Ok, so we've finally got some answers from our sources. We'll have more as the day goes on, but here's the beginning of it:
Why aren't the writers still in the room negotiating? Why are we waiting until Tuesday to continue?
When they presented their proposal, the companies said it was incomplete. The Negotiation Committee still hasn't received the rest of the proposal, and they're waiting on the AMPTP to actually bring it. However, it's kinda hard to get excited about anything they may be bringing to the table, given the unimpressive track record they have so far.
But also, what the congloms are proposing is a new paradigm in these negotiations -- a flat fee for use on internet. As a WGA member, it sounds crazy to me -- I feel like percentage of revenue is a much more sensible model, and one that can accomodate all the fluctuations of this "new" media/internet that seem to have the corporations in such a tizzy. But it's fair (I guess; frankly "fair" isn't the mood I'm in) to examine this idea and its ramifications closely.
The corporations say they're offering us $130 million. Is that true?
Weirdly, no one knows if that figure has any relation to reality. Apparently the AMPTP haven't felt the urge to share where that number comes from. They didn't present it to the NegComm in the room -- the first time anyone saw it was in the AMPTP press release when they (unilaterally) broke the media blackout.
Since they claim that the internet just isn't going to make any money, and supposedly that number has some relationship to the internet money they're offering, it's... baffling.
We're trying to get an answer on that one. But frankly, it looks like that number, like the cheerfully 1950's-flavored wording of their PR release to the world, is spin, not substance.
UPDATE ON THE "$130 MILLION" ISSUE --
As well as not yet revealing where that figure comes from, the conglomerates are also refusing to say how many years it covers.
In other words, that $130 million could be paid to writers over 1 year -- or 3 years -- or 5 -- or 20. Or, as one NegCom member pointed out, the most likely number: "infinity."
Which could, for example, mean 10 bucks a year.
How about the rollbacks?
This is where things get really frustrating. We all know that television is headed toward internet delivery, and movies too; close to a third of television series are already rerunning primarily via streaming and downloads, instead of on tv.
Shows like LOST, for example -- this year it will supposedly be shown without a singe rerun. The only reruns would be on the internet via streaming and downloads. That means that a writer, who would normally get anywhere from $3,000 residual for a WGA-covered cable show to $20,000 residual for a huge network hit, would get $250 dollars instead when it was shown on the internet -- and that would cover reruns for a whole year, no matter how many times it was seen. If that same episode was downloaded from iTunes for $1.99, the writer would receive about .6 cents. As in, slightly more than half a penny.
That's why it's a rollback. It about the future, yes -- but it's also about right now.
And of course, we shouldn't leave out "promotional use" -- which, as usual, means if they decide something is promotional, they don't have to pay anything. Ever. And by "promotional" they mean, well, whatever they want.
And that includes entire movies, entire television episodes, regardless of how much money the AMPTP receives for them. And they can unilaterally declare anything promotional.
Want to guess how much stuff they'll designate as promotional? Cause I'm thinking... everything.