Top 10 Reasons Why The Worldwide Pants Deal is a Good Idea

Howard A. Rodman is a member of the WGA Board and founder of the Guild's independent film writers committee. Two films he wrote, SAVAGE GRACE and AUGUST, will have their US premieres at the Sundance Film Festival in January.

10. The AMPTP says that we're too crazy, too ideological, too amateurish to make a deal, and this lets us say, oh yeah?

9. The Networks That Are Not CBS will be hard put to justify to their advertisers and stockholders why they're letting the competition have a real late-night show while they go forth with writerless efforts. (As The Canadian Press put it yesterday, "Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien, Jimmy Kimmel and Jon Stewart all plan returns to late-night television over the next two weeks, but aside from their familiar faces, viewers may not recognize much.")

8. And despite what some will say, that's genuine pressure. Yes, the conglomerates have deep pockets. But they do have to answer to the folks who pay the bills.

7. Because it's not just a plain vanilla interim deal: this is a deal we can use as a model, with cherries on top.

6. Cherries, in this case, meaning that the Letterman deal is the full MBA, complete with the New Media proposals we couldn't get the other side to move on at the Big Table. This shows our proposals are affordable. And, perhaps best of all, Worldwide Pants is taking on the liability of our contract provisions, including not only the payment terms, but also the backstop of the fair market valuation test under the MBA.

5. Although this will be very hard on Leno, Conan, Kimmel and other late-night Guild writers, the wedge that it drives between the networks is deeper and sharper than the wedge it drives between writers. While the companies understand ROI, only we understand solidarity.

4. Go re-read number 10.

3. Like the waiver for the SAG awards, it lets people know that, when we are able to, we honor those who honor us.

2. Because in 1988, Letterman called management "money-grubbing scum." Out loud. In public.

1. Worldwide Pants has a better logo than the AMPTP.

On a more serious note, though: we should all remember what writers gave up in 1960 so that all writers who came after them -- meaning us -- could have residuals. In order to make that deal, they gave up the rights to residuals for everything they had written prior to 1960. The sacrifice they made for the future is inspiring, and humbling in the best possible sense.

We are part of a great tradition. I hope we'll honor what those writers did for us with an equal sense of history and responsibility now.

It's about all of us.


not a troll said...

I hope this doesn't backfire.

Tom Davis said...

You missed the best reason of all. We get a cool new slogan: "Some of us are in this together."

Jake said...

Well, Mr. Rodman, as much as respect you as a writer (hell, I just sent you a fan letter--my very first), member of the WGA Board, and as founder of the Guild's independent film writers committee (which as an independent filmmaker means so much to me), I have to disagree. Here's why:

I get that this deal with WWP is part of an overall strategy by the WGA to get the AMPTP to return to the bargaining table.

I get that others before me sacrificed their rights as writers so we'd get residuals.

I get that we're all in this together...

Okay, that last one I don't get.

How does allowing some writers to work and get paid bring us together in solidarity? How does their working and collecting a pay check help me? How does this NOT drive a wedge between those working writers and those of us still on the picket line?

And let me reiterate, all this does is re-inforce my personal belief that this is a TV writer's strike...

Maybe I've been stupid or naive or both. Maybe all along I should've been pursuing independent studio deals on my own. Dumb old me thought pencils down meant pencils down, except of course if the WGA sanctions the deal.

Harold said...

I thought this was a bad idea as soon as it was first mentioned.

At least WWP agreed to a contract and not just a waiver.

That's the best thing that I can say about it.

Howard A. said...


I thank you for the kind words about my writing, and beg your indulgence while I reiterate why I think this deal makes fine sense.

Our main task right now is to get the AMPTP back to the table; and in order to do that, we are obligated to use every lever, every fulcrum at our disposal. To do less is to fail our membership; to do less is to prolong the strike.

One of the points of leverage we can use is that the AMPTP is made up of greedy, feral, rapacious, amoral individual companies. They are far more competitive with each other than they are with us. So anything that makes, say, NBC think that, say, CBS has a competitive advantage, can be used to our advantage.

If the Worldwide Pants deal brings the companies back to the table even a day sooner, it will have been worth it.

In the meanwhile, I don't begrudge the fact that some of my brethren will be able to return to gainful employment. In this context: I celebrate it. My anger is elsewhere. At the (to use Letterman's term of art) money-grubbing scum who are keeping us from a fair deal.

The One True b!X said...

"How does allowing some writers to work and get paid bring us together in solidarity?"

Well, for one thing (in addition to all the other things), it means potentially-nightly free national advertisements for the strike:

"The writers can't wait to get back to writing for Dave, and you better believe we're going to bring attention to the strike as long as it lasts."- Justin Stangel

Jake said...

