Why we shouldn't listen to the AMPTP right now

The following is an excerpt of a letter I received from Jay Kogan just prior to the holidays. Three weeks later everything he wrote has either come to pass or still holds true. To read the letter in its entirety click here. And be sure to check out the video Jay shot called, "As Long As It Takes."

The strike, which could have been avoided if the producers wanted to actually negotiate, has potential to drag on for who knows how long. Some WGA members think it's time to cut our losses -- simply give into the AMPTP ultimatum and drop many of our demands to the absolute minimum. They want this strike to end, and they see that as a way to end it.

Well, I want the strike to end, too, but I don't think we should listen to their provocation and here's why we shouldn't listen to the AMPTP right now:

1. They aren't really ready to negotiate. They do everything but. They take ads. They threaten us. They accuse us. They pretend they're ready to talk and instead present ultimatums that we give up our reasonable demands without getting anything in return.

It's a tactic. A trick, to get us to reveal our bottom line so they can negotiate down from the lowest we thought we'd take. According to anyone on our negotiating committee and most observers, including mediators, agents, SAG and the WGA negotiators, the AMPTP hasn't once attempted to seriously bargain with us since we asked them to sit down with us in April and they said they'd sit down with us in July or 2007.

2. The last time they made an ultimatum, they lied. At the end of October, a CEO of one of the big companies called the WGA and told us flatly that if we dropped the DVD increase, just took it off the table, the AMPTP would deliver us a reasonable deal on internet. The ENTIRE NEGOTIATING COMMITTEE weighed this idea -- many of them stood to gain a lot of money with a better DVD formula but for the sake of avoiding the strike, the committee agreed to drop the DVD demand. But, as we now know, it was a trick. They walked out on negotiations and forced the strike. To this day the AMPTP hasn't offered us anything for dropping the DVD. There has never been any bargaining.

3. Our demands are reasonable and important to the future health of the WGA. All the stuff we're asking for is important and would be great for the health of the guild...

So why aren't they ready to deal?

To find out why read the rest of Jay's letter.


Bill said...

The reason the AMPTP walked is that the though the WGA rmoved the DVD's from the table, they added the 6 demands: Juridiction, Sympathy strike, etc knowing the AMPTP would reject them. Maybe the strategy was to withdraw them as a bagaining point but it backfired. Now the WGA says it won't budge on these 6 items and says the AMPTP refuses to negotiate.

Can you WGA members honestly feel that Verrone et al are being reasonable and acting in your best interests. As a Teamster my fate is being repesented by your taem and I have lost all confidence in them as negotiators.

Bring in a pro labor team and get Verrone and the rest outghta there! Drop half of the 6 clauses and watch the AMPTP come back to the table to hear the counter unseen unheard proposal that was promised if it exists. It's not too late but it is getting close. You're going NOWHERE iwth the Bush playbook "staying the course" strategy and you know it's true.


Frank Uslan Charlie Kartler said...

Well, to be fair, the WGA is also giving ultimatums now. With the whole Golden Globes ordeal. WGA is basically saying "we won't picket the show as long as you don't televise it." WTF? Not to be rude, but it seems like that is an ultimatum if I've ever heard one.

Jeffrey Berman said...

Frank, the reason the WGA has agreed to not picket the Golden Globes if they agree not to televise the award show is because we have no beef with the FHPA. What we're against is NBC profiting from any production while we're on strike. If the FHPA wants to hold the award show and agrees not to televise it they we're more than happy to stay at home and wait for the winners to be announced in the press.

Frank Uslan Charlie Kartler said...

Well, I don't think a lack of Golden Globes this year will be a particularly big blow to NBC. But I have a good idea for a comprimise.

The award show goes on, un-televised, therefore un-picketted. But they tape the acceptance speeches so they can be viewed somewhere else, say online. I know you do have a major beef with the internet, but I think this is pretty fair.

survivor of the fandom wars said...

The reason the AMPTP walked is that the though the WGA rmoved the DVD's from the table, they added the 6 demands: Juridiction, Sympathy strike, etc knowing the AMPTP would reject them.

No, that was the second time that management walked away from the table. The first time was after the AMPTP told the writers that they would get a reasonable deal on internet if they would just take DVDs off the table. So the writers did and management decided to walk away from the negotiations instead.

That's kind of why your suggestion in the third paragraph isn't likely to happen. They've been there, done that and got the t-shirt.

