12/13/2007

The DGA Weighs In

Today, we received some solid information regarding the timetable the DGA is setting for its talks. Michael Apted, president of the DGA, and Gil Cates, their NegCom chair, issued a statement:

"Because we want to give the WGA and the AMPTP more time to return to the negotiating table to conclude an agreement, the DGA will not schedule our negotiations to begin until after the New Year, and then, only if an appropriate basis for negotiations can be established."
The rest of their statement is strongly worded and reflects the same frustration the WGA and the rest of Hollywood is feeling right now. The WGA wants a fair and reasonable deal. The DGA wants a fair and reasonable deal.

And the AMPTP? All they're doing is mocking the WGA's attempt to resume negotiations by calling the guild's appeal to the NLRB "pounding the table."

49 comments:

paint the town red said...

Er..."auteur theory". Didn't mean to snub the French.

paint the town red said...

Hooray for the DGA! Starting to appreciate the "Auteur theory"

Not-A-Troll said...

You're really trying to spin this into something positive for the writers? Really?

The DGA has been researching the internet for over 16 months. They know what they want, what is fair and they could have a deal done in a day if they were at the table.

Trust me they will be in Jan. 1st and will have a deal by the 2nd. All they are doing now is allowing their committee to go on holiday break and then come back ready to roll.

Unless the WGA is quickly going to backtrack and drop the 6 things the AMPTP called for they are going to get leapfrogged.

You know that sick feeling in the bottom of your stomach when you know you lost? I am sure you do because it must be how the WGA is feeling right now. Spin it how you want but this strike and your influence are done.

Brian said...

Well, not-a-troll, if the DGA doesn't have a deal by January 2, I guess we'll know you're wrong.

Jake Hollywood said...

not-a-troll (even if I sound like one):

The DGA can sign any deal they want. But this time--unlike '88 and all the other bad deal years--this WGA isn't going to accept any bad deals. Nor do they have to; the WGA isn't obligated to accept the same deal the DGA agrees to (and if the WGA signs a better deal than what the DGA agreed to, that deal becomes the deal).

The WGA--as painful as it may be to everyone here in town--is doing all the right things. This time the WGA is making sure the writers don't get screwed. And I for one and damn glad they have the courage of their convictions.

The AMPTP isn't used to having the WGA stand up to them like this, but they better get used to it. This is not the same old gutless WGA of yesteryear. This WGA fights and they fight to win the best deal possible. And like it or not, this time, like the good guys they are, the WGA will prevail.

dp said...

Jake-
Knowing what you want and knowing how to get it are two completely different things. Nobody denies that the WGA was screwed in the past and that they are owed residuals on any distributable format that may come up. What people are angry about is the WAY they are going about it. Angry and reckless is not productive.

Candice said...

good job jake in hollywood

word up

if this takes till 2010 I don't care

THEY CAN'T DO IT WITHOUT US

NOT JUST A FAIR DEAL--A GREAT DEAL

WE WROTE IT WE SHOULD OWN IT

not a troll said...

When do you think the little over 1000 working writers in this town are going to realize they will have lost more than they will ever gain by this strike even if they get all they are asking for?

not a troll said...

Candice, did you work on a show before the strike?

Shawn said...

fact remains - the DGA can strike whatever deal they want, but until the writers, especially the TV writers, go back to work, then there won't be work for directors.

don't think the DGA are on the side of the WGA. they will sign a deal and pressure the WGA to make a weak ass deal. The AMPTP is smiling at the thought...

Kate Davis said...

Hey--the link in your text "All they're doing is mocking" is to amptp.com, not to amptp.org. The .com address is a parody site which, while quite amusing, doesn't have the quote you're actually referencing.

Jake Hollywood said...

DP:

Angry and reckless? In what way?

It seems to me that the WGA negotiators tried to give the AMPTP what they wanted (see that whole take the DVD issue off the table and we'll talk debacle) and the AMPTP still walked out of the room.

When you give somebody what they want and they're still not satisfied, the problem isn't you but them. The methods the WGA are using aren't wrong tactics, the problem is the AMPTP is unreasonable and in my opinion are not even interested in bargaining in good faith. What they are interested in is breaking the will and spirit of the WGA membership to the point that they [the WGA] will sign any deal tossed at their feet.

