1/22/2008

Letter From the Presidents - State of Negotiations

(The following was just sent to the membership from WGAw president, Patric Verrone and WGAe president, Michael Winship.)

To Our Fellow Members,

We have responded favorably to the invitation from the AMPTP to enter into informal talks that will help establish a reasonable basis for returning to negotiations. During this period, we have agreed to a complete news blackout. We are grateful for this opportunity to engage in meaningful discussion with industry leaders that we hope will lead to a contract. We ask that all members exercise restraint in their public statements during this critical period.

In order to make absolutely clear our commitment to bringing a speedy conclusion to negotiations, we have decided to withdraw our proposals on reality and animation. Our organizing efforts to achieve Guild representation in these genres for writers will continue. You will hear more about this in the next two weeks.

On another issue, the Writers Guild, West Board of Directors has voted not to picket the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. Members of the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) face many of the same issues concerning compensation in new media that we do. In the interest of advancing our goal of achieving a fair contract, the WGAW Board felt that this gesture should be made on behalf our brothers and sisters in AFM and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA).

Best,

Patric M. Verrone
President, WGAW

Michael Winship
President, WGAE

55 comments:

Geo Rule said...

/me looks at Reality and Animation section, winces, then "exercises restraint" by wandering off humming "We shall overcome, some day".

MrKlaatu said...

The guild made it clear last month that they could not unilaterally take anything off the table without movement from the other side. Let's hope this means the informal talks are already productive.

Carrie said...

Well the news on reality and animation isn't surprising although disappointing. I hope there's real movement on the other issues for WGA.

stuiec said...

As the statement says, it doesn't mean that the WGA has given up on animation and reality, only that it intends to organize those writers through traditional means. It takes more shoe leather and more long hours of canvassing, but in the long run it's a better strategy.

Alan Smithe said...

Let's see, what can I take off the table next?

First: DVDs.

Then: Reality and Animation.

Next?

Oh, I know...

Internet!

Kevin Paul Shaw Broden said...

As everyone else has said, loosing reality and animation isn't surprising, but as an animation writer it is disappointing. But then I've got to get my next animation writing assignment to feel like I can still call myself one. :)

Have greatly enjoyed the United Hollywood broadcasts. Thanks.

Brenda said...

Reality and animation NEVER should have been on there to start with. If they hadn't pushed that this could have been over months ago.

They were greedy and now has to take it back.

Hemi said...

Alan Smithe:

Seriously? Seriously?

I - for one - see this an an enormously positive step in getting down to the real deal that we give a $hit about. As much as I'd love for it to be covered, animation is already covered by another guild. And as for Reality...those jacknuts have been providing a pipeline of content that has undermined the strike. I sure as hell wasn't striking for them.

Let's get this succa done.

Thomas said...

I don't think it's greedy, I mean they are all writers. They deserve the same as other writers do. That' like saying I'm going to treat this apple different because it is green instead of red. Its still an apple.

Venice said...

I'm not sure I understand why the WGA would have to unilaterally withdraw ANY of its proposals "to make absolutely clear our commitment to bringing a speedy conclusion to negotiations" when it was the AMPTP that issued the ultimatum and walked away from talks.

This feels WEAK to me and I'm disappointed. We just need to sit there with our reasonable proposal and negotiable bargaining chips and horse trade. It isn't very complicated. And if the AMPTP still insists on avoiding actual negotiations, well, there's a lot of risk in that, from the Oscars on down. On the picket line I don't detect a bit of weakening resolve. We have increased leverage right now and we should use it.

I don't understand the logic of rewarding the AMPTP's bad behavior. I think you reward good behavior. This "olive branch" to start informal talks to determine whether we can start actual talks is BS as far as I'm concerned.

We have to start acting as strong and resolute as we are.

Dennis said...

I'm a reality writer. This is a huge disappointment considering that Patric said at the Fremantle rally that "reality" would be in the next contract. I've been walking the picket line like a lot of other writers and most of the ones I talk will be glad it's off the table because they think it was holding up a deal. There is a lot of ignorance even within the WGA about reality but how much sooner would this strike have ended if FOX and the other big companies couldn't consider themselves "Strike Proof" because of the revenues they get from their programming like "American Idol." Reality shows have writers. It amazes me that so many are willing to throw our rights to being treated fairly to the trash heap. So it goes...

