1/12/2008

Hard Ball and the Award Shows

I miss the Golden Globes. The fans miss seeing their favorite stars win awards for their favorite movies and tv shows. The Writers' Guild Awards have also been downgraded to a news event. All the writers who were nominated deserve their moment in the spotlight. And the Academy Awards... That's threatened too. Added to all the economic difficulties created by the strike, why not just let the awards be a bright spot and let us enjoy all of their pomp and circumstance?

Because we have to play hard ball. We have to do that because the corporations are difficult employers. But more importantly, we have to play a tough-minded game because our industry suffers from a structural imbalance.

In most industries, labor gets to negotiate with a single voice. The individual corporations aren't allowed to collude. In the entertainment business, the opposite is true. The studios speak as one, while the directors, actors, writers, teamsters, and craft unions have been segregated into competing entities.

What's more, the contracts for the different unions don't come up for renewal at the same time. The media congloms won't allow their workers that kind of power. If writers are on strike, everyone else can keep working so the studios can continue on with their businesses, albeit with inconveniences.

Imagine what would happen if all the contracts came up at the same time. Perhaps then we'd have a 7 hour strike the way the auto industry did last year.

But back to reality.

In Hollywood, labor doesn't have that kind of structural power, and the calendar is our enemy. Which brings me back to the Golden Globes and Academy Awards. Nobody wants to take the award shows off the air. Just as nobody wants to make life more difficult for the talk show hosts. For that matter, nobody wants to create economic hardship by striking. But if the corporations propose an unreasonable deal and they won't negotiate with any sincerity, there are only two choices: accept what they offer or take actions that cause them economic pain. That's all they understand, the bottom line.

If we don't like the deal they're offering, we have to play hard ball. The challenge is to do so in a way that is in keeping with our values and keeps public opinion on our side. If we won't allow waivers for these shows, we have to explain why. We can never lose sight of the public's strong support for the strike. We can't be indifferent to the consequences of our struggle. We can't be emotional or capricious. We need to make well-calculated tactical moves. We have to play smart hard ball.

47 comments:

BTL Guy said...

The Oscars have to be allowed to air.

It is the biggest celebration of our industry each year. It is voted on by the industry. It honors all branches of the industry (11 out of the 24 categories are for below-the-line).

But, if a Strike is still ongoing, there are ways to allow the show to go on.

The easiest way is to force a payout to a solidarity fund and to the Guild's strike fund. Make the network pay a percentage of the ad revenue, or pay a flat fee. But if the Network is going to get something out of it, the industry should, too.

Another way -- force the network to air at least 2 Speechless ads. For free. And one of those ads airs between Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Screenplay.

Get creative about this, guys.

And allow the industry to celebrate the great achievements of the past year.

mheister said...

No, the Oscars do not have to air.

The irony here is in the history of the Oscars. They were a created at least partially as a tactic to head off the creation of a writers' union

Jack Warner didn't want to pay the writers more or have them realize their value to the industry, so he tried to avert a union by throwing a dinner and giving away some statuettes to make the actors and writers feel good. It was only later that the industry recognized the PR value of the awards.

Today, much as I respect the Oscars and the people whose excellence in their craft or profession garners them the recognition of a nomination or a win, the primary purpose of the Academy Awards is to help fill the coffers of the film industry, the television network that airs the show and the networks and entertainment newsmagazine shows that cover the red carpet and the parties, and the assorted ancillary companies who find their way in with the swag, the gowns and tuxes, the jewelry, so on.

As for the Golden Globes, there was a great editorial in Friday's LA Times about that. The foreign journalists seriously need to get their act together.

As the LA Times pointed out and has been repeated on this website, this strike is war. If the AMPTP are the Germans (I didn't say Nazis. I'm trying to be nice) and the WGA the British, SAG (my guild) is the Americans providing material assistance, knowing we have perhaps as large a stake in the outcome as the WGA.

We should recognize the situation for what it is. It is not the writers who are blowing up the GG's and the Oscars, it's the AMPTP. They are the ones who walked away from the table. They are the ones who haven't budged on their "three-year study" while the Financial Times of London reported that the Internet was worth $150M to the industry last year and NBC-U projects their Internet presence alone will be worth $1 billion this year.

And speaking of the Internet, another thing WGA and SAG negotiators should put on the table is taking a share of the studios' and networks' profits from metadata on the table.

reasonable said...

No Oscars unless there's a fair deal.

Willie said...

btl guy -

think that is a great idea but it is my understanding that the HFPA offered some sort of forum for the WGA's views and that was not acceptable; does anyone know if this is true?

Jon Raymond said...

The industry doesn't deserve this kind of celebration and respect if it can't show the smallest amount of respect to the people who make the industry what it is. 2.5¢ on new media and "the industry" won't budge on it. I hope the Oscars will be down if WGA strike points are not met. This will be the wake up call the world needs, let alone the industry.

No money. No show. You want Oscars? Pay the fucking 2 and a half cents.

BTL Guy said...

"The industry" as I am referring to it (and as it is commonly referred to by those who work in it) is not "the Studios;" it is all of us who work to create film and television.

The Industry isn't dissing the Writers, the Studios are.

If the Strike is not concluded (and it may well be), the Oscars could and should still go on. If they are blocked from airing, it won't be the AMPTP's fault (as Jon suggests). It will be the Writers not allowing it to go forward.

There are completely legitimate reasons for the WGA to block the Awards, but there are also very real reasons to allow the awards to air.

