We're "Speechless" with Gratitude

On this Turkey Day, the writers of United Hollywood wish to extend our thanks to everyone across the world who has offered so much help, support and encouragement. We invite you all to watch "Speechless," a new campaign featuring dozens of actors who want to see creative talent get a fair deal. "Speechless" will run exclusively at Nikki Finke's Deadline Hollywood Daily through the Thanksgiving weekend. Three new videos are scheduled each day. Read the full press release here.

And we hope you'll find this video from Tuesday's labor solidarity march as inspiring as we do.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. We're all on the same page.
- your friends at United Hollywood


Anonymous said...

We're all on the same page.

For the moment anyway. But once the strike ends it'll be every writer for himself. And all the support will be forgotten and the WGA membership will move forward and not look back, leaving all that good-will by the wayside until the next contract comes along...

Hurlywood said...

I'm not thankful for anonymous nay-sayers.
But I am thankful for Sandra Oh!

Anonymous said...


I'm a realist.

And like it or not, once this strike ends (and it will end), it'll be back to the way it was before the strike: writers will be cutthroat, going after jobs at the expense of other writers and doing whatever it takes to make sure their interests are served first. To think otherwise is not only unrealistic, but to not know how writers (which studios encourage) treat their fellow writer.

This strike unification thing, the let's all join hands and share the love movement? It's a one-time thing, strictly a one-use item serving the collective needs of the WGA membership.

moviemaniac226 said...

What the hell.

Is Sandra Oh the official spokeswoman of this strike or what? She is in every other video on the strike and she always seems to be bouncing her ass off the walls.

Anonymous said...

Fascinating, isn't it? The actors get all the face time and, as usual, the writers take a back seat - even in their own cause. An ironic twist.

Imagine what it's going to be like after the strike is finished.

Steve R said...

Am I the only person who thinks it's weird that Nikki gets an "exclusive' with the videos? Exactly how is it a great public campaign if we're granting exclusive access to one journalist?

Yes, it's only exclusive for the weekend, but crap, that seems a bit counter intuitive for what we're trying to accomplish.

Roberta said...

Well we have bought our pencils... and happy Thanksgiving to all of you in States... and I for one am keeping my fingers crossed for an agreement on 26th :)

doitwell said...

i'm usually in total support of unions, but it's difficult to muster up a lot of sympathy for strikers whose average salary is in the six figures...it's really shameful considering most labor strikes are for things such as a liveable wage or health benefits....stop your whining, already.

Anonymous said...

Jesus christ some people need to learn the difference between "AVERAGE" and "MEDIAN".

Skyfleur said...

doitwell said i'm usually in total support of unions, but it's difficult to muster up a lot of sympathy for strikers whose average salary is in the six figures.

You're talking about John well,s Shonda Rhimes, Aaron Sorkin, Joss whedon etc. Those are NOT the average, those are the exceptions. Average salary is $60000. Read-up before you make such a broad statement, watch the videos too. You'll see the big ones say they're not fighting for themselves because they're well off, they're fighting for all the others.

I watched the three first videos on Nikki Finke's blog. It's funny cause we were talking about pretty much the first video. Someone was arguing it was possible for the studios to start doing everything in India or another country where they have sets and I was like that would imply that the writers they hire know about their target as in know the culture, the language etc. Not specifically the demographic target, but we all know that depsite being sold all over the world, most shows are written for American audiences though he did admit it would need rewriting which made it impossible in the first place. And I was like no way and that first video proved my point :D

ObesoTV said...

From Chile and Spain...
Congratulations to all of you...
You are making history...
Like we said in Chile:
" Ustedes son bakanes, la llevan"
"You rock"

Finazio said...

Petition: done!

Female therapy said...

We have a postal strike in the UK, so regardless of what you write, if you want to post, it won't be delivered!!! I enjoyed the comments debate even though in the UK the strike has little air time. hope it works out..

Dana Friedman said...

I support the writers' cause. I've seen pictures from the picket lines, and I think you've done a great job of getting your message across.

HOWEVER: I believe that "Share" is the wrong word to emphasize in your message—especially when you're being broadcast and webcast everywhere, and public opinion is mixed.

Why should Rupert Murdoch "share"? He bought his various TV networks for..however many millions, invested millions more, and believes he's paying a decent wage.