Johnny said...

Jeff, Jeff, Jeff. The WGA can's stop the world from spinning. Whether you like it or not NBC will continue to make money. And, whether you wouls wait for winners to be announced or not, the fans don't want t odo that. And there is 20 million of us, and 12,000 of you. So is this really fair? And don't say "it's just a stupid award show." It's all about principle. Every action you take against the shows is an action against the fans, and we have you overwhelmingly outnumbered.

Jeffrey Berman said...

Actually, Frank, its not fair. The intenet is one of the main reasons we're on strike. To let the Golden Globes air any footage on the net right now would be a huge slap in the face to us. The smart thing would be for the FHPA to postpone the award show until the strike is over. I believe that's been suggested but NBC refused to allow this.

Jerad said...

That's funny bill,

The producers letter written on 12/7 http://www.amptp.org/files/remarks120707.pdf proves within itself that these 6 demands you claim were added on 11/4 weren't submitted together. and were most likely in the original proposals made (of course adding anything after the initial proposals is a big no-no according to the NLRB, so we already knew that.)

C. A. Bridges said...

Johnny? Every poll, every survey taken has shown the fans are overwhelmingly in favor of the writers.

Post Guy said...


I, and many others are confused about one point. Why is it ok for CBS to profit from Letterman, and NBC isn't for the Globes?

The arrangement appears similar. WWP produces Letterman, Dick Clark produces the Globes. Probably something I'm missing, but it seems that favorites are being played.

In my opinion, you need to keep this strike in the minds of the general public. What better platform than the Globes and Oscars watched by Billions of people!

smoothlatinkid said...

"Bring in a pro labor team and get Verrone and the rest outghta there! Drop half of the 6 clauses and watch the AMPTP come back to the table to hear the counter unseen unheard proposal that was promised if it exists."

Bill, it doesn't exist. And your suggestion about getting rid of our leadership falls right in line with an AMPTP tactic.

I'm sorry you've lost confidence in our team, but we are firmly behind Verrone and Young. We are in this for as long as it takes.

My heart goes out to the teamsters, who's pain I truly understand, as all of us are out of work, all of us have monthly bills that have to be paid, many of us have families. It makes the vision cloudy, even for the best-intentioned of us.

But when I read people paraphrasing that AMPTP sock puppet Tom Short, it's frustrating--because though I believe Short is a weak shill, I don't believe the same of most of the Teamster rank and file.

The moguls hate us AND you because they need us. You said it yourself---this is your fight as well. Well the last two times at bat, we got screwed. By the companies, and by the leadership we trusted to procure us a good deal (thank you John Wells.)

It is different now, and our membership knows it. This is why the support for our cause within our ranks is near-total.

We are not rolling over. We are in this until we get a fair deal and the companies return to negotiate in good faith. Period.

BTL Guy said...

Jay says that "They walked out on negotiations and forced the strike."

But wasn't it actually WGAe's insistence on moving forward with the strike at midnight on 11/5 that actually forced the AMPTP to walk out of negotiations?

Truth be told, I hate the use of "forced" in both of the above paragraphs, but I used it in response to Jay using it -- they didn't "force" you to strike anymore than you "forced" them to walk out.


Jeffrey Berman,

You say that DCP can't get a deal because NBC would benefit by the broadcast.

But WWP got a deal even though CBS benefits by the broadcast.

By most accounts (and someone correct me if this is wrong!), DCP was willing to sign the same deal as WWP.

reasonable said...

Johnny said...

Jeff, Jeff, Jeff. The WGA can's stop the world from spinning. Whether you like it or not NBC will continue to make money.

Not with this year's Golden Globes, sweetheart.

BTW, the fans are w/ the writers (check out www.theunithq.com, www.fans4writers.com--GOD I LOVE YOU GUYS!, et al) not you.
Bounce that threat somewheres else.

Bill, if Pat Verrone (who didn't add ANYTHING after DVD's were removed-- is that AMPTP propaganda tasty?) can bring more Signatories to the table like he did WWP & UA, he's not going anywhere.

Lew Wasserman's Plumber said...

Why not give dcp the same deal? Because strategically it doesn't make sense.

You may disagree with the Letterman waiver and it may not ultimately work, but I believe there was a decision to at least try something (since the AMPTP won't negotiate) that could add pressure amongst competitors (CBS and NBC) in the very important latenight arena.