Dennis Wilson said...

Brenda, as a longtime WGA member and animation writer, I resent your saying that animation and reality writing should not be covered by a WGA contract.

jimmy said...

brenda - you gotta have things on the table that you can remove so you can get the real things you want.

and the wga never "pushed" them. they were on the list of topics since july. you have fallen for AMPTP spin and lies that's convinced you it was some sort of new demand. it wasn't.

this would not have been over months ago no matter what because clearly the AMPTP wanted to stall to get to the DGA. that ultimatimum included several other things that could simply not be dropped, and have not been dropped. it was a stalling tactic.

and how any sane person can look at how the money is divided in this industry and conclude that the writers are the greedy ones is completely beyond me.

i guess you just haven't been paying attention.

M.Schumi said...

Well, well. Very interesting to see the withdrawal of animation and reality. As an actor I have always been in full support of this strike, our sister union SAG has shown incredible tenacity during this struggle.
However, now I have to say, maybe the WGA did ask for too much, in terms of jurisdiction and went about it the wrong way. I could literally write an endless post here, because this really makes the strike NOT EVEN worth all the weeks that were lost, but don't worry, I am not going to. Again, I am in full support of the WGA. The studios walked out because of the anime/reality issue and not because of residual increase for new media. This strike will be settled in less than three weeks now and nobody will be happy, but as they say, they can all live with this upcoming deal. The whole thing leaves me with a sour feeling in the pit of my stomach. Essentially, this was a case of great egos colliding on both sides...

Bill said...

The next concession will likeley be the sympathy strike clause which is very rarely aquirred in any contract and considered by many unions (including the Teamsters) to be unattainable anyway.
The Reality and Animation writers will get covered the traditional way eventually by campaigning and shop votes to join though this will be harder due to Animation Guild the IASTE contracts already in place. Good to hear that they made it through a day and intend to have another session soon. Hope floats...

Geo Rule said...

"We are grateful for this opportunity to engage in meaningful discussion with industry leaders that we hope will lead to a contract."

This is also important, as it seems to confirm they've gotten past "Talk to the Hand!" (Nick Counter) and are actually horsetrading with the real decision makers now.

Frustrated Bystander said...

For the select Showrunners who are saying the DGA deal is the best deal we are going to get and who are pressuring the NegComm about Fi-Core, I say:

If your writing staff doesn't come back, how are you still going to run your shows? If you have no grunts to command because you chose not to take care of them because YOU wanted to go back to work and have them work for you, what will you do when your writing staff decides, as a block, to stay out on strike for a better deal?

A caution on the blackout request from the AMPTP which the WGA has decided to honor. I am sure this move is being done to negate any discussion from the writers for our BTL friends to make any sense of what the DGA negotiated for them. So if people have some good feedback on where the deal can come up, I for one would appreciate the continued discussion on this front.

This black out may be for WGA leadership, and membership, but it doesn't necessarily have to be for the affiliated people who are affected by this deal -- good or bad. I want to still read about what people want out of this deal. Or what they think may be good solutions.

Alex said...

Alan Smithe:

Seriously? That's what you got, Chicken Little?

You make me laugh, McWhiney. Let the WGA do their jobs. This is business, this is how deals get done.

Idiot.

me said...

I too have worked in animation and am saddened by this announcement, although I was expecting it. I hope the future efforts announced in two weeks are substantive and I hope every WGA member wholeheartedly supports these efforts. One of the reasons this negotiation has been such a struggle is the growing power of the companies and weakening leverage of writers over the years. When feature writers say that's only a TV issue, or TV writers say that's only a feature issue, or both say that's only a daytime or variety or animation issue, it just time and time again comes back to haunt everyone. Please, I ask everyone to go out of their way when these future efforts are announced to support the noble struggles of reality and animation writers. Remember, that's the life the congloms want for all of us.

BJ said...

If reality writers want WGA representation, then they should all A) walk off the job, and B) not work until the strike is over. Otherwise, STFU. I'm losing thousands of dollars a week because of this strike, meanwhile some goof who "writes" for Rock of Love ("I know! We'll have Brett and the girls play miniature golf!") is gainfully employed.

