12/07/2007

Nikki Finke is Clairvoyant -- or Maybe the Playbook is Just Too Obvious

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.
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.
Take a look at the entire post here.

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.

70 comments:

Jake Hollywood said...

Or maybe Nikki is just getting the straight dope from the AMPTP. She'd be the only one.

Shawn said...

http://strikeadeal.blogspot.com

Let's see this on the mainpage UnitedHollywood. We ARE UNITED right?

Cinco Paul said...

The strikeadeal blog says their goal is:

"To encourage, indeed insist, that the opposing parties stay at the table."

The AMPTP just left the table indefinitely. The WGA is still there. Wanting to negotiate. Wanting to strike a deal.

We are not the enemy.

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

"Let's see this on the mainpage UnitedHollywood. We ARE UNITED right?"

I agree. If it looks evil for the moguls to deprive the writers of their fair share, does it not look even more evil to put ten to a hundred times that many people out of work altogether? Why is the WGA so afraid for people to know how many people are in limbo over this? Are they afraid that it will make THEM look bad. Do they feel guilty? What gives?

Support us please! We are starving for you.

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

You know, mini golf and pizza (for 100 maximum) is a nice gesture and all. But I'd rather they posted something on the front page. Maybe one of those "Call to Action" things.

Shawn said...

cinco paul,
I'm not saying UnitedHollywood is the enemy. I'm just expressing disappointment at the fact that they haven't at all mentioned this event on their mainpage. And to me, that is pretty questionable.

Considering the intent of the march - to keep the sides to keep talking - it's even more vital now because the event now is about the AMPTP to get back to talking.

Frankly, every writer who pickets should be out there supporting this event. When the writers marched in Hollywood, they were happy to have to the support of BTL workers, teamsters, other labor unions, et. al. Now that this is in the works, I think it's sad that UnitedHollywood doesn't write up a blurb about this and suggest to everyone to get out there for this.

SAD.

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

Like I said. I thought we'd have to wait until our union went on strike for the WGA to not support us.

not a troll said...

Shawn, this is sad that you can't get support from this site. Everyone should support the BTL people. Can BTL folks get money from the strike fund?

strikey said...

Um. You do realize that the WGA is ready and willing to bargain, right? Tonight, the AMPTP placed an ultimatum on the table and walked out. In that ultimatum, it said that it wouldn't resume bargaining until the Guild gave it some major concessions -- among them, an agreement that the Guild wouldn't honor other unions' picket lines. So, in order for negotiations to resume, the Guild will have to sell out its fellow union members. If you were on the negotiating committee, what would you do in this circumstance? Are you actually instructing the WGA to sell out other unions in order to get back to the table?

Not-A-Troll said...

Wow, someone has gone and used my name. I agree with what they said that the site should support the BTL people but can I just say this site is getting worse and worse by the day.

First you take off the ability to post anon or with whatever name you so choose. Now anyone can copy your user name and post to make it look like you.

-The Original Not-A-Troll -

not a troll said...

Hey, I was here first and I don't need no stinkin' hyphens...

Not-A-Troll said...

May I ask how reality TV and animation ever became a main focus point of the WGA? All this time we have been spoon fed the 4 cents more crap and now I read that their latest big push was to have control over reality TV.

They want the control so that they can try and hurt the studios but they seemed to have miscalculated a step or two. First they should have gotten reality TV settled then they go on strike.

To quote South Park as an example to such a lack of thought process:

Step 1 - Collect Underpants
Step 3 - Profit

-The Original Not-A-Troll

Not-A-Troll said...

Hey to Not A Troll sans hyphens, go check all my previous posts, I beat you to it

-The Original-

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

Oh no! Two not a trolls all along. I'm so confused now. Who is who. We're back to square one it seems!

Rodney Vaccaro said...

An ultimatum is an act of anger and desperation. Stay calm, WGA. Stay strong, WGA. When we strike…we win. When we fight…we win.

Glickla said...

shawn & "how's this":

If you are experiencing financial hardship due to the strike, there are already funds established to help. PLease contact the Motion Picture Fund or your Union website for more information. Remember: we're all in this together. We do not want to be on strike, but we do want everybody to get a good deal today and in the future.

Glickla said...

The WGA has been trying to get jurisdiction over reality and animation for years and years! And when reality and animation writers have asked to unionize and join the WGA, they were FIRED by the studios. It's not about the WGA getting control of the studios -- it's about these writers getting a fair wage and health insurance. What's so outrageous about that?

Watcher said...

how's this b*%tch said:
Support us please!

You mean the rally? I'd heard the Guild offered to march in solidarity, but were politely rebuffed. Maybe it was just gossip. Do you guys want the WGA to join you?

