1/03/2008

And Now For Something Completely Different -- Not

So if this headline is correct then one of the sources for this supposed "special dispensation" that Verrone and the WGA gave Jay is -- wait for it -- NBC.

Thank goodness NBC is bringing us trustworthy and unbiased information about what's REALLY going on between the WGA and Jay Leno.

Not.

Look, guys, let's face it: who's the one party in this situation who has something to gain from writers fighting with each other?

That would be the corporations that own the networks. Networks like NBC.
NBC would like nothing more than for a war to erupt between writers right now. They want us to fight, as I said below. They want us arguing and angry with each other, because anything that comes from that fight is good for them.

The simple fact is, Jay Leno doesn't have a dispensation or a "pass." NBC is wading into this for one reason only: an attempt to divide and conquer.

Let's not play into it.

31 comments:

Jake Hollywood said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charlie said...

None of this would be happening if the WGA had not decided to try to divide the AMPTP by negotiating a deal with Letterman. THAT should be your source of frustration (the fact that the WGA leadership, once again, used a tactic that is not only not working but is being turned against them and giving them a good beating).

Soooo... the WGA leadership didn't forsee the possibility that Leno could actually write a fantastic monologue (or that Conan could "wing it") and please the audiences without writers? THAT's your problem (not NBC or Leno) but the fact that your own leadership lacks insight and foresight into the reality of TV, the audience and their own irrelevance.

By going after Leno (who the public clearly likes) you've signed your own death warrant and made yourselves look VERY bratty. Keep chipping away at what little leverage you have left and you'll all be out of jobs by this time next year.

By the way, the networks and producers are already looking at staffing the late night talk shows with HALF the writers they had before the strike because, as Leno and the other hosts have proven, you don't need that many writers to produce an entertaining show. Nice going Veronne.

Harold said...

The whole "the AMPTP is trying to divide the writers" comment every time there is even a slight difference of opinion is tiring.

Leno violated the strike rules. The WGA chooses not to enforce those rules, because it needs Leno more than Leno needs the WGA.

It's that simple.

The WGA's bargaining position in this strike is about as strong as its rule enforcement ability on Leno.

2008. The new 1988. The old 2006.

Rodney Vaccaro said...

It's been one night.

Remember, in 1988 Carson was entertaining for the first few nights, by the time he got down to showing home movies everyone had tuned out. We all know, there' a big difference between doing one good show and doing it night after night alone.

I would just like to point out that today, on the line at NBC I met several people who were not associated with the WGA and didn't know anything about the strike before last night. They were all using their lunch hours to come and picket with us.

Both Leno and Letterman and all the others are using this opportunity to keep the issues in front of the viewing public...something we needed, considering who controls the news community. That alone makes the deal with Letterman worth it.

The main thing is to remain calm. These battles are won in little steps over time. I have nothing but confidence in Patric and John and the rest of our negotiators. They're doing a great job.

If we stay strong, we win.

Asterios said...

@Charlie,

Leno & Conan announced plans to come back before the Letterman interim was reached, so it's pretty unfair to blame Leno's decision to write and perform a monologue on the WGA.

Additionally: who's going after Leno here? The WGA's gone out of its way to call the pickets outside Leno directed at NBC, not a guy who paid his staff for 7 weeks during a strike. And the statements the WGA's released today on Leno's ability to write his own monologue have been pretty respectful.

Finally, what's your source on the that final claim of yours? Because I can't imagine NBC would want to alienate its current or future Tonight Show hosts by cutting their jokewriting staffs in half.

Simple Mindz said...

Stay strong guys. You can do it. Out of everyone I work with one fellow employee knows about this "writers strike."
We were discussing it today. I find it disgusting how you will only hear a 15 second "clip" in the news about the strike. And nothing else. Those bastard "big guys" are keeping it all hush - hush because THEY KNOW they are wrong.
Shame on them.

smoothlatinkid said...

