12/11/2007

A Reality Writer Responds to the AMPTP

This letter was submitted anonymously by a working reality writer. He/She requires anonymity, because otherwise, he/she fears being fired for writing this.

Dear AMPTP,

Today, I read on your website, “thousands of people in reality and animation have chosen not to join the WGA.”
This statement is false.

As a writer (aka "Supervising Producer", the name I'm given to get around having to give me a WGA contract) who has worked in reality television for over three years and who knows many people on the reality circuit, I can tell you that reality writers desperately want to be part of the WGA.

Why wouldn’t reality writers choose to join the guild? Because we don’t want health insurance? I can assure you, we want health insurance. You think we don’t want to join the guild because we do not want to be paid for overtime? You think we enjoy working 70-80 hour weeks and being paid for 40?

We are good, smart, hard working people who don’t like knowing our employer is breaking California (and other) labor laws. Our salaries are cut in half because in many cases we work twice as many hours as we are paid. We want to be paid for overtime.

We cannot join the guild until we meet the qualifications of the WGA and that means being called a “writer.” Because of this, you refuse to call us “writers.” You give us many other titles like "segment producer," "consultant," anything that does not have “writer” in the title. Yet, that’s what we do in reality television. We write.

We write and create storylines, develop characters, character arcs, structure scenes, write entire series plotlines before and after the show is filmed, write host copy, write dialogue (yes it’s true!), write questions, write narration -- the list goes on and on and on.

You know that what we're doing is writing. That's why you hire writers to do it. This name game is just that -- a game. It's a game to avoid paying pension or health benefits, to avoid paying overtime, to exploit writers. If we speak up, tough, we get fired. If we get sick, tough, we pay the bills ourselves, and if we take too much time off, we get fired.

Reality writers want to join the WGA. I challenge you to find one overworked, underpaid reality writer who wouldn’t want to join the guild right now and receive the same just and fair benefits given to other members of the entertainment unions like IATSE, SAG, WGA, and DGA.

I write this on behalf of all my friends and colleagues who are currently working seven days a week to get a show out for a big network -- but are not getting paid for the weekends. Or the overtime. Who aren't receiving health benefits. Or... you get the picture.

I can't sign my name, because there is a very real threat my employers will fire me. But I can still call myself what I am: A writer.

42 comments:

Barbara said...

As a former "segment producer" for a reality company, I KNOW how ad it is to work in reality TV. No insurance, no overtime, no nothing.

I finally left the business because I simply couldn't afford it anymore. I had to work at another job on the weekends just to make rent.

I really feel for the writers and the WGA! Stand united and don't back down!!!

James said...

I was just over at the AMPTP site. Their stuff is weak - anyone can see that. No respect for labor and if possible, less respect for those of us who are consumers. Hang tough. Hope the advertisers cry bullshit on the producers' equivocations in a bigger way soon.

Ashley Gable said...

Thank you, Reality Writer, for painting such a vivid picture of how the Companies treat you.

The shitty treatment you're subjected to is what we all have to look forward to in a few years if we don't get a fair contract that includes work created for the internet.

Raye said...

As a member of WGA who primarily works in animation, I just want to say:

I want my work to be covered by the WGA.

Every day of the week for the past 10 years, episodes of my show air twice daily. In some markets, four times daily.

I get no residuals. No health and pension. No back end. Nothing. And the salary ain't great.

To any writer in the WGA who is scared by AMPTP's recent "negotiation" tactics and thinks we should go crawling back and take animation and reality off the table, let me just say this: It's not about reality or animation, it's about the internet.

AMPTP does not want the WGA (or any union) to get coverage for the internet.

To quote a fellow writer, if we took animation and reality off the table, and DVD residuals, then Nick Counter would scream, "Take off your pants! No pants at the table! I will not negotiate with people in pants!"

If we back down now, if we don't win this thing, in five years (when TV is a thing of the past and all content is on the internet) every writer in the WGA will get the same deal as reality and animation: nothing.

And then they'll go after SAG, IATSE, DGA, every union in the industry.

Stay strong. And know that our fight is righteous.

janthonyjackson said...

It was my understanding that the WGA can't demand union protection for reality writers, as they're not "writers." Something to do with labor laws not helping the laborer. If this is the case, can't/shouldn't reality writers band together and form their own union? Possibly with the intention of joining WGA once they get union recognition.

