Shawn Ryan is the creator and exec producer of "The Shield" and a member of the Negotiating Commitee. He gave an interview to Aaron Barnhart, television critic of the Kansas City Star -- he covers negotiating issues, strategy, the TV pilot season and sweeps and the DGA negotiation, among other things.
For the whole interview, go here. Below are some excerpts:
About the value of dissent, and how it's not the same as disunity:
I’ve never heard a Writers' Guild member complain about the goals of what we’re after. There’s always a lot of ongoing conversation about the strategy. That’s healthy, and I think we’re strong enough to withstand dissenting opinion. I think previous strikes have faltered because there’s been internal dissension about the goals. You’re going to have opinionated people like Bill Maher complain about the strategy, but you’re not going to hear anyone complaining about the goals that are important to all of us.
About why reality and animation were in the WGA proposal from the beginning:
Look, we put out a host of things that we wanted to address in this contract. The companies did two. What the companies have tried to get us to do is unilaterally take things off the table without offering anything in return. Are these as important as internet residuals? Of course not, but that doesn’t mean we give those to them for free.
You look at a movie like "Ratatouille," which I thought was pretty brilliant — that was not covered under a Writers' Guild contract. Now, you can’t tell me that was inferior to any other movie. I know that some animation contracts are with another union. Our only point is that animation that’s not covered under any other union should be covered by the Writers' Guild. That doesn’t seem very unreasonable to me. If you’re going to use our talent and make huge budget animated movies that are going to rake in revenues in the hundreds of millions of dollars, those writers should have the benefit of a Writers' Guild contract and the residuals and health care and pension and other benefits that come from that.
About the AMPTP's deceptive spin about negotiations:
What’s interesting is the AMPTP never puts anyone who’s actually been at these negotiations in front of the press. And the reason is it’s sort of like the White House with Scott McClellan, where they had McClellan lying but he didn’t know he was lying. How do you get the lie out there without getting someone to lie?
That’s how you do it. You put people out to talk who haven’t participated in the negotiations. So they say that “talks broke down over side issues” -- they don’t know that’s not true. They say it because their superiors said it was true. None of the lawyers who were there would ever say that was true.