Charle? Leno's monologue, as usual, was crap. Good enough for middle americans over 50, but then again, so is cream of wheat.
(Nothing against cream of wheat--I'm 33 and I find it tasty as hell.)

"Signed our own death warrant"? Now you're getting funnier than Leno on his best day. You obviously have a penchant for the dramatic, but you'll forgive me if I'm with others who see the whole bruhaha as fodder for a slow news day. Here's the Cliff Notes: Leno will still get his audience and be crappy, Letterman will still get a smaller crowd and be able to do a better show than Leno without breaking a sweat, and the strike will have another story soon.

What IS significant is the WWP deal. Lionsgate is up next, and others will follow---agreeing to the same decent deal the writers' have had on the table since AMPTP walked away.

This will go on till spring, when the egos subside, then there will be a fair deal.

As for your claim that producers are already looking at smaller staffs---and blaming it on Verrone--you make your bias and your agenda painfully clear.

Harold? If you don't like an overwhelming sentiment on one side of this issue, why are you trolling on a pro WGA site? Oh wait, I guess I just answered myself. You're excused.

I'll say this clearly for the trolls and shills: we are in this for as long as it takes. Period.

Scotty said...

Soooo... the WGA leadership didn't forsee the possibility that Leno could actually write a fantastic monologue (or that Conan could "wing it") and please the audiences without writers?

Of course Leno can do a fantastic monolog, it's what he did for a living before he got the Tonight Show, and what he still does today when he's NOT doing the Tonight Show.

The thing is, as a standup you do the same routine every night for months, polishing it up, adding and subtracting jokes until it's great. Then you do your TV appearance or HBO special with your highly-polished material. And then... you start over again.

Jay can write jokes, but he can't write his entire show night after night, week after week. Not at the level he could with a writing staff.

THAT'S why Conan, Letterman, Leno, etc. (even though they're all writers themselves) have writers on the payroll.

And I don't recall the WGA saying they'd make a deal with Letterman in order to beat Leno in the ratings. I was under the impression the deal was to put a dent in the AMPTP's armor, and I still think that was a good move.

By the way, the networks and producers are already looking at staffing the late night talk shows with HALF the writers they had before the strike

Newsflash - they've already forced all the shows back on the air with NO WRITERS AT ALL. Letterman and Ferguson wouldn't have writers either if the studios had had their way. The networks' attitude about writers is kinda obvious. I don't think you can blame "Verrone" for that.

intrigued said...

RODNEY VACCARO,

fyi, the talk shows were returning to the air with / without writers. so the awareness the writers' strike gained from the shows' returning back to the air was NOT a benefit of the agreement reached between the WGA and WWP.

intrigued said...

SCOTTY,

You said "And I don't recall the WGA saying they'd make a deal with Letterman in order to beat Leno in the ratings. I was under the impression the deal was to put a dent in the AMPTP's armor, and I still think that was a good move."

Are you a writer for TV? Because you cleary don't understand how the network TV business works!

Quick lesson how the business works... ratings drive the amount that netwroks can charge for advertising. So, if Letterman and his writers DO NOT win the ratings war against Leno over the next several weeks, not only will the deal not dent the AMPTP's armour it might actually strengthen there resolve.

Lisa said...

I am just an Australian consumer living in Dubai, and am in no other way associated with your industry.

Perhaps the way unions operate in my country is different. I have never been a member of one, but I never heard anyone at home say that you are not allowed to cross a picket line. Maybe they do and I am really ignorant when it comes to the strike movement.

What I feel is that is seems so bitter to be picketing and censoring the late night shows that had to go back to production. Doing so puts guests off appearing. Guests who could be talking about your cause.

All the fantastic videos and interviews with people from the picket lines could be shown on the air, thereby bringing your cause to a greater audience.

As it is hosts are in the position of having all those hours of air time to fill while you are struggling to get any kind of media attention.

I wish for this to be resolved quickly, but in the meantime I will be tuning into Conan and enjoying every minute, even if The Max Weinberg 7 do end up playing for the hour while Conan and the audience dance and get naked.

