11/15/2007

They're off to join the picket line

Three of the original Munchkins from THE WIZARD OF OZ will be joining striking writers on the picket line Friday morning at NBC Studios in Burbank. Among them will be Jerry Maren, the original Lollipop Kid who uttered the famous line, "We represent the Lollipop Guild."

Unfortunately for Jerry and his co-stars, the Lollipop Guild didn't have any better luck than other Hollywood guilds of the era in getting the actors or its screenwriter any residuals for their creation which has earned an untold fortune in the years since.

The actors, who will be receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Tuesday, will be bringing Dunkin Munchkins at 9 a.m. to writers walking the picket lines outside the home of THE TONIGHT SHOW.

On Monday night at 7 p.m., there will be a benefit screening of their classic film at Grauman's Chinese Theater - the very same place the movie premiered in 1939.

A sincere thank you to these actors for their show of support and a hearty congratulations on their much deserved honor.

38 comments:

Anonymous said...

Don't the striking munchkins make our issues seem small?

Anonymous said...

Wow. The only two questions I have are:

1. Will this be in the morning shift or the afternoon shift?

and

2. Will they be sharing a stage with John Edwards (thus fulfilling a Nostradamus' prediction?)

Anonymous said...

I should clarify by "morning shift" I meant 6-10 vs. 10-2 "afternoon shift".. but you guys are smart and probably figured that out.

Anonymous said...

Where on earth do you get dunkin munchkins in LA? No, seriously.

Hurlywood said...

this would be fun to experience. not just this particular event, but everything, the unity.
jealous i'm not there yet. stuck in midwest, in school.
how can i help from home!?

Anonymous said...

hurlywood-- your words of support are worth a lot. Tell people what the strike is about.. write to the megacompanies and tell them as a viewer of TV and film you want them to get back to the table and negotiate with the writers...

I don't know if "fun" is the right word, but there definitely is a good warm & fuzzy feeling from knowing your on the right side of this fight, and that there's really no choice but dig in and stand our ground...

If you can come over to sunny california over the holidays, grab a sign and join the line and make some new Hollywood friends! If not, no worries- your supportfrom the midwest is much appreciated, believe me. You don't have to be physically in LA to consider yourself a part of the team!

Anonymous said...

your=you're. I really am a writer. I swear. And just ignore the other typos too :)

Anonymous said...

I work for **** but in their **** department which couldn’t be more unrelated to what is going on between the feuding sides. Yet, “the other side of the story” comes in terms of what the news is neglecting to report: myself, my co-workers, my bosses, as well as countless others in other departments face potential lay-offs simply because we have the misfortune of being stuck on the same roller coaster as this whole dilemma. What angers me most is that people who support either side seem to be fueling the idea of refusing to give in or negotiate, as if it is some fun game or a symbolic statement of “the demise of the working-class”. The sad thing is, I don’t even care about the symbolism or the fighting. I just want it to end. I love my job, and have never worried myself over making sure I broker a good deal or secure contractual terms. I simply go to work, do my job, get my paycheck and do what I can to help the department, and the company as a whole. Is that so much to ask? I just can’t logically see the fairness of a situation where even one family must face potential loss of livelihood.

Sam the Writer said...

Gay Day, Bring Your Kids to Picket Day, John Edwards, now the Munchkins..this has turned into a F***** circus. This is one pissed off WGA member who realizes the issues are important and is just so disheartened by the "fun" some members of having.

Anonymous said...

Sam the writer. Let me know where you picket so I can be sure to join you. You sound like a lot of fun to be around.

What do you suggest people do to keep morale up? Or would you rather people just walk around four hours a day miserable?

Anonymous said...

The video game industry is laughing at everyone in Hollywood. Producers, Writers, it doesn't matter. The younger generation has already been turning away from scripted entertainment in fucking droves. After a year and a half of no new television shows, think they'll actually come back?

Thanks for increasing our collective bottom line.

-Tony

Anonymous said...

Oh and anime.

I'm sure they'll just throw a lot of that on TV.

The kids are into that, a lot more than most of the drivel that is produced domestically.

-T

English Dave said...

''Thanks for increasing our collective bottom line.
''

You're welcome Tony. In the incredibly small off chance you're not an AMPTP hired troll, I'd like to think if the videp gamers went on strike I as a writer wouldn't be such an utter tit as to post on their blog like this.