1) This would be the best opportunity for Writers, Actors, Directors and even Below The Line to publicly urge the Producers to make a deal -- on a worldwide stage.

2) WGA could negotiate points such as I suggested above. These are not small concessions.

Force the Network to air pro-wga propaganda? Force the network to pay into a fund which supports the strike continuing? And these are just a couple of suggestions from an out-of-work workerbee. Surely professional creative dreamers can come up with even better ideas.

3) WGA constantly claims to be striking on behalf of the entire industry. The symbolism of blocking a celebration of the past year is only going to hurt, not help, the WGA's PR case.

I admit I overstated things. The Oscars don't have to air. But an Oscar celebration would be better for the Guild, and better for the rest of us, if it were allowed to proceed.

It's the oldest adage in show business...

The show must go on.

mheister said...

BTL Guy -

Please also bear in mind that the deal the WGA gets bears directly on the health of the BTL unions' pension funds. So yeah, the WGA is in a very real sense striking also on behalf of the BTL unions.

As for the show having to go on, with the WGA on strike and SAG not crossing the picket line, AMPAS can choose to throw a huge party and dinner and hand out all the hardware and quite possibly have the actors and writers in attendance. The show can go on; they just can't televise it.

But watch. If the strike isn't settled in time, the proof of what I said about the show being about money will be in the pudding of an entirely-cancelled show or some lame televised news conference, and AMPAS won't throw the artists a party.

Jon Raymond said...

btl guy,
Yes I know what the industry is. But apparently you don't and I was using the term in your vernacular, i.e. WGA versus Industry, which could only mean WGA versus AMPTP, therefore AMPTP=Industry. Confused? It's your logic.

You say it as if the industry and the WGA are two opposing entities. "allow the industry to celebrate", you say. Who should allow who to celebrate? The WGA allow the actors and everyone else? The WGA allow the AMPTP to get some prime PR and rake in some cool cash?

No. It's the AMPTP that has left the table and won't budge on two and a half pennies on the dollar.

Does this sound ludicrous? If so it's because I'm trying to fathom your logic.

But thanks for the clarification. If only you could apply it to your own rants. If the WGA is an adversary to something, that something is the AMPTP, not the industry, unless we try to parlay in your twisted world.

kimmy2007 said...

The Oscars must go on , it is a tradition in Hollywood that cannot be reduced to a "press conference or a clip show". The Writers must let them air. if the Oscars are cancelled then I think the both sides should get fined or reprimanded for this, its not fair that awards show are cancelled or reduced to press conferences because there is such childish behavior going on between these people. Or better yet get back to talking and get a deal what a concept? maybe that will work!

Local44United said...

what a bunch of crap jon raymond...
at this point in time the WGA is very much the adversary of the ENTIRE industry.
You want to keep fooling yourselves into thinking that you have the support of the BTL unions and the general public, but the fact is that you don't.

You all keep saying "It's the AMPTP that has left the table", well, there wouldn't be a table to leave if the WGA hadn't gone on strike to begin with.

So save the condescending and holier-than-thou attitude.
BTL Guy is just expressing an opinion that he shares with a great deal of other people..all of which have been totally screwed by the AMPTP....AND the WGA.

Harold said...

Slowly... the strike appears to be having an effect in the markets. The fall in major media stocks is larger than the market as a whole. In some cases, almost 4 times the fall in the overall market.

Check it out. The WGA strike began on November 5, 2007.

November 2, 2007 Values

Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA): 13,595.10
Standard & Poor 500 Index (SP500): 1,509.65
NASDAQ Composite (NASDAQ): 2,810.38

CBS Corporation (CBS): 27.67
CBS Corporation (CBS.A): 27.69
Comcast Corporation (CMCSA): 20.55
DirecTV Group (DTV): 25.62
General Electric (GE): 40.33
Liberty Media (LINTA): 21.30
Liberty Media (LINTB): 21.12
Liberty Media (LCAPA): 122.00
Liberty Media (LCAPB): 121.88
News Corporation (NWS): 22.33
News Corporation (NWS.A): 21.21
Time-Warner (TWX): 17.88
Viacom (VIA): 41.56
Viacom (VIA.B): 41.58
Vivendi SA (VIV.PA): 30.39
Sony (SNE): 49.54
Walt Disney Company (DIS): 33.92

January 11, 2008 Values

DJIA: 12,606.30 (-7.27%)
SP500: 1,401.02 (-7.20%)
NASDAQ: 2,439.94 (-13.18%)

CBS: 24.10 (-12.90%)
CBSA: 24.07 (-13.07%)
CMSA: 17.12 (-16.69%)
DTV: 21.72 (-15.22%)
GE: 35.17 (-12.79%)
LINTA: 15.63 (-26.62%)
LINTB: 15.90 (-24.72%)
LCAPA: 109.69 (-10.09%)
LCAPB: 110.61 (-9.25%)
NWS: 19.73 (-11.64%)
NWS.A: 19.11 (-9.90%)
TWX: 16.01 (-10.46% or -10.12% when a 6 cent paid dividend is considered)
VIA: 40.22 (-3.22%)
VIA.B: 40.16 (-3.42%)
VIV.PA: 30.39 (+1.28%)
SNE: 55.30 (+11.63%)
DIS: 30.32 (-10.61%)

Who are these companies?