From my understanding of animation, it's similar except that they have a union, which at this juncture, it's leaders don't want to be part of WGA.

But, again, in my understanding, it's against labor laws to demand jurisdiction over non-writers (producers) and writers who are already covered by another union. I think that all writers whether they're called or not, should be protected by a union, but shouldn't there be another way?

Ashley Gable said...

JAnthonyJackson: Had you read Reality Writer's statement more carefully, you would have realized that calling him or her a "producer" is a fiction perpetuated by his or her employer specifically so that labor laws will not apply and allow him or her to join the WGA.

In every instance where reality writers have voted and signed cards indicating they wanted to join the WGA, the Companies have taken the matter to the National Labor Relations Board and fought the vote. By the time the federal process gets anywhere, the show's season is over and the Companies fire the writers and start over.

Some animation writers are forced to be members of the Animation Guild, a subset of IATSE, a union widely acknowledged to be the weakest in town and led by Thomas Short, noted Corporate Tool. Every animation writer I've ever met has very much desired to be part of the WGA instead of the Animation Guild.

Raye said...

janthonyjackson:
Back in the day (like waay back -- when Walt Disney himself was creating cartoons), animation began with the cartoonist. There was no script. The artists did it all. It didn't make sense for it to be lumped in with the Writers Guild. So animation was organized under a cartoonist guild, which has since disbanded (perhaps because Disney fired anyone who joined a union.)

These days things begin with a script and then go to animation. It therefore should be covered by the Writers Guild.

Here's where it gets tricky. If you're on the west coast, some animation is covered by IATSE. But not all of it. And if you're on the east coast, it isn't covered by any union at all (despite our best efforts to organize.)

And to complicate things further still, some shows (The Simpsons, Futurama & King of the Hill) are covered by the WGA.

The WGA has tried to get animation covered in many past negotiations, and the response from AMPTP has always been animation has NEVER been covered, why should it be covered now?

Uhm... because it's writing? And because it's the right thing to do? And to say it's NEVER been covered simply isn't true. As I stated earlier, The Simpsons, Futurama and King of the Hill are all covered by WGA.

So why doesn't the AMPTP really want to cover animation and reality? Could it be that they just want to keep all the money for themselves? Yeah. That could be it.

the_cool_aunt said...

Slightly off topic, but related to actorinsupport... The permalancers at Viacom have now walked off the job two days in a row to demand the right to the meager benefits as full-time employees (how's a health insurance plan with a $2000 deductible sound to you). This is another way media conglomerates try to cut their expenses/ make a buck, by "temporarily" hiring workers (for 2 to 3 years until the burnt out worker gives up on being full-time in six months). Without unions and without strikes, the job goes to the lowest bidder. And unions set the standard for the rest of the non-union employees. I'll keep boycotting the product as long as the WGA doesn't back down!

Blue Meanie said...

Until the "reality writers" stop working and join the strike, they need to shut their mouths.

I, for one, do not feel spending another day on strike while they make out like bandits. If they stepped out and joined the strike, that would seriously sting the networks, taking away their precious reality programming. What? They're gonna do re-runs of reality programming?

Reality writers continuing to work is doing as much harm as scabs are. Until they stop working, they are not our friends.

Dave said...

Why is everyone making it sound like reality writers (or any writers) are slaves to the studios they work for? We live in a free market society, no one is forced to work for any company. If you don't like the working conditions at one place, you are free to leave. If enough people do that, then the company is forced to offer better benefits (pay, insurance, etc) to attact quality workers. If there are enough workers who will accept the company's offerings as is, they would be foolish from a business perspective to offer more than what the market demands.
Unions exist soley to force companies to pay people what they cannot legitimately earn on their own in a free market.

JimBob said...

Never forget to mention that those employers are billionaires, or their executives who are paid tens of millions of dollars a year. The disparity is obscene and cannot be remarked upon too frequently.

dp said...

This is the time for the reality writers to all wildcat and strike to be part of the wga. It is going to be tough, but, like all of us that are in a union, getting in is the hard part. If you want to be a writer in WGA then there should be someone at the WGA organizing a walkout for reality. This will help the strike since reality will be the only game in town soon.