Moreover, what would be "good" tactics? Work without a contract until one can be worked out? When? Hope the AMPTP will be benevolent? Sign a deal with the "promise" that we'll look at this issue in three years and then decide if it's worth paying you what you deserve or not? Fire the leadership and replace them with puppets who'll be nothing short of yes men for the AMPTP?

No.

None of that makes any sense whatsoever.

The WGAs tactics suit me just fine.

I'd rather take on a bully facing forward then have him jump me when my back is turned. The AMPTP is that bully. And the only way to best a bully is to stare him down and beat him at his own game.

Like I said, this is NOT the WGA of yesteryear. And the AMPTP may not like it, but this WGA ain't afraid to fight.

And that's good.

not a troll said...

Watch for David Letterman to come back on the air January 7.

JimBob said...

Warren Leight: "“I hope it tells the DGA something that the studios are licking their chops to get into the negotiating room with them.”"

Helen said...

Not-a-troll,

Thanks for the heads-up, but writers are acutely aware that we have lost more than we will ever gain. But the same way writers sacrificed their residuals on pre-1960 content for Pension and Health, we are sacrificing our 2007 earnings for a fair piece of new media.

I am sincerely sorry for the pain the strike is causing to you, to me, and so many others. A fair negotiation would have kept the whole town working. To sum up how a lot of writers feel, I'd like to quote Julius Epstein, Philip Esptein and Howard Koch (NOT Humphrey Bogart):

"Ilsa, I'm no good at being noble, but it doesn't take much to see that the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday you'll understand that. Now, now... Here's looking at you kid."

I hope to see you on a set someday, Not-a-troll. But until then, here's looking at you kid.

Note: The Epsteins and Koch receive zero residuals whenever "Casblanca" is shown.

not a troll said...

Helen, were you working as a writer on a show before the strike?

Raye said...

Why, whenever I read anything by "not-a-troll," do I feel as if I'm reading transcripts of old Tokyo Rose broadcasts?

I mean, this guy/gal makes me laugh.

I imagine him/her looking rather like Terry Thomas in virtually any Terry Thomas movie from the '60's: You know -- waxed mustache, twisting the ends of it manically, and spitting when he/she speaks.

Keep up the good work, not-a-troll. You're not effective. But you're consistent.

Sam said...

I'm on your side but get people's names right. It's Gil Cates.

Helen said...

not-a-troll:

I have a movie that was set to roll in mid-February. We hired the lead actor the week before the strike. Now it's all up-in-the-air. Do I qualify for sympathy?

not a troll said...

Helen, not sympathy, just was curious as to how many "working writers" posted here. I'm sorry if you didn't get paid before your movie was ready to roll.

Shawn said...

per the NLRB papers filed by the WGA - Nick Counter's number is 818-995-3600

Writers, BTL, Fans, let the dialing begin! Leave messages over the weekend to fill up the messaging service. Break their phone lines!

Krono said...

@Not-A-Troll

Umm, so whose says that the WGA hasn't researched the internet for just as long as the DGA has? Considering the writers have stood this firmly over the issue, I highly doubt it was an unresearched spur of the moment thing.

Not to mention the DGA's statement ends on the note of "begin until after the New Year, and then, only if an appropriate basis for negotiations can be established. If that’s the case, then the DGA will commence formal talks in the hope that a fresh perspective and the additional pressure we can bring to bear will help force the AMPTP to settle the issues before us in a fair and reasonable manner." doesn't sound like they're too impressed with the way the AMPTP's been acting.

Now obviously they have to do what they feel is best for them. But I highly doubt they're going to be taking any bad deals the AMPTP offers. And the AMPTP is going to be hard pressed if they want to give them a deal that's good for the DGA, that wouldn't give the WGA more room to get a fair deal for themselves.

Carrie said...

Not-a-troll,

Um, so I guess the WGA just went stumbling into the dark saying, "we hear there's something called 'new media' maybe we should ask for a piece of that." Everybody is doing studies on it. WGA laid out a proposal for dealing with new media. AMPTP rejected it and came back with their "New Economic Partnership" which when you read it reads more like "New Screw You Partnership"

If the DGA has the magic bullet solution to New Media that's only good for WGA. And if they don't who's hurt most? DGA. WGA is only hurt if they allow a potentially bad DGA deal to lower morale. Last I checked Directors and AD's don't do much without a shooting script.

paint the town red said...