There is no equiv with granting a waiver to dcp for the Golden Globes.

NGK said...

Good Luck and Happy New Year 2008 !!! NGK.

makomk said...

Yeah - anyone claiming the six demands the AMPTP doesn't like were added later in the negotiations is flat out wrong. There is, however, an interesting paragraph in the AMPTP statement jerad linked to:

"Your presentation on December 5th of an added piece to the Reality Program proposal
only widened the gap between us. Your proposal sought to bind the networks, who do
not even sit at this bargaining table, to a contractual provision which prohibits them from
doing business with those who do not offer the same pension and health provisions as set
forth in the MBA. Surely you knew that even if any of us had the authority to make such
a commitment, the idea of forcing the networks not to do business with a certain category
of producers would be wholly unacceptable to us."

Also, while they may not be entirely honest about their intention to return to the negotiations, I doubt they're bluffing when they refuse to accept these six terms. They really are unacceptable to them. (I don't think the same is true of the DVD residuals increase, and I'm still not sure why the WGA dropped it.)

I think there may also be a reason why the AMPTP is suddenly objecting to them now (other than it being a good excuse to break off negotiations). I suspect that, during the negotiations, it became clear that the WGA were serious about these terms and weren't going to be persuaded to drop them. (The WGA's public rhetoric certainly seems to point in this direction.)

Hello said...

Hey Frank Uslan Charlie Kartler what part of ON STRIKE - do you not get?

Becca said...

Let me be perfectly clear:

We support the Writers no matter what their decision is on the GG.
We support the WGA Negotiators one hundred precent and have since Nov 5.

The *uninformed* general viewership are the ones who may not understand why the WGA is picketing the GG.

So we go forth to inform the general public of the strike and the facts about it.

And Johnny, we don't give a rat's behind if we get to see the GG or not.

Alexander Chow-Stuart said...

I have no connection with the WGA Negotiating Committee other than the fact that, amazingly in the middle of all this, Patric Veronne, whom I didn't know at all before the strike, has actually taken the time to answer several of my emails personally - and I mean personally, addressing questions I raised, not simply sending out a template email.

So he is clearly not distanced from the ordinary Guild membership, nor does he seem an unreasonable or ideologically-driven man.

I do not believe that this strike is primarily about the Guild expanding its jurisdiction. It is about new media and residuals.

If we can expand our protection (we have amazing health care and pension benefits, and we should be grateful to those who struck and suffered before us to win those benefits) to others in the process, then great, but the crux of this dispute is residuals for new media, which is an issue critical to all of us lucky enough to receive residuals (and I wish as a writer that that could include everyone who works on a movie or TV show, Teamsters, too).

As an involved observer, I think the Guild's strategy is clear and is working. I think the deals with Letterman and with United Artists, and the possibility of deals mentioned today in the Los Angeles Times with Lionsgate and the Weinstein Company, are amazingly positive moves in terms of proving that the Guild has reasonable demands that serious producers are prepared to agree to, and that it is the AMPTP that has been unwilling to deal fairly or honestly or in good faith right from the start.

The "DVD residuals off the table" play by the AMPTP was one of the most dishonest, outrageous moments in these events, and I don't understand why the Federal Mediator who was involved at that point could not have censured the AMPTP in some way, or at least made very public the fact that they were the clear catalyst for the strike.

This strike is not easy on any of us, and we all want it to end as quickly as possible, but anyone who thought it would be an easy win was sorely mistaken, especially in the light of the intransigence of the studios over a tiny increase in DVD residuals in the past.

Let's give our negotiating committee more time and our trust: divisions now will serve no one but the AMPTP, and all guild or union members (including other unions such as the Teamsters) should reflect on the fact that if we end this strike by effectively caving now, we will have even less leverage in any future negotiations.

We are making progress: each deal with a producer is more evidence that we can deal reasonably and that our demands are not impossible. Some writers may write while most of us are on strike, but if the end result is a deal that strengthens the Minimum Basic Agreement for us all, and wins us fair residuals for new media, then the sacrifice will have been worth it. Stay strong!

nick said...