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

Watcher,

I don't think that it would be bad for the WGA too join in. But mostly it would be nice if, as shawn suggested, the rally were publicized on UH and Nikki Finke. After all, it's only designed to bring awareness to the fact that a huge number of people are out of work due to this stalemate and to encourage the continuation of talks until this thing is resolved.

darbyflier said...

glickla,

I talked with two reps directly from my IATSE local 700. I could not believe how glib and unhelpful they were. I asked what help or strike fund is there for me and my colleagues. The answer, "well, we are not on strike." "So there is nothing to help me, I will lose my home in a month over this." Again, "we are not on strike, so there is no fund". Not even a point in the direction of another source of help from the WGA fund or anything. I HATE them. IATSE can go to hell. I have to be a member to work and they do nothing for me above and beyond the contract. We need help! Please support the rally Sunday writers. It is not an accusation of who is not talking. It is a plea to remember how many of us are being destroyed by this. Getting our story out will help the WGA and further expose the AMPTP as the greedy manipulative bastards they are. I am 100% with you WGA. Please be supportive of us!

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

I think that if the AMPTP is not going to negotiate now, then maybe it would be a really good opportunity for the writers to stand with the rest of us in front of the public and say "Hey! They are putting our friends out of work too and there are a hell of alot of them!"

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

Darby,

Boy do I know where you are coming from. But don't hate your own union. They let you down this time, it's clear. But they look out for you in a great many ways. If it weren't for them the studios would work you for 24 hours a day with no breaks, no meals, no health insurance, no pension, no medic on set, in unsafe conditions, for no money at all. Seriously. We need them! Corporations are not designed to be caring and benevolent and will never do the right thing unless they are force to do it.

Watcher said...

darbyflier, you can always go to the Actor's Fund. It's not just for actors, but for everyone in the industry -- I'm told that even non-unionized office assistants can turn to them for help. I've heard nothing but good things about them.

how's this b*%tch? -- That sounds reasonable to me.

darbyflier said...

Thank you folks. I am venting a bit. I love my career and have worked on hour dramas for 12 years. I spent a lot of time getting to where I am in able to contribute to telling great stories that originate with these writers. I am proud of what I contribute and I am not replaceable.

how's this b*%tch? ,

I do appreciate my benefits. Pay protection is irrelevant to me as I am able to do better in the marketplace - however, Health, pension and work conditions are hugely important and I do appreciate the union for that. I wish that instead of Mr. Short's chastising emails concerning the WGA leadership they would send guidance about the help funds out there. The reps didn't even mention the motion picture fund to me. We deserve better, but I will always support our solidarity and union when called to do so to protect our conditions. Thanks for reminding me - you know the stress and venting that wells up right now.

jill bryant said...

I come from the technology sector, so I'm looking at this from the other side. I thought some of you might be interested in these posts:

1) references an old post about how the entertainment monopolies are trying to put the genie back in the bottle and end up losing in the end - the way the music industry is losing...
http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2007/12/monopolies-seve.html

2) And, more relevant --- Rebuilding Hollywood in Silicon Valley's image...basically saying the entertainment monopolies are crazy to pick this fight now - that they are speeding their own demise. http://blog.pmarca.com/2007/11/rebuilding-holl.html

Just thought some of you might find them interesting. I'm not sure if it is in either of these posts but I've also read, the thinking is, they are being especially hard on writers so they can make an example of them to actors and directors when their contracts come up. Perhaps that's something you are already discussing....?

Sorry if I'm covering old topics - I just found these posts interesting and - as I said - this is not my area so it was new to me...

thenicerguy said...

We have to kill one of the studios. There is no other choice. A studio or a network, it doesn't matter much which. We have to offer one final chance: make a deal with us or we will blackball that studio forever, no matter what the outcome, no WGA member will ever work for that studio again until the publicly BEG for our forgiveness. Make it totally public. An execution as it were (personally, I think it should be CBS but....) We have to crack the unity the way they are trying to break ours.

Only blood in the water will work now.

Ian said...

INT. SEEDY MOTEL ROOM - DAY

A man in darkness sits on the edge of the bed,sweating profusely, hands shaking resting on his legs, palms down. Camera slowly pans across his body down to his hands, the left hand flexes, in his right hand a set of what's obviously car keys.
CUT TO:
EXT. SEEDY MOTEL ROOM - DAY
Camera in low mode starts on the workboots of the man, the feet lift off the ground as he settles into the front seat. The door closes as we reveal a beatup late model SUV.
CUT TO:
INT. BEAT UP SUV - DAY
Both hands clench and unclench the steering wheel. His face a grimace of pain as if some internal battle is raging. Camera pans the interior, we see a mortgage foreclosure notice on the seat beside the man, various notice of unpaid bills, he's in deep financial trouble whomever he is. On the dashboard a "car card" from an episodic show "maybe Ugly Betty" or "K-Ville" any number of car cards could be used.

CUT TO:
EXT. VENTURA BLVD OR OTHER LA STREET
The beat up SUV pulls out into traffic we pull back and up up up (HELICOPTER SHOT - WESCAM or TYLER MOUNT) we follow the SUV as it heads to maybe the front gates of Universal Studios or similar.

