AMPTP: All Psy-Ops, No Negotiations

(The piece below comes from a WGA member who would like to be known as "Red Sox Fan.")

The Ol' AMPTP Mindf*ck™

Has anyone noticed a pattern in the last couple weeks' worth of negotiations?

Monday is energetic and everyone's buoyed by the residual anger from the way last week ended. Tuesday there's a sense that they're "really talking." But by Wednesday, there's a creeping sense that nothing good is actually happening.

And on Thursday, the companies do the AMPTP Mindf*ck™.

First, it was the New Economic Partnership. This week it's "we're going to take our marbles and go home. Which means you can't play because we own all the marbles."

As all military thriller writers know, these tactics are known as psy-ops, or psychological operations designed to weaken the enemy's will to fight. The AMPTP Mindf*ck™ happens just in time to ensure a jolly weekend of Christmas shopping with your children. Too bad little Timmy will cry unless you turn your back on your principles and get him the new DVD of "Transformers." And it's heartbreaking to have to get a smaller tree this year.

We can look forward to more of this in the weeks to come. Each successive move will aim to hit a little harder, each intended to drive a wedge between various groups within the Guild membership as well as between the membership and the negotiating committee. TV writers vs. feature writers. Upper class vs. middle class. David Young vs. freedom, milk, and clean air.

If we stick together and keep picketing -- and maintain our poise and our sense of humor -- these tactics will continue to fail. At some point the large institutional investors who own gobs of stock in the companies are going to say, "Like hell you're going to torpedo two seasons of television. We are not going to stand by and watch you lose a billion dollars so you can save one hundred and fifty million."

At that point, the real bargaining will begin. But the AMPTP Mindf*ck™ will continue. Look forward to the day when they make a proposal that's not very good for most writers but would be good enough for some key members of the negotiating committee. That's when they'll get their new PR firm -- you know, the ones who handled Bill Clinton's "Monica Problem", and helped spin for a company sued for poisoning its workers who were then fired for complaining about it -- to tell the world that certain "crazy idealists" and "bitter militants" (i.e., Patric Verrone and David Young) are destroying this industry.

So be prepared, and recognize it for what it is. They want strike fatigue to set in, so we take a sub-par deal just to feel the relief of being done with the AMPTP Mindf*ck™.

Resist strike fatigue. Resist the AMPTP Mindf*ck™. Because, let's face it, once we go back to work, it's back to the Development Mindf*ck, and the Late Payment Mindf*ck, and the Didn't Your Agent Tell You We Found Another Writer? Mindf*ck.

See you on the picket line Monday.

Go Sox.


Michael said...

If we stick together and keep picketing -- and maintain our poise and our sense of humor -- these tactics will continue to fail. At some point the large institutional investors who own gobs of stock in the companies are going to say, "Like hell you're going to torpedo two seasons of television. We are not going to stand by and watch you lose a billion dollars so you can save one hundred and fifty million.""

Remember pattern bargaining-- $150 million to us means $1.4 billion total. So if they're really only losing a billion dollars by stalling, they still come out ahead. Hopefully your math is wrong on the other side of the equation too.

embers said...

I just hope the writers know that the fans are standing with them, and that they mustn't lose heart! The AMPTP pretends that they have all the time in the world, but that is not true: The networks have advertisers who are demanding refunds because of poor ratings, the studios have to worry about nervous stock holders looking at a bad quarter, and all the expensive PR in the world cannot spin all that away. I know that NBC has been reported to be 'bullet proof' because GE is well diversified, but I've heard that GE is thinking of dumping NBC sometime soon. So hang in there, you will win this thing, just don't forget that you HAVE to win it! It is more important than the current TV season, and I think most of your viewers understand that.

Dorkman said...

Without a deal on internet, it'd be better to quit the industry altogether than to give in to a shit deal. Stay strong, writers.

Captain Obvious said...

Time for the creative community to play hardball.

James said...

I really want to let the studios and the AMPTP know that I'm in total support of the WGA. I really want them to know that I plan to spend my $$ elsewhere and will boycott advertisers.

How do I do this? How do us non-WGA folk let the big boys (and I do mean boys) know how the public really feels? And please, I"m not interested in sending symbolic pencils. I want to hit them where it counts: in their big fat bank accounts.

AFT Local 1828

survivor of the fandom wars said...


Ah, a new tactic designed to get the fans to stop supporting the writers. It warms my heart to know our actions are working so well that the other side is this freaked out.

Hang tough, WGA!

Captain Obvious said...

"The WGA has tried to say that the residuals pay the bills when WGA members are not working or are between jobs...[snip!]"

Residuals are a form of royalties for reuse of the original literary content of the story or. It's not some extra amount above and beyond the purchase price of the script.

makomk said...

In before someone calls "rip wga" an astroturfer for the AMPTP.

Seriously, he has a point. The only reason the average WGA member's pay is so low is that they spend most of their time not working since there aren't enough jobs to go around. His description of what the WGA want for reality TV is correct, they show no signs of folding, and the AMPTP would have to be insane to give them it.

Captain Obvious: they get a fairly respectable upfront payment as well. Most people only get one or the other.

Ken Lowery said...

The only reason the average WGA member's pay is so low is that they spend most of their time not working since there aren't enough jobs to go around.

Thanks for clarifying why residuals are so important. Work is hard to come by, and residuals help sustain a livable wage between paying gigs.

they get a fairly respectable upfront payment as well. Most people only get one or the other.

Most people have a job whose value can be determined up front. Writers do not, as no one can predict how well a show can do.

For the millionth time: RESIDUALS ARE NOT BONUSES. They are deferred payments against the value of the written material. So long as the material generates revenue, the people who created it will earn on it.

And, Mr. RIP:

...yet suffer no repercussions if it doesn't.

Wrong, of course. If the writers spend two or four or six or eight months developing something and it tanks, they've just spent two-four-six-eight months of their life earning no income. You don't consider that a repercussion?

Seriously, people. It's like you haven't been paying attention.

Lorelei said...

James: Let the companies know what you think: http://community.livejournal.com/consumers4wga/

rip wga: Are you aware that your union's P&H contributions are probably determined by the WGA's residual rate? Still want us to settle for 1/80th of what we now receive? When should we settle? Now? When they come for our P&H? If they break the WGA, who's next? You? SAG? Think your job will be safe if we're broken?

The AMPTP is trying to break our will before Christmas. I hope Jacob Marley comes for them. We'll be out on the lines more determined than ever come Monday.

sharybobbins02 said...

I think that this strike needs to wrap up ASAP. I love TV and hate that the shows I love to watch are in limbo for who knows how long while the strike goes on. I don't know what is really going on back West, but I do think that the writers deserve their piece of the pie. I mean come on, they wrote it so why can't the studios just give them what they deserve.

scoobysnack said...

The only way to win this is to let go of any hope that we will. Hope will drain us and weaken us.

To my fellow writers and all others this strike is affecting, let go of the hope. Prepare yourselves emotionally and financially for this strike to continue for at least a year. Take other jobs, take out equity in your homes, rent out a room in your apartment, sell your car, live in your car, babysit, mow lawns, eat ramen, sell crap on ebay or craigslist... prepare yourselves. If we are not ready to suffer in the short term, we will absolutely suffer forever after.

If we cave now, they will absolutely go after our base fees, pension and health fund next time around. There is a great article on the Forbes website on how if we don't win this one - our union is broken. And if they break us, they're going to break every union out there - including you IATSE and DGA. You are not immune from the brutal, unmerciful, pillaging corporate machine. Maybe you are this time around - because they're trying to use you to get to us - but I assure you in the future you won't be immune.

Back to hope... If we get angry at Nick Counter, then we are helping him succeed in his job. That is his goal. He wants us to be worn out emotionally so we will cave. He gives us hope, then yanks it away. If we want to win this, we need to spend our energy - not on this boomerang of faith then despair - but on preparing ourselves for a long, long, long strike. The only way to hurt this machine is to stop feeding it for as long as possible. This is the only way. Let go of the hope, my friends, hope will sink us.