Tom Short is an AMPTP shill. That goes without saying..oops too late.
The IA members that blame the WGA for striking do so because it's true. The WGA did walk away from work and begin to protest out in front the on going productions very near Christmas. Yes, the strike was perhaps necessary. NOT FORCED! I wish all WGA members writing on this site would stop putting words in the mouth of the IA crews. You're supposed to put words in the mouths of SAG members not ours. But I digress, after all I've read I have become more than curious about one thing. Now What? Now that we have gotten to this point no matter whose fault it is, and believe me there is plenty to go around. Does anyone have a reasonable solution? Not the hash slinging propaganda crap that we have seen come from both sides but an actual resolution. Sorry I get a little long winded don't have much to do these days. I do appreciate the extra time with the family though.
SO those of us proud members of the IA that are out of work hope that someone in the WGA leadership planned for this because it sure doesn't look like this is a contingency they ever dreamed of. After all, and this is the end I swear, we would really like to get back to our 16 hour days and the routine bitching about catering and craft service.

Ashley Gable said...

Dear Bill --

Our very reasonable proposals have been on the table since the beginning -- nothing has been "added." The AMPTP demanded that we drop six proposals... without giving us anything in return. That's not a negotiation, it's a mugging.

Patric Verrone and our other leaders ARE being reasonable... and smart, as the recent UA deal shows. Our picketing is working, our members are united, and we are going to win this fight.

Contrary to the experience of the person who wrote this article, I don't know anyone who is suggesting we cave and see what scraps the AMPTP throws us. But if such a person exists, he or she is a lot less savvy than Mr. Verrone.

Raymond said...

Although I do believe that the WGA failed in constructing a true strategy before we went on strike, I am in total support of it. I am uplifted by the fact that shutting down the Golden Globes is causing such a great degree of stress to NBC as evidenced by their response to the publicists announcement that their A-List clients were going to be firmly planted on the WGA side of the picket line. They want this show. To hell with them. And it's clear in their letter that they'd like to pin some sort of blame on the WGA for not granting a waiver to Dick Clark Productions, as that would be "in the best interest of all involved." Really? How? Explain how AMPTP partner Dick Clark Production making money from license fees, and NBC making money from advertisers, will benefit the WGA and the community of workers who are currently sitting at home without any income at all.

Make a deal with us, and we'll make a deal with you.

And if DCP and the HFPA can't come to an agreement with the WGA, then the AMPTP aka NBC would like the actors to show up anyway.

They want the actors to request the WGA come to the table to negotiate this interim agreement with DCP, but they ignore the actors request for the AMPTP to come back to the table to negotiate any agreement with the WGA. So we're supposed to listen to the actors on their behalf, but they should feel free to ignore them on our behalf?

That's better spin than Conan's wedding ring on his late nite desk.

This is ridiculous. The AMPTP has the power and the money to end this. Anytime they want. No if ands or buts about it. But they'll keep throwing people under the bus until the cows come home.

I would say something about the chickens coming home to roost but I'm all "mixed metaphored" out.

In the words of Public Enemy "Shut Em Down, Shut Em Down, Shut Em Shut Em Down."

Geo Rule said...

I think we need to quit using "waiver" as being synonymous with signing a binding contract, because it isn't. DCP, like WP, is offering to sign a comprehensive, binding deal that would allow them to stop being a "struck company", just like WP is no longer a "struck company".

WGA has two major assets that y'all should take very seriously. One, of course, is Guild unity. The second is the perception by third parties (fans, general public, other unions) that you are the reasonable and fair party in this dispute.

Not allowing DCP to have a deal on the same terms as WP, strikes at the second of these pillars, and personally I think it is a strategic mistake.

"He who says 'A', must say 'B'. . " at least if he cares at all about public opinion. Once the decision was made to negotiate separately then WGA became --in my opinion-- morally obligated to offer the same deal to all comers without fear or favor.

josh said...

"Bill, if Pat Verrone (who didn't add ANYTHING after DVD's were removed-- is that AMPTP propaganda tasty?) can bring more Signatories to the table like he did WWP & UA, he's not going anywhere."

wow. is that really a big accomplishment?

a) those are Micky Mouse deals. They mean nothing. They are temporary. As soon as the AMPTP will ink the deal they are willing to ink, those contracts will revert to that. And you know the meaning of the work "revert", right?

b) UA and WWP are not effected by reality and animation jurisdiction. Plus, they accepted the deal where the DVD issue was dropped.

If you think that this is a great accomplishment then you are delusional.

But go ahead, whatever gets you through the day.

cory said...

Here comes the Cavalry. This is part of an article I lifted from the Reuters website. This just might end the whole bloody mess.