CUT TO:

EXT FRONT GATES UNIVERSAL
Large crowds of WGA writers walking the picket line. Supporters crowd around, sign in, grab picket signs etc. Family members, children, pets you name it they're walking.
CUT TO:
INT. BEATUP SUV
Internal screams, anguish, he's in a world of hurt, banging the steering wheel as he approaches the front gates of the studio. CAMERA TILTS DOWN to his foot pressing the gas pedal further down, speed increasing.

TO BE CONTINUED??????

Ian said...

Someone is gonna crack over this whole situation!! I hope to GOD things get settled soon.

Watcher said...

how's this b*%tch?: I was telling a friend about the Strike A Deal site and rally, and told him commenters were saying it ought to be publicized at UH. He said, "The site that doesn't even allow comments?" He was concerned that maybe it wasn't as presented -- maybe it was an excuse to get people together and throw mud at the writers. I thought, well, the writers are fighting for their lives, that makes people skittish.

Then I went to the site. He was right; it doesn't allow comments. More significantly, there's a post that thanks people for "the variety of opinions expressed here." Except, no variety of opinions have been expressed! There are no comments! There are only notices about the rally.

It does seem to be pretending to be something it's not, and I have to say, I'm now a little freaked out by it myself. No offense to you, but are you sure this thing is legit? Why aren't they letting people talk? I went there with the best of intentions to offer support, and now I'm wondering if I'm a sucker.

H said...

Watcher, I have the same doubts you do.

Evan Waters said...

Well, this is not great news, and the best I can do is continue to say I support you and wish you the best.

As far as the reality/animation thing- well, you know, this is a problem, and it's something valid for the WGA to bring up at talks. I don't see how the AMPTP walking away is in any way a valid response- it comes off as very defensive, as if they don't want the issue to be talked about let alone addressed. Someone needs to do some digging to find out just what happens to animation writers and reality show writers who start talking about unions, so there's some proof to show to the public.

It's a tough situation. They're not ready to cave on this, but it would be wrong to leave things as they are there when the next opportunity to deal with them may well be ten years from now. Here's hoping a compromise can be reached.

Greg said...

darbyflier--that sucks. Thanks for your support despite the lack of support from IATSE. I'm a little appalled, frankly. I hope there's such a thing as good karma in this universe, b/c you've got a whole heck of a lot of it coming your way.

h&watcher--yeah. it's very weird that that site doesn't allow comments. Er, Shawn?

Shawn--while I sympathize with your desire to end the strike, I'm confused. You say on your page you aren't "We are not organized or sponsored by any union," but you want unitedhollywood--a site for the writers--to support you by promoting your event, even though you don't support them.

Where exactly do you stand on the writers vs. AMPTP? What would you propose for a contract? From my perspective as a non-WGA member, it looks an awful like the writers are being reasonable and the studios are trying to crush them. If you have a different view, that's cool, but I'd like to hear them.

It's like you just sort of decided "hey, these sides are fighting with each other, so they should stop fighting," but what is your position on the *issues*? The writers have a responsibility to see that its members can continue to earn a living, and the studios seem determined to stop them.

"not-a-troll"--This is a blog *for people who support the WGA.* Here's an analogy: I have an apartment, and I invite over people who want to watch Brazil.
You come over--nobody knows who you are--say Brazil is a terrible movie, and poop on the rug. Then, when I ask you to leave, you throw a temper tantrum and say "You just hate me because I don't like your stupid movie!" No, we just don't want you pooping on the rug. How hard is that to get?
If you don't support the writers, get your own freakin' blog, for chrissakes. The studios'll probably PAY you for it.

Captain Obvious said...

Ian: I heard similar comments weeks ago. Nobody wants to see something like that.


Again, it's time for the AMPTP to man up and start bargaining instead of stalling.


We should make a clear ultimatum:

"Dawdle and delay until Christmas Day and the New Year will mark a New Era."

...and start making inroads into new media projects outside the studios' sphere of control...

Krono said...

@ Not-A-Troll

"May I ask how reality TV and animation ever became a main focus point of the WGA? All this time we have been spoon fed the 4 cents more crap and now I read that their latest big push was to have control over reality TV."

I can take a guess. The WGA probably had allowing the writers for reality TV and animation to join the union as part of their list of desired things. Part of ye old aim high strategy of negotiating. If they could get them good, if they had to concede them to get a fair deal on the residuals, oh well, better luck next time.

The studios being not actually interested in negotiating had to stall until they could stage their latest walk out. So since further talk about internet residuals would require them to come up with the rest of the proposal they keep boasting about, as well as make actual forward progress; they started talking about some of the other points. That way they could blame the WGA for being stubborn about those points and make it look like the WGA was sticking over something else other than residuals now and paint them in a bad light.

