not only affect the shows but also there jobs. I pray that everyone comes to an agreement so we the fans can start getting ready for next season and not have a bitter taste in our mouths about writers in hollywood.

DESPERATE CREWMEMBER said...

Considering just how messed up the negotiations went the last time around, with both sides to blame, let's hope that the leadership on both sides come to a fair and SPEEDY agreement. I fear that with no mediators, and a news blackout, this could all be a publicity stunt on the part of the AMPTP. The WGA needs to come out with a deal. AND FAST.

Tanja Barnes said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tanja Barnes said...

First of all: best of luck in your negotiations.

Secondly: it's important to remember your strongest tool is strength in numbers, not just with guild and labor unions, but with the power of new media and the Internet.

Don't rely on mainsteam media -- 6 media conglomerates -- telling the story from the top down. There are literally thousands of outlets of information now.

Instead, call upon and rally the forces of citizen journalists, podcasters, vidcasters, bloggers -- thousands of individuals -- to tell the story from the bottom up.

To wit: my podcast, the Writers' Strike Chronicles which is a daily blog and accompanying podcast.

Hockey Dad said...

As I read your blog I am struck by the obvious stereotypical view that much of the country has of the Liberal media. You say we shouldn’t report the diminishing numbers of picketers for fear that those remaining will lose bargaining power over management. You want the media to skew all reports to serve your goal and clearly the notion of an unbiased, ethical and truthful reporting media would be damaging to your cause. I have no real interest in the outcome of this issue as far as the writers or the studios are concerned. I am however very concerned about the use of mass medias in the “Land of the Free”. How can we be a democratic nation that embraces freedom if we also desire censorship? I submit that if we are to take a side in this small battle where both sides share the same distain of the truth then the fight isn’t worth fighting regardless of the side you take.
As this minor skirmish continues I have a dark desire for both sides to implode I think Hollywood and its cousins need to die and a new generation less concerned with political agenda and more concerned with ethical conduct be born from its ashes.

Anonymous said...

Monday's meeting may well be an attempt by the AMPTP to get the the showrunners (as they've indicated they would do if talks began again) to come back to work - I put nothing past the AMPTP when it comes to serving their own interest.

Now, regarding the media's coverage of the strike, I'm still offended that it's become a TV writer's strike as opposed to the writer's strike and the media's coverage is still bent toward the AMPTP's viewpoint.

And as a feature film writer, I'm only slightly offended that I'm a third class citizen -in strata of importance - behind actors (who garner the media interviews, etc) who aren't even part of my guild and TV writers who are dictating the terms of the strike, etc. etc. etc.

So, I want to remind my union, the WGA, that this is a writer's strike, not just a TV writer's strike and to not forget that we're all in this together.

Signed,
Just another writer

Anonymous said...

It is lunacy to think that the creatives can just use the Internet and the masses will follow. Original works made for the Internet have a long way to go in terms of finding a mass audience. It very well may be the future, but we are not there yet. As for this strike, it's hard to get behind a bunch of millionares who want to make more money.

Anonymous said...

I have found no reason to watch new programming in quite some time. I can’t understand the love and lure of reality TV and tend to look down upon those who drone on about some such show. This strike is just another reason to watch the older ORGINAL shows that have merit or no television at all. Add to that my general disgust with conduct of the Hollywood crowds and I’m hoping that no deal is struck for many months. I really do want to see who has the staying power, which side really has what it takes to take it to the mattresses? Unfortunately I question either sides resolve and I’m sure that a deal will be hammered out soon. As a consumer I’ll be assailed with commercials for the new seasons of lackluster shows guaranteed to provide you with hours of mindless semi-entertainment.

Shaun "OMac" Daily said...

While I am not in the business, I was the one that started the Nuts to CBS campaign for Jericho..

We need to keep the pressure up with the picket lines, the pencils and whatever else gets us attention.

I have suggested blank signs on the picket lines..Writers said they would not write anything until the strike is over..so why not take it very literally to the picket signs and have them be blank???

artdeptgirl said...

...Steve Jobs keeps telling the record labels how they don't get it.

Yes, because criminalizing your audience is *beyond* stupid; not to mention shortsighted and fiscally irresponsible.

Why? Simple supply and demand.

With many analysts predicting some form of mass-market "on demand" model coming soon, the TV business could be similarly up for grabs.

The business model is changing and Hollywood must change with it. The writers are trying to do that. The moguls? Not so much.

Downloads are happening because supply is VASTLY exceeding demand.

I'll watch what I want, WHEN I want, because my life is more important than some mogul's dictates.

I'll watch what I want, WHEN I want, because my cable provider doesn't offer X channel without my shelling out half a bazillion samolians.

I'll watch what I want, WHEN I want because there's this really nifty thing called the internets, and it means I've learned about tv being made in places other than my home country. *gasp* Strange, but true.

I'm gonna lose my btl job in about 10 days, and I couldn't be more proud of the WGA. This fight - and it most assuredly *is* a fight - isn't just about writers' future earnings, it's about the very nature of the future of entertainment.

To borrow some snap dialogue from a writer...this is the place, and we'll buy you the time.

Anonymous said...

A writers strike. Funniest shiat Ive heard of. Pathetic actually.

Anonymous said...

Hockey dad, I think you missed the point of the article. This was not a call for the media to only show one side of the story.

The article wasn't asking the media not to report on lower picket numbers. Instead, it was asking the WGA and supporters to not let there BE lower picket numbers. That way, the media could not report on lower numbers because there actually AREN'T lower numbers.

Mannie said...