Please feel free to respond if you believe I just don't understand the situation. I have been reading this blog from the beginning and for the most part have agreed with what has been posted and supported your cause, but this late night thing just doesn't sit well with me.

Rodney Vaccaro said...

INTRIGUED

I never meant to say raising awareness of the strike was the intention of the deal with WWP. Negotiating a contract with producers is what we are supposed to be doing right now. Negotiating with us in good faith is what they're supposed to be doing.

But I'm curious...I will give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you are not a troll, even though your comments here and other places on this site appear to have one intent, and that is to undermine and question our leadership. So, assuming you are a WGA member, what exactly do you hope to accomplish other than making yourself look bitter and foolish?

If you are a troll, you will never divide us. If you aren't, you need to support your brothers and sisters and stop attacking them. I hope you'll choose to join us.

nick said...

I'm "intrigued" by all the strategy being talked about in this post. Pay attention, the American public loves the underdog. In this case, the writers. However, the underdog is called that for a reason because the chances of them winning are slim. Now, a moral victory is possible but this is a money issue so forget that idea. Leno won ratings wise does that hurt the writers? What is the next move? The AMPTP isn't trying to break the union they are trying to save money. By the time they are "forced" to make a deal Pilot season will have come and gone. They will have saved millions much more than the WGA ever asked for. Strange, film permits pulls are up in L.A. but there aren't any writers working.

Charlie said...

smoothlatinkid, the opinion of Jay's monologue in the press and on message boards is that (whether you like him or not) his show was certainly no worse than when the writers are there. But don't let my words sway you. Look at tonight's ratings in the morning. Perhaps they'll slap some reality into you. Jay Leno will continue to do his show with monologues he's written himself and his audience has made it clear that they will continue to watch assuring his ratings win over Letterman (as always).

Whether I am on the side of the writers or a shill (can't believe you people still use that term), the fact is that everything the WGA has done so far has set the writers' agenda BACK (to the point where you are now literally relegated to the sidelines while the DGA steps into the spotlight). You can split hairs with me and others if you'd like but the fact of the matter remains steady and clear: You will be on the picket line for several more months and when you return to work, you'll see a completely different landscape in tv than the one you left before the strike (where will your ego and arrogance be then?).

BJ said...

OK, now we've got Guild members saying the Guild is full of shit. From the NY Times Friday AM:

"One of Mr. Leno’s writers who attended the meeting with Mr. Verrone supported Mr. Leno’s version that he had been given some assurance that he could write his monologue.

“Jay said, ‘Let me get this clear: I’m allowed to write my monologue,’” said the writer, who asked not to be identified because he was a strike supporter and did not want publicly to challenge the guild’s version of events. “Verrone said, ‘Well, since you are taking one for the team, we won’t hassle you about that.’”

The writer added, “There was no way Jay could have misinterpreted what was being said.”

For what it's worth, I'm a late-night writer in the Guild and I'm royally pissed at Jay. And I don't believe for a minute that he's writing that monologue all by himself. Not that he can't; he just doesn't have the time.

artdeptgirl said...

charlie,

I'm genuinely curious; do you find no fault on the part of the AMPTP?

Sam said...

BTW, anybody know when the DGA is stepping into that spotlight? So far, no announcement of any kind from either side.

Everybody was saying they're starting Monday but that can't be true with no announcement.

Brendan C said...

I think we're heading toward two areas of the WGA -- the disenchanted and those who are in complete denial.

I support the WGA's cause 100%, but I have been against the strike since day 1. I thought it made much more sense to continue to work under the old contract and try and negotiate a deal civily. If that didn't work (which is likely, judging by the AMPTP's behavior), at least everyone would still be getting paid, and the WGA would still have the leverage of a potential strike, which if they waited for SAG in the summer, would've been a lot more effective.