The WGA of course wasn't just going to unilaterally take those points off the table because the studios said they were the stumbling block. After all, word of the studios walking out was floating around, and when the WGA tried taking the DVDs issue off the table last time, that didn't stop the walk out. So it'd be stupid to concede those points and get nothing in return.

So it's not that those things are a main focus point of the WGA. It's that the studios want to make them look like main points so they can blame the writers for something other than wanting to get paid fairly. The writers for their part, aren't going to give up anything to someone that isn't negotiating in good faith.

Fear The Reaper said...

blah

Fear The Reaper said...

DO NOT GO TO THE RALLY ON SUNDAY IF YOU ARE A WRITER

Based on the site and how many people put out of work will be there is a concern of conflict. The last thing the writers need is a fight or violence of any sort.

The people who run the site will not contact or have any conversation with writers. They are not fighting a battle for writers. They are angry at us and the AMPTP.

Samantha said...

I am but a humble observer of these proceedings. However, can anyone tell me if DVDs have been taken off of the table for good? Direction to a post or source that details exactly what the WGA were seeking this time around would be great.

Skyfleur said...

darbyflier : Call the WGA and ask to be directed to the Help Fund.
On SAG website, there is a direct link to the Actor's Fund which is opened to anyone in the industry not only to SAG members. The WGA Help fund is open only to non WGA members. One of these two funds can help the below the lines people.
Because Below the lines / directors/ actors are not on strike, they can't use their strike fund, but SAG and WGA do have funds for outsiders.
Clooney publicized his first donation to the Actor's Fund to help people not in his union and I'm pretty sure a lot of people are donating right now.

I'm a tv fan, not a writer. I feel very sorry for the collateral damage that's occuring, I just can't support the AMPTP position because they're trying to make sure the unions will die in the process.

I was so optimistic and yesterday we (people like me loving TV and supporting the strike) did a poll and I was the only one who said a deal would be made so writers could be back working by february most said between april and June. Unfortunately, they are probably right. This sucks for me as a tv addict, but my needs cannot compete with the future of the writers or any other union.

It would be nice if United Hollywood would put the links back for the Actor's Fund and the procedure to get help from the WGA help fund. It's time.

James said...

Hang tough. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all.

dirtyword.net said...

'writer.' t-shirts, hats, stickers, mugs, buttons, and more are available at:

****** writer.dirtyword.net ******

show your support for the writers strike!

VDOVault said...

Could someone clarify some points for me? I'm not an industry insider so I don't have the answers to these.

I understand that the Actor's Fund requires that a person making a claim on it have worked in the industry for at least 5 years. That means that if this is true darbyflier is qualified to receive assistance from them. However where does someone who has less than 5 years in turn for assistance?

Also could someone share some details on who the Motion Picture & Television Fund is designed to help (do you have to have 5 years in or live in Los Angeles or what?)and more importantly how the WGA/UH strike support fund are going to work...will only west coast shows be covered or will productions shooting in NYC and East of the Mississippi be covered too?

Ordinary viewers and fans ask me this constantly and I am getting very frustrated that *no one* is answering these questions for me. I want to give to the right funds and am ready to do so but I need to know how the relief efforts work before I make any donations or encourage others to do the same.

Even though I support the writers I do not want to screw the crews...I want to help them but you folks have to help me help you. Please.
Thanks!

Thomas said...

Lets all give a hand for the AMPTP, I mean they've just done SO much for the writers. Seriously those writers NEED the AMPTP to write. . .

Nice job, I mean really. . .putting no REAL deal to the table and then walking away? those guys must really care.

. . . This aggravates me. I support the writers. I am a viewer. The AMPTP is Bull$h!t.

Striker Ace said...

The WGA and individual writers have reached out to Strike a Deal about this event offering our participation, but have been rebuffed, repeatedly. And as someone has mentioned here, one of the things the AMPTP just threw a hissy fit over was our demand to be able to support other unions.

We really do want to be in this together with you, BTL. Tons of shows are privately doing the best we can to raise money and to help our crews get through this. And it's not us who keeps staging theatrics and leaving the table.

It may not always seem like it, but the writers appreciate the hell out of our crews. The AMPTP sees both you and us alike as replaceable cogs.

Let's not tear each other apart - that's exactly what they want us all to do.

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

Watcher,

I went to bed last night. I don't know if you'll get this but...you said " No offense to you, but are you sure this thing is legit? "

Honestly, I think it sounds like a lame and bogus excuse for not supporting the rest of us. I don't know for sure about the comments situation. But I think that there are a variety of possible reasons why they have been enabled. One reason might be that the BTL are called "trolls" everytime they express their feelings about the situation. There is not much to lose in this situation by going to the rally just in case it is for real. Which is the most likely scenario. The BTL, whose contracts have forced them to show up for work everyday, have met you folks face to face with regularity. Now, it's time for the WGA to demonstrate that they really do care about the rest of us. Besides, this is an opportunity for us to stand together as a large group for all the world to see. The public needs to know how far reaching the effects are of the AMPTP's unwillingness to bargain fairly.