If it wasn't for reality shows and the financial cover they give the Companies, this strike would have been over by now. As far as I'm concerned, reality "writers" are just as much the enemy as the AMPTP.

lauraholl said...

i'm sorry, but it does feel like a cop out to me.

looks exactly like the WGA caved. you'd better hope that in return they got something worth breaking promises and selling their soul to the devil. it's like kicking a guy when he's down just so you won't get hit again yourself.

duze said...

To frustrated: Not to pick one side or the other, but I suppose those showrunners would write their shows as they have always done. Most of them, you see, are the head writers. A lot of people oddly don't seem to get that.

R.A. Porter said...

Amazing. This does certainly explain something, though. It explains why I've never seen a corporate master on film or television who seemed anything like the real thing. Writers just do not understand how CEOs think. Why else would they slit their own throats?

Take animation off the table and by 2015 every TV show and movie will be "animated" like Beowulf was animated. With one, possibly two more generations of software (that's 18 or 36 months)it will be trivial to do just enough work to make every production "animated". The WGA will have a so-so contract, but absolutely no productions for it to cover.

Ashley Gable said...

Venice: It's not weak to take reality and ani off the table, it's smart and strategic. It means it's that much harder for the Companies to walk away from the next round of negotiations, claiming the WGA leadership is craaazy and unreasonable because these two items (that, I'm sorry to say, a lot of the membership never really caught on fire about) are still there.

The AMPTP successfully made reality and ani damaged goods, damn them, so the only smart thing was to jettison the baggage. Giving them up wasn't something for nothing, it was nothing for nothing, from a leverage perspective. (And _only_ a leverage perspective: to me jurisdiction over these areas is both a selfish and an altruistic imperative for us. They are professional writers and they are our brothers and sisters and they deserve to be treated as such.)

And now we're free to pursue reality and ani jurisdiction in other arenas, including Congress and in Sacramento, without it being perceived as wasting strike resources.

It was a smart decision. It hurts (me anyway), but it's smart.

Captain Obvious said...

So, well, I'd say our position remains strong in light of articles like this one.


The congloms can't keep putting stuff like this out there even as they say "Wha, technology is sooo far away!!!"


Their lips deny what their hands are doing.

Frostfire 2112 said...

Alan Smithe(e) (you misspelled it, sir):

DVDs are not necessarily off the table. We took it off the table in response to the AMPTP's assertion that the WGA's proposal would have been accepted were it not for the DVD item.

WGA took it off the table to call their bluff, AMPTP stammers and says it's the Internet.

Who says the WGA re-started negotiations from that point?

Caitlin said...

I agree with the people who say that this is painful and dissapointing, but that it will play to the WGA's advantage in the end. To reality and animation writers, I'm sorry. Writing is writing, and you deserved the guild's benefits. Plus it would have been awesome to leave the AMPTP with nothing come the contract. But this is the kind of thing that should, by all moral stands and for the sake of the congloms PR image, keep them in the room. We gave them what they were asking for. If they leave this time, the public and independent media will likely eat them alive. There will be future negotiations, probably future strikes. For now, show them were we stand. If they can't hold themselves to the same standards with these sacrivices, they deserve what's coming to them more than ever before.

Alan Smithe said...

Hey, Alex?

Giving shit up just so the AMPTP will "informally" sit in the same room with Verrone, et al ain't all that good an idea. Remember the DVD removal so they'd negotiate? What happen next? Oh yeah, the AMPTP demanded removal of six more items (all the important stuff) and when the WGA brain trust blinked and said let us think about it, the AMPTP walked out and the WGA looked like fools (because they were)...

It's tough to negotiate when you're the one giving in to every fucking demand the other side wants. It's even tougher to get a fair contract when you start giving up shit without getting anything in return. Is it any wonder the AMPTP has so little respect for writers?

The WGA got off to a bad start and it continues.

Carrie said...

I am a reality writer who has been involved with WGA efforts to organize this type of writing. I completely understand the frustration and anger that some have with reality writers working during the strike (some of them WGA members I might add) and giving cover to the networks to prolong the strike.

At the same time I ask that you understand that most reality writers are not "organized". The vast majority of reality writers do want WGA coverage. However, many sit on the sidelines because they fear that if they try to unionize they're career is ruined and perceive WGA membership as not really wanting them in the guild.