Dear, not a troll--

It's not just about what we the writers are losing... It's about what the next generation of writers could lose -- and the sacrifices we can make to insure this doesn't happen. Just as the writers who came before us sacrificed for our benefit...

--Your fan

rankandfiler said...

The NLRB complaint was a mistake. Akin to tattling to mom and dad.

So the companies are "forced back to the table"-- so what? They're just gonna be pissed and even more intractable. Good faith does not mean that they have to agree with us or even compromise. So while we all pat ourselves on the back because everybody's back in the room, big f'ing deal. They'll just continue pressing their position-- as is their right-- and no real progress will be made on the issues that matter.

WGA leaders have been totally suckered by these new AMPTP spin guys, whom I detest as much as anyone else. But look. WGA should be backchannelling or talking to individual companies or some lone voice of reason trying to resolve the only issues that matter-- internet and new media money. Because reality/animation jurisdiction is a fool's erand and everyone knows it. Hell, Verrone or Young or whomever said as much in memo number bajillion tonight. (And quite frankly, I don't even know what the jurisdiction issues are anymore. Where can I find the W-13s and all the other relevant proposals? They've changed, right? I remember leadership saying they made "movement" on them, but what kind of movement?)

If reality people want WGA benefits they should walk off the job and join us. Otherwise they're just helping the companies by providing product and prolonging this strike. If they won't walk off, then screw them, they obviously don't care. Which means we go do a deal on the issues that matter and resolve this strike.

Not-A-Troll said...

Just again to clear one thing up, there are 2 "not a trolls" on here. I am the one with the -hyphens-.

Now Jake,

You claim this WGA is not the one of yesteryear. Good for you! But have you noticed that while you evolved into this newer model so have the studios. The clout you once held and your ability to really make an impact are gone.

You are fighting the David vs Goliath fight of your lives, except it involves more than just your lively hood but rather that of thousands of BTL and outside the industry people. And sadly for them you failed to bring your slingshot.

Do you think Sony cares about this strike? They just sold 20,000 BlueRay players.

Do you think GE gasps for one second? They just sold billions in jet engines.

All your tactics seem to really have been well thought out, back in 88!

Krono said...

@rankandfiler

Umm, even if reality and animation aren't obtainable, that doesn't mean they should be discussed, or taken off the table just because the AMPTP says so.

Standard negotiations means asking for every thing you'd like, then bargain until you get something you're willing to settle for. That's what the WGA has clearly done on their end. The AMPTP for their part aren't willing to give anything in exchange for the WGA giving up on reality/animation/supporting other guild's strikes/a couple of other things except for empty promises to keep talking. The WGA would be foolish to give them up for that kind of exchange.

Smarter said...

The DGA deal is bad for the WGA. And I can almost predict that the DGA will make a deal right after the new year. The WGA is going to cry about it for a few months and then realize that they are going to have to take the deal. Sounds like the WGA should be talking with DGA right now. And when SAG, the strongest guild comes out, they will probably make the DGA's deal or make a little stronger one. But probably at this point, the AMPTP will be fed up with the WGA that they will maybe through them a bone, if anything. These are the problems you get with "rock star" negotiators and presidents. Caring more about being in the limelight with actors (who they are so deeply and secretively in love/jealous of in the first place) at these STARSTUDDED events that they promote.

You guys need to be firm on what you want and present it much better. Because right now, you guys are crying little babies that has shown a knack for putting together "themed" marches. (I like the diversity one... I didn't realize that all black was diversity.. I would have loved to seen EVERYBODY out there. But I guess your black and hispanic brothers aren't as important as walking with BIG HUGE white actors.) But that is just a little observation. Good luck to you guys, but please be honest with what you want and fight for it. Don't bring in this extra BS that you think people want to hear. We know what color the KoolAid is.....

rankandfiler said...

krono--

I don't disagree with you. Anyone who's been in a negotiation knows you have your real wants and your pretend wants-- or to use leadership's terms-- real goals and "fringe" goals. It's essentially a bluff. But for the bluff to work, the other side has to think you're serious about your "fringe" goals. And I think that's where the problem lies. The companies know we're not serious anymore about reality/animation jurisdiction. Verrone has basically said as much, according to a Financial Times article apparently coming out tomorrow.