Mr. Rodman:

I'll table my personal reaction to this WGA-WWP deal for now...

You've been around this game a lot longer than me. Your experience and perspective I respect and I'm sure you see the big picture (so to speak) while I only think I see it.

I'll wait and hope for a positive result. Until then, I'll see you on the line.


Jerad said...

Yes, we're still all in this together; We're all in this to get our bosses to agree to what we're worth. What WWP company acknowledges they're worth. It's arduous process going one company at a time; But getting one company to sign proves that it's economically viable to give us what we're asking for, gives us a voice in the MSM to explain our stance to the public and now when Redstone says "I don't think we should give them that" the other companies will look at him suspiciously.

The only way this can end up being a doublenotgood thing is if we allow ourselves to resent those that have already gotten what we're fighting for. It's not something that should be resented, it's something that should be aspired to. And fought for.

I've heard of complaints that this doesn't support our film writers, but breaking the solidarity of the AMPTP, sowing the seeds of dissension (as they are trying to use this to do to us) can only be a good thing.

Unless of course we let them make it a ad thing.

Dan said...

I remember David Young saying at the Santa Monica meeting that he/they wouldn't make a deal with Worldwide Pants that didn't force CBS to commit to the contract too. I wonder if that happened; there doesn't seem to be any evidence of it. And doesn't "interim" mean that WWP will be locked into this deal only until there is a "real" (worse) deal?

As I understand it, there is little internet re-play of late night programs and even less potential for DVD or download sale than with other types of content. So how can this contract be seen as establishing the standard? How does it prove that we can make a deal? Dave can say yes to all kinds of things that Paramount or WB or Fox can't because those companies are actually in the businesses from which we're seeking concessions. I imagine Dave would even agree to WGA representation of reality and animation writers. Maybe he already did. Why not? What would he have to lose? Hell, he'd probably throw in some tough new MBA language on the number of free rewrites on features -- or banning the use of director's possessory credit! -- things that would sound great to me as a feature writer...if I was born yesterday.

What have I missed, Mr. Rodman? (And I'm a fan too.)

Carl said...

This single deal shouldn't affect the AMPTP in the slightest--if anything, they should use it to their advantage. The terms may be totally reasonable for WWP and other large entities like them. It's totally cool that they can individually make a deal like this, too. This just proves that writers don't need collective bargaining to get good deals--they just need to be indispensable enough. Which many are.

But this doesn't prove that the AMPTP should concede and force EVERYONE to accept the WGA's proposal. The AMPTP isn't preventing individual writers from making better deals with individual companies, but the WGA is forcing everyone to do things their way, whether we all want to or not.

wentwj said...

I think this deal is a good thing for the writers.

I understand frustration at some people returning to work while others are still out paychecks, but ultimately I think this does wonders to show that the WGA is willing to negotiate. This effectively takes all the sales out of the AMTP's propaganda about the WGA being unreasonable.

Besides if World Wide Pants shows do better in ratings than the non-written counterparts, then advertisers will put even more pressure on it.

It shows that the writers want to get back to work, they simple want a reasonable deal.

RaisedByMongrels said...

To jake,

"How does this NOT drive a wedge between those working writers and those of us still on the picket line?"

Because one would assume that, as adults, you will not let petty jealousy get in the way of what you are trying to accomplish. You presumably went on strike in order to get a fair deal, and that's exactly what the Lettermen writers just got. Why not be happy for them and continue pressuring the company you used to work for to do the same for you?

-a fan

FiftyNinth said...

I think this deal is a great thing for the guild. When the Broadway stagehands agreed to let HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS reopen, the other stagehands did not begrudge the working stagehands their paychecks, and within about a week the entire strike was over. (I don't expect such a speedy resolution here, but anything that fragments the producers is a great asset to the cause.)

Hello said...

Anyone who keeps getting paid over and over for a job done once is not only immoral, but also greedy.

So cute how the pot calls the kettle black.

Hatfield B. McCoy said...

9. The Networks That Are Not CBS will be hard put to justify to their advertisers and stockholders why they're letting the competition have a real late-night show while they go forth with writerless efforts.

One network that is not CBS is NBC which is owned by GE, and if you think GE stockholders think of NBC as anything other than a waste of time, you're in need of a swift lesson in geo-politics.

Dan said...

Broadway stage hands did not 'agree' to let The Grinch reopen, a Judge ordered them to... It was either that or jail.

Had nothing to do with strategy. At least not on the part of Local 1

m.o.i.@ warrior ant press said...

Re: Top Ten item No. 7. This deal is a model for other deals.

Bill Carter and Michael Cieply report in the Sat. NYTimes. Rob Burnett declined to spell out the contract terms for new media. "Worldwide Pants does not appear to have jurisdiction over such issues."