CBS Corporation (NYSE: CBS, CBS.A) - CBS; 50% of The CW; Showtime; Movie Channel; Sundance Channel (with NBC Universal); King World (Jeopardy!, Wheel of Fortune, Inside Edition, Rachel Ray, Dr. Phil); Spelling Television

Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ: CMCSA) - E! Networks (E!, Style, G4); 20% of MGM (MGM, United Artists); largest cable TV company in the U.S.; 2nd largest Internet service provider in U.S.

DirecTV Group (NYSE: DTV) - Satellite TV company controlled by News Corp. and Liberty Media

General Electric (NYSE: GE) - 80% of NBC Universal (Universal Studios, Focus Features, NBC, CNBC, MSNBC, Bravo, Sci Fi Channel, USA Network, Telemundo); 25% of A&E Networks (A&E, History Channel); Sundance Channel (with CBS Corporation)

Liberty Media (NASDAQ: LINTA, LINTB, LCAPA, LCAPB) - Controls DirecTV with News Corp.; QVC; 50% of Game Show Network; Starz; Encore

News Corporation (NYSE: NWS, NWS.A) - Fox studios, network, and cable channels; National Geographic Channel

Time-Warner (NYSE: TWX) - Warner Bros.; New Line Cinema; DC Comics; Castle Rock; AOL; 50% of The CW; HBO; Cinemax; Cartoon Network / Adult Swim; Hanna Barbera; Looney Tunes; TBS; TNT; Turner Classic Movies; Court TV; CNN; Time Warner Cable; Road Runner High Speed Online; The Smoking Gun

Viacom (NYSE: VIA, VIA.B) - Paramount; DreamWorks; MTV; VH1; Nickelodeon; CMT; Spike; BET; Comedy Central; TV Land; iFilm; Atom Films

Vivendi SA (VIV.PA) - 20% of NBC Universal

Sony (NYSE: SNE) - Columbia Pictures; TriStar Pictures; Screen Gems; 20% of MGM (MGM, United Artists); 50% of Game Show Network

Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) - Disney Pictures; Hollywood Pictures; Touchstone; Miramax; ABC; ESPN; SOAPnet; Lifetime; 37.5% of A&E Networks (A&E, History Channel); Live with Regis and Kelly; At the Movies with Ebert & Roeper

SUMNER REDSTONE - Holds 80% of privately owned National Amusements which has majority ownership of CBS CORPORATION and VIACOM. Stock price pressure has impact only when Redstone feels it as opposed to the minority shareholders.

BTL Guy said...

Shutting down Oscar would be another mistake in a long line of them.

I understand that allowing the Oscars to air would have benefits for AMPTP. I'm suggesting that it also has benefits for WGA.

But the response seems to be that if anything is good at all in any way for the AMPTP, then WGA should do everything to stop it.

You could cut off your nose to spite your face.

Or you could reach a mutually beneficial compromise.

-------

Jon,

I never said nor implied that "The Industry" did not include the Writers. I never said nor implied "The Industry" was opposed to the Writers. You have inferred something that simply wasn't there.

I suggested an idea whereby the WGA would ALSO get money and PR from the event. I suggested that part of that promotion come in the middle of celebrating the best writers of the past year.

I support the Writers and believe they are asking for fair money from the AMPTP. I do however disagree with the Strike in general and so many specifics that go along with it.

Those last two sentences are not diametrically opposed or in any way contradictory, despite what so many "troll hunters" think. Don't believe me? Ask one of your own. Ask Bill Maher, who on Friday suggested that this was "not the right Strike and was not the right time."


--------

mheister,

The Oscar telecast is the single biggest source of income for AMPAS each year. If you were to block that TV revenue, would you still expect them to spend moolah on a party for you?

This is from the AMPAS.org website:

"The Academy Awards Presentation is also the Academy's most important activity and has enabled the organization to maintain a varied year-around calendar of programs and events and a wide-ranging educational and cultural agenda."

With or without the telecast, I'd rather AMPAS not throw a Governor's Ball, and instead funnel that money into other programs.

I'm not interested in the Awards Show parties. I'm interested in the Awards Show.

Dara said...

I am only a film and television fan. Not in any union or a part of this strike at all (outside of the fact that I live in LA). However, as a fan I agree with the original post when it says:
"If we don't like the deal they're offering, we have to play hard ball. The challenge is to do so in a way that is in keeping with our values and keeps public opinion on our side. If we won't allow waivers for these shows, we have to explain why."
As a fan, I have supported the writers from the beginning, however I have to admit that my support is starting to waiver a little because all of the "hard ball" you are playing isn't being explained and just feels like punishment. I understand that you can't waiver, but saying that the Globes aren't happening simply because you have to play hard ball is not an explanation. Especially when an event like the Globes is such a great platform to get your message out to the world. I do see why the writers decided to picket and not sign an interim agreement with the Globes producers. Allowing the Globes to go on would have only really benefitted NBC in the end and I agree that it's not really appropriate regardless of how much publicity the WGA cause would have gotten. I guess my whole point here is that I would rather hear those reasons coming out of the WGA camp than that you have to play "hard ball"; that's just rhetoric.

Shanna said...

As a viewer and a fan, I think it's great that the GGs aren't happening and I hope the Oscars don't happen either. Why? Because I didn't realize the trickle down affect of these events. It affects caterers, it affects fashion houses, it affects so many people and although I'm not happy that these people will lose business and money, I'm happy that the WGA is playing hardball. The AMPTP won't even return to the bargaining table, but the WGA is supposed to just let them continue to reap the benefits of these events? The WGA has made concessions time and time again, it's time for that to stop and it seems like it finally is.