Some reality and game show writers have walked out (i.e. America's Next Top Model, Temptation [a freemantle production]) There are some individual writers who have refused to accept work during the strike. There are writers, like myself, who have joined in pickets. However, I think there is a perception that reality writers are huddled in a room debating whether to strike or not. And that's simply not the case. Instead it's two or three people quietly talking in a kitchenette with maybe one person who has been involved with WGA trying to overcome the fear that exists for these writers. Fears like "I'll never work again." "WGA doesn't really care about us we're just a bargaining chip in negotiations" "They don't even see us as writers" Right now we're in the process of organizing, not organized.

My point is organizing efforts are ongoing just as the announcement says and that even though everyone is entitled to their opinion, I would ask please support reality writers to stand up for themselves, not with insults, but with encouragement. Let the message be that we absolutely want reality writers in the WGA fold. So hopefully if there is another WGA strike in 20 years all writers are truly united in purpose and action.

just a thought said...

To Bystander:
I'm sure that the IA contract has a favored nation clause in the contract. At least it use to. I think that tom short (notice no caps) will take whatever the directors got and be happy with it. Not me though.
The IA has always taken less of what is owed to us. Year ago we were owed about 350 million of post 60's money. when it was all said and done we got about half.
At this point I think that someone independent of the guilds, the IA and producers should monitor the money.Something like ASCAP. Why, given the different platforms, us in labor that means the guilds as well, are not equipped to monitor where what takes place.
just a thought for a longtime IA guy

stuiec said...

Ashley Gable: "And now we're free to pursue reality and ani jurisdiction in other arenas, including Congress and in Sacramento, without it being perceived as wasting strike resources."

As Bill said, you win reality and animation jurisdiction not by forcing someone to force it on the companies, but by campaigning, canvassing and organizing shop votes. You might also as a Guild make a firm commitment to put legal and financial resources behind any reality or animation writers who suffer retaliation from their employers for exercising their legal right to organize.

Sacramento and Congress sound like the easy shortcut to organizing, but the truth of the matter is (a) they don't have the power to force companies to unionize and (b) they don't have an incentive to do so when it would mean alienating a large swath of influential donors and media outlets. The reality and animation writers deserve the WGA's support in organizing, but when it comes down to it, they have to do a lot of that hard work themselves -- and if they are committed to getting WGA representation, I am sure they'll do the work.

Harold said...

"MrKlaatu said...The guild made it clear last month that they could not unilaterally take anything off the table without movement from the other side."

The WGA made it clear at the beginning of this strike that they would unilaterally remove DVDs without movement from the other side.

The letter CLEARLY states:

"In order to make absolutely clear our commitment to bringing a speedy conclusion to negotiations, we have decided to withdraw our proposals on reality and animation."

That was the EXACT same reason why DVDs were dropped last time. They didn't receive anything for dropping those proposals.

But it's no big deal.

The difference this time is that no one seriously thought that reality and animation were anything other than chips to toss away during negotiations. AMPTP has obviously stated that they will not discuss them, and a lot of people will be plenty pissed if the NegCom pretends that reality and animation are strike issues again.

Folding again at the very start of discussions isn't a good sign, but some people needed to know that reality and animation would not be stumbling blocks in the negotiations. The statement provides that assurance.

I'm sure that some will point to Verrone's VERY PUBLIC COMMENTS about how reality would be in the next contract.

I don't think that even Verrone believed that when he said it. Some people were alarmed that reality was supposedly a strike issue, but I think the NegCom was attempting to inflate its importance to make it worth more as a bargaining chip. AMPTP wasn't going to fall for something so obviously untrue.

AMPTP called the bluffs. WGA folded on animation and reality. It was always going to happen, but if DVDs are not back in the negotiations, that would mean that the WGA has given up THREE proposals while AMPTP has surrendered on NONE of their positions.

Some people will obviously be annoyed by how the WGA opens each of its discussions with AMPTP by tossing away one or more of its proposals in exchange for NOTHING.

That's shrewd bargaining...

By AMPTP.

Geo Rule said...

Am I correct in my understanding that striking members of the WGA have some legal protections that a non-WGA member of a writing staff for an animation or reality show would NOT have if that person were to engage in their own unilateral "strike"? If that is correct, isn't it extremely inappropriate to smack around non-WGA animation and reality members for not "striking"?