Why should he "share"? I think he and his colleagues at other media conglomerates understand a different language than typical union-speak. Writers are artists. More often than not, artists are not business people. But you're DEALING with business people in these negotiations. If you don't speak their language, how can you expect them to understand you? There's a picture I saw from the picket lines of a little girl wearing a t-shirt which read "I stream Hanna Montana". That's great. It's effective to a point. It's concise, but it doesn't convey the real issue of The network is making money when "I stream Hanna Montana".

Writers help Murdoch, and Disney, and all the others to create their success. They deal in the realm of "partnership", "strategic alliances" and the like. I believe that y'all should be talking about "make us TINY-TINY partners in the successes we're creating for you.". I believe that such wording, if backed up properly, will engender the kind of sympathy that many aren't giving you, and that may get the corporate types to understand you a little differently.

"Share" comes across as whiny, and as asking for a handout. You deserve MORE than a handout.

Aaron Sorkin made hundreds of millions for NBC, and as a result, made millions for himself. He's already a partner, and his own stake in this cause is not the issue. If Aaron doesn't get the 4 cents, I'm sure he won't miss it.

The many writers who can barely pay the bills for themselves and their families are not being treated as partners in the conglomerates' successes.

Without writers, there's no show. If you're a partner in the successes of Fox, ABC, NBC, CBS, all the cable networks, you should be treated as such. When the content you write streams onto the internet creating ad revenue, why the hell shouldn't the writer be a 4 cent partner in the millions Disney or whoever is making on the streaming ads for "Desperate Housewives"?

4 cents is a great message. "Partners in success" is a great message. "Share"..is not a message many, if any of them will hear.

My thoughts are with you, and I hope for a great success for the writers in the November 26th talks.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
David Grenier said...

Not only do folks need to learn the difference between median and mean, but they need to learn not to take an unrepresentative sample as provided by someone who has a financial and ideological interest in defeating the union (the AMPTP).

The figure that the AMPTP likes to throw out is what the average full-time hollywood writer makes, as if that is average for the WGA. We all know that most writers do not work full time year after year. They work on shows that get cancelled, they write screenplays that get optioned but not made, they spend years essentially working for free while they're writing however many scripts to try to sell to the studios.

If you take all WGA members, the average is not in the hundreds of thousands. It's far lower.

Katiedollaz said...

I do thnk that your cause is just it just stinks that some of the great shows you write cannot air due to the strike. You should get your share of everything though, you are the true talent.

Anonymous said...

Apparently not every WGA writer is interested in solidarity. Case in point: Today I was in Barnes & Noble and overheard a conversation referencing an actor by the name of George Harris. In listening to the conversation (the speaker was a woman producer whom I don't know) about a script being re-written by a WGA writer who "agreed to work under the table."

I couldn't get the name of the film, nor the producer's name (though I did pick up that she lives in Studio City on Kraft Ave - close to Tujunga), but I did hear that the script is now being re-written and soon would be ready to begin being shot.

It's evident that there are writers who neither respect nor honor their membership in the WGA. I wish I'd caught the name of the writer, I'd report the scab without a second thought.

Sadly, the writer in question isn't the only one. And so much for union unity, right?

redblack said...

I would really rather see the writer's and actors who do not own million dollar plus homes front these videos.

Now that I have logged more time picketing for the WGA than I have picketing for Peace, and the leaders are going back to the table, I will put down my picket sign while we are at the table and get back to work helping to end this stupid f'ing war and the ABSOLUTELY SENSELESS KILLING that is taking place IN OUR NAMES.

I know, I know.."apples and oranges, redblack...apples and oranges."

the slackmistress said...

@redblack & others: I'm a WGA and I'm picketing, and I don't earn hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. I work a regular crappy job to supplement whatever writing gigs I can scrape together, and there are way more of me than there are of the gazillion-dollar writers.

The issue is that the gazillion-dollar writers are newsworthy. Some chick who used to write on a cable show really isn't. That's just the reality of the matter. However, if you want to see it, the video I put together is here:

There's been quite a bit written about how writers will leave the "non-WGA writers" behind after the strike. The fact is that there are a lot of us scrambling for work even within the WGA. But I'm still out there picketing because things like the extra four cents and internet downloads matter to people like me to make ends meet. We do exist.

the slackmistress said...

Whoops, try that link here.

Anonymous said...

just use scab writers form inda

Anonymous said...

