12/06/2007

Report: AMPTP Planning to "Sucker Punch" Writers?

Uh oh. Never trust the smile of a crocodile?

Alex Ben Block of Hollywood Today reports that the AMPTP's public gestures of reconciliation may mask a plan to derail negotiations and cancel Christmas.

There are signs the writers unity is working – reports of dissention among the ranks of the AMPTP’s key members; a softer stance by management in PR and negotiations in the past few days; and comments suggesting that management proposals are flexible.

However, what I am hearing is that this could be another sucker punch for the writers, who think they have finally broken though into a new level of negotiations where the two sides talk things over instead of talking at each other.
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In its public utterances, the AMPTP continues to use its indoor voice, no doubt fine tuned by a new PR team.
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Management has laid back so far but their hatred for the WGA proposal will bubble to the surface, and will be an obstacle to any deal. There were signs of progress and real hope that a deal could be done before Christmas earlier this week, but don’t get out the tinsel too quickly.
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So seething moguls are waiting to spring their surprise on the writers, and knock them back down to earth; and when the inevitable happens, there will be little left to cheer this holiday season.
I'd like to remind the AMPTP that the Grinch's heart eventually grows two sizes, and he's considered a pretty okay guy after that. You have the means to do the right thing, but do you have the will? You've put yourselves out on a limb with calm and rational words, now let's see the actions to match. Let's get this done by Christmas and get back to the business of leading our industry into the future. The alternative is not pretty.

15 comments:

Caitlin said...

If this is true, it's time to take stronger action. Sitting around, telling people this has to be a long strike and that they need to stop complaining is exactly what will make this a long strike. There have been many worthwhile suggestions as to how to take action, including taking this up with the legal system, breaking the studios down one at a time, and using advertisers and shareholders to tighten the noose. I have a feeling this thread is going to be full of "Well, duh"s and "Told you so"s. Those will turn into the "suck it up"s and "we're in it for the long haul"s. But people have been saying those things for a long time. Words are awesome, but if they don't work, take action. If the bad guys can play dirty, the good guys should play hardball. Yes, they're the ones who started it and the ones who should end it. But since there's constant talk about how that won't happen, the focus needs to change. Maybe the right tactic hasn't been thought up yet. Let's try to think of it. Nothing will come of grumbling about what they won't do; we need to focus on what we can.

All that said, let's still see how talks turn out for a little bit longer. This is one article, and it *could* be all paranoia. And the public won't be pleased if the moguls fall back on their promise. Maybe it was just a statement on their website, but it was there for everyone to read, and if they didn't mean it, they're scewing themselves into the dirt. Let's give them once more chance to save face.

VDOVault said...

Oh inside scoop on what happens in the music biz (or what there is left of it) can be had at

http://www.velvetrope.com/forums/ubbthreads.php?ubb=postlist&Board=1&page=1&sess=190c58def6b7d047b98c36a7c3b2d56a

Trust me, you do not want to go down the path these guys started on like 10 years ago

Michael said...

Just keep in mind that Alex Ben Block is a terrible reporter. For instance, check out this piece in which he COMPLETELY misconstrues the underlying financial issues of the dispute.

http://www.hollywoodtoday.net/?p=2699

Here's the lede: "- From $5 million to $25 million. That is the proposed top price for TV writers and writing teams under the terms of the contract proposed by Hollywood producers. From $215,000 to $900,000. That is the proposed top price for writing a script for a 30 minute episode of a TV series"

Caitlin said...

Thank you, michael. That helps. I do tend to react instinctively on here. I am still being cautiously optimistic. I just think I'm one of the only ones. And if I'm wrong in being hopeful, I do think it's time to come at this stonger ourselves. I honestly believe it doesn't have to take months. If action is necessary, so be it.

itwasntme said...

Apparently, the "new PR team" you mention is Chris Lehane and Mark Fabiani, who work for the Clintons, and Hillary in particular.

WTF? I thought Hillary was in support of the WGA strike. I think Hillary should be pressed about her support, and the new "team" called out about who and what they are supporting.

itwasntme said...

