1/24/2008

From Ron Moore

This piece was submitted by WGA member Ron Moore, creator of the reimagined Battlestar Galactica.

At this moment, informal talks are underway between representatives of the AMPTP and the leadership of the WGA. A news blackout is in effect and there will be precious little, if any, word leaking out from the talks and we’re all going to have to get by with rumor, speculation and the precious bits of information that come from Nikki Finke.

This is a moment of trust.

Trust in the people we elected to represent our interests, to fight for our rights and to safeguard our interests for the future.

The Guild leadership and the members of the Negotiating Committee have put themselves out in front, taken the ill-informed knocks from the media, the calculated slander from the studios, and the cajoling, bickering, and Monday-morning quarterbacking of some elements within the membership itself and yet they’ve never wavered from their goals of trying to achieve the best deal for all of us and for the writers who will follow in our footsteps.

The sheer number of arrows these people take on a daily basis on the internet alone rival the incoming fire at the Little Bighorn and it’s something of a miracle that not a single one of them has simply let loose in a tirade of vitriol and bile at their tormentors in some public forum. I’ve heard them accused of everything from seeking personal political gain to seeking to foment communist revolution over the course of the strike, but time and again they just keep coming back to the basic issues of fairness and justice in what they’re seeking for all of us.

They deserve our trust. And they damned well have earned it.

We can all sit around and bitch about how “we” would’ve handled the negotiations or about how “we” know what to do now, but the bottom line is that “we” aren’t in the hotseat and “we” haven’t spent the time and effort pouring over the endless details of the MBA for the last two years or immersed ourselves in the complexities of the emerging new media. The men and women on the negotiating committee and the board have put in the time, held themselves up to abuse and done the work that needed to be done.

Right now, we need to trust that they know what they’re doing and that they have the best interests of the membership in mind as they approach the new round of talks. Does that mean we have to rubber-stamp anything they want? Of course not. They’ll eventually be submitting something for us to vote up or vote down and we’ll have ample opportunity to debate the proposal on its merits. But now we need to give them the leeway to maneuver if they’re to be any real chance to get a good deal at the bargaining table.

The last thing we need is for writers to be bitching anonymously to the media (like Patrick Goldstein claimed in an incredibly slanted column this week) or, worse yet, for high-profile members (like a certain former president of the Guild) to be sending out public “letters” saying how the DGA deal is so great and putting public pressure on the negotiators to just take it already at the very moment they need to keep all their cards to themselves. It’s both foolish and self-destructive and they should all know better.

The leadership of the WGA did not trick us into a strike or stir up passions that did not exist. That 90% strike authorization vote made it abundantly clear that the leadership accurately reflected the very real sentiments of the members and there’s no call for any of us to suddenly start acting otherwise.

Hang tough. Trust our Guild leadership. And remember who the real opponent is out there.

- Ron Moore

30 comments:

Emily said...

Oh man, you just had to break in Ron Moore. You just had to qoute Ron moore,one of the best writers on tv.

Trust the WGA leadership? At your command infamous...leader

And yet if he had really killed Starbuck, I would still be pissed at him

But in all seriousness, I do agree with Ronald D. Moore. There's nothing else we can do but hope that the leadership knows what is is doing.

My theory is that the WGA leaders should watch out....we don't know who the final cylon is and it is probably that head suit from the AMPTCP

And if you have no idea what I am talking about, thats okay haha

Alan Smithe said...

It's too bad the Guild leadership isn't reciprocal on the issue of trust with its members. Just once I'd like to be treated with the tiniest amount of respect, enough say to be kept informed on those little issues that are important me--like giving up DVD, and now animation and reality--not after the fact, but before.

Aaron said...

Great posting, Ron.

There's a difference between questioning our leadership and doubting it. We should never stop questioning things we don't understand or agree with. But after the countless hours of face time the committee members have put in on strike lines and at captains' meetings, providing the latest updates and fielding every question thrown their way, it's hard to imagine what more they could possibly do to earn our trust.

I'm proud to be represented by them, and I look forward to seeing (and discussing) whatever deal they're able to procure.

mheister said...

Frakkin' A!

Thank you Ron.