ReelBusy said...

Dear BTI guy,
Allowing the Oscars to be broadcast is like putting $50-75 million dollars in the AMPTP's pocket. Losing the Globes cost NBC lots of money. This is the only way the WGA can win is to put the hurt on. Since we are feeling it so should they. NO SHOWS UNTIL A DEAL!

Meh said...

I just want to note, from the fan perspective I am hearing.

If you continue to block awards show, you will begin to lose VALUABLE pr points in public perception and goodwill.

The media isn't explaining WHY we can't have award shows and a good portion of your audience is not in a union and thus WILL not understand the tactics in strike.

Try hard to bring the Oscars to air, and let that be a pr point for you.

cory said...

Guys, don't worry, the strike might
go on for a few more months, maybe. Once the studios kill all the unwanted deals they want to kill (ABC just killed a bunch of deals on Friday Jan. 11, more layoffs are expected here in the very near future), once they kill pilot season (which is just bloated, financially speaking), and once they are able to establish more reality shows in their regular line-ups, they will come back to the bargaining table and make a deal with whoever is left. For the AMPTP, this was never really about internet residuals, this was an opportunity to re-structure their business models. By getting rid of those unnecessary deals and killing pilot season, they are going to save a good chunk of dough. Producing more reality shows vice scripted shows will save money, too. Once they have finished their re-structuring effort, they will make a deal. Just be patient.

José said...

Hi, I'm from Argentina. I love what you are doing. I dont know if you have the real idea of the great importance of the tv series in south america. Millons of people watch them every day. Millons of people who dont believe in the power of a strike. Who dont believe on the workers rights.
You are a light at the end of the tunnel. Altough the big medias try to ignore you, if the strikes continues the thing will explode. Without writers there are no series. Dont matter how much money the big studios could get. Without imagination, without literature, without brains there is no future for them.
Thanks for being an example.

Clifford J. Green said...

Dear BTL,

The WGA did not cancel the Globes. That was a decision made by the HFPA and NBC. All the WGAw did, as was our right, was to take out a permit to picket the Globes at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. No further threats were made or implied.

We felt picketing the event was necessary as we are currently on strike against both Dick Clark Productions (the producers of the Globes) and NBC. That SAG members decided, in advance, to honor our picket line says more about their own fears for their contract negotiations come Spring than about our power.

If only the WGA had the kind of power you think we have! God, we can't even get the AMPTP to return to the bargaining table to negotiate in good or even bad faith.

If you and the rest of the BTL workforce would join us on the picket lines and get Tommy Short, the head of IATSE, to see his own workers' well-being before his own well-being with the studios, this strike would have been over weeks ago.

Come out and join us!

Best,

Clifford J. Green
Strike Captain and WGAw Member

hollarback said...

The Oscars do not have to air. What do the Oscars celebrate? Film. How do you make a film? Well, you first start with a script...oh. Personally, I don't want to watch the awards show promoting an industry that treats it's key members so shabbily. If the btl folks were on strike they would likely feel the same.

There are no films without writers. The fans get that. The studios are pushing hard ...and the WGA is pushing back. That is the only thing a bully understands. The writers are not the bully here, we all can see that.

And that NY Times article was hysterical.

hollarback said...

BTL guy ..."It's the oldest adage in show business...The show must go on."

Who wrote that?

Bruticus said...

What really gets me is the idea that somehow, if the Oscars were allowed to air, that the WGA would get some benefit from it.

I'm sorry, but there's just no chance in hell that, were the show to go on, that people would be allowed to express any pro-WGA sentiment. The producers would cut off their microphones and have someone usher them off stage while some pretty music played.

JimBob said...

btlguy, you're welcome to see the Oscars as a "celebration" if you like. You can believe anything you want, but a) that doesn't make it true and b) I don't have to believe it just because you do. The Oscars are a money-making enterprise. They fund the Academy and make lots of money for others as iterated in another post above. Stopping them if we're still on strike is absolutely necessary.
And hey, we're not stopping anything at the point of a gun. We're doing two simple things: refusing to waive clip fees for the many film clips used in the telecast, thus making the show more expensive, but not impossibly so; and we're setting up a picket line that our industry brethren and cistern, all good people of conscience, may or may not cross.
So, if "no Oscars" leaves you feeling like a kid whose birthday party got canceled at the last minute, that's a shame. But this is war, we do have to play hardball. So...no fee waivers and yes picket line.

Ken said...

HEADS UP everyone -- BTL Guy and Local44United are plants and consistently come on here to beat down the writer's positions and feedback. They'll claim they're not. They'll claim we're all paranoid by saying that. But as far back as November they have been posting the same pattern of dissension and negativity. BTL tries to mask it as "he kind of supports what we're doing". Smart tactic -- but he does it all the time. And then he slips in his little smack-down of the writers. Local44United is just ignorant and has not life. Clearly this site is one that promotes smart, informed details of what is happening out there. It has never tried to hide it's support of the writers. Why would someone constantly come back to post annoying, negative messages re: the writers and their strategies? Oh, wait - could it be that's their job? Could it be they've been assigned this site? It's not rocket science. Again - check out both their postings, you'll see the clear pattern.

And BTL - save yourself a post and all of us the aggravation of listening to your thoughts on this. We've read your posts before - we can guess what it is. And we don't care. We REALLY DON'T CARE! There's got to be another blog you can go to that does care. We don't.