I'd be really disappointed if the writers made excuses. I can't support them if they won't support us.

I really appreciate your having an open mind and demonstrating some concern for us. Now please, follow through!

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

I'm sorry that so many of you are too paranoid to give this rally a shot. You say that you do care how this is affecting us. Here is your chance to prove it. You don't even have to identify yourselves as writers. Unless you are Larry David, nobody will know.

What an opportunity you are missing to build fellowship with the other workers and gain their support.

Rick Ungar said...

Regarding Glika's comment on animation writers --- while this may be true for prime-time animation, you should know that animation writers are covered by IATSE and receive benefits through that organization. Maybe more importantly, you should know that the "center" of the animation world, as it relates to children's shows, has very much shifted to London. As a writer/producer of these shows, I am under constant pressure to move writing jobs to the UK and away from the USA. I resist this pressure for a number of reasons. Were the WGA to become more heavily involved in this, I fear American writers in this field will find themselves without work. This is precisely what happened with voice recording. Most kids animation voice recording is now done in Canada, where residuals can be bought out by a one time payment or in London where it is even easier. Please be careful what you wish for. You may very well put a lot of very good writers out of work.

Chris Jackson said...

This is a disaster movie of the Irwin Allen kind but the main nemesis is the EGO of Hollywood. In the “ego world” there are winners and losers and the collateral damage the working class in the world become the new homeless of downtown skid row.

Earlier today I got a call from my well placed friend at a studio who said the studios are planning an early Holiday because of profits they're making on the Writers Strike. So, the AMPTP will find a small excuse to end the talks until after the Holidays, That way the fourth quarter profits will show a huge increase in last year mainly due to Force Majeures clauses all over town.

This is a tactic only Dickens could conceive of … “Scrooge” them at Christmas time so that AMPTP can only have toys for their kids and as they watch all working class eat from the garbage cans on the street below.

I don't totally blame one side or the other I blame the EGO of Hollywood wherever it breaths.

Peter Chernin you know who you are. You had the chance as well as your counter parts to give us all a good Christmas but now we must eat the food SOVA gives us in the soup lines in West Los Angeles.

Merry Christmas Peter Cherin. Ba humbug!!!!
Happy Hanukkah Jeffery Zucker

Chris Jackson
Writer-actor

azuckerborneveryminute said...

WHY EVERYONE IN LOS ANGELES SHOULD BOYCOTT AMPTP COMPANIES

It's not enough to just encourage both sides to get back to the table. While there, they have to be motivated to bargain sincerely. The studios and networks behavior at the table- making ultimatums they know will be rejected (please explain to me how animation writers are not writers again) then walking away- tells everyone loud and clear they're not really motivated to reach a deal but instead are content to let the strike drag on.

Motivate them by pushing against the only thing that motivates a corporation: bottom line. They are quick to fire entire production staffs to cut costs. Studio and network heads have even been bragging about it as a positive element of the strike. Make it an expensive policy for them.

Everyone hurt financially by the strike directly or indirectly can add pressure to the corporations who are scuttling a deal. Why give your business back to the same company that is keeping you out of work?

CANCEL YOUR TIME-WARNER CABLE.

DON'T BUY ANY GE PRODUCTS.

DON'T BUY ANYTHING DISNEY.

DON'T USE MYSPACE.

Use the competition instead and encourage friends and loved ones to join you in this effort.

Evil Brad said...

On The 12th Day Of Negotiations The AMPTP Gave To Me:

12 We Are Walkings
11 Broken Promises
10 Games They’re Playing
9 Meaningless Offers
8 Poor Excuses
7 Pack of Lies
6 CEO’s Gloating
5 Offers of Nothing
4 Sacks of Bullshit
3 Leaky Pens
2 Bad Proposals
1 And Refusal to Increase DVD’s

PaperCut said...

Just in case anyone hears the AMPTP side of things being quoted by friends, family or acquaintances, be aware that, in addition to television stations and motion picture studios, the AMPTP companies also own radio stations.

This morning, a news blurb appeared on a major local news station, saying that talks had broken down and mentioning the AMPTP's puzzlement and concern over the WGA's tactics, which were described as seemeing to be designed to prolong the strike rather than negotiate and bring and end to it. The report concluded by saying how the strike has shut down production on hundreds of television shows. No mention was made of any WGA response, or even the history and nature of the strike itself.

Having followed the strike for a few weeks, this seemed a bit odd, so a quick visit to UnitedHollywood.com clarified the situation - the report was simply quoting the AMPTP's press release.

A short bit of research later, the logical discovery... the station is part of the CBS radio networks, the "largest radio group in the us, with 179 stations in the top 50 markets". A link to the full list follows:

http://www.cbsradio.com/stations/index.html

CBS is, of course, one of the AMPTP-controlled companies. As such, this is most likely the same kind of coverage that will be given in all markets, as most, if not all, radio stations fall under the umbrella of one of the six major media conglomerates. It isn't just television.