And for anybody who's complaining about not being prepared for this strike in whatever line of work you do - this strike's been talked about for six month's before it started - so you better get ready for the long haul now. And remember this - THIS STRIKE IS ABOUT EVERYBODY'S UNION, EVERYBODY'S SALARY, EVERYBODY'S QUALITY OF LIFE, AND IF YOU DON'T THINK THESE CORPORATIONS ARE GOING TO TRY AND CUT YOUR PAY NEXT NO MATTER WHAT YOUR JOB IN THIS BUSINESS - YOU ARE COLOSSALLY NAIVE.

scoobysnack said...

RIP WGA is so obviously not a crew member and is a paid blog by the AMPTP - probably from one of those two soul-less puppets they just hired for PR. Hey, you left out that we all have sushi bars in our homes, too!

Thanks for that laugh, ya bozos.

Lorelei said...

Scoobysnack for thread president! That's exactly it. We've been beaten down so long by them, how dare they think they can break us now? Hope? We don' need no stinkin' hope!

Marrcus said...

I'm Kinda betting that in reading this article, I'm the only one who saw this song in my head....

It's astounding, time is fleeting
Striking takes its toll
But listen closely, not for very much longer
I've got to keep control

I remember doing the Mind**ck
Drinking those moments when
The blackness would hit me and the AMPTP would be calling
Let's do the Mind**ck again...
Let's do the Mind**ck again!

It's just a jump to the left
And then a step to the right
With your hands on your heads
You bend over real fine
But it's the pelvic thrust that really drives you insane,
Let's do the Mind**ck again!


Sorry.. just felt it had to be said...

Caitlin said...

Hey, scoobysnack, your comment looks familiar. I wonder why. Oh, that's right! The exact same one was made a few posts down under the name "katy". Hmm.

If the attitude is going to be "this is going to last at least a year, suck up and get used to it", you're going to loose your support. There are fans who will fight until the sun goes down, but the general public won't be so faithful in a cause that doesn't act as though there's any chance to getting a swift resolution. You can argue about why they should, but they won't. Not when we lose not only this TV season, but the next one too. Hope is not blindly believing the AMPTP's lies. Hope is believing that a solution can be found. And a solution can be found. If negotiating won't work, think about what will. And don't worry about who it'll upset. A team that plays hardball in response to a team that plays dirty is a lot more likeable than a team that tells it's fans to sit around in the stadium for months until the other teams gets called out for breaking the rules.

not a troll said...

Isn't the ball in the WGA's court? What do they do next. The theme day picket line really isn't doing much. The news media is on full election mode now, so not much hope of them covering this. I hear the newspaper writers are tired of covering it. The posting on this site and Nikki's seems to have gone down too. I worry we lose any chance of getting this settled before Christmas. I'm depressed. Sorry folks.

Shanna said...

not a troll

The ball is not in the WGA's court when the only option is "take everything you want off the table or we're not talking". What's to stop the AMPTP from coming back and then continuing to tell the writers to give up proposal after proposal or they "won't deal"? That is not negotiation, it's castration.

The WGA needs to continue to play hardball. As a viewer and a fan of QUALITY television, I could not in good conscience watch something when I know that people are being mistreated and misused.

PaperCut said...

The comments made by scoobysnack (the poster formerly known as katy) may or may not be well-intentioned, but they embrace the wrong message. "Give up hope" is not a solution.

Hope of one day securing a deal that provides writers what they are due, both in current and new media residuals, is important. Anger at the AMPTP's actions and negotiators for deliberately circumventing those hopes leads to and bolsters unity and solidarity.

There is no greater unifying force than a common cause. Abandoning hope in a cause leads to dissent and fatigue, acquiescence and capitulation. This is why "divide and conquer" and demoralization tactics are used... to rob protesters of hope.

If scoobysnack's statements are well-intentioned, then they could do with a rephrasing. If they are not, then they are a classic example of subtle, incredibly insidious reverse psychology.

Don't give up hope. Keep it alive. For the short term, for the long haul, always. That long-term goal, that hope, is what will keep everyone together and working towards the future.

scoobysnack said...

Hey Caitlin - Actually, I do have hope that a fair settlement will be made, but not for many many months down the line. Think about it - the AMPTP would look weak if this were settled fairly in a month or two. That's why there's all this mental game playing by the AMPTP. They have no intention of negotiating with us right now. So I am tired of reading that people are getting angry at the AMPTP - it's pointless wasted energy. We have to channel that energy into waiting this out.

And I'm sorry that you as a viewer won't be entertained for a few months. I truly mean that. But as a young person (if you are truly 21 living in Michigan) I will tell you that this strike is about your future, too. Because these corporate conglomerates are the reason the middle class is rapidly depleting. It's not just the entertainment industry that they are stealing from. It is happening all over this country. I assure you it's happening to workers in your community, too. We PEOPLE have to stand up to these corporations - not just we writers. I suggest you google weakening middle class and you will see that one of the number one reasons for it - "erosion of unions." When our unions are broken - there's less money going to the people in those unions. So there's less money being spent in the communities where those unions were. And that hurts EVERYBODY. We are not a union who's threatening to put companies out out of business. There's tons of money there. It's just all being vacuumed up to the top tiny percentage of the richest in this country. Caitlin, where would you rather it go? To CEOs with 65 million dollar a year salaries? Or spread out through communities around the country? Again, this is happening ALL OVER THIS COUNTRY. So bare with us... and look at the bigger picture. And you, my friend, are in that picture, too. Bare with us.

(And for some reason this sight forced me to re-name don't know why.)

scoobysnack said...

Being hopeful at this stage in the game is a fool's paradise. I'm going to save my hope for when the AMPTP is hurting. They aren't now. And they won't be for a while. That is the reality.

not a troll said...

The jurisdiction stuff needs to come off the table. That's just crazy to keep it on. JMHO

Shanna said...

The jurisdiction stuff has always been on the table and the AMPTP is making a big deal of it now to switch the tide of public opinion. "See now the writer's are asking for stuff they never wanted ... they are being unfair".

Actually there is a strong opinion in the animation and reality world, that they should be able to fall under the WGA's MBA. The corps do not want that to happen. Why? Because they'd have to treat people like ... people.

Now the WGA can say that they'll take jurisdiction off the table until the animators and reality writers take a vote saying they'd like to be able to join the WGA but taking it off the table completely would be disingenuous to their constituency and supporters.

PootieTwo said...

Yeah, it's going to be a long time before this is settled. We might as well accept that we may not work again for 6-8 months.

After a long, sleepless night, we decided to rent out our condo and go stay with my parents in Wisconsin so that we don't have to worry about the mortgage, utilities, etc. For each month that the strike persists we lose $5,000 in income pluse we must dig into our savings. So the work stoppage is really costing us about $8,000 a month. Soon we'll be to the point that we must cash out our retirement fund and pay the taxes for an early withdrawel. Better to just rent the condo and go see the folks before we fall into complete financial ruin and undo all of the savings and progress that we have worked so hard for over the last several years.

Cory said...

A good offense is a good defense, and in this case I think all of you writers should look into something someone wrote on this site a while back, which is look into a new way to distribute your works. There already is iTunes, youtube, and the ability to create your own websites.

Unions and strikes are important but come on and be as creative as you tout yourselves to be. the new media is bottom up you dopes thats why the studios and others whos business model was top down are freaking out.

ok to sum this up, take the power you have, which is your content, and get together a bunch of like minded people who want to make more money,ie actors etc. and form your own "studios" utilizing an online distribution. it may not be as much money in the beginning but im sure what ever you guys do will be light years ahead what the old dinos of the studios would do and thus by persuing this you send a deep message to the studio hacks "WE DONT NEED YOU"

again why arnt you guys doing this???????

Cory said...

i want to add that the message can be used two ways, (that of we done need you) one is actually realizing you dont need them and make more money, or scare them into making a better deal with you guys.

scoobysnack said...

pottietwo -

I believe that to be very wise. And my postings are not because I'm trying to be a downer. My postings are meant to protect everybody out there from more emotional and financial loss.

I am doing the same as you and bracing for the worst.