R.A. Porter said...

geo rule: That would be correct. If non-guild members were to walk out of their jobs and picket, it would count as job abandonment. Immediate grounds for dismissal.

stuiec said...

geo rule: You're right, reality and animation writers who aren't in a union can't stage a strike and expect legal protection. However, they can engage in organizing activities and expect legal protection, and it would be a good use of Guild resources to provide such workers assistance with legal fees and such if their employers illegally retaliate against them for trying to organize.

Frustrated Bystander said...

Hi Duze --

There are certain Showrunners who are running multiple shows. I don't think some of these guys could write all their shows all by themselves. If they want to go ahead and "Fi-core" to dump a not-so-great deal onto the memberships' laps, then get back to work, be my guest. I just don't think they should be the ones who pressure the Neg Comm and the membership at large with the idea that certain aspects of this deal don't need exploring and bringing up.

Most head-writers write behind their staffs and take on a lot of the writing. But I also know shows where the work is more egalitarian and other shows where it is indeed a one-man show.

What I'm hinting at here, is that Showrunners who expect their staffs to come back and scab for them because they chose to go Fi-Core should be prepared to hear, "Sorry but I respectfully decline to come back until a fair deal is settled."

If I had a Showrunner go Fi-Core and ask me to come back so he could continue to make his tens of millions of dollars at the expense of my future residuals, I would be offended that he should think I should support him when he wasn't willing to support my future. Thank goodness I'm not a writer huh? But I am the wife of one.

jimmy said...

bj - what's wrong with you? if reality writers could be in the wga, they would. it's absolutely ridiculous for you to expect them to strike for a union when they are not only not in a union, but not in your union.

maybe all the editors in MPEG should have gone on strike too. even thought the post houses weren't struck companies or picketed. and maybe all the meat cutters should have gone on strike too in sympathy for all the people who used to eat their craft services.

c'mon.

you want reality writers in the union? have your leaders do a better job of organizing them so its actually effective.

r.a. porter - that's completely ridiculous. the cost of photo realistic animation is so expensive (Beowolf cost $150 million) and time consuming (Beowolf took two years, and that was fast because it used performance capture) compared to a live action film that it will never, ever be worth it to do more than a few a year. If that.

MrsWakely said...

Could I suggest that Hollywood - film and TV, is a series of factories? And the idea that the factory making the scripted programs is only different from the factory making the reality programs, in that one makes "scripted" widgets and the other makes "reality" widgets. Now, occasionally, there are some really well made "reality" widgets, and occasionally there are some really well made "scripted" widgets, but, they're both widgets. It's sort of like scripted film versus documentary, only, in that factory, I'd say the documentary widgets are often better than the film widgets. To put it another way, during their 90 hour work week, when Jeff Probst (actor) stands up there at that awesomely lit and filmed (crew, director) tribal council meeting and tells (writers) all those contestants (actors) what's what, is anybody really going to put forth a serious argument that what he is saying has any more or less literary merit than say, what David Caruso says to anybody on "CSI: Miami?" If we covered reality and animation, we'd immediately drive up the price of reality to the point where it might very well mean the "reality widget" factory, ironically, shuts down. Or, lays off many members of its work force. Reality now costs more? Hollywood make less. No repeats, no syndication, maybe no Jeff. In principal, I see absolutely no reason why reality and animation writers (or crews, or directors or actors, which is, let's face it, what "contestants" actually are) should be thrown under the bus. Why? So we can get back to the quality that is "Two and a Half Men?" I dare you to last through ten minutes of that show. Make it five. I think this concession sucks, and I think it bodes ill for the impending deal, sort of like, "here, take these shmucks, and please give me SOMETHING to get the rest of these maniacs off my back." What it says, in practice is: "Hey - cartoon boy? And reality writer on a show that's getting more viewers in one airing than The Sopranos ever did in five? Go fuck yourself. We serious artists need to get back to the business of making our vastly superior widgets." Please.

Frustrated Bystander said...

Hi Just A Thought:

I thought the Guilds and IA are supposed to be like ASCAP...that they monitor the residuals (or royalties in ASCAP's case) and get them for you. In your case, wouldn't IA monitor the contributions to Pension and Health? Are you saying in your post that IA is not a reliable Guild? And that they need over sight?