Again - I post this for any reader who isn't aware of these two. They will try and put this kind of negativity out there and hope you believe it. Don't. It's spin at it's best. But if we call them out on it, then it don't mean squat!

neo45 said...

Why do the Oscars have to air? Do you really think all the hundreds of people put out of work these past few weeks give a damn about whether or not it will air?

Be rational. Focus your energy on something actually worthwhile, like settling the strike and restoring the industry. You'll all be able to continue to pat yourselves on the back once the industry calms and people start to work again. Until then, you have no reason to celebrate.

mheister said...

Cory -

What the studios and networks are not taking into account is the leeching out of A-list writing and acting talent into new media ventures that do not in the least involve the major studios or networks.

Check out Friday's United Hollywood podcast. The report from CES was fascinating. Samsung and other companies are working out an "IPTV protocol". In English, that means software that will deliver the content you want straight to the television, free or by subscription.

In practice, this means if I am, for example, and I own WWP, I can choose after my contract with CBS ends to take my show and Craig Ferguson's and deliver it for free to televisions via an Internet connection. I don't need CBS any more.

It also means startups can slate series of scripted television without having to worry about networks and time slots and all that.

If the AMPTP takes this into the summer, yes, they will have cleared out some old bad deals they made and yes they will have established a couple of new reality shows, but by then they will have lost the goodwill of a LOT of the most talented people in this industry, not just writers, but actors and producers and so on. And many of those people are already preparing to pack their toys and play in someone else's sandbox.

Harold said...

"BTL Guy said...The Oscars have to be allowed to air."

"Meh said...If you continue to block awards show, you will begin to lose VALUABLE pr points in public perception and goodwill."

No person outside 50 miles of LA or NY gives a crap about award shows. Pretending that the public gives a crap is ridiculous.

They don't give a crap about the Oscars, the Emmys, the Tonys, the Grammys, etc., and those are actually relevant awards. Golden Globes, People's Choice, etc. are just pointless filler B.S. created solely on the theory that "putting stars in a room and broadcasting it = good ratings." For other examples, see any MTV or Spike TV awards show.

Argue that the shows provide jobs for the catering firms and other peripheral businesses. Argue that the shows provide BTL production jobs to broadcast it.

Argue things that aren't laughable.

Do you hear the public outcry over the Golden Globes and People's Choice ceremonies?

I don't either.

I'm certain that if the NFL playoffs or the Super Bowl was canceled because of a WGA strike, writers would be stoned on the picket lines. Of course, the WGA strike isn't relevant to those things, but they serve as an example of things that are about as important to humanity as entertainment awards shows - except the public actually gives a shit about them.

Katy said...

Let me first say that, as an observer (not an employee of any entertainment industry) I supported your union's position back in November. You should certainly be paid for every way your work is enjoyed, be it on the internet, on a DVD, on television or on a movie screen.

That said, the damage already done to people who have no say whatever in how long this strike lasts has wiped away any support I might give the WGA. I've been on the wrong side of strikes three times in my life. I've never been a union member, nor worked for a targeted company, but each time the job I held disappeared because of damage caused by pickets and work stops at companies my employer depended on. I wasn't asked to vote on whether to strike, I wasn't able to do anything to shorten the strike, I and my coworkers were just the victims. Nor were we offered any compensation for wages lost and lives disrupted.

If the WGA decides to remain on strike and picket or disrupt the Oscars, I feel that compensation must be offered, penny for penny, full wages, to every non-union non-management person who has lost money due to this strike. This goes for caterers, cabbies, janitors, florists, hotel maids, anyone whose income has been affected. This payment should come from the strike funds, before one union employee gets another dollar.

If damage is done, however unintentional, the one who did it must repair it. I learned that back when I was a child playing baseball: your home run broke a window, so you pay for it even if you didn't mean to do it.

I realize this isn't fair. The AMPTP walked away from the talks, and most writers aren't millionares. The point is, the AMPTP did not call a strike and the strike is what is doing the damage to people who have no voice in ending it. As for writers who say their money is getting tight too -- you called the dance, so you pay the fiddler. So long as it's only the AMPTP and the WGA members feeling the pinch, stay out as long as you like.

I realize I'm just an outside observer, but that's my opinion. Thanks for listening.

Shanna said...

Seriously, how many people actually missed the GGs today?

Since there were no ads for them I doubt most people knew about it. And if the Oscars didn't have any PR for them most people wouldn't notice until a month after that they didn't happen.

Unless you're a hardcore award show freak most people don't notice these things until the ads and promos start airing. I don't think most people are going to miss the award shows unless they're told to miss them.

BTL Guy said...

Ken,

You attack me, then tell me not to defend myself. Does that work? Like, ever?

My position on the strike has indeed been consistent since the beginning. That's about the only thing you got right.

I will state for the record, again, that I am a below the line employee of, until recently, a scripted network TV show produced in L.A. I do not work for the AMPTP or any PR agency in any capacity, nor would I ever want to.

I believe that the AMPTP have acted horribly in this "negotiation" and that their behavior, especially in this current economic climate, has been unconscionable.

Since it was the WGA who actually went on Strike, however, I believe that the WGA shares equal blame for the catastrophe that the Strike has become.

I hope that better explains who I am and where I come from. Use that information however you would like when you read any idea I propose or opinion I state.