Good luck to you.

GrrrlRomeo said...

"Hope springs eternal in the human breast"

If you give up human emotions, you end up with indifference. Indifference leads to inaction.

If you wait for the AMPTP to hurt before you have hope, the AMPTP will never hurt. Because, it is our emotions that fuel our actions in the first place.

Bartleby said...

How will the strike affect the Sundance Film Festival? Is the WGA telling members that may have directed/produced features showing there that they are not allowed to sell anything to the studios?

Lorelei said...

Mindf*ck away! It's better than the other f*ck they've been offering.

After all, I've only been promised $250 to cover the cost of personal lubricant.

WriterWrong said...

Seriously, the WGA members are the ones who create the shows that made those CEO's so insanely arrogant. If anybody's going to be spouting imperious ultimatums it should be us, dammit!

I propose that WE (the writers) be the ones who decide the AMPTP can't have their 08 season if they don't smarten up and behave. They want hardball? Let's rewrite the rules and show'em how hardball is really played. Honestly, I'm so fed up with these ignorant suits who couldn't create a fart joke if their lives depended on it - which sadly, they kinda' do.

Here's my new list of ultimatums before I'll even think of sharing my creative mush with those corporate drones.

1) Script notes must be prefaced by at least 10 pages of "thank you's" and 2 pages of "this is so much better than the drivel I'd've come up with".

2) Every time a CEO buys a bigger house or a better car than me, there must be at least one (1) framed photo of the writers who made it all possible in every room and/or leather seating compartment.

3) "Reality" (sic) "television" (sic) "producers" (sic) will not have to join the WGA. But they will have to join the "Reality Fakers Guild", and admit they have a shameful problem requiring professional help. If they want to work on 'real TV', they can join the WGA and have fun writing cool stuff.

4) If the AMPTP can't get their act together and submit a civilized professional proposal before Jan. 1/08, then the WGA will create their own online network to directly compete with the old-skool "GFN" (Greedy F#$@'s Network).. On the WGA network, you'll get Heroes, 24, Lost, Friday Night Lights, 30 Rock, and other fine, scripted shows. On GFN you'll get 'America's Biggest Losers" and "Dancing with The Stars" as often as you like. All day. Every day.

C'mon writers. Let's get together and show the AMPTP just how much they've pissed off the Goose that lays their golden eggs.

RIP WGA said...

Since my post was deleted from the site (big surprise) -Who is "Freaked out" now? I thought I would respond. (read it fast it's libel to be removed as well)

For the record I don't work for the AMPTP. I've been a member of the DGA for 8 years of my 14 in the Industry. My position does not qualify for residuals. Nor do I care if it does. I took the job because I like the work. My salary is enough to carry my family of four through most Hiatus' or job searches. And consider my working salary is half of the working salary for WGA members. It's called budgeting and the WGA members should learn how.

I'm not trying to "scare the viewers"-just asking them to get informed. Read the trade's sites. Read both sides sites and form their own opinion.

Consider that I posted a blog that was pro BTL and explained why I thought the WGA was wrong in their thinking. This from a 14 year member of the industry with a B.S. in Television and Film. Yet it was removed. Don't come to this site unless you want to spoon fed your opinion.

As for finding work there are 12 WGA positions on my shut down show. There are two of mine. Don't tell me how "work is hard to come by". And if you spend all that time in development don't put all your eggs in one basket. Write other things (I have and I've sold two produced episodes - I got paid so much I didn't care I wouldn't get residuals.)

Residuals are for reuse? I think I owe my UAW for every time I fire up my Ford. Oh wait - they just charge me more up front for the vehicle.

Here's how to end this whole strike - Charge more for the initial price of the script and be done with it (I read somewhere that a syndicated episode makes the writer around $119,000 over its lifetime - charge that!). If the studio thinks the idea and scribe are worth it they will pay more up front to own the script. They are already taking the financial gamble anyway. (Sorry residual accounting department but your days may be numbered.) And since agents can't touch residuals - this way the agents make more as well. Win win. (Attention agents - start pushing your clients this way)

And I guarantee you my P&H contributions will not hinge upon the WGA's negotiations. Even if DGA's % gets matched to the WGA's. The difference that you are negotiating for will never make up the damage to my personal earnings and contributions caused by your strike. (Yes the WGA is causing the strike- not the big corporate conglomerates.)

I'm sorry you guys feel you got screwed in the 1988 deal. Get over it and stop screwing everyone else. Stop trying to inflate your importance by forcing the BTL out of work. We already have a bad taste in our mouths walking past WGA parking every morning and groan every time a writer comes on set. Think this strike will help your BTL reputation? Getting the scripts written on time is a start.

Remove your illegal items from the table, make the deal, and let's back to work.

Shawn said...


totally agree with you.

showrunners make MILLIONS every season, and if a show goes into syndication, make tens of millions more, which is why Carlton Cuse was doing work while the strike was going on - because he was worried about that thing that generates MILLIONS for him.

The WGA can call the congloms greedy - but with this strike, greedy is a relative term.

survivor of the fandom wars said...

I'm not trying to "scare the viewers"-just asking them to get informed. Read the trade's sites.



*insert my original reply here*

not a troll said...

I agree with a lot of what you say ripwga. I say get paid more up front, it will also help if a show is canceled in the first 6 episodes and never sees DVD, Itunes, Youtube, etc.

Something to think about, the AMPTP will probably never go for it.

Bodey said...

I think I speak for all writers when I say that if the AMPTP wants to pay us $120,000 per episode we write, we would gladly take many of our requests off the table.

Of course, if that deal did not include the internet, and we accepted $1300 per 15-minute internet piece, then it's moot. Because all writing will soon be for the internet. And then: we'd all just get that $1300 fee. And then: we'd be screwed.

See how that works, RIP?

Nobody spoonfeeds me my opinions. I read everything. I keep an open mind. And the only possible conclusion you can come to when you keep and open mind and read everything is: they're trying to break our union and reduce our salaries, over time, by 80-90%. No matter what industry you are in, that is objectively unacceptable.

Caitlin said...


Fair enough. I agree with everything in that second post at least. I just don't like the depiction that hope itself is a bad thing. It's one of the few things that will keep you going. And I understand the cause, I understand why it matters to everyone. That much I knew and agreed with weeks ago, helped by about 50 YouTube videos in the process. I also don't doubt the WGA feels sorry for BTL-ers and viewers (except for the few who come on here shouting that everyone in a 100-mile radius of a disagreement is a studio shill).

But I do believe there are actions that can be taken. I don't want to insult the picket lines and determination to stay at the table one bit. But many people have said AMPTP is falling apart within it's own ranks. I just think we could take advantage of this somehow. While writers still walked and negotiators still sat and showed the world they were being reasonable.

For what it's worth, though I face long periods of boredom without my favorite shows, I do include myself in the group of fans who will support as long as it takes. I know many of my comments may make it seem otherwise, but I have frustrations with the WGA because I want them to win. I have nothing left to say to the AMPTP. If it takes take a year...well, I don't want to think about that possibility right now, but so be it. I just honestly believe it can take less. Much less. And I believe that belief and preparation to stick it out can co-exist. But if efforts can be made to end this more quicky (and still fairly!), they should be taken. I should worry "giving up hope" keeps us from trying to take this measures.

Also (and this is genuinely curious now; I think I misjudged you intentions and came off too harshly before), are you and katy the same person? Or are you just really, really in agreement? ;)

Caitlin said...

*Edit: "One of the few things that will keep you going" does not come off the way it should, does it? Of course, there are many things that will keep you going, most of all that you are right. I mean more spiritually; that hope will keep the faith when many things seem dark and threatening. Sorry for the extra posting. What I wouldn't give to edit comments...

Dave said...

If little Timmy really wants a Transformers DVD, maybe you should teach him a lesson in taste and buy him book.

creativeprophet said...


Three points (in very basic terms) ...