Uncle said...

so say we all!

Aaron said...

Great posting, Ron.

There's a difference between questioning our leadership and doubting it. We should always question the things we don't understand or agree with. But after the countless hours of face time the committee members have put in on strike lines and at captains' meetings, providing us with the latest updates and fielding every question thrown their way, it's hard to imagine what more they could do to earn our trust.

I'm proud to be represented by them, and I look forward to seeing (and discussing) whatever deal they're able to procure.

David said...

Well said, well writ.

David Twohy

Bill said...

To be fair you must add Nikki Finke and her blog site to the list of what we don't need right now if you consider what the high profile WGA members wrote as divisive and bitter. Goes both ways to compromise ya know.

People please... said...

Well said, Ron!

It's time we shut up, and wait to see the deal that'll be presented to us. If it's good, we'll take it, if it's bad, we won't.

Until this over, I think we all need to stop speaking to the media!!!!

Stay strong, stay united. We will win this.

Geo Rule said...

Keep the faith, Ron. I don't want to start any fan wars here, but I will say I'm incredibly proud of the role that sf&f fandom has played in supporting the writers during this time. I think maybe because we have longer experience at being a cohesive organized group (of *lovable* screwballs). After all, the first "World Science Fiction Convention" was in 1939.

hotline said...

Yeah, what Ron said.

buzzearl said...

Amen, Ron.

As a WGA Supporter, I must say that I enjoy reading all of the opinion pieces from such incredible writers and hope that these works will be put together in a "Voices From The Strike 2008" Book.

BuzzEarl

Pete Fanning said...

I'm surprised nobody said "So say we all" yet! :)

PJ McIlvaine said...

What a difference from someone else I could name who has a blog...what a disappointment he turned out to be.

hoopcooper said...

The best thing we can do now, is make clear to everyone...from Ron Moore to Patric Verrone to evil Nick Counter that all we want is a fair deal. But we won't settle for less.

If our leadership feels the slightest concern, let them bring the deal to us and we'll confirm just how unifed we are. Too many good writers spilled too much creative blood to get us this far.

Charles said...

Ron had a strike beard before the strike.

Helen said...

The humans waited forty years for the Cylons to come back to the table. We can wait a little longer for a resolution.

Jake Hollywood said...

Gosh, PJ, who could you be talking about?

Gotta wonder about that guy, especially now (and considering he's never actually walked the picket line) that he's working on his current project--maybe even re-writing in violation of Guild rules--why he's never gone fi-core. I mean, he bleeds anti-union. His love of John Wells not with-standing, the venom toward Verrone and the rest of the leadership is totally un-called for.

Unity got us this far, let's see it through.

Geo Rule said...

As a WGA Supporter, I must say that I enjoy reading all of the opinion pieces from such incredible writers and hope that these works will be put together in a "Voices From The Strike 2008" Book.

I must say, I'd really love to have a collection of "the best strike chants". Given who we're talking about, you just know that many of them had to be several cuts above, "Hey Hey, Ho Ho, Robert Iger has to go!"

Luzid said...

All I'm going to say is - someone actually thought this was a communist front?

What is this, 1950?

Sad that some are so out of touch with reality that they see "commies" in every fight for fairness and justice.

Anyway - what Ron said.

Lizardo! said...

Ron Moore, creator of the reimagined Battlestar Galactica

How can you be credited with creating something when it was already created in 1978 by another WGA member?

Excellent piece though.

nicole said...

Concise and beautifully written, Ron Moore.

lizardo, I figured they emphasized "reimagined" to distinguish it from the original series. "Developer" might be a better word, but I think it's such a different animal that creator fits.

PJ McIlvaine said...

Jake Hollywood, this person shall herafter be known as "The Artful Dodger"...

Becca said...

Now I know why your fans love ya so much!

Well said.

Geo Rule said...

Hence the "reimagined". It's like "best left-handed shortstop from the Dominican Republic". Get it exactly right or it's entirely wrong! ;)

Michael Bailey said...

“So Say We All”

In-fighting helps the opposing force by allowing time, energy and creativity to be wasted in counter-productive and egotistical criticism. I think overall the leadership has done an excellent job of staying focused and allowing the producers to publicly hang themselves with their greed.