Admit it, many writers have resigned themselves to the fact that they will ahve to wait for SAG to end this strike anyway -- so wouldn't it have made more sense to just continue working until then rather than suffering without money all year?

Many writers have expressed their aggrivation over what they see as the constant change of strategies by the WGA leadership. Well you know why this has happened? Because the original strategy (the strike) didn't work!

We can bitch all we want that the AMPTP won't negotiate in good faith, but let's face it, they are the ones still making $$, not the writers. Of course the writers are "still at the table", they are losing tons of money and can't survive as long as the studios can. Are the AMPTP jackasses? Sure, I think they are certainly acting that way. But they were smart enough to know that the WGA didn't have the leverage against them they had thought, which makes them at least smarter than most are giving them credit for.

I think WGA members should PRAY for a quick deal made by the DGA this month, take that same deal, go back to work, and accept the fact that sometimes people just don't get what they deserve. Fortunately, in the case of the writers, it's still more than most people get.

One last thing, ESPN columnist Bill Simmons, a former writer for Kimmel and member of the WGA, made some very good points about the strike toward the end of his latest "links" column. I would urge people to check it out and discuss.

intrigued said...

rodney vacarro,

i am not a writer. i have said many times on here that i am not associated with the industry. i am just intrigued with negotiaion between the AMPTP and the WGA (as i am with most strikes).

i do a have bias toward the AMPTP in this strike, not because i agree with them, but because from a strategic standpoint they appear to be outmanuevering the WGA's leadership and its not even close.

im just here for a lively debate, i would hope that you would welcome my opinions as it is clear that the majority of the writers do not understand the business side of the situation. And make no mistake this strike has NOTHING to do with writing and everything to do with business. Some that have engaged me have unstood what i am saying. Those that want to live in dream land and think just because what they want is just & fair means they will eventually get it ARE INSANE.

smoothlatinkid said...

Charlie Boy,

Glad you responded. Let's go.

--"Look at tonight's ratings in the morning. Perhaps they'll slap some reality into you. Jay Leno will continue to do his show with monologues he's written himself and his audience has made it clear that they will continue to watch assuring his ratings win over Letterman (as always)."

If that's the reality you feel I need to be "slapped" with, perhaps you might reach for something I STATED IN MY LAST POST.

The point you missed is that the ratings--as far as the two shows are concerned---mean less to the strike than Letterman striking a deal with the writers--proving the point that even Stevie Wonder can see--we are asking for a fair, do-able deal, and the AMPTP is on the wrong side of this in every way.

Next.

"the fact is that everything the WGA has done so far has set the writers' agenda BACK (to the point where you are now literally relegated to the sidelines while the DGA steps into the spotlight"

Ooh. Ya got me there, didn't ya? NOT!

The AMPTP walked away like a petulant bully because our leadership wouldn't roll over. You make it sound like AMPTP's going to the DGA was something that WASN'T expected. Wake up, pal. Your naiviete is drowning the rest of us in the room. Our sister guild can do what they'd like, we've made it clear we're on our OWN path.

Oh, and the actors are with us.

"You will be on the picket line for several more months and when you return to work, you'll see a completely different landscape in tv than the one you left before the strike (where will your ego and arrogance be then?)."

I can write, pal. It's served me well since I decided I was going to devote my life to this---regardless of the outcome. For someone like you that's unaware of the concept, that's called conviction.

So to answer your question--I, my ego, and my arrogance will be back at with my brother and sisters writers, in whatever landscape is left. I, after all, can write.

Besides shilling (sorry you don't like it, but if the shoe fits...). what the hell can you do?

intrigued said...

artdeptgirl,

if i may answer the question you posed to charlie...

I have said many times that the AMPTP wanted this strike and they want it to continue. They did everything they could bait the WGA into striking. So yes I see fault on part of the AMPTP, but the fact remains the WGA DID NOT have to give them the strike! The AMPTP basically dared the WGA to strike and without foresight they did it!