I'm not in the WGA but in dp in the camera local. If they tried to call me a "24 picture a second maker thingy..." they would get a lot of really really dark images.

I will stand out there and help you organize. Nobody should be abused like this.

I don't know the reasons for the national labor relation board dragging its feet but this is the heart of the amptp right now. It needs to be a blitz with pit bull tenacity. Help them join and shut down the last option for new programming.

Dave said...

And one more thing, and I'm not trying to troll here, but reality writers are basically unskilled labor. We've all seen reality tv, and the prose is not going to win any awards, I'm sorry.
Tell me, if you're a writer on say The Sopranos or House, do you want to be in the same guild as the guy who helped "write" My Big Fat Obnoxious Finace? The very reason that studios can fire reality writers at the drop of a hat is because they know they can replace them with no trouble. If your skills made you valuable, companies would fight to keep you.

Praynhippie said...

I PLAN TO REREAD YOUR POSTS AS IT EXPLAINS SUCH A TREMENDOUS LOT. I KNEW REALITY SHOWS HAVE WRITERS! HOW? BECAUSE PRAYNHIPPIE IS HERE FOR ALL THE RIGHT REASONS! AND WILL DO ANYTHING TO GET TO THE FINAL ROSE CEREMONY! I COULDN'T RESIST! TIME IS BEING STOLEN, WHEN YOUR'RE NOT PAID AND TIME IS LIFE!

Praynhippie said...

I DO NOT KNOW IF ANYONE WILL DO ANOTHER CHARITY EVENT, BUT I WOULD LIKE TO SEE UNWRAPPED TOYS FOR A KID, OR TWEEN, OR TEEN PUT ON THE INVITATION OR AD.MY BLOG HERE AT BLOGGER IS ABOUT HOW I CARE ABOUT UNION PEOPLE NOT BEING ABLE TO GIVE THEIR KIDS GIFTS.HIT PRAYNHIPPIE TO FIND MY BLOG, ORUSEBLOGGER SEARCH THANK YOU!

Carrie said...

I am also a reality writer who has worked with the WGA to organize. First, it's a mistatement to say that only writers can join WGA because of labor laws. Actually labor laws guarantee that any group of labor can join any union regardless of function. Plumbers could join WGA if both sides agreed to it. However, it doesn't make sense for plumbers to join in with writers since they don't hold similar interests.

Secondly, reality writers live in real fear that if they were to openly speak up for unionization they would be black balled in the industry. They have not been asked to strike from WGA and get the message over and over again that the AMPTP will never freely agree to reality being covered under WGA, that reality will be the first concession in the negotiations, and that many in the WGA membership do not truly support them. Messages such as "you're a bunch of scabs", "you can join "the fake reality producers" union", and "why are we fighting over reality anyway" helps keep reality writers in the shadows of this fight. I understand WGA members frustration with the situation, and I too wish that more reality writers had the courage to step out into the light to ask for what is their legal right -- to be represented by a union.

I and every reality writer I know support the WGA in this struggle. We only ask that you support us in ours for the good of all writers in the entertainment industry.

Zach Crane said...

Carrie -

I couldnt have sad it better. As a writer in reality I support the WGA but we have 2 strikes already against us. The first being that many WGA members dont think we are writers and should not be held in the same company as them. In addition, I believe reality will be the first concession on the part of the WGA to settle the strike.

So hell yeah I would picket with you guys every day if I felt like the WGA members respected me as much much as I respect them and if I knew that reality was as much a priority to the contract as new media is and nothing less.

dp said...

Carrie-

"reality writers live in real fear that if they were to openly speak up for unionization they would be black balled in the industry".

That statement means you do not have the backbone to be in a union or guild. Yes there is fear, everyone that holds a sign outside a studio has fear. What they have that you don't have is integrity, brotherhood, and a passion to do what is right. Being brave isn't done without jeopardy. Its the basis for dramatic conflict. Something every writer knows. This is not the easy path but the right path. Be brave and stand up for what you want. You will never get anything that you don't ask for. Respect yourself.

Raye said...

I am disheartened to see people lashing out at reality writers. They didn't create that niche of writing, the networks did. To cover their asses in the event of a strike. Let's get reality covered. And lets' try to remember our fight is with AMPTP; not with other unions; not with other writers working in non-covered venues.