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - The Directors Guild of America has begun casual contract talks with the studios, and an announcement of formal negotiations appears likely within the coming week, a step that ensures the writers strike will persist for some time.

With its focus turned to the DGA talks, the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers (AMPTP) has little incentive to seek an accommodation with the Writers Guild of America (WGA), which has been on strike since November 5.

The situation still could implode if the AMPTP fails to assure DGA brass that the union will be rewarded for entering early contract talks. The DGA is under contract through June 30, but the guild has a history of negotiating new contracts about six months early and has signaled an interest in commencing formal talks soon.

The AMPTP would love for the DGA to do just that, if only to show that at least one Hollywood labor organization is willing to engage with the studio organization.

Discussions between the directors and studios thus far have primarily involved conference calls, with little face time among those who will sit at the bargaining table. It has taken the better part of a week to contact some of the interested parties, with executives still getting back from vacations.

tv writer said...

The 6 wga proposals that the amptp demanded be taken off the table were indeed part of the initial proposal the wga presented to the amptp in November. You can see them here at :


Tell your friends, because I'm tired of hearing that these proposals were added in Dec before the AMPTP walked out. (AMPTP lies)

Everyone knows the guild would be willing to trade most of these proposals IF THE AMPTP WENT BACK TO THE TABLE.

The AMPTP has failed to negotiate in good faith. That's why we're at where we're at.

Raymond said...

The difference between the deal with WWP and a theoretical deal with DCP is that WWP has a parnter in David Letterman. He is a writer who is promoting the issues and cause of our strike. By being back on the air, WWP is giving voice to the writers, putting writers back to work, and setting an example to the rest of the production community that if you serve our goals, we can negotiate a fair deal. Unfortunately for DCP, there is no immediate benefit to the WGA in signing an interim deal. No writers or BTL crew would gain any appreciable boost from the few days of employment, but the license fees and ad revenue from the telecast would go right into the pockets of the side we're trying to defeat. The trade off is not worth it. In principle, the World Wide Pants deal helps us more than it hurts. Writers are donating parts of their salaries to the strike fund. Do you think NBC will donate any of its ad revenue to the out of work teamsters. Don't think so. Think Dick Clark Productions and the HFPA are going to open the Golden Globes by telling the world that the AMPTP our cowards and thieves. Don't think so. This is simple. David Letterman and WorldWidePants are on the side of the DGA. DCP, NBC, and the AMPTP are not. So again I say, Shut Em Down Shut Em Down!!

Bartleby said...

My belief that Verrone needs to drop his pet project of unionizing reality show writers was reinforced over the Xmas holiday when I overheard a conversation at Barnes and Noble between two guys, one of whom was presumably a reality show writer. Briefly, the reality writer replied to a question from his friend with, "No. We're not in the union. It's actually never been busier for me. I've been making a ton of cash during the strike. You can't believe how much reality shows are being made right now."

Certainly, the words of one person, but it's probably a microcosm of what's going on in all those production buildings, and their attitude towards all of us out of work.

From my perspective, everything the WGA is asking for is legitimate, but expanding the union just to include a group of people who are making cash hand over fist instead of standing with us, is a worthless endeavor.

reasonable said...

josh said...

"Bill, if Pat Verrone (who didn't add ANYTHING after DVD's were removed-- is that AMPTP propaganda tasty?) can bring more Signatories to the table like he did WWP & UA, he's not going anywhere."

"wow. is that really a big accomplishment?

a) those are Micky Mouse deals. They mean nothing. They are temporary. As soon as the AMPTP will ink the deal they are willing to ink, those contracts will revert to that. And you know the meaning of the work "revert", right?"

No, but the WORD "revert", I am familiar with. Are you familiar with the word "catalyst"? It means "a person or thing that precipitates an event or change". Considering the possibility that more companies are coming to the table (thus strengthening the WGA's position. And while you infer that the WGA is at the AMPTP's mercy, the Guild has adhered to the principle of accepting "a fair deal", not just any crap the Moguls present), I don't find anything "Mickey Mouse" about these deals.

"b) UA and WWP are not effected by reality and animation jurisdiction."
So if WWP decides to produce an animated or reality show (like they produced "Everybody Loves Raymond"& "ED"), or UA (while admittedly they probably won't produce a reality series in the foreseeable future, though I'm honestly not sure what classification Documentary Feature falls under) produces an animated feature, are you saying the agreement they entered into w/ the WGA regarding those genres doesn't apply?