The problem you have now is unless the WGA goes crawling back on its kness (which I highly doubt), this strike will last at least until the AMPTP reaches an agreement with SAG. And if I'm correct about, then the WGA had no business calling a strike until they could walk out hand-in-hand with SAG.

cantfeedmyfamily said...

It seriously hurts our cause and exposes our irrelevance when we, as writers, rely on "NOT!" to be funny. I mean, in the title AND in the body of the article? What's next? A "Striking for Dummies" joke.

janthonyjackson said...

Laeta, I just wanna say thanks, cause if I ever do get to join, I have no idea that I'd be brave enough to attack the network that paid my most recent check.

Thanks.

And Letterman should keep doing Vaudeville numbers. Recruit some of the unemployed musical film writers. Cause that would rock. Lots of talented writers with one broadcast outlet.

Charlie said...

artdeptgirl said...

charlie,

I'm genuinely curious; do you find no fault on the part of the AMPTP?
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

That's actually the best question anyone has asked me on these boards (and the most intelligent one in the face of "you're a shill" rants). The truth of the matter is that I DO find fault with the AMPTP in so far as how they have contributed to the destruction of their own revenue streams and locked out any REAL fair market potential for talented people to be heard. They (and everyone who feeds off of them including the writers) have turned the industry into a multi-headed, bloated beast that has no choice now but to devour itself to survive (which, of course, will destroy it in the end). However, I know who the AMPTP is, what they represent and where their interests lie. It doesn't surprise me and, quite the contrary, if you're willing to really accept the reality of people who don't give a shit about anyone or anything else but their financial bottom line, their behavior is completely predictable.

But as far as this strike goes, I find little fault in how they are handling themselves because, again, their tactics are predictable (I actually posted each and every one of their "moves" before they made them and it happened exactly as I said it would). Also, they are serving their cause very well (remember please that their cause is not to be liked, loved or even respected - it's to make money). They have you scratching your head, begging them to come back to the table and wondering what the future will be. That's exactly what they wanted.

What I hate is the fact that you writers and your leadership have worked with these people for decades, you have suffered through strikes in the past and you have supposedly done your homework regarding the future, but the ineptness the WGA has displayed at understanding the AMPTP is not only dumbfounding, it is inexcusable. Your own leaders have admitted to being up against a wall only seven weeks into the strike! By staging an iltimed strike you all have played into the hands of the AMPTP's plans to restructure the business in a way that will leave you on the short end of the stick as you see those lucrative pilot jobs and tv staff jobs dry up. The WGA's lack of insight is astounding and irresponsible. As far as I'm concerned, the WGA has just as big of an ego as the AMPTP -- the main difference between the two is: the AMPTP members are FAR better at inflicting pain than any and all of you combined. It's how they made their millions. They want to break the spirit of the guilds and for you to undermine the extent to which they will do it while jumping headfirst into a strike leaves me to find far greater fault with your leadership than with theirs (you went into battle without amour, with your pants down and with leadership that is starting to resemble the Three Stooges - I find fault with that above all else).

Harold said...

"Harold? If you don't like an overwhelming sentiment on one side of this issue, why are you trolling on a pro WGA site? Oh wait, I guess I just answered myself. You're excused. I'll say this clearly for the trolls and shills: we are in this for as long as it takes. Period."

Keep fantasizing that every disagreement with the party line is written by an AMPTP troll.

The failure to acknowledge other points of view will be one of the reasons this strike fails - IF it fails.

The "if you don't blindly follow Verrone & Young, the AMPTP wins" logic is tired. Don't be like AMPTP. Come up with some new fascist logic that defends acknowledging only ONE point of view.

I can conceptually agree that no one should get too excited, but uneven enforcement of strike rules is just dead wrong. Whether Leno was told the WGA would "look the other way" regarding his monologues is irrelevant. The WGA is looking the other way RIGHT NOW. As it continues to look the other way and not enforce its own strike rules, that inaction tells me what Leno claims was said is true.