In a statement, CBS said, “CBS controls the Internet exploitation rights for both programs, and will comply with any eventual negotiated agreement between the A.M.P.T.P. and the W.G.A.”

What? If this is true, then where exactly is the leverage in that deal except to Worldwide Pants?

Harold said...

Jerad wrote "Yes, we're still all in this together; We're all in this to get our bosses to agree to what we're worth."

Jerad, stop being a poseur. You're not a WGA member [Jerad goes to some college], and your comments lose all credibility when you post as though you are.

You don't have an opinion that this blog doesn't tell you to have, and uninformed opinion is of little value to anyone.

Although you parrot United Hollywood and WGA talking points, at least you're not parroting AMPTP talking points.

That's the best thing that I can say about your posts.

Other than that, I don't get anything from your posts that isn't in a WGA press release.

dp said...

Although this small victory may seem insignificant to many, it is a victory non the less and heres why. Storming the beach at Normandy was a small victory in the context of the whole war. Winning a battle and creating a foothold is an important step. Nobody said well we don't have Germany so Normandy means nothing. What you have won is the ability, and hopefully Dave give the opportunity, to voice the WGA side. Politicians will now be able to come on his show and if they want votes, will take labors side. Let them spin this into a national issue. Make it part of their platform as a concession to national TV time. Even the republicans would be foolish to openly disparage the WGA on Dave's show. Let the big amptp members question why they are part of the amptp.

No one was begrudging those soldiers who made it up the beach and then were assigned to set up base camp at Normandy while others forged ahead into enemy territory.

EmilyH said...

This agreement gives me some hope. Here's why: These companies only understand money. They are in this for the money and they are thinking how to guard their profits long term. They need to see that negotiating with the WGA gives them a financial advantage. I am going to watch David Letterman and NONE of the other shows. By supporting only shows that have agreed to deal, we, the consumers can finally play a role in this. If ratings for David Letterman are high and advertisers start scrambling for those slots, the networks will have to pay attention. That's my hope anyway.

hotline said...

If nothing else, Letterman will educate the public as to what's going on here...

Corporations busting unions and the middle class eroding as fast as the ice caps because of it. And again, most writers and members of other unions are middle class.

I'm not happy about no income. Every day that goes by I am losing money, but I support the writers on Letterman because I believe they will get our message out better and faster than any internet site.

But here is a thought to pacify the tiny percentage of writers who are unhappy about this - maybe the Letterman writers could donate a chunk of their pay to the strike fund? What do you think of that Letterman writers?

But again, personally I do support them if they get our message out.

reasonable said...

Harold said...
Jerad wrote "Yes, we're still all in this together; We're all in this to get our bosses to agree to what we're worth."

Jerad, stop being a poseur. You're not a WGA member [Jerad goes to some college], and your comments lose all credibility when you post as though you are.

You don't have an opinion that this blog doesn't tell you to have, and uninformed opinion is of little value to anyone.

When Jared IS in the WGA & he's paying for your prostate surgery (if in fact you are a Union member), please remember your nasty post. I hope he does.

There is a bigger picture @ work here beyond the WGA. As conceptualists, those who do write (& those who don't) are aware that this fight encapsulates the entire working world. Corporations are diminishing the livelihoods of their employees in every sector (except their own) to increase their bottom lines. Precedent will be set in this arena (as the Bear Stearns report indicated). So even if Jared isn't in the Guild, or never becomes a member, this dispute will affect him. Therefore, his use of "we" is applicable.
I guess you also don't believe in the axiom, "We're all in this together".

chardkerm said...

Hello said...
Anyone who keeps getting paid over and over for a job done once is not only immoral, but also greedy.

So cute how the pot calls the kettle black.

December 29, 2007 5:15 AM

Are you also referring to novelists or songwriters or the inventor of the artificial heart valve? Or does your venom only spew forth for tv and film writers? Huh? Huh?

jimmy said...

The following translation is provided as a public service.

From the AMPTP statement:
"While it is good news for viewers that the jokes will be back on the late night shows..."

Translation: "This is not actually good news. And writing is so stupid, anyone can write a joke. Pull my finger."

AMPTP: "the biggest joke of all appears to be the one the WGA's organizers are pulling on working writers."

Translation: "Our PR firm is gone for the holidays and this is the best segue we could think of. See, no one needs writers."

AMPTP: "The people in charge at WGA have insisted on increasing their own power by prevailing on jurisdictional issues such as reality, animation and sympathy strikes."

Translation: "By 'insist', we mean 'rudely mention outloud although it was on the list since July' "

AMPTP: "Yet today the WGA made an interim agreement to send writers back to work that by definition could not have achieved these jurisdictional goals."