Ah, hang on. That means you are either an utter tit or a troll. Right, I get it. But in any event you are wildly off the mark on all counts.

Captain Obvious said...

It's hard, but I do a mean lollipop guild impersonation if I force my vocal range.


I'd like to say though... we're constantly hearing about the plight of below-the-line from people that phrase it as if it's something new. Believe me, everyone understands what's going on and what's at stake for everyone involved whether said involvement is direct or indirect.

If I'm not mistaken, though, the studios went into negotiations with a grocery list of demands. These demands amounted to a rollback of concessions the writers have gained over the past 20-50 years. As someone else pointed out, this was practically when the strike was born.

Even still, the writers attempted to negotiate their important issues. The studios demanded that they take their DVD proposal off the table in order to continue talks. This was a specious proposal. The studios thought the writers would never capitulate on the DVD issue, as it was important, and the writers had merit; but the writers took it off the table anyway.

Then what happened? The studios walked away from negotiations. Why? They thought the writers would never budge on DVDs and intended to use that as their ammunition in a public relations effort to paint the writers as unreasonable and wrong-headed. When the writers DID budge, however, the studios were dumbfounded. There wasn't a plan for this. So all they could do was run.

The studios wanted this strike. They wanted to use it as an excuse to clean house. It's time we cleaned their clock. If you're below-the-line direct your ire at them. They forced writers into this situation. The misinformation campaign they've waged ever since has been a crude and flimsy replacement of the solid case they would've been able to make against the writers had they stood steadfast on the DVD demands.

Please, band together, one and all. The studios have some idea that this will ultimately be a payday. Let's make it a Mayday.

Captain Obvious said...

"TV Guide magazine said it would cancel a ceremony and a broadcast of its first Online Video Awards. The winners will instead be announced — where else? — online, at tvguide.com, on Nov. 26."


Who sits on the board of Gemstar-TV Guide? It's mostly News Corp. players, including Chernin.


INT. CORPORATE HQ - PENTHOUSE OFFICE - DAY


The phone RINGS. A MOGUL answers it.


MOGUL: Hello?
(a beat)
MOGUL: No god dammit! We have to cancel that project!
(a beat)
MOGUL: Of course I signed off on it, but that was then and this is now. Can you imagine the backlash? This would play right into the writers' grubby little hands, much like 4 cents might if we'd let go of them.


The Mogul breaks into a fit of pompous and haughty laughter with an air of feigned sophistication. It is clear that whoever he is talking to is not joining him. He hangs up on the staffer.

Photopoppy said...

Hey all, I'm passing this bit through my family to my great-uncle Louie, who acted with then in The Wizard of Oz. I think he'll be proud.

I don't consume a lot of media, but what I do watch, I *always* watch on DVD or online. I'm sending letters out today letting studios know that I support you. Ignore the trolls and keep up the good fight!

Splotchy said...

To anonymous, who just wants to work:

Not like you need me to tell you, but you have a totally valid point.

My mother was a teacher and I remember when she went out on strike.

Imagine the economic ripples that occur when kids don't attend school -- how school functions as childcare for a lot of working parent, for example.

I can understand how people could be frustrated and angry at the perceived selfishness of people out on strike.

But the point is, a strike is used as a last resort, and isn't something casually considered.

I don't blame the writers for trying to get a decent share of the enormous amount of profits a few select corporations are raking in.

Yeah, I've seen videos of people being chummy and goofing around on the picket line. So what? Don't you think there are writers out there that are tightening their belts, just as you tighten yours?

Strikes are bad for a lot of people, but are sometimes unfortunately necessary.

Anonymous said...

12:08 AM

I'm married to an Exec. He has to cross the line each day to go to work. If the strikers win his bonus won't be nearly as large as it has been the last few years.

If the stocks tumble our options will be worth far less and our retirement is in peril.

My husband's budget has been slashed by millions.

Sometimes what's right hurts and we're well aware that it hurts us fiscally but we also know it's the right thing to do. So, we're loading the kids into the BMWs and joining our friends this afternoon.

It's important to do what's right.

I'm sorry your job is in peril but (like us) some of the money you've made was pilfered.

*also, you should have saved up because EVERYONE knew this was coming*

PS. Bones is casting out of a studio on Ocean Park Blvd, right near the airport off Bundy. Not sure who they think will do the punch ups (fuckers)

Franzi said...