Alexander said...

A picket with a reality writer day would be useful and then we can hang out, find out what they do, figure out a way, or at least a consensus, to get them in to the guild ASAP and then keep them out on picket for the duration, which hopefully, as a result, wouldn't be a lot longer.

leftright said...

Hello writers, one and all.

I am a studio laborer, local #724

I support the right for anyone to make a living in this town. I enjoy the benefits of my Union medical and pension and appriciate the middle-class living my Union negoiated wage provides.

I also see rude, lazy ass-wipes I work with be protected by my Union, earning the same pay while doing little or less.

In short, I see Union Pro and Cons everyday.

I see the writers side for laying their claim to internet, reality and animation.

I understand the free market theory allowing the cream to rise to the top.

I know that the Companies pay a very few the very most.

I feel for the reality writers wanting to join the WGA.

I hear the WGA members calling them scabs or not "really" writers.

But what I really know is, untill the strike is over, I am forced to dig ditches (literally, I'm not kidding!)for $15.00 an hour, because that's what a laborer makes in the "real" world. And my wife and kids will be lucky to have a house to live in come Jan. 1,2008. And Christmas? Forget about it. Any chance of that is already gone.

But I support your cause. Hopefully your stance will trickle down to help the rest of us. Yes, without you, actors would say nothing and directors would do nothing. Without the rest of us, it would be called a book.

ru4surreal said...

Wouldn't it be ironic if a mass action (walking off the job) by reality tv writers became the lynchpin toward renegotiation? Or even a settlement? An irony I could live with, for sure. But I think that's what reality tv writers will have to do if they want to be taken seriously. Otherwise, why the hell is WGA wasting member time on this (non) issue?

rene said...

Who is it that is holding the gun to the head of these reality writers? If you want union jobs wait for those to come along. I don't get how writers of reality shows can complain that they want this and that, but aren't they the ones that went looking for that job. What am I missing?

Carrie said...

"Who is it that is holding the gun to the head of these reality writers? If you want union jobs wait for those to come along. I don't get how writers of reality shows can complain that they want this and that, but aren't they the ones that went looking for that job. What am I missing?"

Who's holding the gun to these animation writers? Who was holding the gun to television writers in the 1950's? They could've just waited for a feature film deal to come along. Who told screenwriters in the 1930's they had to write screenplays? Didn't coal miners look for work in coal mines and accept the dangers of it no matter what the company demanded of them or the unsafe working conditions? Who are the writers on The Colber Report to demand overtime, health and pension? Who is anyone to ask from corporate America more than what corporate America is willing to give?

And let me point out that there are NO union jobs in reality to wait for. Oh wait, that's not exactly true. The writer on Dancing with the Stars who writes for Tom Bergeron is WGA. Believe it or not there are actually writers in reality who like what they do and are good at it. Yes they choose to work in the field. But why does choosing a a field of work cancel out decent working conditions such as overtime? Health? Pension? Proper credit? No screenwriter would say it's okay to give up those things so they can continue to be a screenwriter.

You can criticize reality for not having more backbone to stand up and strike. I don't think you can criticize reality writers for wanting better.

Mrs. Garrett said...

Dave! By your logic, would the writers (yes, WRITERS) of a critically acclaimed reality show like, say, "30 Days" want to be in the same guild as the writers of a complete disaster of a scripted show like, say, "Cop Rock"? Since when does the guild only cover 'good' television or movies??

ww said...

Look, if reality writers actually write-- that is, they start with a blank sheet of paper and end up with a 30-60 page script, then why are they not striking and walking the picket line? It's bs.

You can't have it both ways. If you're a real writer who wants the benefits of being in the WGA, then picket! Don't make this strike last longer by helping the Studios produce content. I'm sacrificing thousands of dollars every week. If you're a reality writer earning a paycheck during this strike, then why would I want you in my guild? I don't care if you're creating "story arcs" and "situations" that make Hemingway look hacky. It sounds like scab work to me.

What do you say reality writers? You're either for the strike (by striking) or you're against it (by working). Very black and white, but true enough.

Oh yeah, the AMPTP sucks.

Carrie said...