Translation: "Clearly we don't understand the meaning of the word 'insist', or 'negotiate' and will distract you from the fact that clearly no ultimatum was necessary at all here by, oh look! behind your ear! a shiny quarter! let go, that's mine."

AMPTP: "...gains that would at a minimum require the company making an agreement to actually produce reality and animation programming."

Translation: "We have no idea what this means either. Are you distracted yet by our confusing logic?"

AMPTP: "WGA's organizers are also misrepresenting the fact that Worldwide Pants is an AMPTP member."

Translation: "Worldwide Trousers, WWP's parent company, is an AMPTP member but we are relying on the fact that we're pretty sure that we're the only ones that can actually read. We're the smart ones, you know."

AMPTP: "Today's agreement is just the latest indication that the WGA's organizers may not have what it takes to achieve an industry-wide deal that will create a strong and sustainable economic future for writers and producers alike."

Translation: "This is such bullshit. Seriously, you were just all supposed to lay down and take our crappy deal like you have every other time before. We've offered you jack-squat for five months now and you keep asking for more! You have no idea what you're doing! Someone get Gil Cates on the phone."

Jerad said...

Funny, I thought I left college in '00.

Harold said...

reasonable said "There is a bigger picture @ work here beyond the WGA. As conceptualists, those who do write (& those who don't) are aware that this fight encapsulates the entire working world."

Time out.

Reality check.

That statement was frickin' crazy. Most people in the world have no awareness of this strike. Most people IN THIS COUNTRY have no awareness of this strike.

25 coal miners in China who don't give two shits about this strike are going to die today. 25 more will die tomorrow. And the next day. And every other frickin' day.

25,000 people in the world are going to starve to death today. None of them gives a shit about whether Letterman has writers for The Late Show on Jan. 2. The 25,000 that starve to death tomorrow won't either.

For many in this country, this non-strike thing is the biggest personal issue. It IS the biggest stock market issue. It IS the biggest economic issue.

NBC/Universal incurring some losses due to the strike? It has little impact on GE's financials. It's a non-issue in the stock market. Those losses are like a zit on GE's face. It's annoying and not attractive, but it's far from life-threatening.

When BTL's complain that writers don't care about anyone else, they will remember your clueless "this fight encapsulates the entire working world" remark.

Thanks for providing them some reasonably clueless ammunition to make their point.

Now back to the "conceptualizing."

Harold said...

From elsewhere:

"Jerad said...As for whether or not I'm a member of the WGA it's irrelevant but I'll say for sure that I either am or am not."

I would argue that it is relevant when you claim to be and is irrelevant when you do not.

and also this from elsewhere:

"Jerad said...And as one that was on the verge of being able to join when the strike hit"

Well, well, well...

At least you're not posturing for AMPTP.

Captain Obvious said...


I believe the context of Executive Director Young's comment was that, since CBS had internet rights to WWP content, they'd have to agree too.

The agreement for WWP to assume financial responsibility for reimbursing the writers for that portion of the contract bridged this issue.


The member companies of the AMPTP and the people behind them reap untold fortunes from their own "job done once" ... which is usually little more than writing a check. Chardkerm also has some other points to share on the subject.


It's great to see a smile on your face finally!

dp said...


Yes its a smile. Thank you.

Jerad said...

Very good Harold, only I didn't claim to be a member. By we I meant people supporting the strike. Granted everything I've written has been for the stage, but I still am allowed to feel a kinship with fellow writers at least I thought I was.

As for me "parroting the WGA" because I agree with their rationale doesn't mean that I did so blindly.

Good luck with your divisiveness and attacks aimed at people who support you getting a better contract.

Geo Rule said...

The pure shamelessness of AMPTP to still be claiming that Reality and Animation are blocking a deal is really quite breathtaking. Make a reasonable offer on the core issues, AMPTP, then if it's still rejected over the jurisdictional issues you might find yourself with a credible wedge issue.

But your current hoary line had a "Best Sell By" date of roughly Dec 8th, and is really smelling pretty bad at this point.

Jack said...

Taketh my people back, sayeth Moses, the leader of the scribes, to the great satan. Sire, we have grown used to our palaces, mead, servant girls and boys as well as the personal physician. We know not how to get these services on our own. We have fallen into sloth as you can tell by our movies, Redacted and Rendition, and no new TV hits. You have showed us the door and to reconnect with the people we serve. But you have made slaves of us all. We can no longer live on our own. We demand that you take us back on our terms. What's that. Do not let the door hit you on the way out. We will march. We will picket. We will tell others of the Great Satan. What is the Great Satan doing? Is he putting up a sign. Freelance Writers Wanted. NOOOOOOOOOOO. I knew we should gotten Charlton Heston

Captain Obvious said...

Palaces? Mead? Servant girls?! Don't give me any ideas, Jack, I've had a bit to drink.