We writers are filled with opinions and love to express them. Heck, that’s what we DO. But attacks from the ranks do not serve the shared interests of the Guild, and can be used by the Producers to justify a lesser offer. Negotiations run on perception. If the enemy thinks you are week, divided, and dissatisfied, they will use that perception in the formulation of strategy against you.

Do not allow the pressures of a strike, the very real economic and emotional tolls, to distract you from the goal of a genuinely fair deal.

Reasonable people must sometimes take radical actions to secure tangible respect. Fair compensation is tangible respect.

So, Frak’em till they show us the respect we deserve. Frack’em till they respect our role as the creators of their wealth. Frack’em till they acknowledge our ability to capture the imaginations of all the nations with the stories we tell.

Then let’s make a fair deal and get on with our work. Hold no grudge, make no list, point no finger. I got ideas to pitch, and they got distribution skills.

Let's stay tough. It's the fastest way back to work.

Scott Ellington said...

My only criticism of Guild conduct of the strike is that nobody hired a showrunner to inform and organize the American (and worldwide) audience into an asset. The Winter of Our Discontents is the title I'd have nominated, or maybe something simpler and more resonant, like WGA The Dog.
I Am Legend hit the street one week after the AMPTP left the negotiating table, yet American audiences went to theaters, broke a box office record and assisted Warners and the others in doing business as usual.
In this winter of our discontents, the audience has largely been left out in the cold, as though the fundamental alliance between storytellers and audiences is the relationship that's been forgotten.

jagger said...

Many valid points in this thoughtful and well-meant post. What lingers with this WGA member, however, is the somewhat unfortunate allusion to The Little Bighorn. All of those "incoming arrows" were the grim and very direct result of a leader whose arrogance and hubris not only destroyed him, but those who loyally stood by his side and chose not to question his actions.

stuiec said...

Michaelk Bailey: "Fair compensation is tangible respect."

That is absolutely correct. That's the prize the Guild members should keep their eyes on.

stuiec = Stuart Creque

pretty shaved ape said...

As a supporter of the WGA strike, as an occasionally working Canadian actor and as a fan of Battlestar, i can agree with Mr. Moore's words. Last year ACTRA, Canada's SAG, went through a divisive strike over many of the same issues. We in the membership held fast and eventually we won most of what we had fought for, residuals, online rights etc. As a Canadian in the industry, I was proud of our membership.

Yet I can still find fault with my guild and its actions, as opposed to its policies, toward the membership. A particular and glaring fault is one that can be laid at the feet of Ron Moore. In his commentary track for "Razor" he talks about the stirring scene where the crew of the ship intone "So say we all". He goes into some detail about how my union, ACTRA, was going to force him to abide by the rules and how onerous it was to deal fairly with the performers. By those rules, each and every player who spoke the line for his show, deserved and earned the credit and commensurate pay of actors.

Moore complained that this routine breach of policy and abuse of performers' rights was the result of a sister production failing to smooth things with the guild before pulling the same stunt. He asserted that he had repeatedly been allowed to overstep the bounds of fair compensation for performers and had the audacity to come off as snippish that he wasn't immediately accommodated. Having been in this situation personally, it is a cruel blow to the actors that are engaged in background. Many, like myself work damned hard to make shows look good. We carry ourselves as professionals. We deserve to be treated as such. I bring the same skills, craft and care to set whether I'm in an actor's trailer or huddled in BG holding.

Many of us are working to earn our credits toward full guild membership. If approached by production, I can tell you that a lot of players would be more than happy to forego the day's increase in pay for the reward of a credit. Sadly, productions like BSG just don't bother to take the background players into account. Our guild, who we pay protection to through dues and permit fees, is complicit. To say that I was disappointed by Mr. Moore's commentary would not do justice to the blue language it inspired.

Mr. Moore's admirable stance toward the writers is not supported by his actions when it is his budget and benefit at stake. Mr. Moore is no better than the AMPTCP, he just wears a different hat.

I continue to support the writers, as i will support SAG, but Ronald D. Moore has lost my respect.