You're talking about John well,s Shonda Rhimes, Aaron Sorkin, Joss whedon etc. Those are NOT the average, those are the exceptions. Average salary is $60000. Read-up before you make such a broad statement, watch the videos too. You'll see the big ones say they're not fighting for themselves because they're well off, they're fighting for all the others.

Hmmm...So, $60,000 is borderline poverty level? There are plenty of journalists - with masters degrees in journalism who don't make that much money. They also don't get three months paid vacation while on hiatus. Look, I'm not in favor in corporate America, either. But, please, don't play the Norma Rae card. Most WGA writers are privileged, upper class people who are used to living pampered lives. Let's be real. When an advertising copywriter writes a great tagline for a commercial that gets aired over and over - does he get a residual? NO. When a fashion designer for Calvin Klein designs a unique sweater, does he/she get a residual every time a person wears that sweater? NO. WGA writers and every other union member in the entertainment industry have sweetheart deals and should stop bitching. Their bitching discredits the union members who are fighting for their lives. And, BTW: writers can live off residuals for quite a while while collecting unemployment. How many other professions can do that?

Anonymous said...


A quote from an LA Times article about Marc Cherry (creator of Desperate Housewives):

"What sustained him in the fallow years, before his desperation inspired ABC's 2004 hit "Desperate Housewives," were the little green envelopes that showed up in his mailbox. Reruns of "The Golden Girls," which got a second life on the Lifetime cable channel, brought residual checks that one year totaled $75,000.....Without residuals, Cherry said, he might have been forced to "get a real job.""

Cry me a river, Marc Cherry. We should all be so lucky to get $75,000 a year from our old jobs and not be forced to "get a real job."

I don't know who does PR for the Writers' Guild, but I don't think talking heads like Marc Cherry are going to be garnering any sympathy.
Take a look at this
#13 posted by OM Author Profile Page, October 22, 2007 6:4

Skyfleur said...

that's a median, i guess ? (my comprehension between average, median isn't that good, second language and all).

Anyways, an average just means that it's a scale. As you might read, 50% of the WGA don't work. People who do get the average are fully employed but as they tried to explain, most writers don't work full time, they depend on the residuals.

And pardon me, but did you just compare a poor journalist who might bring some revenues with people who bring in billions of dollars due to their work ? Even though actors salary are obscene in a lot of repesct for the big stars like tom cruise or Brad Pitt or Tom Hanks. There's a reason for it, they attract people. Their name is enough of an advertisement that it explains the unbelievable amount they get per movie. Compare these with the writers who might not be known as much. However, some of us do go to the movies because the movie was penned by someone, some of us wait for some tv shows because they're penned by some of our favorite writer. For example, I'd watch anything penned by Steven Moffat, a british writer, i'd pretty much watch anything written by paul haggis. I might have not gone seen the latest Bond Movie without him being on the writing team. That's how much I believe in him.
If we do that, then they do deserve the recognition, and that recognition goes through fair compensation.
And as a final thought, it is not because one might not earn as much as someone else that one might not support their stand. The two aren't connected.

Wendy said...

I believe that the studios and networks are willing to ride out the WGA strike because they are the owners of the research and information on the American public's viewing habits. And I hate to say this, but we are a whole lot more capricious that we would like to admit, I am quite sure of that.

I think there's a pretty serious risk here for the WGA that I'm not seeing addressed. And that is: what if you stop writing for scripted shows, and TV viewers are just as happy to watch whatever the networks can pony up in the absence of the shows you write?

I read: "Oh, no, no, no.....take away people's weekly favorites, and see what happens." Well, what might happen is that people turn the TV off. Bad for studios, bad for the bottom line. But what also could very well happen is that people just watch whatever the networks put up as a replacement. We are a fickle lot; more fickle than we should be for sure, especially in the age of internet and sophisticated videos games, etc. We can do something other than watch scripted TV.

Movies are still an event; a date night. If eventually there are no first-run movies being released, I believe that will pack a bigger punch. But also, it seems to me that it would be easier for the studios to lure one writer under the table to write a movie script than it would be to get a team of writers to continue a television series. So I think the day when we see no new movies will most likely not even occur.

Is there a plan in place to continue to remind viewers of what we are missing, if the strike should continue for months and months?

Greg said...

Hi, anonymous@11:49 PM! Notice you still aren't posting your real name, which is strange.

