For the last few days, many of us have been feeling that the AMPTP was getting ready to "sucker punch" us. The hiring of an attack dog PR firm (known as the "Masters of Disaster") made it pretty obvious that the congloms didn't intend to settle, and they planned on making things ugly.
Well, the other shoe sure dropped on that one.
As someone who was sitting around expecting it to happen, the only comfort I can take from it is that it seems the AMPTP wants us back at work by January. If they really thought they could wait this out until March, as they've threatened in back channel conversations, then they would have stalled even more, all the way through January, and walked out then. They want us to stew and rant for a while, fight amongst ourselves and then agree to a bad deal. My guess is they figure they need about six weeks to really get us softened up for that.
But no one can put it better than Nikki Finke did yesterday, so I won't try, I'll just quote:
But the truth is this: the Hollywood moguls have not delivered on their promises. And Chernin's statements make clear they never had any intention of doing so right now... I wouldn't be at all surprised if, as soon as Friday, the AMPTP walks out of the talks with a news release in hand that it's all the WGA's fault.Take a look at the entire post here.
And I now predict the CEOs will make a big public show of deciding to open talks with the Directors Guild right away and thus try to screw the striking writers.
What to take away from this -- other than the fact that Nikki Finke was really, really right?
Well, first of all, bear in mind that all this was orchestrated by the Masters of Disaster over at the AMPTP, so whatever frustration and anger and despair we're feeling is completely intentional. They were shameless enough to go for a sucker punch even though it was widely reported they were going to go for a sucker punch. They want us to blame Verrone, Young and Bowman, each other, anyone but the people who really did this -- the CEO's. They hope we fall for it..
As for what happens next -- I've said for a long time that this negotiation wasn't about anything rational on their side. The rational thing is a fair deal that neither side loves but both can accept. For them, this is about greed and the culture of corporate rapaciousness. It's about trying to strip writers (and other unions in this town) of protections it has taken decades to win and to keep.
This fight was coming no matter who our leaders were. A new technology came into play (the Internet) and intersected with a "robber baron" culture that considers stripping away health care, pensions and job security nothing but good business. The fight was never avoidable. The only question was how we would wage it, and whether we would win.
So now we know where the congloms stand, clearly and starkly: They want the Internet, and they don't want to pay us residuals that come from it or anything but fractions of a penny for downloads. Period.
I know where I stand. I've come too far to hand them my future just because they say they want it.