WW -- On the one hand I can't disagree with you that reality should be out on the picket line. On the other is the overall WGA membership going to keep striking until reality is covered under the MBA? I know Patrick Verrone says yes in public, and I respect him and David Young and believe they are completely sincere in trying to organize reality. However, the message we're getting overall seems to be between maybe and hell no. I seriously doubt that the WGA membership would vote down a contract that gave reasonable concessions in New Media but gave up on reality and animation. Putting your money where your mouth is goes both ways.

There's a reason WGA didn't include reality in their strike rules. There's a reason they dropped feature animation. They have been legal ones, but the message went out that they're not the priority, and when push came to shove they would be shoved out of the way.

Anita said...

Okay, I'm NOT a WGA member or a reality writer. I am, however, a fan of the WGA and have, I will admit it fallen deeply in love with several "reality" shows (who can resist the siren song of "Top Chef" or "The Amazing Race"? I, for one, can not.

That out of the way, let me just put my two bits in--asking these reality guys and gals...nay demanding! That they strike before you'll consider them as members is crazy! They'll be fired, they won't be eligible for the union protections or services while striking, and when it's all over, they won't have jobs to come home to. So, unless you guys (the WGA) cover them, they can't strike! Will the WGA pay them a stipend until they get jobs when the strike is over? Will they get benefits? Assistance of some kind?

This is short term thinking, guys. It really is! It's a flashback to when the Animation Guilds decided that CG animation wasn't REALLY animation and wouldn't be covered under their union agreements...and then Toy Story came out, 2D was shut down and everyone ran out to start CG production companies. Hundreds of animation guys lost their jobs and by the time the Union realized their mistake, it was too late! The studios are laughing all the way to the bank with those Shrek piles of money!

ww said...

carrie said...
On the one hand I can't disagree with you that reality should be out on the picket line. On the other is the overall WGA membership going to keep striking until reality is covered under the MBA?

ww: I can't speak for other members, but I am sure that your case will be 1000% stronger if you guys actually join the strike. Basically, if you want to be in the game, get out of the stands.


carrie said...
I know Patrick Verrone says yes in public, and I respect him and David Young and believe they are completely sincere in trying to organize reality. However, the message we're getting overall seems to be between maybe and hell no. I seriously doubt that the WGA membership would vote down a contract that gave reasonable concessions in New Media but gave up on reality and animation. Putting your money where your mouth is goes both ways.

ww: I hear messages of uncertainty all the time. "Will I have a job when this strike is over?" " Will this strike do more harm than good for my career?" I hate to be blunt, but being scared is no excuse. I don't know how things are going to turn out. I could be left without a job. So what do I do? I just keep holding up my picket sign. I'm in it for the long haul. I will sacrifice whatever is necessary. There are no promises in a strike, Carrie. Some real crazy shit could happen. The question is, how serious are the reality writers about joining the guild? The choice isn't easy, but it's right in front of you.


carries said...
There's a reason WGA didn't include reality in their strike rules. There's a reason they dropped feature animation. They have been legal ones, but the message went out that they're not the priority, and when push came to shove they would be shoved out of the way.

ww: I'm not familiar with this, so all I can say is, pick up a sign and make a compelling case so you can't be ignored or shoved away. Shut down all the reality shows in production. Do you think the WGA or the AMPTP could ignore such an action? The town would dead, save for the sound of crickets. That's real power. That's real strength. That something that can't be swept under the rug. Why don't you use that power? Because it's scary? Because you might lose your job? Join the club.

Carrie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
stephanie said...

@Dave, who said (and others who said similar things):
"If you don't like the working conditions at one place, you are free to leave. If enough people do that, then the company is forced to offer better benefits (pay, insurance, etc) to attact quality workers. If there are enough workers who will accept the company's offerings as is, they would be foolish from a business perspective to offer more than what the market demands."

This is why we have unions to begin with. Go do a little reading on how unions first started. "the market" doesn't force companies to be moral and treat workers properly - unions had to do it.

What you are forgetting is how many people WANT TO BE WRITERS IN HOLLYWOOD. If the reality writers walked off, not being part of a union, there are many other struggling, currently unemployed writers who want a job, that the reality shows could fill out many of their ranks.

There are enough writers who are desperate for a chance to get their material on the air, that they'll cross the reality "picket lines" - competition for jobs is fierce.