1) You will struggle to find a creative industry that has not suffered from similar disputes. Why? Because creative people are motivated by PASSION. Business people are motivated by MONEY. Hence, creative people will accept crumbs simply to be heard, and the moguls offer the medium for as much money as they can make. As such, WRITERS NEED TO ACCEPT A DEGREE OF RESPONSIBILITY for their current situation. They've allowed themselves to be walked over in the past and have 'themselves' created the benchmark which is difficult to reposition.

2) Writers need to decide their role. Is a writer a TRADESPERSON or a CREATOR? If the writer is a tradesperson, then essentially, he or she is working for and on behalf of another party. Residuals and royalties should not be considered. However, the establishing payment should be increased and determined by the tradesperson. If the writer is a CREATOR, he or she must regard themselves as a partner in the venture and accept an appropriate portion of the financial risk. This means that almost all material is regarded as speculative, and establishing costs are negligible, but residual payments are increased. Decide now!! CREATOR or TRADESPERSON?? Then argue the cause.

3) If writers want to be CREATORS, one has to ask why the hell can't writers REWRITE THE INDUSTRY? Now is the time. Put the power back into the hands of creative people. Work together with the actor, directors and other creatives, and simply omit the moguls from the equation. There has never been a more feasible time in history to resume control. Production has never been more affordable.

And, that's my bit. There is no doubt that working through these three items will expedite the current standoff between the MONEY-DRIVEN and the PASSION-DRIVEN. Best of luck.

JRWriter said...
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JRWriter said...
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Jake Hollywood said...

"...hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies..."

Some smart writer created that line (Yeah, I know, it was Stephen King. I've read the short story and seen the movie).


It's not reality.

And the reality is hoping the AMPTP will come to their collective senses is just a waste of time. The WGA (with the help of SAG, the DGA, the BTL folks, fans and everybody else, including my dog) has to force the AMPTP to come to their senses.


Pressure and keeping the WGA eye on the prize.

What kind of pressure?

Keeping a high profile by picketing everyday in sizable numbers at every studio and film location; fans writing letters and maintaining blogs in support of the writers; having good press, telling the truth about the negotiations...

Eye on the prize?

Negotiate a fair deal, not a deal that sounds
good. Don't ever forget what happened in '88.

It's good - to hope - to believe this will all end well for the WGA, that the AMPTP will remember that this industry is a partnership
and not a dictatorship . Sometimes it takes a douse of cold water in the face to wake people up...

I have a 55-gallon drum filled with ice. And I'm ready.

Cya on the picket line.

A.J. said...


"$119,000 a script?" Geez, I've been writing for the wrong companies for 31 years. Which is to say, all of them. I've got over 400 produced episodic eps, plus about 800 in variety, and I think I'm averaging just over two grand each.

What's pulled that $ way down? In the last 10 years I've done a lot of animation and "reality," including creating a dozen series. In those 2 genres, the network and studio profits are the same or higher (and the foreign sales more assured, since cartoons can be dubbed more easily into any language)... but my take-home for a Jimmy Neutron or Fairy Oddparents or Barnyard (for example) is between $980 and $1,100 after taxes. Because they aren't WGA. Same work, way more drafts (how about 23 for one pilot?), no health care, no pension, no residuals, no copy of the DVD. Average network/owner profit per animated half hour is just north of $5 million per, over the series' useful life of 10 years. I wrote or story-edited 71 episodes this year before the strike hit, and it's still not been a great year for me because of how they can screw me around to entertain your children. In how many jobs do you routinely wait 6 months to be paid, or have the credit for what you did given to the boss's wife?

The millionaire showrunners won't benefit a nickel from this strike. I picketed heartily in '85 and '88 when I was one of them, knowing I was striking in the hopes that if I ever fell on hard times (animation, reality, direct-to-DVD; basically what I'm doing now) my family and I would need every advantage I could win.

If sitcom, one-hour & feature writers should ever have to settle for an economic deal like the one I have in the "lowly genres," god help them all.

Remember, when you see those rich writers out there on YouTube or TV... nobody's striking for an increase in the maximums...

JRWriter said...

RIPWGA: sorry to "rip" you again, but some of the stuff you say--and the clear axe you have to grind (sorry your show only needs two of your job to get produced but that's not, um the WRITERS fault now is it? and last time I checked it was those writers who created a show for you to work on...) requires it. Couldn't help but commit on this:

"Residuals are for reuse? I think I owe my UAW for every time I fire up my Ford. Oh wait - they just charge me more up front for the vehicle."

I am SO sick of this analogy (or versions thereof) when it is simply and absolutely specious. Just like the "I don't pay the plumber every time i flush my toilet" to which someone much smarter than me (wish i could remember whom) responded: we're not the plumber; we're the WATER. Did you just pay LADWP once, up front? If you did, i think your house would be as noxious as this argument.

Cause hello (why is this so hard for people to get?): if you BUY a dvd of a movie or tv show and keep it in your house and rewatch it endlessly--no one DOES get residuals--nor should they. (Just like no one gets paid every time you fire up your car.) But if you rent or download something, and then someone else rents/downloads the same thing and someone else rents/downloads it and so on and so forth, the congloms are getting paid every single time. So why shouldn't the creators be compensated as well? Authors get a royalty on every copy of their book sold. (And guess what: it goes UP over time, rewarding success; do you think the AMPTP would go for that? Riiiight.)

If the "car" analogy is the only one that works for you: we are not Ford: we're Hertz. Renting and re-renting the same car, over and over again, to different people each time. if Hertz gets paid for it, every time, why shouldn't we?

The reason others think you're an AMPTP plant is because you spout their party line so effortlessly. These analogies just smack of the Karl Rovian brain trust, creating bite-sized, simple, "on first blush logical" arguments to reframe the debate. Forget the fact that they checked truth (and justice, and fairness, and humanity) at the door. This is callous salesmanship, pure and simple. Remember "We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud"? How'd that work out?

GrrrlRomeo said...

Script writers are no different than book authors and songwriters.

There is no way on god's green earth book authors would settle for an upfront payment by the publisher and not recieve royalties for the the books sold thereafter, whether they be hardcopies or e-books.

Maybe I'm just some idiot in South Carolina, but I'll be damned if I see a difference between DVDs and music CDs or TV episode downloads and song downloads.

In the music industry, it's not even a question of whether the performers and songwriters will get paid when someone buys the CDs or downloads music from iTunes. It doesn't matter one bit that the record company owns the physical recording or that they paid the artist a large sum upfront to make the recording.

I don't understand how the AMPTP and their supporters can even try to say this is different....that a script writer is like a plumber or a car manufacturer. No, writers are like...writers.

scoobysnack said...

rip wga -

This strike has been talked about as a possibility for months before it happened - so if you're so financially prepared what're you complaining about?

And if you hate writers so much why don't you do something as a career? Because we create the blueprint for you to do your job.

Off your "inflate your importance" line... well, for the most part the town is shut down so our importance is hardly "inflated."

As far as getting scripts on time, why don't you name the show you're talking about cause I'm guessing there's a team of executives giving notes on the scripts which makes it take even longer to write em when you've got to crowbar in ten people's wishes.

Honestly, you sound very angry towards the business altogether. Again, maybe rethink your career.

Finally, I hang with lots of crew members. Play softball with them. My neighbor's a wardrobe stylist. Yesterday I hung out with a group of friends - one was in transport. ALL of them have been supportive and know that it's the greedy suits who are putting people out of work - not the writers.

And by the way, your H&P is supported by your members residuals. If your health care isn't funded sufficiently you're going to have very high deductibles for every one of your family members. How does paying a thousand bucks or more for each sound to ya? SAG's already having problems with theirs and residuals haven't even been taken away yet.

And after a couple contracts down the line, how does it sound to have to fund your pension out of your regular salary? Because there's no doubt these guys are trying to break unions. Yours is only safe for the moment.

The East Side Food Geek said...

I don't get that they don't even listen to their own press releases. Yeah, the internet changes everything. And one of the big things it changes is that it makes Indies just as powerful as studios (especially in terms of distribution).

So the best bet for the studios is to keep the commercial talent happy -- and under contract -- so that the talent doesn't go into competition with them.

On the other hand, big organizations have never been known to be handle change.

St. Michael said...