Or are you talking about the idea that residuals should not be platform based? That residuals should be covered in a standard not specific to the platform used for re-use?

vfx_Kid said...

Removing the Reality and Animation clauses are the smartest thing I've seen so far by the WGA. You all have to understand you will not get a perfect deal and make up for 20 years of a bad deal. Go in increments. Those issues were non-starters. Now use the sympathy strike clause as leverage. It will have to be dropped as well. That's just the way it is. No company would sign on to that, nor should they. Good luck, I'm rooting for a fair contract for the CURRENT WGA members. You guys will be much further ahead than you currently are. Just MHO.

Glen said...

mrswakely,

Que?

Or to put it another way,

huh?

me said...

Can we please stop this showrunner vs. staff thread? That's straight out of the divide and conquer catalog. No one's going ficore. Unlike CEOs, these people care about more things than just money. And they would never knowingly go down in history as the ones who helped destroy the residual system.

Glen said...

But seriously, mrswakely, I get that you are defending the quality of reality compared to a lot of the junk scripted shows.

But are you upset that reality isn't covered by the WGA or happy it isn't. That part wasn't clear.

Venice said...

ashley gable

It's not weak to take reality and ani off the table, it's smart and strategic. It means it's that much harder for the Companies to walk away from the next round of negotiations, claiming the WGA leadership is craaazy and unreasonable

Yes it is. It is. It is weak to surrender a proposal for nothing in return. It was weak when we did it with DVDs for the promise of a good deal on New Media and it's weak now. You seem to be under the impression that the AMPTP needs a reason to storm out and call our negotiators "craaazy" or, EVEN WORSE, "organizers."

No, we need to be just as strategic as the AMPTP, and I'd be interested to hear your theory on how unilaterally giving up one of our bargaining chips is good strategy. What leverage exactly did we gain? What did we gain at all by this concession? The opportunity to talk? The opportunity to negotiate is not something that we need to negotiate for. That's how fucking twisted this is becoming, that we have to negotiate and give up proposals just for the right to negotiate. I hope there's more to this story, because as it reads now, it's a huge unnecessary step backwards. Reality and animation might never have made it into this particular contract, but the AMPTP should have to offer something in return. And offering to talk is not and never should be that something.

Again, the AMPTP will never want for a reason to walk away. This idea that we have to offer them something just for the chance to talk to them is is WEAK. And they know it.



Thank God you aren't the one negotiating on our behalf.

Greg said...

Alan Smithe--(btw, it's *Smithee* with two Es)--did you miss the entire intervening events of the strike? The one where the WGA signed good interim contracts with Worldwide Pants, Spyglass, United Artists (!--god bless you, Tom Cruise, I'll never make fun of you again), and an internet company, putting just a little bit of fear into the AMPTP?
The one where the actors stood with us as we announced a picket of the Golden Globes, resulting in NBC canceling it, resulting in NBC taking a $10 million dollar hit? Or the fact that one poll had support for the writers at 69%, and support for the AMPTP at a measly *8* percent?
Wow. You're negative. You gotta realize, the WGA's made a lot of smart moves here. It is entirely possible that the reality and animation writers can organize themselves in the next three years.

Shrill, Loudmouth, Nagging B* said...

I've worked in Human Resources and labor relations for almost 20 years (including 5+ in entertainment) and one thing I've learned, if you have a majority of a workforce who wants to organize, it's a breeze to get them to sign "union cards" and take a vote. That being said, it's a dirty trick to FORCE reality and (to a lesser extent) animation writers into the union by binding their employers to it.

Over the years, many writers and and actors have mega bashed reality programming as being beneath scripted and now, they want to force a union spoon down their throat.

The WGA should have dropped their demands to have jurisdiction over reality and MAINTAINED their demand for jurisdiction over animation based on the support or lack thereof, of the people working in those fields.

I could write a primer on this, but I won't drag on with my HR jargon. The WGA did 1/2 the right thing in this instance. Organizing should be done at the perspective member level.

skippy said...

skippy writes a letter to patrick goldstein.

Skyfleur said...

I'm not surprised but I am disappointed that both have been taken off the table for now.

I'm having a slight problem with the use of the word "grateful". As if Verrone should thank the CEOs for actually talking to them while it should be the reverse.