But the WGA is out of the game until after the DGA makes its deal anyway. There will be no movement until then.

It's not as if the guild hasn't jumped headfirst into something without a plan. If the leadership displayed during the "America's Next Top Model" strike is any indication, there is much to be worried about.

Frustrated Bystander said...

Jay Leno's monologue proves one thing the AMPTP and the trolls keep forgetting. CONTENT IS KEY. If Jay's content keeps gets eyeballs, with or without his writing staff, it shows that his product "owned" by NBC is very valuable. Precisely why the WGA is striking.

So, yay, Jay is working now...but if the AMPTP does not strike a good deal for WGA, SAG and DGA, all such creative voices will soon be looking elsewhere to secure a bigger and better slice of the pie.

With the internet, the industry is wide open to writers finding a method in which they can take back ownership of their intellectual property.

Jay's ability to write and perform his own monologue does not prove that the WGA is weak or falling apart. It only proves that the AMPTP's hold on content is limited and if the AMPTP doesn't change its tune with the creative community soon, the AMPTP will find their position as content developers eroded much more quickly than they thought.

ificandream said...

Eventually, the lack of writing will show on Leno's show. And settling with Letterman was a good move. It showed, first and foremost, that your demands are workable. And ignore the trolls. You're doing the right thing. Solidarity, folks. Solidarity.

EBL said...

Of course Leno's getting good ratings. People are tuning in to see what all the fuss is about. Let the controversy die down, let him run through his material and then see how he's doing. My bet is that people will get bored and tune out soon enough.

Sock Puppeteer said...

Leno is scheduled to have as a guest on Jan. 15 "The Guy From Boston" who does a lot of video rants.
If you can't find something bigoted he said, you're not looking.
http://www.theguyfromboston.com/video_menu.asp

artdeptgirl said...

charlie,

Thanks for replying. That said, I'm not a Guild member, actually, so way to make a totally unsubstantiated assumption.

And if I read you correctly, essentially you are giving the AMPTP a total pass because, well, you expected this from them, ergo, why waste time including them in your, well, rants, because they're only doing what you thought they would do anyway, so no harm, no foul?

And because, in your opinion - which, by the way you are certainly entitled to - Guild leadership is completely screwing the pooch on this so they, then, become the bad guys?

That's some fairly spectacular moral relevance you've got going on there.

I'm gonna tell you a secret now. Are you listening?

The future is disintermediation; you know, cutting out the middle man?

The future is the Internet.

That's why the AMPTP won't come back to the table. It's not about the Guild, or the NegComm, or the Board, or anything else. It's about the internet.

The AMPTP don't want to give up any ground on the future. That's it. That's what this all boils down to; new media.

The Alliance will huff and puff and try to blow the house down, sure, but the smart folks will just chuckle as they walk away, laptops and 3 chip cameras in hand.

Unfortunately for the AMPTP, they're missing the entire point of the Internet, which is....no one needs them to distribute on the Internet.

So rail against Guild leadership all you want. It's certainly as valid an opinion as the next guy's, but to leave the AMPTP out of any legitimate discussion, to essentially absolve them of any responsibility in this is completely disingenuous. And at least as far as I'm concerned, pretty much totally invalidates your opinion.

Harold said...

If anyone doubts whether the scabbing late night hosts ARE scabs, READ THIS.

Two of the LEAST SUPPORTIVE WGA members are banding together to criticize their own guild on television.

Some who provide posts for this blog, like Laeta Kalogridis, are misguided in their support for Leno who CONTINUES TO INTENTIONALLY VIOLATE HIS GUILD'S STRIKE RULES.

The guild must sanction Leno and sanction him SEVERELY. Anything less is cowardice. AMPTP will be watching, but not to see if writers argue with each other. It will be watching to see whether the WGA is weaker than only ONE of its members.

Every Leno monologue is a giant FU to the WGA.

If Leno isn't severely sanctioned for violating strike rules, there is no reason why any other member should follow them either.