So basically, they have called our bluff, and what do we do now? It won't mean anything to give away jurisdiction if they know we never valued it to begin with. Or, as you say, if we thought it was "not obtainable" in the first place.

I believe in our objective. My frustration lies in the way the negotiations are being handled. So, no-- I don't think we should take jurisdiction off the table "just because the AMPTP says so." But I do think a prudent and professional negotiator wouldn't have left it on the table this long when all it could do was derail progress on the real issues that divide us and the companies.

The sympathy strike provision you mention is a good example. Does any other entertainment labor union have such a provision? Have they ever in the history of Hollywood collective bargaining? My guess is no. So for us to include it (knowing it is "not obtainable") just seems sort of short-sighted and lame. It plays right into the AMPTP's hands and gives them something to paint us with in a negative light as being unreasonable amateurs.

This is about money. We're simply a labor union on strike demanding a fair wage. I wish they would talk about that fair wage and fucking get it for us (because we deserve it) and just forget everything else so we can all go back to work.

Watcher said...

Smarter, I don't even know what you're trying to say. Maybe you should try again, because I get the nastiness and the vitriol, but the point escapes me.

Scott Goodwin said...

Re: the DGA's 16 months of research--Nielsen just published a study that shows 56% of 18-34 year olds use new tech like DVRs, the Internet (streaming and downloads), VOD and more to catch episodes they missed and stay current.

39% of those 18-34s surveyed watched a full-length streamed episode in the last 3 months. That seems to show significant strength for this untested newfangled internetwebs thingie.

The full stats are published here:
http://www.nielsenmedia.com/nc/nmr_static/docs/Series_Loyalty_for_website.pdf

not a troll said...

The "we're doing this for the next generation" is a crock to justify not making a deal. You guys know any deal you make only lasts 3 years and then you get to do it all over again. Just remember there has to be a business for the next generation. You guys suck at this.

BTL Guy said...

So much of this strike, at least the rhetoric for it, revolves around the crap deal from 1988. That was twenty years ago. Presumably, WGA membership figured out well before today that it was a crap deal.

The 88 deal was so terrible for so long because you lived with it for so long.

I'm not just complaining about the past here: the point I'm making is that the deal you're trying to get today doesn't have to define the next twenty years.

Today's deal should be about getting a toehold; staking a claim. Then, in three years, if internet streaming is proving to be a real moneymaker, you revisit it to increase residuals.

You don't need AMPTP permission to do so. You don't need "revisit" language written into today's contract.

You simply revisit it in three years, and hang the threat of yet another strike over their heads.

Again, I'm not saying that WGA should take a deal that gives them nothing; I'm saying the deal doesn't have to give them everything. And I'm not suggesting that a "good enough" deal is on the table yet.

I understand that you're not really asking for everything, that a lot of talk is just talk. But so much of the rationale seems based on the fear that you've got to protect the next 20 years of writing today. That's a pretty heavy burden, and it's not realistic.

WGA should be looking at a deal that answers concerns for the next 5 years, not the next 20. You'll have 6 more negotiations to adjust things. 6 more chances to strike.

And yes, I do think strikes are sometimes warranted.

And I'd rather have a 3-month strike now and another 3-month strike in three years than have a 4 month strike now.

Because in terms of damage to the industry, sometimes 6<4.

paint the town red said...

not a troll--

Despite our contracts lasting only three years, it's about legally/morally establishing a precedent. Look it up...

Krono said...

@rankandfiler

The thing is, it isn't bluffing. These are real wants that they clearly aren't interested in giving up on in exchange for nothing. Some things are obviously of lesser importance than others, and you can't get much in exchange for them. I'm sure that if the AMPTP was offering a reasonable exchange for taking those points off the table, the WGA would give up on them for the time being.

The sympathy strike provision isn't a good example. The studios call it a provision allowing for a sympathy strike, the WGA calls it a provision protecting them from being forced to cross picket lines of other guilds. It's hard to judge the reality without seeing the provision itself, but protection against being forced to not honor picket lines doesn't sound like an unreal fringe want to me. Similarly another point the AMPTP has demanded the WGA give up on is the idea of using the distributor's gross to determine what their cut amounts to. Also known as protection against creative accounting on the studio's part. Again, that isn't something to give up on easily.