The companies are allowed to hire these "scabs" (who aren't really scabs), because the reality writers "quit" - they didn't go on strike, since they aren't in a union.

Companies can't hire writers to replace striking WGA writers, but they can hire writers to replace non-union reality writers if they left. And as the reality writers say, they'd be blackballed, probably not just for reality writing, but in any writing - it's all the same networks.

There is no option to just go elsewhere, when you're not allowed to join a union - everywhere is the same: Screwedville, population you.

hollarback said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
hollarback said...

Anita, there are no solid gold guarantees in any part of show business, union or not. This does seem the time for reality writers to step up, to show support. The WGA members on strike have no assurances that they have a next job either. That's the way it is, no one is really salaried. This is why their union healthcare, pensions and residuals are so important.
Those benefits are worth striking for, and if the reality writers want to become WGA at the end of this, then I think they should walk out and join the strike. Perhaps some sort of stepping stone plan for union membership is in order in regard to reality.

stephanie said...

@hollarback, who said: "Perhaps some sort of stepping stone plan for union membership is in order in regard to reality."

It's not the choice of the WGA or of the writers. The corporations deny membership in the WGA to reality writers by refusing to call them "writers." Since they aren't legally writers, they can't join the WGA.

Go back and read what ashley gable wrote higher up in these comments:
"In every instance where reality writers have voted and signed cards indicating they wanted to join the WGA, the Companies have taken the matter to the National Labor Relations Board and fought the vote. By the time the federal process gets anywhere, the show's season is over and the Companies fire the writers and start over."

The WGA can't magically grant union status to the reality writers, just because they agree to walk out.

Anita said...

Hey Hollarback! Love that name BTW! I agree with you that there are no 'solid Gold' guarantees in show business--or in life for that matter. And of course, the WGA folks on strike know they aren't guaranteed a job when they return either. They do, however, have some protections from the union. The reality folks don't have those and are probably not really 'feelin' the love from WGA membership right now (understandable but, lamentable).

Personally, after reading comments posted here, I would be so saddened --were I a reality show writer. To have the feeling that, in general, the WGA membership views me as a second-class non-writer, not worthy of inclusion, UNLESS I dropped what I was doing to join a strike I'm not really a part of (but, long to be!) would just leave me feeling hopeless.

My two bits--it's probably more like three bits now...sorry! I do ramble!

dp said...

I think that the WGA needs to organize reality just that same way they organize any show. These writers can't walk out on their own and "spec strike". In order for them not to be considered as walking off, and rather considered as striking, it has to come from up top, i.e. WGA. It has to be a union organized strike to make the shows union.

Step up WGA. Help out these reality writers and help yourselves. Stop new programming during the strike or you have only yourselves to blame.

Reality writers: If the WGA decides to organize your show, be bold, grab a picket sign and dig in.

Anna said...

Why hasn't there been a push to organize reality writers? My husband is out right now trying to organize a group for his local; people not being paid for their overtime and who are getting screwed out of health insurance.

Doesn't the law say that any group can be organized? Aren't there protections in place for people that do decide to organize?

Wool in Sunshine said...

To reply to "Dave": I dislike reality as much as the next person but not letting reality writers into the WGA because of a few crappy reality shows is ridiculous. I could point out many, many equally as bad scripted shows, and I'm sure many of you would agree. Quality has nothing to do with it - if you're writing, then you should be in the WGA.

Most of the reality people I know feel very much on the fringes. Why should they walk off the job if they don't have any kind of guarantee they'll be taken care of? For reality writers to be in the WGA, the WGA attitude toward them needs to change. And it can't be just one show, ie "America's Next Top Model" - it has to be industry-wide in order to have an effect.

derekcbart said...

Let me first say that I work as a Post Production Producer and I am a member of the Producers Guild of America, but I am in no way speaking on behalf of the PGA. These are simply my own thoughts.

I want to point something out that I haven't seen addressed yet, but it is something that keeps getting danced around and that is the issue of credits.

If people were credited for the actual job that they perform on a production then there would be far less division between the various genres. "Non-Scripted" productions are forbidden from calling the members of the story department writers (sometimes by the network or studio, but I have also seen the WGA forbid the production from calling them writers too) so they are given various types of credits that include the word producer, i.e.: Segment Producer, Story Producer, Supervising Producer, Coordinating Producer.