People may want to contact Hillary about her support for the WGA strike. Her fax numbers are

Washington DC: 202 228-0282
New York City: 212 688-7444

Alexa said...

While I'd love to say that Alex Ben Block is being paid by the AMPTP to stir up paranoia, I think that a sucker punch by the studios is something that can/will EASILY happen. It's already December 6, so considering the pace of the negotiations the last two weeks, and the "progress" that has been made, this strike is not going to end ANYTIME SOON.

Becca said...

Block's note to UH was *so* negative, I immediately dismissed it as news.

I would not put it past the AMPTP to sucker punch the WGA, especially this close to the holidays.

Hang in there. I know it's easy for me to say that since I'm not a WGA member. But the public is behind you, *even* when it means I turn my tube off and boycott movies until they are brought to their knees.

Michael said...

I don't think Alex Ben Block is an AMPTP tool, I just think he is an incredibly bad reporter. Seriously, go read that article I linked to in my comment above. It's like he's reporting from another planet or something. It's nuts.

Jake Hollywood said...

Well, until a deal (let's emphasize a fair and decent deal) is signed, sealed, and delivered. Hope and deceit are simply a waste of time.

But...

For those of you who aren't patient, what's the plan? What do you suggest? Oh, I get it, maybe you prefer we pretend we're hard-core teamsters, dock workers maybe. Let's bust a few heads, maybe burn down a studio or two...

No.

We're writers, filmmakers. We're supposed to be intelligent, reasoned people. We're civilized for crying out loud...

We'll make our point and the AMPTP will deal. Fairly. And soon, I hope. If not, we'll all adapt and overcome, we're the good guys.

vivaque said...

I'm not a WGA member yet (will be after the strike) but I don't think I've ever read so much knee-jerk paranoia in my life. Nobody is setting anybody up for anything. There is no more positive sign than people talking to each across the table. As long as they continue to talk, an agreement is imminent. They talked yesterday, they're talking today, and I hope like hell they'll be talking tomorrow. If they do, we're that much closer to ending the strike. Apparently, some much prefer to wallow in disappointment than wait it out, knowing an agreement will be reached eventually, and that the world will not end no matter how long we have to wait. The issues are critical, the negotiations difficult, but both sides will work this out, soon. $25 Walmart gift certificate says they'll end it by the 20th. If the strike goes another week, how about a 2 for 1 coupon at Del Taco? If the strike goes for another month I'll be the first to jump out a first story window. If it goes another two months, well, how high is the building (I doubt I'll be the first)?

Alexa said...

yes both sides are in a room talking - that does not at all mean that progress is being made. counters have to be made back and forth before you consider a negotiation progress.

vivaque, if you don't think anyone's setting anybody up for anything, then you must be new to this business. Hope the building you jump out of surrounded by a moat...because this strike will not end until sometime next year.

to all the BTL workers who are out of jobs, you all are in my prayers. My fellow writers, I am so proud of us. To the AMPTP and studio CEOs, ALL the money in the world will not count for anything when you meet your maker. The livelihoods of so many are in jeopardy, and you can immediately alleviate that by simply telling Counter to make a deal.

jerrywrite said...

actually, it might be more accurate to say that Alex Ben Block is a moron.

Caitlin said...

I'm not trying to bombard you or anything, I just I have to point out the Grinch's heart grew *three* sizes. It was two sizes too small, and then it grew *three*. I watched the special today. I know these things.

...Okay, I'm really leaving now.

makomk said...

The AMPTP may have a nasty surprise for the WGA, but the spin in the article is interesting. Casting them as the Grinch who wants to steal Christmas is a nice piece of propaganda, but that's all it is.

While I'm not in the industry and so couldn't say for sure, my suspicions are that, while they say positive things in public so as not to spook the investors, they're really nervous about internet video. It has hard-to-predict implications not just for their profits, but for the entire structure of the industry.

Of course, they're still mostly embracing streaming video. They don't have much choice - if they don't, the pirates will just fill the gap.

Besides, there'd still be the risk that more niche Internet-only content will take away their market - I'm not sure even the WGA can dodge that one. (In fact, if this does happen, things will become interesting for them.)