I think it would have been better to hold on on animation. Reality, well, there was no way, I think. But animation ? It was important too and it was a movie point more than a TV point.

I hope these informal discussions lead to a really fair deal. Whether UH has taken down its analysis of what's good and bad about The DGA deal, we can analyze for ourselves and it's a starting point, not a good deal. I hope the WGA gets what really matters and if they can shoe in animation later on during the negotiations, it would be even better.
How I see it : a better DVD formula, an internet formula that is fair and reasonable and of course increase wages and jusridiction over animation.

makomk said...

Shrill, Loudmouth, Nagging B*:

Forcing animation and reality writers to join the WGA using their agreement with the studios isn't just morally iffy, it's against at least the spirit of US union law. You're not supposed to use strikes or contracts to force union membership on employees unless the union is legally recognised as the representative of said employees by the usual methods (union cards, votes, etc).

R.A. Porter said...

jimmy: Have you ever heard of Moore's Law? A huge part of the expense of Beowulf was certainly the motion capture, but a larger portion was the sfx that were also added on. If all you're doing is straight motion capture, within one or two generations the costs will not be prohibitive.

Furthermore, with the AMPTP tossing extra money to Stanford, Carnegie Mellon, and other studies into markerless motion capture, it will eventually stop requiring extensive preparation and setup to outfit performers with markers.

While the strike has been framed to be about New Media primarily, at its core it is about new technology. Ignoring this currently expensive technology and thinking the congloms won't be able to make it cheaper and cut out the WGA entirely is short-sighted. Besides, just how much of a film or TV show needs to be animated for it to count as "animated" for the purposes of excluding the WGA?

Craig said...

It's amazing to me how certain Makomk and Shrill, Loudmouthed, Nagging B are when they're so misinformed. The WGA has not been trying to "force" anyone to do anything. The WGA was seeking to include language in the contract that would make it easier to organize animation and reality. Writer by writer, show by show, company by company, organizing would still have to happen. Right now, the companies REFUSE to even discuss having reality and animation covered, saying it's not a "mandatory subject of bargaining", an excuse to avoid doing the right thing. They're like spoiled teenagers: it's something they don't want to do so they refuse to talk about it. As if refusing to talk about it will make it go away. It won't go away. Animation writers and reality writers want to be part of the WGA. Others -- people who aren't animation writers or reality writers -- keep saying that it's wrong for the Guild to be doing this. But believe me, this is something the vast majority of both want and have wanted for a long time.

Craig.

just a thought said...

HI Bystander.
My thought is whatever system that the IA uses it's not working.
The example that I gave about the 300 million was post 60's money. The money own up to the dvd formula. We switch over and got screwed twice.
The ASCAP thing is all about where and when a show is played. Be it download, streaming whatever. To me it's seems that they all have different money values attached and I don't think we as unions have the ability to count it all. We will be relying on the producers for numbers and you know how that's going to be.

Len said...

Taking off reality and animation was expected, but very disappointing. It might have been better to keep animation on the table though...

Charlie said...

Like I said months ago folks, NBC and the other studios/networks are doing away with pilot season. The strike gave them the perfect opportunity to cut the cord from an outdated, financially burdensome model that has placed a stranglehold on the business (and creativity) for far too long. Here's the NY Times Article: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/23/business/media/23pilots.html?_r=1&ref=media&oref=slogin

Carrie said...

Shrill loud mouth,

I appreciate all your experience in HR and some of that being in the entertainment business. However, I don't believe you understand the exact nature of the reality world.

Getting a group of organized writers on a show to sign cards and go up for a vote for unionization is a jiffy IF they have a year to go through the NLRB process where the companies have numerous opportunities to stall the vote. Reality shows tend to last three months. So, the implication that reality isn't unionized because the majority of writers don't want to be, and if they did they could go just go to the production companies, some of which are signatories that set up shell companies so they can put on non-union shows, seriously understates the difficulties involved. That doesn't mean they're insurmountable or there aren't other tactics. But, it's neither easy or simple as sign and vote

It was reality writers who went to the WGA that started the organizing campaign. The WGA isn't trying to shove anything down our throats. I understand that reality coming off the table was probably for the best for the larger WGA goal of getting an MBA together. But, that should not be mistaken for reality writers lack of desire to be repped by the guild.