This isn't surprising to those in the know, but it is a bit of a wake-up call. If someone isn't following the strike closely, news reports such as this provide a biased impression of the strike, similar to that presented in the 80s, before the World Wide Web was easily accessible. Reports like this present one side of the story, glossing over or completely disregarding the other side or the issues at hand.

What to do? Direct anyone who quotes radio, print or television sources to the United Hollywood site. There isn't any problem getting the AMPTP's side of the story. By providing them access to the other, they will be empowered as well as enlightened to form their own knowledgeable, educated opinion.

Katy 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.

not a troll said...

If the AMPTP thinks the ball is in the WGA's court, what are five things the WGA should do? I don't know where we go from here.

the other... not a troll

makomk said...

Let's get this perfectly clear - the WGA don't just want reality TV writers to be allowed to join. As I understand it, the WGA want all reality TV to have to use WGA writers, full stop. I'll try and dig up a link...

English Dave said...

makomk said...
Let's get this perfectly clear - the WGA don't just want reality TV writers to be allowed to join. As I understand it, the WGA want all reality TV to have to use WGA writers, full stop. I'll try and dig up a link...''

That sounds slightly ass backwards to me. Might be the perceived tone. The WGA, far as I can see, want reality writers to enjoy the same rights as WGA members. Pension, health, basic minimums and employment rights. Little things like that.

Paul William Tenny said...

"Nikki Finke is Clairvoyant"

Like she was clairvoyant about the "done deal" one day into the new talks?

Nikke has all the "news" because she'll run anything anybody tells her.

James said...

Hollywood and NY are union towns, have been for a long time. The six major assholes think they're going to go all Ronald Raygun Nukes the Air Traffic Controllers Part II. Assholes. Hope WGS hangs tough and gets their deal.

English Dave said...

Paul William Tenny said...
"Nikki Finke is Clairvoyant"

Like she was clairvoyant about the "done deal" one day into the new talks?

Nikke has all the "news" because she'll run anything anybody tells her.

Yeah, okay. Thanks for the heads up. But I think that Nikki Finke is far more accurate and unbiased than a lot of people posting here.

Patrick Meighan said...

My boss, David A. Goodman, happens to be on the WGA negotiating committee. In three years I've worked for him, I've noticed plenty of faults (we all have 'em), but I've never known him to be a liar. Nor has he ever struck me as some sort of wild-eyed, barricade-manning radical. Pretty much the opposite, actually.

Just once I wanna work for a radical.

In any event, he sent me (and the other writers at Family Guy) the following email today, detailing his eye-witness account of Friday's events. I thought it might be nice to get a fully-attributed, eye-witness narrative into the public record, which y'all can go ahead and weigh against the anonymous, unattributed accounts posted here and elsewhere.

Regards,

Patrick Meighan
Culver City, CA

I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I

Since everybody's reading Nikki Finke, I wanted to address specifically what she's getting wrong, since I was there.

Nikki Finke's quotes are in bold:

But the AMPTP issued demands that the writers take Reality TV and animation jurisdiction off the table as well as remove the no-strike clause in their contract. (The latter means that, if the writers settle with the AMPTP, then they must cross picket lines if the Screen Actors Guild goes on strike.)

I'm told that, after the AMPTP proposal/demands were made, the WGA negotiators went to caucus inside a hotel room. The WGA decided amongst themselves that what the AMPTP brought to the table today was a take-it-or-leave-it "ultimatum" and claimed the New Media terms were the same old/same old.

Nikki sometimes gets things right, but this is a complete mischaracterization. The AMPTP said VERY EXPLICITLY WHEN THEY MADE THEIR PROPOSALS: IF YOU DON'T TAKE ALL THESE ITEMS OFF THE TABLE RIGHT NOW, WE WILL NO LONGER BARGAIN WITH YOU. We didn't "decide" it was an ultimatum, IT WAS AN ULTIMATUM. Also, Nikki hasn't listed all the items THEY DEMANDED WE TAKE OFF THE TABLE AS A CONDITION TO CONTINUE BARGAINING: one of them was our demand for a distributor's gross definition on new media. If we took it off the table, it would completely gut all our new media proposals. Another was our "fair market value" test, which keeps companies from selling things to themselves at a lower price than they could get from another company. So when the WGA reps went back to our caucus room, we had a lot of decisions to make, but WE didn't define it then as an ultimatum, they had already made it clear that it was. We were still going to make a counter proposal in the hopes of keeping the negotiations going. However, we were all pretty clear that they were setting us up (this, I think, Nikki was right about).

Sources tell me that, after about an hour and a half, the AMPTP sent Bryan Lourd to the hotel room to ask what was happening. He was told by the WGA they were preparing a counter-proposal. Lourd was asked by the AMPTP to find out if that counter-proposal contained anything from the list of demands which the networks and studios wanted the WGA to take off the table. The WGA negotiators wouldn't say.