St. Michael says,

For the common good, I call for a series of “Dark Days” (i.e. turn the lights off at all the studios, stop work in all the offices, stop equipment from being delivered, stop props from being returned).

The only way to break the resolve of the AMPTP is to act as a collective, to deliver a swift deft blow that knocks them to their knees, and then follow up with a blow to the head. The WGA says that they have struck, but without the support of all guilds, unions, non-union labor, vendors, and the viewing public the WGA’s action isn’t even a slap on the AMPTP’s fat overfed chubby face.

Some have asked the DGA to stand down from negotiating until the WGA has completed their talks. I say enough with talk. The AMPTP’s plays by the rules set down by Machiavelli and Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. They don’t negotiate. They go into battle to decimate their foe. Even archangels are fierce in battle. You can’t talk a bully out of beating the shit out of you. Sometime the smallest have to band together to defeat the giants in their path. To win a war you must cut then off the enemy off at their knees, crush them, do not allow them to retreat and reform to attack again.

SAG, the DGA, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 80, Local 600, etc, have to act as one. Without solidarity the WGA will fail and everyone will suffer through their hopeless fight.

It’s not a coincidence that this strike comes at a time when our country faces great economic strife. People are already losing their homes. Months ago an article in The Wall Street Journal foretold of foreclosures, 4.4 million foreclosures due to the sub prime loan market. Banks are writing off billions of dollars. People are already financially overextended. People are already losing their jobs. The dollar is plunging. America is on the brink of a recession.

Big Business knows that the best way to leverage themselves against their workforce is to keep them just above starvation levels, to keep them so concerned about feeding their family, keeping a roof over their heads. When the workers have to struggle to survive then they don’t care about anything else.

So a protracted strike is not in the best interest of anyone. Reality TV will be used to fill the gaps, carpet baggers will become robber land barons, the film industry will see a surge in theaters goers, DVD rentals will increase. This will all lend aid to the AMPTP’s conifers and cause. If the community of artist and workers in the entertainment industry do not pull together as one, they can not expect to accomplish their goals. I say to everyone, stop being so self-centered and self-serving. We all want to work and take care of our families. We all want the good life.

The police call it the blue flu. I say sacrifice one day a week of your pay, which we all know means very little to the average worker. I say that we all should in unison turn off the lights once a week. Every week until this matter is settled, everyone in the industry should call in sick, take the day off, not go to work, not deliver the services or products. If we turn off the lights once a week and knock the wind out of the AMPTP’s inflated sails, if we all look at the reality of this situation and the long term devastation that this WGA strike will deliver, we should all see the logic in deft, decisive, unified action.

I call for rotating “Dark Days”. I call for the collective to act and be heard. Otherwise, it’s ever man, woman, or child for themselves. The chaos will rule and the AMPTP will prosper.

BTL Guy said...

A couple of points to make (sorry if I'm being repetitive, but this is in response to posts above):

1) While everyone knew the Writers contract expired in October, the great expectation of EVERYONE in the industry was that the writers would not strike until SAG and DGA contracts expired in Spring, creating a "perfect storm" strike which would, in fact, shut down everything all at once (which is, of course, what you're all now trying to do anyway).

Striking as soon as possible was seen by WGA as some sort of extra leverage, since AMPTP wasn't expecting it.

The problem, of course, is that no one else was expecting it either.

So, for the posters above who say that we all knew for 6 months that this was coming, you are wrong. Verrone knew it. David Young knew it. The rest of us all got a collective pit in our stomachs around the second week of October.

2) St. Michael -- sacrifice one day a week of pay, which means very little to the average worker?? Are you kidding me?!

The average below the line worker is FAR more likely to be living paycheck to paycheck than is the average writer.

To give a specific, personal example: I just helped my 7-yr old decorate our little Christmas tree this afternoon. It was really sad to see all of the ornaments we left in the box, because there wasn't room on the tree. We could have got a bigger tree, but didn't feel we should pay an extra $12.

You can "boo-hoo" me all you want, but we worker bees need our paychecks. And it's a producer's market out there right now. IF I had a job (I don't -- my show shut down last week), and started calling in sick every monday, do you have ANY idea how quickly I'd be replaced -- that's assuming I could afford to give up a day's pay each week (or would want to).

Here's the thing -- I'm hitting the pavement, looking for work. There are a lot of features starting up in January. If I am lucky enough to land one, I will be reporting to work every day, feeling happy and fortunate to be there.

Brandon said...

5 weeks in...no progress. WGA says the AMPTP are greedy corporate devils that live off of sucking writers dry, AMPTP counters that the WGA is just trying to fatten their pockets by cornering them into making a deal with this strike. Who's right? Does it even matter? Millions of people are settling into the regular holiday repeat season before the onslaught of the now eminent post-holiday crapfest that will be TV and bear down for 2009, the year of unusually bad movies...good times. BTL (below-the-line, for those of us not in the industry) people are now looking forward to a not-so-promising holiday season and an unsure future thereafter. Whose fault is that? Well, its the fault of both sides, so both sides need to accept that they contributed to this breakdown and do something to make it right. I'm tired of the "big bad AMPTP" devil attitude. Its a conglomeration of large corporations that thrive in a capitalist country. When you start pulling that "be mad at the guy that makes $20 million, not me who only makes $75,000" crap and acting like you're the "common man", its offensive. We're so far beyond the writers deserve to be paid for what they do argument that it shouldn't even be brought up anymore. No one is even disputing that. So, this whole thing is about how much do they deserve over what period of time and how much are studios willing to pay for those services at this point, in light of other impending negotiations. The WGA made an offer and the AMPTP didn't go for it. The AMPTP made an offer and the WGA didn't go for it. So, why are we still trying to act like only one side is being belligerent in this? And anyone from the WGA side accusing the other side of being greedy is just hypocritical, because (obviously) the WGA is going to be trying to get as much as they can out of the studios during these negotiations. If it were just the principle of being compensated, they would have taken the deal that was offered and gone back to work and seen how the other negotiations worked out and how things went for a while. And if the studios wanted to end this quickly, they would have...just given the writers everything they wanted? I don't know any companies that would stand for that. Especially in regards to a delivery medium that is fairly new and whose viability in the future is not nearly as certain as some people think. Walking away from negotiations is not a way to get anything settled in a timely manner, but when the kids are just whining about not getting a new car and refuse to hear or understand that there are other impending expenses that don't make that purchase prudent at this moment, there is sometimes no other choice.

Intrigued said...


let me clear something up for you...

in the car analogy you are not Hertz, u are the person who designed the car. The networks would be Hertz that bought the car from the manufacturer u designed the car for.

The problem as I see it is that the writers don't understand the basic business model. I am not saying that you don't deserve residuals (I dont know the business well enough to say what is a fair residual) but I can say...

If the writers had a better grasp of business principles and what motives the studio/network execs they never would have went on strike!!! The strike is exactly what the AMPTP wanted! And they want teh strike to continue long enough for them to cancel unfavorable contracts and reduce their costs! The writers are upset that the AMPTP won't end the strike that the WGA started... it's just silly! You gave them what they wanted!!! And as long as the AMPTP knows that they have to negotiate with DGA and SAG as well, they have no incentive to end this strike until they reach deals both of those groups (because they can still be in shutdown).

Seems to me that the WGA should have continued working under the current terms until DGA and SAG settled their contracts with the AMPTP. At that point you now have the leverage. They spent all their energies reaching agreements with SAG (which will be a much higher-profile negotiation) and if they dont come to terms with WGA at that point all their efforts were for not and they look stupid. At that point you have the leverage and would not have to strike nearly as long (and lose wages for this whole period). A strike problem wouldnt even be necessary. But at this point, understand that AMPTP has no incentive to end this strike until they know they wont have to face additional strikes from DGA and SAG!!!

From a business standpoint this should have been understood from the beginning. You may or may not get the terms you want, but dont expect the AMPTP to be eager to settle this strike soon. It's just not in their best interest business wise (and dont think for one minute the bad press bothers them until consumers stop buyting their advertisers products - which i sont see happening).

I hate to sound so negative, but this is just my perspective as a businessman (not in the entertainment industry.