I would guess that most regular readers of this site, as well as those who actually run this site, believe I am who I say I am; as well they should. It's the truth. If you don't or won't believe me, there's nothing I can do to change that at this point.

But I will also put forward this "radical" notion: even if I were a plant, how does that make anything I'm arguing for or against any different? Try attacking my ideas, or countering them with one or two of your own, and then you can trash mine.

As for my posts being "negative," maybe you should go back and read them.

Just go back to the top of this page. I started the comments on this post by offering ideas on how the WGA could gain from allowing the Oscars to air.

Disagree with the impact or the viability of the idea all you want (as folks like reelbusy, hollarback and bruticus have done), but there was nothing in its tone which was negative.

There was nothing anti-Writer in the comment, because I am not anti-Writer.

I am anti-WGA-strike-of-2007-2008 and have never hid nor apologized for it. There is a difference.

The day that a United Hollywood admin asks me to stop posting, I will. I have said so before, and I say so again. This is their forum and I am grateful that they allow original ideas and dissenting opinions to air. If they feel the site would be better served without me, I'd leave without so much as a farewell.

Until then, I'm trying, in my tiny little way, to end this thing. Sorry if that offends you.

Sharon said...

Sorry, this FAN just wants to call BS where she sees it with regards to btl and local44. I was sad the Globes weren't on tonight. But I understand WHY, and I don't want to see the Oscars if these deserving men and women that work so hard to bring us quality entertainment don't have a fair deal. The best celebration would be to have a fair contract. Sure, the trophies are nice, and the chance to get all dressed up and be given accolades for your work is fun, but in my opinion, its only a slap in the face if there is no fair deal reached. "Oh, we're so proud of the work you do, but you don't deserve anything for it" is not okay, no matter how much you feel the show must go on. No deal, no Oscars. Its that simple.

mowriter said...

I'm not a professional writer (yet, anyway)but I have followed this subject with great interest. I think the WGA has to be very careful. Certainly, you don't want to weaken your bargaining position. You also don't want to lose public support. Reality shows also hurt WGA's position, because as long as the networks can fill time up with these popular shows, the strike doesn't hurt them as much. I hope WGA will keep IATSE and the other folks who this strike hurts (florists, messengers, etc.) in mind as they continue to try and get AMPTP back to the negotiating table. I'm frankly suprised that as former actor,Gov. Schwarzeneggar hasn't stepped in to help. This strike is obviously taking a large toll on the economy in California.

Whatever the resolution is, I hope it happens soon. I would hate to see the Oscars go the same way as the Globes did. Remember, it's not just the studios who lose money here. It's the florists, the caters, the limo drivers, the valet parkers, and all the other hardworking people who lose, too.

hollarback said...

Harold is right. When you cut "Hollywood" only hollywood bleeds. And guess what? NBC bled cash this weekend, and ABC will bleed too come Oscar time (or not)

Their choice.

The worldwide embarrassment that would come with an Oscar picketline is just gravy

Local44United said...

Oh ken...you terribly misguided soul.

You can call me out on anything you want. I have nothing to hide. I am just one of thousands of below-the-line workers put out of work because of your strike.
I have an opinion and I not afraid to share it.

I have always been open to somebody else's views, even if they do not agree with mine.

So what are you so afraid of?

You would think that a "writer" such as yourself would be able to come up with something a lot more creative than just trying to bully people into thinking what you think.
I mean really....who the hell is afraid of a writer?
I'm obviously, as or more articulate than you...so try a different tactic next time..you might get better results.

As for the other writers on this site...
I am absolutely positive that you are fighting for a worthwhile cause that you all believe in.
My point is, that the rest of the industry doesn't necessarily believes in it as much as you do.

But the strike has gone on FAR too long to give up now.....you MUST get something out of this deal, because if you don't...you will have a lot of people who not only don't like you for what you've done, but they will not respect you either.

While I may not agree with your cause or in the manner in which you undertook it....stay strong...don't be pussies and give it to the tactics of bullies.

After all....Ken might be one of "THEM"

Jon Raymond said...

Katy, being stuck without work in not something peculiar to unions. I've worked in the tech industry and numerous times since 200o the industry has hit rough spots and I was out of work for 3 to 6 moth stretches almost every year for a while.

btl guy, Clifford J. Green is right. THE WGA isn't stopping the Oscars. Let the show go on without writers. Let the stars give their speeches for 3 hours. Who needs those trouble making writers?

local44 - you and btl guy spend a lot of words defending who you really are. Who you trying to convince? Just because everything you say is exactly what the AMPTP likes to hear and exactly what one of those AMPTP lawyer shills who post on boards like this to discredit the WGA would say, well that's no reason to have to convince anyone otherwise.

Kimmy2007 - So pay the two and a half pennies. What's the problem.

The real problem with the Oscars isn't PR, it's not hurting the btl people that much. What it does do is embarrass the moguls in front of the world exposing them and the pennypinching cheapskates babies they are for not paying two and a half cents.

cory said...

mheister, I don't buy the whole "skippinig-the-networks" thing. While I am sure the technology exists to make that possible, humans are creatures of habit. The public is used to watching network television. If David Letterman ended his contract with CBS, what channel would we watch his show on? People are not going to change the channel just to go find David Letterman's show. The networks give shows a much better chance of success because they advertise them so well and give them great lead-ins to help increase viewership. Some musicians had the same mind-set when it came to record companies. Some thought that, because of the internet, they could pretty much bypass record companies and offer their music directly to the public. But record companies remain the premiere way for musicians to offer their music to the public because of their ability to advertise and distribute
(i.e. making sure the cd is available in Walmart, Target, and other big chain stores). In this same way, the big networks will always be the premiere way shows are offered to the public. They advertise the shows, they make sure the shows are offered in all markets, and they give the shows good lead-ins to increase viewership.

deuddersun said...