I'm a video game nut and a former anime fan (now I read the original manga in Japanese instead of the cruddy adapted versions). I'm in my 20's, spend a lot of time online, download from iTunes, use official sites to catch up on missed episodes, own dozens of old shows on DVD, etc.

And given all that, I have to say that Tony is talking nonsense. There will always be an audience for good scripted entertainment no matter what else "the younger generation" likes. Hell, half of the reason manga are catching on in the US in a way that American superhero comics never did is the writing. These comics generally have only a single author-illustrator who has a reasonable degree of creative freedom. This allows for types of stories that people working on US superhero comics are not allowed to touch.

Anime is popular because it has these same great stories. (And because US distributors can go through a whole entertainment industry, picking out only the most popular series to translate and import.) If "young people" appear to be "turning away" from scripted programming, it probably just means that they/we aren't showing up on the Nielsen ratings, not that we have lost our taste for good writing.

I got out of the habit of watching tv entirely during college and it has taken me several years to bother buying a set at all. When I did so, it was to follow a scripted program that I had bought on DVD based on the recommendation of a friend. I subscribed to cable and bought an HD tv so I could watch as it aired. I also caught up on the 2/3 of the current season that I had missed by buying half of it off of iTunes and watching the other half on the official site. I'm glad that the CW sensibly allowed me to do this instead of forcing me to get it illegally as so many of my friends do.

I am horrified to learn that I have to park my butt in front of a tv at an inconvenient time (well, and have a Nielsen box) for writers to get proper compensation. This is not how I watch.

I spent last night switching between playing World of Warcraft, and watching a DVD on my laptop, updating a bookswap site, blogging, and reading a novel while I waited for WoW monsters to respawn.

Sure, Tony, I like video games, but not just video games like WoW: I like video games with plots and stories. I like imported scripted programming like anime. I like good programs that are on currently like Boston Legal, House, Bones, and Supernatural, and old ones I've only seen on DVD like Starsky and Hutch. I like funny skit-filled shows like Chelsea Lately.

The only things I don't like are unfunny reality programming that ought to have been scripted and being told when and how I should watch.

Captain Obvious said...

Franzi, have my babies?

Anonymous said...

The point I'm afraid is that the audience for scripted entertainment is shrinking, given the prevalence of alternate forms of entertainment out there today.

The WGA, and the Studios have a far weaker grasp on the American entertainment dollar than they did decades ago, and the end result is that this strike could be disastrous.

-James

Captain Obvious said...

I think some of those "viewer decline" numbers are, in fact, just indicative of the changing face of distribution channels.

Where ratings aren't giving an accurate picture because of other means people are watching their shows like buying the DVD set or watching them on these newfangled interwebs that are too confusing after over a decade for the studios to give writers a cut.

English Dave said...

James - ''The WGA, and the Studios have a far weaker grasp on the American entertainment dollar than they did decades ago, and the end result is that this strike could be disastrous.//

Ahem

World wide studio receipts [inflation corrected]

1948 - $7.8 Billion.
1980 - $8.53 Billion.
1995 - $27.22 Billion.
2004 - $44.7 Billion.

Enough already with the doom and gloom crap.

If that's a far weaker grasp then I'd love to see a strong one.

Franzi said...

James, while I was trying to think of a succinct answer, it looks like Captain Obvious beat me to the obvious. That said, a nice succinct answer has never yet deterred me from giving a verbose one...

My long-winded personal anecdote was supposed to demonstrate exactly why I don't think "young people's" viewing habits are being accurately captured.

I could envision a future where video games replace movies. However, these video games would (and do currently) require giant teams of writers with the same skills as those currently working in Hollywood. If these writers are not represented by a union, it is only because this part of the video game industry is still too small.

I've seen numerous blog posts about how some amorphous "user generated content" will replace normal tv viewing through the divine mysteries of the internet. Just what is this content supposed to consist of? Webisodes? Strong Bad? Fan fiction?!

Even the fanfic community, with its lovey-dovey, egalitarian attitudes and not-for-profit nature recognizes that some writing is better. Better writing is more fun to read. Better writing builds a fan base.

Sure, maybe the homestarrunner.com guys don't need a union, but as soon as "online content" starts meaning "professionally produced episodes" with all of the overhead those entail, we're talking about tv on the internet and not some spontaneously generated content from the magic technology box.