WRONG. As we were discussing what to do, NICK COUNTER came looking for David Young. He asked him, in the hallway, "Are you going to take those things off the table?" David said we were working on our counter proposal, but wanted to present everything at once, he wasn't going to negotiate in the hallway, and said we would be making a counter proposal very soon, that night. This story makes it look like we were stone-walling Brian Lourd, it's meant to characterize the leadership as uncooperative with our mediator, which couldn't be further from the truth. Nick Counter came and got this directly. And we weren't stonewalling him, we really were working on a counter proposal, and also preparing what we were going to say to the members in case they walked out.

At 6:05 PM, Counter knocked on the hotel room door trying to find out some indication from Dave Young what the WGA was going to do, especially on the reality/animation jurisdiction and no-strike issues. Counter brought Bryan Lourd along "as a witness," I'm told. "David Young answered and was visibly angry."

They got the time right, because it was clearly staged for them to make their press deadline, the rest is horsheshit. Nick came looking for David again and tried to motion David away from Brian Lourd's door (where Brian was standing), but David motioned Brian to follow them so he heard what Nick said. Nick then told him "We're leaving, and breaking off negotiations. If you want to take those things off the table, put it in a letter and we'll make an appointment to resume negotiations." And David was not "visibly angry", all the conversations in the hallway were amicable, if tense. This is an attempt by the other side to paint David Young as a loose cannon.

Insiders say that Bryan Lourd counseled the WGA negotiators that "this was their maximum moment of leverage" and urged them to try to "trust" the AMPTP. But they told Lourd they couldn't at this point.

I don't know if Lourd said this or thought this. But it didn't matter, because they clearly didn't expect we would take these things off the table because they had their incredibly detailed, long-winded press release prepared about how talks had broken down. It was INSTANTLY up on their website the minute Nick Counter said "We're leaving." this was their plan all along.

"It was an ultimatum. They said unless we take everything off the table except streaming and ESTs that they're not going to negotiate anymore and basically they're leaving until we'll remove all those other things," a WGA board member explained. "We're not accepting an ultimatum. We're here to bargain and to talk."

Counter then said to Young, "In that case, we are leaving. When you send us a letter confirming you will take all these items off the table, we will reschedule negotiations with you.” The WGA hotel room door slammed shut.

NO DOOR WAS SLAMMED. I loved the hackiness of this touch. We're running around slamming hotel doors.

Even if they were serious about us taking those items off the table, we already took DVD's off the table with a similar assurance: you take this off the table, and we'll bargain with you. We know how that worked out. They were not negotiating with us AT ALL. They want us to negotiate with ourselves, so we keep taking things off the table in the hopes they'll bargain fairly, and when they finally make their lowball offer we've given everything away and there's no way to get a better deal. They're trying to divide and conquer, by making it look like the leadership is keeping the membership out on strike over issues that aren't important to them, but THEY STILL HAVEN'T GIVEN US ANYTHING AT ALL. They want it to look like it's our intransigence that's keeping a deal from getting done, but it's them.

Just wanted to clear these things up. The facts are on our side.

Captain Obvious said...

Evil Brad: That was great


Patrick Meighan: Thanks for the inside scoop. Sounds like the version Nikki got was sensationalized a bit, perhaps by the Alliance?

By the way, I just have to say, thank you guys for Family Guy. Thank you.

Spencer said...

lazy lazy people...try living in a third world country you pussy's. I miss the Daily Show, get back to work! right meow! Ask a ninja was right..."Writer's guild srikie" What your writers finish the sentence...and what's the deal with the guild are you like the lolipop guild or the guild from the world of warcraft? come on people there are many other things wrong in the world...why are you letting our politicians off the hook...we need you guys to criticize them. DO it...if you don't like it here, move to Mexico or Canada...I am sure they have a lot more luxuries in those countries. Not

Evan Waters said...

Okay then.

Occasional Showrunner said...

Just gotta say I know David Goodman pretty well myself and I find him to be a very honest, very straightforward guy. David's a working writer who's doing his best for us all. I wouldn't want to be in his position for a second. I'd believe his account of events before I'd believe anyone else's and that includes Nikki (who wasn't there) and Counter and Young.

Jake Hollywood said...

Patrick, it's like I said. Nikki gets her news from the AMPTP. They spin is, she turns it into [a] yarn.

The only time to be optimistic is the day after the deal is signed, sealed, and delivered. And even then, I'll only be cautiously optimistic, just in case the ink disappears off the contract.

Chris Jackson said...

Memo to Gavin Polone Re; Letterman's return on Jan 7th 2008.