Let me say this ONE MORE TIME. I am a below the line guy, a little cog in the machine that makes it all go. I am a proud member of IATSE, Local #52, New York City. Like all of us, I am extremely proud of my small contributions to our collaborative art. I also pay attention to the forces that affect my "industry".

I had a great summer. I was fortunate enough to be the Construction Foreman on "For One More Day" in Conn. My deal was a great one and I was able to put away some serious cash. I also worked on Damages and Blueblood. Prior to that I worked on "Before The Devil Knows You're Dead" and "Enchanted". I'm one of the guys that has been either fortunate enough or good enough to work almost constantly on Features and TV.

Now to the point. Our Local's officers have been warning us for over a year that this was going to happen. Every letter we received, every meeting we attended, every time one of our Officers visited a job we were told that a strike was likely. We were told to prepare for a long period of inactivity. We were warned to take all the overtime we were offered. We were encouraged to save our money. WE KNEW WHAT TO EXPECT A YEAR BEFORE IT HAPPENED!

Like everyone-else, I too, am affected by this strike. Two shows that I expected to work on are on hold. My Christmas bills are coming in and the savings I was farsighted enough to stockpile are slowly eroding. I may end up delivering pizza's or slinging burgers just to make what I have stretch. That aside, I am either smarter or luckier than a lot of folks because I took the storm warnings to heart and prepared as best I could. To those who didn't, well, whose fault is that?

Maybe because I work in the Construction end of our business I am able to understand what must happen for a strike to take place. Maybe my blue collar roots make me the Union man that I am. I've seen this before. I've been here before. I was a major factor in Organizing the City of Philadelphia for our industry. I know what it's like when Employers tell you, "Here's your deal. Take it or leave it." It's the grand "Fuck you! We own you and you will work for what we think you are worth." To that I say Horseshit!

The Writers are right here, folks. I dream of the day when all of the Entertainment Unions can bargain under an Alliance type umbrella, taking on the conglomerates as One United Front, as they are able to do to us. Until that day happens though, it is critical for all of us to support each other's efforts to better our lives through good faith negotiating, and when that fails through the only other avenue open to us - the strike.

So Tommy Short's shortsightedness aside, this is one Union Man who will not cross a picket line. ANY picket line ANY where. I know that my future, like all of our futures is tied to the outcome of this strike. If the conglomerates can beat the very people who provide the "blueprints" the rest of us work from, what can I expect when it is our turn to negotiate a new contract? We all know that we who work btl have watched our own deals slowly erode over the years. No more "Golden Time", lower rates, longer hours to earn the same Pension Credit we used to earn in a much shorter period of time. Can we expect any different in the future? If they can beat the Writers their smug arrogance will surely carry over to our own negotiations in the future.

It is our future at stake here folks. Most of my Brothers and Sisters in Local 52 feel the same way I do. We in New York City have traditionally set the standard for all btl Unions. It is only when Tommy Short forces an "Internationally negotiated Contract" down our throats that our rates fall, our hours grow and our benefits suck. It seems everyone except President Short realizes that you can't live in New York on Philadelphia money, and you can't live in Philadelphia on Baltimore money. So I am willing to "suck it up" for as long as it takes for the Writers to win. I am prepared. I am dedicated. I am willing to go without to see this through. I will NOT cross a legal picket line established by the very people who give me the opportunity to do what I love to do, my Brothers and Sisters in the WGA.

I am after all, a Union Man, a real Union Man, and if my future and the futures of my children and all those who come after me aren't worth fighting for, what is?

d.

joshua said...

It's possible the writers will lose public support if the Oscars don't air. hell, I am tired of the strike considering I have watched about 1 new episode of my favorite TV shows combined in the past 2 months (and Daily Show is rough and unpolished without writers).

But allowing the Oscars to air, even if you give 'pro-wga propaganda' at points, gives the public the impression all is well. That is why people were not too concerned about the strike in the beginning - new episodes of the shows they like were airing! Who cares? It also gives the companies that moolah from the award show.

No GG's, no Oscars, it says to the public, something is wrong here. It hits the companies in the pocket.

I am just a fan, and like I said I hate the strike but its absolutely necessary the Oscars get canned if the strike isn't resolved by then.

deuddersun said...

When I decided to take my blog off the picket line and return to posting, it was for 2 reasons. First, mine is a political blog that is definitely Progressive in nature, and with the future of our country at stake in the upcoming Presidential race, I felt it was critical to blog to defeat the Republi-cons - at any cost.

Second, my continued abstinence from posting would do little to serve the Writer's efforts to negotiate a fair contract, while on the other hand, I could use my blog to educate my readers to the plight of the writers and all of us who work in the business, and encourage support for the Writer's efforts. In this I have been very successful. Not one of my readers has indicated any support of any kind for the AMPTP's ludicrous position and obstinate refusal to bargain in good faith. All have unanimously supported The WGA's efforts to realize a fair deal.

So don't let the few naysayers sway your resolve. The majority of Americans are behind you. We are all tired of the arrogant corporate mentality that, supported and nurtured by a Big Business owned and operated Administration, has led to this strike in the first place.

