This was submitted by WGA member Marc Guggenheim.
It’s déja vu all over again in Hollywood.
On October 31, 2007, the day the WGA’s contract with the studios was set to expire, the AMPTP issued the following statement to the WGA:
We’ve been working hard to come up with a package in response to your last proposal. But we keep running up against the DVD issue. The companies believe that movement is possible on other issues, but they cannot make any movement when confronted with your continuing efforts to increase the DVD formula, including the formula for electronic sell-through.
The magnitude of that proposal alone is blocking us from making any further progress. We cannot move further as long as that issue remains on the table. In short, the DVD issue is a complete roadblock to any further progress.Read that last sentence again: “[T]he DVD issue is a complete roadblock to further progress.”
A roadblock. Gee, I suppose the WGA should take the DVD issue off the table.
So that’s what it did.
Cut to 29 days later -- when the AMPTP finally got around to making its first economic proposal, which they have entitled the “New Economic Partnership.”
What’s that you say? Hasn’t the AMPTP been negotiating with the WGA since July? Hasn’t the WGA been on strike for 24 days? Haven’t hundred of people lost their jobs? And the AMPTP is just making an economic proposal now?
But that’s not the kicker. The kicker is that the NEP was vague (purportedly $130 million dollars for an unspecified term) and incomplete -- it didn’t include a proposal on the critical issue of Electronic Sell Through (downloads, think iTunes). But that’s alright, the AMPTP promised, we’ll get the EST half of the proposal to you on Tuesday.
Maybe the AMPTP tried sending their proposal through telepathy, because the WGA negotiators didn’t receive it. Perhaps they’ll get it on Wednesday.
Friday. Surely, the AMPTP would make its Tuesday proposal then. Unfortunately, by five PM, they hadn’t.
“That’s alright,” one can imagine the WGA negotiators thinking. “Maybe they’re OCD and feel like they should present their Tuesday proposal on a Tuesday or something.”
Instead of delivering the Tuesday proposal, or any proposal on Friday, the AMPTP delivered a statement which noted in pertinent part, “Instead of negotiating, the WGA organizers have made unreasonable demands that are roadblocks to real progress.”
I thought DVDs were the roadblock. Now you’re telling me there are others? Well, heck, the WGA should take those off the table, too. Just like they did with DVDs. Then maybe we could get on with some real negotiating -- after we've given them 95% of what they want without getting a single concession from them on anything, and having been left at the table after they walked out on us.
Yes, we should definitely give up more.
At least, that’s what Neville Chamberlain would say.