The minute some "new" industry requiring all the same writing talent as the old industry manages to take over, its workers will organize too. They might even have the nerve to ask for health care and a cut of the ad money.

What all these dire predictions about the death of tv seem to be ignoring (aside from the fact that we're actually all still watching it) is that writing is craft. You can replace tv with online tv (which we all know is a different beast since idiots told us so) or movies or video games or--hell--even books, but you just can't change the fact that some people are more talented or more experienced at producing entertainment that is entertaining.

We can call scripted entertainment something else if you want, but that won't change the fact that all entertainment, even reality tv, is more fun when good writers are involved in its creation. Yeah, maybe some of these writers aren't in a guild right now, but they will be one day if their form of entertainment becomes the predominant one.

Even 13 year-old fangirls writing naughty Mary Sue fanfic on the internet understand the appeal of good writing. Why can't you?

Captain Obvious said...

Franzi you continue to need to have my babies...

Anonymous said...

"The video game industry is laughing at everyone in Hollywood. Producers, Writers, it doesn't matter. The younger generation has already been turning away from scripted entertainment in fucking droves."

You're half right.

The fat cat video game EXECUTIVES are laughing. The guys actually doing the work in the video game industry are non-union and many of them are working insane hours for lousy salaries. There are plenty of stories from people working at companies like Electronic Arts about how it's basically a white collar sweatshop. And this is while those companies make billions and still growing.

I wonder if the video game industry will ever unionize? Or will they just be able to keep cranking out games with a steady churn of newbies fresh out of Video Game 101 at the junior college...get a few games out of them before they realize they're getting screwed and bail?

Or will they just follow the animation industry and take most of the labor overseas with just a few designers and writers in the states?

Yeah, they got plenty to laugh about...

Anonymous said...

Franzi,

The video games industry is actually bigger in sheer economic terms and in the number of employees than the traditional entertainment industry.

It's been that way for a number of years, and the role of writers in the video game industry, outside of of the RPG genre, is very small.

Most stories are extremely short and skeletal in nature, lead-ins to the gameplay, not longer than a few paragraphs in length.

They don't call in a professional writer for these things, they're often thought up on the spot, to justify the general setting and key gameplay features, things of this nature are bounced around between team members.

Innovative gameplay features, solid engineering and graphic design are the true corner stones of the video game industry, not writing.

The only union that we regularly interact with is the one handling the voice actors, and even that varies from team to team.

Something to think about is that Nintendo's IP, collectively is estimated to be worth several billions more than that of Disney, yet most of those games don't exactly contain much i the way of story.

-James

English Dave said...

James -
Franzi,

The video games industry is actually bigger in sheer economic terms and in the number of employees than the traditional entertainment industry.

yeah????? Figures if you got 'em.

I know a guy who works in the games industry. Very talented. Gets paid peanuts. His bosses are super rich. he made it for them. The difference is they are rich but he wouldn't shit on anyone even if he were rich.

That's why the public support the WGA. Writers do what they do because they care. You fuckers who are only about the bottom line should bite their toungues. You want to know the real reason why traditional media is not getting the ratings?

Mostly because of you executive parasites sacrificing quality for a quick buck. Which in the long term spells death.

I've been a pro writer for 10 years so before any of you corporate whiners jump in, I don't have shares but I have investment, in what I do.

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Tom Corwine said...

I just got back from the box office and tickets for the Monday night show are $25.

I couldn't find any information online so I thought I'd post here and let everyone know. As of Sunday at 8:30pm, there are plenty of tickets left.

writers_suck_ass said...

You should all be fired anyway for producing low quality cookie-cutter garbage...go to hell all of you...

deez said...

Do you really think what you write is worth anything?? You need a paycut, and to be treated like garbage since that's what you produce.

scabby said...

I support scab writers...

da_bears said...

My kid sister produces better writing with crayons...

my_balls_your_jihad said...

Hollywood can suck my balls...since that's as good as writing gets in Hollywood.

Can the writers, and you can all suck my balls...

bitches...

islam sucks my balls, too.

bukke said...

comedy central writers are a bunch of film actors guild...s

elylyo said...

me again.... watch the teeth...

Anonymous said...

What a blessing your strike is for America. Please keep it up. America should not have to be influenced by the crap that you write for TV.