As a viewer, I truly am suffering. Nothing new from my favorite late night talk shows. BS from everyone else. News I get hasn't covered the strike or any of the circumstances surrounding it. I love my television, but I'm on the writer's side here. They're the ones who hooked my little brain into their cleverly crafted programs.
So as much as I can do for the cause I will. I guess this is the starting point for me- but enough about that.
You picketers go kick ass.
And if America is what we tell our children it is, the country will respect your tenacity.
Now it's up to "those in charge" to shine their green spotlights your way.

From the crowd,
-Emmanuel

Anonymous said...

Yeah, as if picketing makes any difference. Go on vacation! Tell me, "Either you give us a deal now or we go on christmas vacation, we'll be back in March"

Anonymous said...

Feature film writer -- I hear you. I'm one too. It DOES feel right now that all the press and dialogue is about TV. But I think it's because it's the most immediate tangible evidence of the strike. However, the headlines this last week started to show the cracks on the feature side as well -- that studios' big tentpole movies aren't quite as ready as they thought.

United Hollywood said...

Shaun,
Thank you coming up with Nuts for Jeicho. That was the model for our pencils2mediamoguls campaign. The feedback we've gotten from the TV fan-groups has been terrific.
Feature film writer,
What Anonymous said is clearly the case: the full page ad that the screenwriters published was a crucial part of the strike, as important as the showrunners statement. This strike can't work without both groups working in concert.
TV is affected first and so the press is all over those writers. But as Anonymous said, major tent-pole movies were pulled last week because the scripts weren't ready to shoot. And who is making that determination? We've been hearing the actors and directors of those films have said "No" because they won't shoot a bad script. Remember, the AMPTP is made up of two groups: the film studios and the tv networks. The showrunners put tremendous pressure on the networks. Feature film writers like the two of you put equally important pressures on the film studios. Now, both networks and film studios are, hopefully, incentivized to negotiate in good faith, something they weren't willing to do on October 31st.

Muse said...

your future does depend on it. Stand up for what's right. I support the WGA, it sucks all around that production is haulted for tv and movies but writers themselfs are the bargaining chip. Without them there ARE no tv shows and movies

Anonymous said...

I think the two articles in the L.A. Times over the weekend were fine. But as far as revealing more of a divide among showrunners, I disagree. From being inside that group, I see those articles as some of the very few showrunners who felt the need to go back to work, also feeling the need to get it out that somehow they were doing this for the cause. That somehow their actions, instead of being that of a splinter group of around five or six hyphenates, were a bigger number and a growing one. And that they were partly responsible for getting the negotiations started again. Bull. The people who got negotiations going again were the strong ones who stood up and didn't do any work.

United Hollywood said...

Shaun,
Thank you coming up with Nuts for Jeicho. That was the model for our pencils2mediamoguls campaign. The feedback we've gotten from the TV fan-groups has been terrific.
Feature film writer,
What Anonymous said is clearly the case: the full page ad that the screenwriters published was a crucial part of the strike, as important as the showrunners statement. This strike can't work without both groups working in concert.
TV is affected first and so the press is all over those writers. But as Anonymous said, major tent-pole movies were pulled last week because the scripts weren't ready to shoot. And who is making that determination? We've been hearing the actors and directors of those films have said "No" because they won't shoot a bad script. Remember, the AMPTP is made up of two groups: the film studios and the tv networks. The showrunners put tremendous pressure on the networks. Feature film writers like the two of you put equally important pressures on the film studios. Now, both networks and film studios are, hopefully, incentivized to negotiate in good faith, something they weren't willing to do on October 31st.

Anonymous said...

All the WGA sites seem to be quiet. Have we given up already? I hope it's just because of the holiday.

Anonymous said...

Hockey Dad said...

"I have a dark desire for both sides to implode I think Hollywood and its cousins need to die and a new generation less concerned with political agenda and more concerned with ethical conduct be born from its ashes."

I think it's pathetic that hockey fans can confuse a writers' strike with Congress. I suppose it's fortunate that the NHL won't exist in ten years.

J. said...

Shaun "omac"

I know you're a big Jericho fan. Just wanted to let you know that I'm a big fan of yours!

another domino said...

I think the quiet is more a matter of holding our breath hoping the negotiations go well.

Jessica Campbell said...

Please stand strong for both your family and every writers family out there. Many blessings being sent you way from Minnesota

kaysi said...

OH that I lived closer to LA and could come help!!! I'm with you all in spirit, and my prayers are with you, too!!

Ross Day said...

I was wondering if there is a website where I can get the most up-to-date information on the strike. I want this to get settled because I miss Jay Leno, but I don't want the writers to get screwed.

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

"You say we shouldn’t report the diminishing numbers of picketers for fear that those remaining will lose bargaining power over management."

Um...where did it say that? I think you're imagining things.

"As for this strike, it's hard to get behind a bunch of millionares who want to make more money."

Good to hear that you oppose the studios.

David Latt said...

Ross Day,
Thanks for your support. We're hoping that unitedhollywood.com will give you the most up-to-date information about the strike. Between our postings and our links to other sites, like Nikki Fink's Deadline Hollywood Daily, we're hoping you can keep up with events as they unfold.

Jake Hollywood said...

United Hollywood:

I know we're all in this together, but sometimes it feels good to be reminded of it - especially when you're walking (as I am at CBS Radford) with an endless line of TV writers.

Formerly Anonymous, aka Feature Film Writer

PS: unlike the LA Times, CNN (they were at Radford this morning) actually seems to be interested in our viewpoint. Imagine that, a news report that's actually fair and balanced. Will wonders never cease.

Anonymous said...

What so special with the writers union compare to other union?

When the grocery union had their strike, nobody cared. The supermarket hired temps and the life went on.