One of the things that annoys me about the current coverage, is that this latest stay has been made to be about solely the reality/animation points. Which kind of ignores the various points of greater or lesser value the AMPTP has also demanded the WGA give up on. Given that the AMPTP wants to play up the R&A angle, that's probably a bad idea. Particularly as one of the points the AMPTP has demanded they give up on is part of their proposal for getting a fair wage (the distributors gross thing).

@BTL Guy

The thing is, while the WGA is probably willing to settle for something that gets their foot in the door, sets precedent, and will be good for the immediate future, the AMPTP isn't willing to bargain them down to that. Instead the AMPTP is trying to get the WGA to bargain themselves down to that level, then start bargaining until the writers have a crap deal. The WGA isn't willing to play that game.

It boils down to the WGA wanting to bargain, and the AMPTP wanting to dictate. Not exactly conductive to getting people back to work. The only way the WGA could cut things short would be to bow to the AMPTP and take a bad deal, which would be a bad idea all around.

BTL Guy said...

krono,

I totally agree that AMPTP is strong-arming right now.

My point was a rather long-winded (guess why I'm below the line and not a writer!) expression of my concern that Writers may be carrying an unrealistic and unnecessary burden into the negotiations.

WGA should not look at negotiations as spanning 20 years, which, in constantly referencing '88, they seem to do.

As I said, the goal should be a good deal for the next 5 years, not a great one for the next 20.

And when I say "good deal," I mean it. Don't settle for a crap one.

Brandon said...

Will someone kindly explain to me what this anchor-like "crap deal" is, please? Are there actually writers out there that are producing material and NOT getting paid at all or being promised some amount of money and then having the studios balk at them in some way that was not clear at the onset of their agreement when it comes time to pony up their share? Because, if that's the case, I will totally spin around and give my all to the writers. But, if it's just a case of some writers finding themselves on the smelly end of the poop-stick because of the specific deal they made (within the WGA minimum guidelines) or due to the unfortunate reality that all shows don't hit and they aren't putting out gems, then I don't understand how that's a crap deal. It seems to me that that's just the effect of a fluctuating market.

I'm sorry, but (beyond the strike itself) all of these concerts, rallies, online series, themed events, etc. seem like a desperate attempt to rally public support. But if your cause is as just as you claim it to be, and if you are all as mistreated and globally maligned as you claim, then it seems that none of that would be necessary and that energy would be better spent working amongst your membership to chart a more productive future that may involve ventures that exist outside of the studio grasp.

In a very sad and real way, alot of the WGA rhetoric sounds like Bush Administration rhetoric. I hear so many things that sound like "If you're not with us, you're with the terrorists" or "We'll keep our troops out there as long as necessary to secure the future" and it scares me, because (yet again) innocent people are being made to suffer for the high and mighty ideals of a few people in elevated positions who don't really understand the dynamics of what is going on or how but are presented with these shocking numbers that make everything seem so violently detrimental to them. Additionally, their commitment to right the wrongs of the past, which (in the absence of time travel) cannot actually be done, is just another indication that this is being handled erroneously. You can't change the past and you can only gamble on what the future is going to be because we have no idea how the world is going to change. I'm pretty sure if I went back to 1970 and asked the guild to write in a provision that would provide 50% compensation to writers for material that was delivered to viewers through telephone wires, they would have laughed me out the door and studios possibly would have accepted that provision as a ludicrous impossibility. So, the best deal is doing what you can to make things fair and equitable for RIGHT NOW, and keep revisiting on your 3-year schedule to adjust accordingly. Or, you can dig your heels in and do it the George Bush way and take what was overwhelming support at a single point in time and turn it into overwhelming spite by refusing to acknowledge that maybe this battle would be best fought in a different way at a different time and with a bit more information to back it up.

hollarback said...

Troll/Not a Troll, why are you singling out commenters personally? Are you going to divulge personal information on yourself and your work history? Not that I can't guess your current employment situation...

Curious behavior for a non Troll

hollarback said...

Seems that the negative posts are increasing, with a nice balance of thoughtful "hey I like you, convince me..." and "you are going DOWN" comments.

I guess that the AMPTP just wanted to give the writers their presents early.

Krono said...