St. Michael said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
hotline said...

Caitlin - You want to see your shows sooner? You want to end this strike? Then rally this country to not watch American Idol for their premiere "2 night 4 hour event" on Jan. 15th and 16th. When those advertisers walk away from THAT show, this strike will be over.

How's this B*%tch? said...

hotline said:

"You want to end this strike? Then rally this country to not watch American Idol for their premiere "2 night 4 hour event" on Jan. 15th and 16th. When those advertisers walk away from THAT show, this strike will be over."

I like this idea alot! Good thinking hotline.

hotline said...

One angle... get thousands of people to boycott coca cola and tell them so because they're advertising on American Idol and not supporting the workers unions of America.

That is a Fremantle show and they won't even hire union writers.

Boycott Coke!

Ford is another one.

gasbag said...

These bastards left the table to get a jump on their vacations. Try to find these guys in LA right now. They're in Aspen. They don't care. They do not care.

How's this B*%tch? said...

"They're in Aspen. They don't care. They do not care."

What do we say in show business? Break a leg guys...break a leg!

gasbag said...

These guys made the ultimatum because they wanted to get in their planes and get to Aspen. As a member of SAG, I would like to see all of us strike right now and shut them down completely. Let them sue us. I'd like to see every actor currently working come down with a little blue flu. We are all going to get screwed by these pricks if we don't take all the power we have and club them over their heads with it.

hotline said...

This just in...

"Lingering Strike Threatens $9 Billion Upfront Market"

That's the headline in Advertising Age. Google it and read the article. Not supposed to link it on this sight.

It's a great article on how the AMPTP is fuuuuuuucking themselves.

If I have to, I will change careers. And I know a lot of writers who say the same thing. Let the AMPTP destroy television. I refuse to be financially raped by these dipshits. Read how stupid they are!!! Ha-ha AMPTP! I'm not going down. I'll make the same money someplace else. But you are going to make yourselves implode!!!!

JRWriter said...

um, yeah, but it's my analogy and i'll make it any way i want... the POINT i was trying to make is that we CERTAINLY are not FORD in any way. and you can spin an analogy any way you want. the situation is simply...DIFFERENT. and the amptp approved and spun metaphor is a stinker... as someone else mentioned: we aren't plumbers or car makers--we're writers--and so the parallel is simply not apt. so please, everyone, stop makin' it.

creativeprophet said...

Intrigued is correct. It plugs into the determination of the writer's role. Tradesperson or Creator? But, not both (at the same time). Are writers employees or partners? The idea that writers are the same as book authors or songwriters is simply not true -- unless the writing is speculative (ie a pure expression of the writer) -- in which case, there is no upfront fee before writing begins and the writer becomes a 'virtual' partner in production, determining their own fee/residual structure. Alternatively, if the writer is 'writing' for or on behalf of another entity, the writer simply becomes another cog in the already turning wheel.

Intrigued said...


you are clearly missing the point!

u can spin an analogy any way you want (you are a writer afterall). but u cant spin the business model anyway you want!!! My point is you lack of understanding the business side of this is what is hurting the writers. Stop thinking like a writer and start thinking like a business person. I was correcting your analogy so you could see the fallacy in your thought process and your response is "I can think and say whatever I want". That's why as gasbag pointed out the AMPTP is in Aspen enjoying the holidays! They don't care anout your strike right now! It is simple business! If you didnt read the rest of my post, maybe u should.

Until the writers start to look at this situation from the other side's point of view you are gonna continue to screw yourselves!!! Like I said, this strike is terrible for the writers (at this time) and great for the AMPTP (at this time).

You will have come up with a different strategy because I don't believe you can end this strike (unless it on their terms) until well into next year, unless you can find something other than picketing and the sham of a negotiation (THEY DONT CARE ABOUT EITHER)

creativeprophet said...

Spot on, Intrigued. And, please note that I am a writer.

Intrigued said...


I am glad I am getting through to someone.

Shawn said...

Okay you guys - just want to say the following:

You can expend ALL the energy you want to try to get people to boycott American Idol, Coke, and/or Ford, and it will not prove effective. Nice idea though.

You can curse the CEOs and the AMPTP all you want, and debate over negotiating issues forever, but they won't better the situation one bit.

Even all the picketing that's going on outside the studio gates, while they get the attention of the drivers driving by for a few seconds during the day, don't do much more than create solidarity for those that are out there together. They don't do ONE thing to affect the studios. For the writers to stop working is enough.

All we can do is just sit and wait until the studios actually start feeling the effects of the work stoppage. Writers like to say that the AMPTP is already scared, but if they were, they'd be negotiating. The networks still have plenty of product to put on air, the movie studios have movies to fill the pipeline, and are continuing to make movies.

Now there IS one thing that can really bring this strike to a quick settlement - and that is beat the living crap out of the negotiating members of the AMPTP. Who's gonna do it?

I'm not trying to perpetuate a stereotype, but if the teamsters were striking, the negotiating party opposite the teamsters would make a deal QUICK because you know in the back of their heads, the studios know there would be "consequences" if the strike went on for long. This is meant as dark comedy, but you know it's true.

Writers are a bunch of wusses, and until someone really mans up and grabs a CEO by the collar, this will not settle until whenever everyone is projecting it to end...

creativeprophet said...

Been my opinion all along, Intrigued. Non-speculative writers have two choices in my view. Either accept that they are merely a tooth on the cog that turns the wheel OR start 'rewriting' the entertainment business model with other creatives and stop relying on the AMPTP to determine value and worth -- or at least threaten to do so (see how quickly the AMPTP does an about face then) -- Writers need to understand that even the act of 'striking' elevates the moguls perceived power. Question -- can the creatives drive the entertainment industry? Answer -- yes. Will they? -- unlikely, the moguls will crumble beforehand. But then, let me ask? Who has the power?

MrKlaatu said...

AMPTP: "Your Animation proposal, W-14, is likewise unacceptable. As you know, there is another union which has long had jurisdiction over the work you are now seeking to cover by your proposal. We believe that it should be up to the writers in this field, using the procedures carefully established by Congress in the 1940s – in the same legislative act that validates the very existence of Writers Guild of America, East and West – to express their desire as to whether they wish to be represented by the WGA or that other union. It is not for us as Companies to usurp the secret ballot democratic election process established by the National Labor Relations Act by agreeing to another top-down union organization proposal."

When is the vote?

Post Guy said...

BTL Guy, I pretty much agree with everything you've said here. By going out before next June, the only people that are really hurt are folks like us, and I believe they are giving up a tactical advantage by doing so.

1.) For everyone's info concerning the IA pension fund, I've been in the union for 29 years. As of my last statement I will be getting right around $2,400 per month. That is, if I retire at age 65. And that is ONLY if I continue working the 70 plus hour weeks I am currently until then.

That, plus social in-security, will buy me a double wide in a really bad location. This has been this way since before I got into the business, and as a result, I have saved all I could.

(as advised by seasoned veterans when I began my career in 1978, so it's been this way a long time, and not the result of an eroded Pension Fund)

Needless to say, all those savings will go "bye-bye" if this goes as long as I think it will. So hearing about the WGA fighting for "down the road" BTL residuals that go into the pension fund is not a concern of any IA member I know. Having a Christmas for my kids and getting them through college IS a concern.

2.) I would love for someone to explain to me why the "rockstar" (I'm guessing a description he now regrets) leadership decided NOW is the time to strike, basically alone. Did we really think it was going to bring AMPTP to it's knees?

I am not a brilliant union negotiator by any means, but AMPTP is clearly ready to throw away this tv season, and I guess next also with no pilots prepared. They've already thrown away a bunch of high profile films. So with that knowledge, how does NOW make any sense over June along side SAG? I'd love for someone to explain to me how NOW was some sort of advantage.

In fact, it pretty much helps AMPTP do all they can to make an example of the situation, and of course played right into the "strike clause" contracts, which will be hurting the writer/producers in the next couple of weeks.