It was agreed upon that Letterman is a scab (see 1988 strike & 1979 Comedy Store Strike) But, after David had kid Ben and his quadruple bypass - the passing of Letterman's and my friend a Comedian George Miller (February 17, 1950 - March 5, 2003 - He died on March 5, 2003, after a long bout with leukemia, from a blood clot in his brain) a kinder and gentler David Letterman has emerged.

Though David Letterman did cross the Comedy Store picket line in 1979 but he learned from our friend the George Miller.

In 1979 George Miller was among several comics who boycotted the Comedy Store in a labor dispute. Letterman, who by this time was guest-hosting the Tonight Show, kept performing there because he needed to try out material. George Miller showed up one night to watch his friend, but Mitzi Shore (owner of the Comedy Store in Hollywood) called the police and had him thrown out. “After Dave heard what had happened, he never worked another show there,” Miller told me years ago.

Jay Leno never crossed the Comedy Store picket line.


On the wonderful note and to break the Gavin Polone curse over his predictions that David Letterman will cross the picket line I will now start a plea drive directly to David Letterman to not go back to work until the Writers Guild of America West/East has settled its strike with the AMPTP. Do it Dave in the name good of the late comedian George Miller.

Everyone in the world tell David Letterman if you see him or know him personally (including you John Witherspoon Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!) to do this one for the funny on purpose GEORGE!

SPREAD THE WORD --

Chris Jackson

MrKlaatu said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MrKlaatu said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Banrep said...

I've been keeping tabs on the WGA strike since it began and I am sincerely shocked at the networks behaviour. I mean what has happened to the united states? When did it become acceptable to outright control the media bias? Now many will say this has been going on for decades, but that doesn't make it acceptable. The networks are refusing to air anything on their( thats right theirs, all theirs) networks that even remotely puts them in a poor light. Isn't the news to suppose to be the facts of our world presented to us as unbiased as possible?

It makes me so damn angry to think that there are corporations who are guided by no moral compass and only by how much money they can acquire and for as little as possible. It should outrage all of us. We are actually being denied information, and the saddest thing about it is that its acceptable.

The most tragic issue is that the internet is the only place to go to gather even a semblance of the truth.

We must not allow the media outlets to control us and our perception of the world. We need to take back the way the countries we live in are being run. We need to rally for the causes that affect us. How long will we fear the government and the media? How long will we allow money to govern what information we do and do not receive. While all those people who are mailing pencils to the CEO's of the big networks, send them your thoughts on how they are distorting the facts and are only reporting the stories that are going to bring them their biggest ratings.

Skyfleur said...

If Letterman did cross the picket line, why would he do it sooner than previously? He held on for 3 and half months in 88 when the situation was totally different with writers fighting among themselves over the strike. There was less unity then. Why would he then cross it so soon besides the obvious : protecting his employess ?
I don't know how the AMPTP acted back in those days, but why would anyone cross a line with the AMPTP's attitude today ?

Anyhoo, I don't think Letterman, Leno, Stewart, Colbert would cross the line so soon. I'm not even sure I would make a fuss over them crossing the line after 4 months or something (because the employees shouldn't lose their home over this) but if he did cross it on January, then I would certainly make a fuss unless every show he makes would be about the AMPTP's Attitude....

Chris Jackson said...

Hello Skyfleur,

Re: your comment; "If Letterman did cross the picket line, why would he do it sooner than previously? He held on for 3 and half months in 88 when the situation was totally different with writers fighting among themselves over the strike."


My plea to David Letterman was in response to what I read from Gavin Polone on Nikki Finke's blog when he posted the below prediction. If you support this strike we have to put out fires/rumors/predictions etc... That can cause all of us suffering because of the strike to panic too soon... That’s the divide and concur strategy... Please read Gavin post below:

Comment by Gavin Polone...

Here is what is going to happen:

The DGA will open negotiations with the AMPTP. They will close a deal and that agreement will be the basis of what all the unions will accept for Internet distribution. It will be better than the last proposal made to the WGA but not close to what the WGA has requested.

The networks will show to wall street that their net profits are up because of their reduced costs and despite any drop in ratings.

The talk shows, which are the only parts of the network schedules that have truly been damaged so far, will go back on the air. They will follow Letterman’s lead, probably around Jan. 7th.

The AMPTP will launch a publicity campaign featuring the suffering of those put out of work by the strike. IATSE will help with campaign. They will also put out more information about how much top showrunners and screen writers make.

Some movies will fall apart, others will come back together-in the way Brad Pitt dropped out of State of Play and Crowe stepped in.

Eventually, probably in the spring, the WGA and AMPTP will come back to the table, with the help of a government negotiator, and the WGA will agree to the Internet formula already negotiated by the DGA. They will give up on all of the reality TV provisions, as well as the “sympathy strike” stuff. Some small bone in another area, probably PH&W or minimums, will be thrown their way as a “face saver”.

Pretty much what could have been concluded now.

Comment by Gavin Polone — December 7, 2007 @ 8:11 pm

St. Michael said...

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, then chaos will rule and the AMPTP will prosper.