Stay strong!

d.

Ken said...

Ah, just as I expected. BTL and Local44United couldn't help themselves. They had to get in a last comment defending themselves. Boring! No one cares if you defend yourselves. No more time spent on you -- you're just not worth it. No BTL people I know would ever spend this much time on a website spewing what you spew. So please go annoy someone else. And BTL, your perception of yourself and your posts is hilarious --- oh, but wait -- I take that back. Scratch that comment, BTL. It might prompt you to post again and that's the last thing any of us want. Phew - that was close!

serena said...

I'm btl and I don't care about the GG or Oscars. The last thing I care about is viewing an award party; when so many people are out of work. I care about the people who work in this industry and are unemployed. I'm O.K. so far, but I know some families that are starting to be hurt, (including writer's). I work on a scripted T.V. show and its the writers who make my job challenging, I stand behind them, I know their families are being hurt along with the rest of us. I guess I feel shell-shocked that the strike has gone on this long, but I blame the AMPTP.
As a side note....the reason the entertainment stocks are down, is because the stock market as a whole is down, anyone with a Roth IRA will see this in their statements. Good luck to all of us, hope the end is near!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ken said...

Deuddersun and Jon Raymond -- you guys are an awesome example of the informed and "will not lie down and take your shit" sensibility that I know exists out there in the BTL community. You don't hide behind your monikers and just say your a BTL person - you prove it by listing your credits and posting your profile. Why? Because you clearly are who you say you are and stand behind it. I salute both of you and remind all readers to look at this as a good example of the unyielding support we have from the BTL community.

So thanks again deuddersun and jon raymond. For telling the truth. For stating it simply. And for being the stand-up, honorable guys that you are. We are lucky and appreciative to have you in our corner!

Dave said...

Ken,

Have to say you're the one who's boring, how about responding to the message instead of making claims about people that you have no way whatsoever of knowing if they are true or not.

Personally, I like hearing both sides of the argument, but its been going on too long. There is nothing new to say, I just hope the DGA can put an end to this mess.

Jon Raymond said...

Thanks Ken. Nice of you to say.

B said...

Harold and Shanna -

As a writer who worked for many years as a movie theater person, I can tell you that in the mid section of the country the awards mean a lot and by that I mean the show itself. There would often be a noticeable uptick in the b/o of a movie that won a GG and even more so an Oscar and the uptick often came for movies outside the mainstream. People saw clips or realized that an actor they knew was in the movie and they came in and would even remark, "Yeah, I saw a little bit on this or that show."

Now I know that hard ball is a tactic that may have to be used but I really don't understand saying, "Hey, we're better off without them." PR is an important part of the game and these shows are good PR - whether the awards themselves are credible or not.

Also, they add a lot to the economy and some of the people - caterers and the like - that missed out a good night last night are our supporters. While we may have had to do what we did, I think we should remember the pain that was inflicted or some of our friends and not be so flip.

deuddersun said...

Ken, thank you very much.

Dave, I admit that I don't use my real name either on my blog or in my profile. There is a reason for this. Since day one, my blog has been anti-Bush, anti-Iraq war, and anti-corporation. This has led me to receive many threats against myself and my family from a wild assortment of Right wing loonies. If it was just me they were threatening, no problem. I'm a former Marine so the thought of knuckling up with some right wing fuckturd doesn't really bother me. The threats against my family are something else though.

But I'm not hard to find. Anyone with half a brain only has to look at the credits I listed and go to IMDb. I'm listed. Right next to the same picture of myself I have on my website.

So before you question my credibility, do a little research. Might save you from an embarrassing moment like this.

d.

Harold said...

"B said...I can tell you that in the mid section of the country the awards mean a lot and by that I mean the show itself. There would often be a noticeable uptick in the b/o of a movie that won a GG and even more so an Oscar and the uptick often came for movies outside the mainstream. Also, they add a lot to the economy and some of the people - caterers and the like - that missed out a good night last night are our supporters."

I previously wrote:

"Pretending that the public gives a crap is ridiculous. Argue that the shows provide jobs for the catering firms and other peripheral businesses. Argue that the shows provide BTL production jobs to broadcast it. Argue things that aren't laughable."

There are important livelihoods supported by the pointless Golden Globes ceremonies. I can appreciate and understand that.

What is ignorant rambling is anyone claiming that anyone gives a damn about the Golden Globes otherwise. A two-hour edition of Dateline (themed Going for Gold and profiling the nominees from 7-9 p.m.) earned a fourth place 3.2/5 (1.1/3; 18-49) in the overnights. The live announcements of the Golden Globe winners by Access Hollywood's Billy Bush and Nancy O’Dell earned a fourth-place 4.8/7 (1.7/4; 18-49) from 9-10 p.m.

The public doesn't care about the awards - PERIOD. Awards shows are just something to watch if they're on - usually because they see a celebrity that they recognize when channel flipping. Awards shows are not appointment television no matter how much some NYC and LA types wish that they were. The public prepares for the Super Bowl and would complain if it doesn't occur. The public watches the Oscars if it's on. There's a HUGE difference. For every Oscar party, there will be ten thousand Super Bowl parties. There will be no public outrage if the Oscars never air again. Only AMPAS gives a crap.

But the jobs that these awards shows provide DO matter. Argue that. Don't argue that the public cares about the awards. That's frickin' ridiculous.