I for one would whole heartedly vote and strike for one big organization for all the guilds to be in. Now we have some power. Never happen, but nice to think about. I guess it would be somewhat entertaining to watch all the in-fighting too........Yikes.

Anyway, this is almost what you would have had next June. (minus the in- fighting hopefully) Tactical advantage.

3.) Now maybe I am buying into the AMPTP propaganda, (I have noticed the difference with the new PR folks) but some of the demands it would seem need to be taken off the table to make gains in the areas that really concern you. Make Priorities.

Concerning the Reality and Animation demands, can someone please enlighten me. Did not Reality workers turn down representation by the WGA? Are not the Animation writers covered under IA? Again, please correct me on these if I'm wrong. Just asking questions here.

4.) Ok, seems many in the WGA are pissed about 1988, and probably rightly so. Personally, I have tremendous respect for writers. I've done a little writing myself, it's not easy, I understand. Personally I do believe you should get the same residuals no matter what outlet your creation is shown, I really have no problem with it.

But many seem to go back to 1988 saying you made some huge disastrous mistake, and are making up for it now.

The question I have is this.........

What about all the other contracts that have transpired in the meantime? (5 of them?) Were no gains made in video/dvd for all those years? Why not?

AMPTP makes it easy to show you are today asking for a 700 percent increase. I have no sympathy asking for a 700 percent increase, I'm sorry. Decent gains through all those years probably would have been possible, as it is today.

All in all, this strike has been a complete disaster in my opinion. (on both sides) It's going to be very long and very ugly unless someone steps up, puts their egos aside, and either......

A.) Agree to some decent gains, and address gains again in 3 years (along with maybe one of those six demands). Long term thinking.

B.) Work under the old contract until June when you will have greater power.

And Yes, AMPTP walking away from the table on Friday really pissed me off too, I'm not any happier there. I agree with the WGA's opinion the walkout was pre-planned days ahead.

It's all just part of the game I guess.

Lastly, I'd like to publicly thank Mr. Lourd for all he has done to end this stalemate. My family is hoping and praying he can bring the sides together again as soon as possible.

Post Guy

Catherine said...

"keep picketing -- and maintain our poise and our sense of humor -- these tactics will continue to fail."

These words are so, SO important, such an essential reminder and so very true, you should have BOLDED them and italicized them! And maybe made them RED.

Intrigued said...


I have the same question you have...

I want somebody from the WGA side to try to explain what advantage they thought they could gain by going on strike now???

From a simple business standpoint seems like a monumental mistake!!!

I have to disagree with you about the AMTPT's walkout being planned days in advance. It was planned weeks in advance!!! Unless somebody can logically answer the question above, I will remain convince the AMPTP has NO incentive or desire to end this strike anytime soon knowing that they are about to reap the benefits of force majure and that they still have to negotiate with the other unions.

hotline said...

From what I understand, it's because they weren't expecting us to strike when we did. They truthfully didn't stockpile much of TV. And the AMPTP was intending to stockpile film scripts in these months before the actors strike - when they thought we were going to strike with them, but, of course, they never had the chance to do that because we struck sooner than they believed.

I don't believe it was a bad plan. However, I do think it's possible that our negotiators underestimated the stubborn arrogance of the AMPTP. They'd rather risk 9 billion in upfront money for the 2008 season (number according to Advertising Age's article today) than to pay us a lousy 151 million over the next three years.

I personally think television is over as we know it, because according to the article in Advertising Age, the advertisers are going to realize during this strike when the viewers aren't there like they have been - that there are other better places to spend their ad money.

So as far as why now... it doesn't matter any more. Because it's clearly not about smart business decisions for the AMPTP at this point. If it were, they'd try to not only save this next TV season's advertising dollars, but television advertising dollars FOREVER. And why aren't they? Ego. They don't want to lose face. They'd rather lose billions of dollars for their stockholders than to pay into our health care, pension and share a tiny fraction of the profits as residuals.

I believe the thinking was that the AMPTP was smarter than they are.

Oh, and the money they're saving by force majure... a tiny drop in the bucket to what they're going to lose in profits. Read the article in Advertising Age.

JRWriter said...

uh, intrigued? what's with all the exclamation points and ALL CAPS SCREAMING? for someone who claims to think like a businessperson you're awfully tetchy and hot under the collar (and, er, humorless, much?) about all this. but hey, since you know so much about the business and i know so little (just being a silly ol' absent-minded, luftmensch, writer type) please, please enlighten me: when you create something on which your boss makes X dollars, why shouldn't you receive another slice when he sells it a second time for X+1? is that some crazy pinko economic model? well, then sign me up, comrade.
now, in the spirit of NOT behaving like a righteously indignant 11 year old (paging Nick Counter...) i'm signing off on this silly back and forth. comment away, patronize to me, tell me i'm an ignorant slut. I'm going to do something really useful. like read a book. (that some author made a royalty on. crazy talk!)

Memeology said...

I find it strange that people who seem to be closely following the strike would keep asking, "Why now strike?" I suppose I will answer it, again. First here’s a rhetorical question for you to chew on as you read this: Why ever strike? There are multiple reasons but they are all related to increasing leverage and not wanting to get raped. Firstly, the studios were not massively stockpiling scripts before the strike. They amped up development in the couple of months before the deadline only once they realized how pissed off the writers were. It was not nearly enough. IF the WGA had worked under extension (still way pissed mind you) the companies would be sure a strike was coming in June and both massive stockpiling of scripts and rushing production on completed scripts would be increasingly occurring (feature production starts already began picking way up in October and the ramp up is ongoing). It undermines the leverage of both SAG and WGA. Secondly, DGA would already have a tentative deal hammered out by then (or they would strike and force a deal within 5 minutes) which as usual would be in their interest alone and would undermine SAG and WGA leverage. Thirdly, the AMPTP's "negotiating" behavior was so absurdly Grinchesque as to completely unify the opinion of the membership that an immediate strike was utterly called for. Fourthly, the element of surprise as the AMPTP just did not expect it. Fifthly, the WGA is going to make an example of the AMPTP. If this strike drags on into spring the heat is REALLY gonna come down on the AMPTP congloms. Here's a WW2 analogy. Germany invades Poland in 1939. The allies declare war on Germany but it's too late. Germany has already amassed thousands of tanks and planes and subs and they trounce the Allies' continental armies. If just ONE country (France for example) had stood up to Hitler and co. (i.e., Rupert Murdoch and his goon Counter) when he illegaly occupied the Rhineland and annexed Austria (at a time when he DIDN'T have all those tanks, planes, battleships, subs and millions of soldiers)... no WW2. Look it up. The WGA can still count on SAG to join the battlefield if and when the time comes. If the strike is won before SAG’s deadline they will get a better contract as a result (hence their awesome support of writers on the lines and elsewhere). Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. So, if the AMPTP continues to amaze the world with its idiocy and they do the same thing with SAG the actors will strike with us and we’ll simply crush the AMPTP into dust and wind up with an even more favorable contract. Seriously, Rupert Murdoch is the multinational economic equivalent of Hitler and Nick Counter is Goebbels and I watch too much history channel. Which reminds me! Just like documentaries (WGA already has jurisdiction) it's not "reality" tv it’s “NON-FICTION” tv (still a stretch but it's still WRITTEN!).

Intrigued said...


u r an idiot! i NEVER said the writers didnt deserve to get PAID i questioned the tactics they used as poor strategy.

Intrigued said...

hotline & memeology,

thanks for answering my question.

fyi... i never said i was following the strike closely, just started paying attention (its like a tv drama)

It seems that you are telling me that the timing of the strike was to prevent the stockpiling of scripts. THAT MAKES SENSE!!!

However, to suggest that you overestimated the executives intelligence and ability to make smart business decisions is silly. You don't get to become CEO of large corporations because you let your ego get in the way of making smart business decisions. When you have to make that point to justify your actions, you need to step back and ask what did we forget to factor in?

Memeology, based on your thrid point for why u went on strike when you did... It sounds an awful lot to me like the AMPTP baited you into striking!

I still believe this strike is part of the studio / networks strategy all along and that it was a poor strategic decision on the part of the writers. I haven't heard anything to make me think otherwise, but at least I understand the logic the WGA was using when striking now instead of waiting for SAG.