"Scripted" productions do the same thing. Writers are often given producer credits, i.e.: Consulting Producer, Senior Producer, Executive Producer. Now, some of these "producers" actually perform producing duties. However, many do not.

All this does is dilute the meaning of all of the various titles. I have worked on many shows where writers were given producer credits and yet they never appeared on set, never sat in an edit bay, never spoke to a director, and never spoke with representatives of the studio or network. These people are not producers and should not be credited as such.

At the same time, the writers on non-scripted productions should be in the WGA and be credited as writers.

I have worked on scripted and non-scripted productions and scripted productions are generally much more organized and have shorter hours than non-scripted productions, but not always. Someone needs to figure out the legal justification to enable the non-scripted productions to become members of the WGA. As previous people have written it is not that easy. The writers on non-scripted productions are not covered by anyone so, unless they have personal wealth, they have nothing to protect them from walking off the job. Yes, striking WGA members are having serious financial difficulty, but at least there is some basic form of strike assistance. Non-Union people have nothing. If the WGA is really serious about organizing the writers on non-scripted productions then the members of the WGA need to stop with the name calling and dismissive comments about the work that writers on non-scripted productions do.

That's my 2.5 cents for the day.

-Derek

Amanda said...

Regardless of negative comments or opinions from members of the WGA or the general public, it sounds to me like the reality writers are the ones with the real power here.

This strike is getting more and more publicity through the very medium the AMPTP is not willing to compromise over (go world wide web!), and fans are springing up everywhere in support of it.

If aspiring writers who are not currently members of the Guild, and are not currently writing for a reality show, would show solidarity, and join the uprising rather than working as scabs or filling holes in reality tv, the reality writers could make a real difference in walking out.

They could bring the entire industry to its knees.

No matter how disheartened you feel as a reality writer, that has to give you a little burst of inspiration.

Just imagine it, all of the reality writers saying together; "We are not going to take this crap anymore," and walking off the job together. What would happen?!?!
It would be a beautiful thing.

Power to the people! Bring down those money hungry CEO bastards!!!

Mad Joy said...

@amanda "If aspiring writers who are not currently members of the Guild, and are not currently writing for a reality show, would show solidarity, and join the uprising rather than working as scabs or filling holes in reality tv, the reality writers could make a real difference in walking out... Just imagine it, all of the reality writers saying together; 'We are not going to take this crap anymore,' and walking off the job together. What would happen?!?!
It would be a beautiful thing."

How are all the reality writers going to magically say this together and walk out together, if there's no one organizing them?

They're not covered by the WGA, and until the WGA steps up and takes some action, any reality writer walking off their job would be just that - a reality writer walking off their job. Then, as others have said, they'd be blackballed and would have a hard time finding any writing job anywhere in the business. While the idea of all the reality writers just deciding to walk off is beautiful in theory, it's just not a realistic option for anyone in the business.

I'm just a student, an ordinary television watcher. I'm going to admit that I (and most of my other student friends) watch MOST of our TV online - freely on the network websites or downloaded from iTunes. As my generation gets older, the internet will become a more and more important way of watching TV. One of my friends said that the reason there's so much more popular support for the WGA strike than the networks expected is that "Of course we sympathize with them - we know that we DO watch all of our television online."

So I understand that the New Media issue is important. What I fail to understand is how the reality & animation writers issue is any less important to the WGA. How can you claim to be the underdog who isn't being paid fairly, when you, like the mega-corporations like Viacom, refuse to give the same respect [that of being paid fairly] to fellow writers in reality?

WGA, step up, and organize the reality writers. If you do this, then YOU have the power to bring the entire industry to its knees. My impression is that the reality writers all want to be part of the WGA, and if you step up and organize a strike, they WILL follow, but they're not going to do it on their own (and for good reason - they have little reason to trust you so far). If the WGA really pledges to not take this issue off the table, and organizes reality writers in their own strike, I don't see how this wouldn't be a win-win situation for everyone.

yosemitesam7 said...

I have absoutly nothing to do with the AMPTP, but I would still like for you to all join me in a mental screwing of Mr. Verrone in his arse with a big fat wet dildo........I know I know, as a writer and being the head of all the writers, he just may enjoy it!! as they all do.