@Brandon

Will someone kindly explain to me what this anchor-like "crap deal" is, please? Are there actually writers out there that are producing material and NOT getting paid at all or being promised some amount of money and then having the studios balk at them in some way that was not clear at the onset of their agreement when it comes time to pony up their share? Because, if that's the case, I will totally spin around and give my all to the writers.

Yes there are writers not getting properly payed. Like novel authors, tv and movie writers, get paid an upfront pay, then a share of the profits (residuals). However, the Studios aren't paying writers for any downloads sold, or any episodes or movies streamed with ads. So you've writers writing original content for the internet for the studios, or their episodes for tv are being repeated online rather than on tv, and the writers aren't being given a share of the profits. Given that a fair sized chunk of that share o' profits goes to their health and pension, you can see why they're unhappy.

It's worse for reality and animation writers. The AMPTP's kept them from unionizing, so they just get paid an upfront. Writers for big hits like Toy Story and Shrek? They get nothing in the way of the profits from their writing, just whatever they got paid upfront.

The studio's are balking in that they don't want to address the issue of the internet, they want to maintain the status quo where they get all the profits to themselves.

Neth said...

I got a few questions, not sure if they were answered elsewhere:

How did the AMPTP keep reality/animation writers from unionizing? Aren't some Animation writers in another guild already?

And as for teh crap deal in 88, it was 88... there was no streaming internet media/revenue, and reading the pdf of the proposal it seems as if the WGA was offered some revenue in the streaming stuff, just not revenue from ads? is that correct? Are ads the only revenue? Do the producers get ad revenue?

Carrie said...

The referencing to 88 is like yelling "remember the alamo" It's a rallying point for WGA members. It's also a lesson reminder. You can't trust AMPTP to improve the deal as the market improves. 20 years ago WGA accepted a deal on ho me video with the promise that percentages would be revisited as the years went by. Oh but wait, they were revisisted but never changed even though home video sales profits have increased 10 fold since 1988. Writers have been told to wait until cable has matured before increasing minimums. According to AMPTP cable has never matured. The unions have seen these arguments from the other side and know them for what they are. BS. They've learned that the earlier they set precedents in these arenas they better off they are. If they don't, it's like being a red sox fan before 2004, you're always waiting for next year.

troll-proof said...

Note to trolls: More of you should consider changing your usernames. For a while now, when I see your posts, I simply skip past them. Run this by the AMPTP first, (maybe between insertions of your tongues up Nick's ass) but I think it's a solid idea.

S Phillips said...

This is so obvious. First, everyone should be compensated for internet distribution on the same basis as broadcast. There is no justification for treating them differently just because one comes over the airwaves onto a TV screen and the other comes over cable or phone lines to a computer screen.

Second, net profits don't exist. Forest Gump barely made a net profit.

Third, the people who are causing the financial misery for all of these other workers are the AMPTP, not the WGA.

paint the town red said...

The Executive Producer of THE EXORCIST had a net profit deal with Warner Bros. He sued them when Warner Brothers claimed there was no profit. He won $200 million dollars. The Showrunner on CHARMED sued Warner Brothers when they also told him there was no profit -- $440 million in profit was uncovered... Same with MASH, X-FILES, and ROCKFORD FILES. The studios cook their books... Now they're worried because digital distribution not only tracks everything to the penny, (unlike conventional distribution), but there's also little cost associated with the digital medium -- so, they can't hide behind their "cost of doing business" clause anymore. They are going to lose billions. They're going to have to pay taxes they didn't have to pay before, pay stockholders what they didn't have to pay before, and the list goes on...

Look at Enron and Worldcom...

Maybe Sumner should spend his summer in jail...

hollarback said...

Paint the town, don't forget Peter Jackson who had to sue for his promised share of LOTR money (who knew that the popular series of films lost money??? Oh, that's right, it didn't) and Nora Ephron who is still trying to get paid for her hits too.

Open the books = the studios worst fear

paint the town red said...

Hollerbach, you're right! My mistake. More recently filed claims of fraudulent accounting include:
Hank Steinberg/WITHOUT A TRACE, Shawn Ryan and Michael Chicklis/THE SHIELD, and the creators of WILL AND GRACE...

BTL Guy said...

Don't forget, David Duchovny also sued Fox for selling cable rights to FX for a cut-rate deal...

BTL Guy said...

BTW -- the Duchovny suit was for X-Files...