"When an advertising copywriter writes a great tagline for a commercial that gets aired over and over - does he get a residual? NO. When a fashion designer for Calvin Klein designs a unique sweater, does he/she get a residual every time a person wears that sweater? NO. WGA writers and every other union member in the entertainment industry have sweetheart deals and should stop bitching."

When a novelist writes a book, does he get a residual every time someone buys it? YES. When a playwright writes a play, does he get a residual every time someone produces it? YES.
it seems we've got to go back to Chris Kelly, via Kung Fu Monkey again:

"A residual is a deferred payment against the lifetime value of a script.

It's not a bonus.

That's why it's called a "residual." The word means "left over." It's the left over part of the compensation the author agrees to wait for. It's not money for nothing. The word for that is "commission."

A residual isn't a handout or an allowance or Paris Hilton's trust fund. It's not a lottery payout, or alimony, or an annuity from a slip and fall accident at a casino.

A residual is a deferred payment against the lifetime value of a script.

It's not a perk.

It's okay if you didn't know that. It's in the best interests of a lot of fairly large corporations that you don't. And it makes it easier to imagine that writers are asking for something workers don't deserve.

Here's an actual "comment" I got last week, from an actual "commenter" just like you:

"When an engineer develops a product for a company should the engineer receive compensation each time the company figures out a new market for the product or a new application for the product (?)"

This is a fair question, but it employs a truly dunderheaded example. An engineer does receive additional compensation when a company finds a new application for the product he created. This is called "owning a patent."

(I don't think even Rupert Murdoch wants to get rid of patents. Well, not yet.)

"When the product loses money for the company should the engineer give back his salary?"

Of course not. Because his product always retains its potential to create revenue. The capital gets used up. The idea isn't unthought. But now I'm nitpicking at an analogy that doesn't apply in the first place.

"When a writer is paid for work on a show for the network that not only doesn't make money for the network on the Internet but doesn't make money for the network period, should the writer give back his pay to the network (?)"

I appreciate that this is a rhetorical question. But it's ineffective, rhetorically, because the answer is no.

The writer did her part. She wrote the episode. And in doing that, she created a product with a potential value, which is infinite. (Or, in the case of Seinfeld even more than that.) Because the episode can be shown an infinite number of times. (Or in the case of Seinfeld, even more than that.)

[greg inserts: Take an episode from the first 3 seasons of "Family Guy." The show, while moderately profitable, didn't make a whole lot of money at first, and was cancelled. Two and a half years later, it came back with a vengeance, and those three seasons are making a whole lot of money on DVD. So the writers of those episodes are getting residuals, because their product is generating value.]

Yes, and you're already saying, "But Seinfeld isn't your typical, run-of-the-mill sitcom. That's Two and Half Men." And I'm saying -- rudely, over you -- that I know it's not typical -- but I'm trying to explain that, technically, the potential value of a sit om -- any sitcom -- is infinite. I'm just using Seinfeld, because that's the example the New York Times would use.

An episode of a television show can produce revenue forever.

Yes, most TV shows aren't Seinfeld. But each of the 180 episodes of Seinfeld -- a show that started without bankable stars or a high concept -- will make about ten million dollars in syndication. In real economic terms, every sitcom could be Seinfeld when the writer commences work.

What should a writer charge, then, for a script that could make $10 million dollars?

A: I dunno. Nine million dollars? Gotta leave something for the actors.

But what's a fair price to charge up front?

A: Right now, we'll take $19,125.

If it's a hit, you can pay us the rest later. I know! We'll call it a residual!

Because writers understand that most shows aren't hits. Most shows lose all the studio's money and go straight down the toilet, like John Ridley's Barbershop.

That's why, for decades and decades, the system has been that the writers take far less than they should be paid for a hit show, because there's no way of knowing if the show will be a hit or not. This is the "residual" difference in its value. If the show doesn't succeed -- for whatever reason (Nathan Lane) -- we don't get the rest of our money.

We take far less than our labor is demonstrably potentially worth on the understanding that most shows fail. Because we like what we do.

But it's the opposite of cheating anyone.

Anyway, I'd be happy to give up my residuals. And not just for syndication and DVDs, but for downloads and streaming video, too. The studios are right; who knows if this crazy Internet thing will last? All I want, in return, is an up front payment of nine million dollars per teleplay.

Short of that, all I want is for people to understand one thing:

A residual is a deferred payment against the lifetime value of a script."

Sassy said...

hope everyone had a fabulous and sassy thanksgiving!!!