PootieTwo said...

I know that this is not the subject of this board, but I felt moved to post this. Last night I signed off of this board and watched the documentary "God Grew Tired of Us". It really helped put things in perspective. This situation might be unfair, but it's nothing in comparison to what so many people in other parts of the world are suffering. Nothing! We all have it made. The story of the lost boys of Sudan has had a profound impact on me. If I am going to be forced out of work for a while, I think I'd like to do something good with it. This Christmas, I have very little money. I will be giving money, in the name of my relatives, to charities who work in Sudan. I would love to buy the DVD and encourage my family to watch it and share it with others. I think that if you are worried about having little for your kids this year (which is hard, I know) that sharing this film with them can help put things into perspective for them. It can also help grow them into caring, involved people.

If nothing else, see the film "God Grew Tired of Us". It was inspiring and really does help take your mind off of your own situation for a while. It's available through Netflix.

PootieTwo said...

Just one more thing, if you'll indulge me, about the lost boys of Sudan. I just want to put things into perspective before I shut up about it.

During the second civil war in Sudan, the order was given to kill all of the male children. Twenty-seven thousand boys, mostly between the ages of 5 and 11 years old, walked 1000 miles to escape being murdered. A thousand miles!!!! Many of their families had been murdered. They had little to no food or water and were forced to drink their urine to survive. These are little children we are talking about here. A great many of them died. About half, I believe. Some of them were picked off by Tigers and other animals along the way. When they arrived, they were barely a shadow of their former selves and barely alive. Can you imagine your children doing that? I can't.

hotline said...

Excellent the financial equivalent of Hitler and Goebbels...

So we should expect massive amounts of families savings and mortgages annihilated and for the recovery to take years and years. Actually, I am expecting that and am preparing for it. After all I've read, they're willing to lose a billion over our fifty million a year. And it looks like television will never recover from this so they're actually willing to lose billions over the paltry tiny share we're asking for.

So let's say some are right and we were bated into striking... why do you think that is? Are they truly mad? Is it simply just ego?

Or... here's a theory... everybody's been saying that if this isn't settled by the holidays the TV season and upfronts are fucked. So they obviously had no intention to settle before the holidays. Perhaps this is their last ditch effort to TRY to make us spin out and become desperate for any deal in January - then they'll scramble to get pilots together for the upfronts in May. Cause again, if they don't at least get a fall schedule together, then advertisers are taking their money elsewhere and it will be a permanent situation. So the AMPTP will be saying goodbye not to a billion dollars over this but to billions and billions FOREVER from TV ads.

Every writer I know is ready to leave the business over this attempt of financial raping. And we will all recover just fine. The film business will eventually recover massive losses, but the AMPTP will destroy television FOREVER.

hotline said...

Intrigued -

If they did bate us into striking, why do you think that is?

I could see taking a billion dollar hit now thinking they'd save more over time in years. But...

I don't they weren't expecting to lose massive tv ad dollars for all of eternity - not just one year. Which is exactly what is going to happen.

hotline said...

was supposed to say... I don't "think" they were expecting...

Need coffee now.

Intrigued said...


as an industry outsider, i dont want to get into the exact numbers of what is at stake (because i dont know enough of the details)

however, i have to assume that your position that they are willing to lose billions just because they dont want to pay you$150 million IS FALSE!!!

If you are correct in your statement you are telling me that the AMPTP are STUPID!!! Considering executives dont get to their posts by being STUPID, you obviously do not have all the facts!!!

Once again, I challenege you to look at from their side and figure out what facts are missing from your equation. Im not saying anybody is right or wrong, but I CAN ASSURE you that if it were as simple as give the writers $150 million to save a $1 billion this would have been over before it started!!!

Intrigued said...


to answer your question why i think they baited the WGA into a strike...

It is hard for me to answer that because like I said I'm not part of the industry.

But if you are part of the WGA, my point is before you went on strike YOU should have already analyzed the situation and known what if any possible benefit the AMPTP could gain from you being on strike!

It seems (I might be wrong) that the WGA just looked at what was the advantage they would gain from a strike without properly predicting any potential advantage the AMPTP would gain.

Once again maybe I am wrong, but it just seems that the AMPTP is very comfortable with this strike right now. The writers dont seem so comfortable. Everybody keeps mentioning that that the studio/network execs have shareholders to answer to, but they don't seem to be bothered by this strike yet either.

hotline said...

Intrigued -

Since you are a business person... didn't you say you were or am I confusing you with somebody else? Anyway, what do you think their strategy is?

Intrigued said...


I am a bussinessman. But not in the entertainment industry.

I have already stated that I believe their strategy is to enforce the force majure clauses in current contracts they don't want to keep and that they will wait until they are forced to negotiate with SAG before WGA becomes a priority for them. (But this is based on how they have handled the negotiations). But I have no idea what their ultimate agenda is.

It seems you are asking me what you SHOULD already know. In any negotiation YOU should know what the other side wants and doesnt want BEFORE you engage them. If you don't you are NOT prepared and more times than not you will lose the negotiation.

hotline said...

I do think our negotiators have made some mistakes. But I am not in those closed door meetings - and some of those SHOULD KNOWS are not privy to me or the rest of our union. I'm sure they haven't shared all of their knowledge with us. They're smart not to. Why would any side make public their strategy?

And I do believe that our negotiators are smart people. I do believe that they have weighed every option, looked at every angle.

And as far as the force majure contracts - those are still a pittance compared to what the AMPTP will lose in just advertising dollars this year in TV.

I do think this strike will go until the actors strike, you are right. But I also know for absolute certain that the AMPTP wasn't expecting us to strike when we did. They've had no chance to stockpile TV or features. So that will make us all stronger at that time, vs. if we waiting to strike with them, then there would have been a long strike then as we waited for that stockpile to run out. Either way - now or then - this was destined to be along strike.

Intrigued said...


you are correct that your negotiators shouldn't reveal their strategy, but they definitely should have advised all of their members of the pros and cons of the strike and how it would affect both sides BEFORE advising you to strike! Clearly that wasn't done.

As to whether your negotiators are smart people. I would conceede that. However just because somebody is smart does not mean that they are equipped to handle every situation. From my conversation with you, either they haven't thought everything out and are very ill-prepared for this battle or they have failed to properly inform their members what the situation was before they advised you to walk out.

You say that the costs savings the studios/networks will gain from force majure is a pittance, but it is a benefit they get they otherwise would not have recieved if another course of action was taken. Anyway I don't want to get bogged down in the details of dollars.

But to say you surprised them by striking when you did is just not true. Any major corporation that has unionized employees has a strike contigentcy plan ready at all times! You might have prevented them from stockpiling extra scripts, but understand that they have a plan. As you have noticed the networks have not gone black, the advertisers have not stopped sponsoring programs, their are a ton of "non-scripted" and sports programs in the pipe-line and more can easily be added. (just name a few options they have).

If you agree with me that this will not be settled until the SAG contract is settled, then I ask again why would the WGA strike now while SAG continues to work? SAG seems to me to be the real winners in this strike!

(by the way thanks for engaging in thsi conversation, i am not trying to be confrontational, i have to take care of some business will return later)

Carrie said...

"Did not Reality workers turn down representation by the WGA? Are not the Animation writers covered under IA? Again, please correct me on these if I'm wrong. Just asking questions here."

Reality writers have not turned down representation by WGA. In fact last summer writes on America's Next Top Model went on strike after voting to join WGA.

Most story people in reality television LONG to be in the WGA, but fear never being hired again if they were to stick their neck out too far. And a general feeling that he membership of WGA doesn't, in fact, support or respect our work. Which many of the comments I've read on this board has confirmed.

I say all this as a reality story producer who walked the picket line with my fellow storytellers last summer to support them, has been involved with the Reality Organizing Committee, and was disheartened to read the Variety article saying reality would be the first concession in these negotiations. The fact is having reality organized under WGA is in the best interest of all writers as it would widen its base, and make it harder for networks to plug their schedules when future negotiations occur.