"Plus, they accepted the deal where the DVD issue was dropped."
This sentence makes no sense w/in the former context or w/out. Are you trying to say WWP & UA accepted the version of the WGA's agreement that doesn't increase the DVD revenue? If that is in fact your argument... So? Concessions are made in negotiations. All of the other points were agreed upon, plus the SALIENT point that the WGA can make reasonable deals, contrary to the AMPTP's ridiculous rhetoric.

"If you think that this is a great accomplishment then you are delusional."

Maybe. But I can spell and my sentences make sense.

"But go ahead, whatever gets you through the day."

Thanks for giving me permission, for... something.

I hereby give you permission to complete a sentence in order to make your points clear.

Monty said...

The Guild Leadership is seeming like the Bush Administration to me now. The Bushies had all the support in the country behind them after 9/11 and then they lost the momentum by going after Sadam and creating a costly mess. With no exit strategy.

The Guild had all the support of the membership at
the beginning of the strike and then lost the momentum when they decided to give a
special deal to Letterman that has done nothing but
create a costly mess. With no exit strategy.

Harold said...

The longer that this strike lasts, the better the inked contract needs to be.

That's my opinion, but it's not realistic.

What annoys me is that there didn't appear to be any strategy involved with the negotiations. It's almost like the strategy was that the WGA strikes and then AMPTP capitulates.

Talk about something not being realistic.

When I write "strategy," I'm not even suggesting something magically intricate that results in AMPTP being on its knees in days. My concept of "strategy" is much simpler - e.g., prioritizing the proposals.

How many of the following things were considered before this strike?

1. Is one or more vital WGA membership interests threatened?
2. Are there clear objectives for the strike?
3. Have the risks and costs of the strike been fully and frankly analyzed?
4. Have all other non-strike means been fully exhausted?
5. Is there a plausible exit for the strike that signifies "victory" to avoid a seemingly endless strike?
6. Have the consequences of the strike ON OTHERS been fully considered?
7. Is the strike supported by the WGA membership?
8. Does the WGA have genuine broad support in other unions?

All these questions should have been answered BEFORE the strike.

Some clearly were. The WGA membership voted OVERWHELMINGLY for the strike (#7). New media alone is a vital WGA interest (#1).

But others clearly were NOT.

Was an increase in DVD residuals a clear objective of the strike (#2)? Apparently NOT.

It wouldn't have hurt if the WGA leadership had read a copy of Clausewitz's "On War."

Not to trivialize the tragedy of actual warfare, but Clausewitz's famous description of war was "the continuation of politics through other means."

In much the same way, a labor strike is the continuation of contract negotiation through other means.

But Clausewitz (not to mention EVERY OTHER strategist) also said to set goals and objectives and I'm not sure that is the case in this strike.

ALL of these proposals do NOT have the SAME weight. In the beginning, this appeared to be a list of proposals ranked from top to bottom in priority. Ever since this, that chart looks more like an ordered list of what the WGA will give up.

B said...

I posed this ? on another thread but haven't rec'd an answer and really do want to understand as I feel I am missing something (yes, write in any wisecrack you like).

Don't all these deals with production companies that release product through the majors ultimately just give the majors product to release? Like now, can't MGM just release the projects done through UA or do their contracts prohibit this?


Geo Rule said...

Even AMPTP's own site admits that "the six" had been on the table since July.

The December manuever by AMPTP has never been anything but a transparent attempt to get concessions without reciprocating.

cory said...

More progress being made? This is part of an article I lifted from the New York Post.

January 6, 2008 -- The Weinstein Co. is in talks with the Writers Guild of America about a deal that would allow the movie studio to hire striking Hollywood scribes for its film projects, sources told The Post.

The studio is said to be waiting for Tom Cruise's United Artists to announce a similar interim pact with union leaders before it agrees to do the same.

smoothlatinkid said...

And the number one sign of AMPTP tactics (via Lehane PR): comparing the WGA, its leadership, and its strategy (or perceived lack of one) to the Bush Admistration/Iraq debacle as a talking point.

You're getting more transparent by the moment, kids. But thanks for playing!

Dennis Wilson said...

Branching off something that Harold said...

I have been and remain 100 percent supportive of and committed to this work stoppage, the need for it and its strategy and goals -- including seeking jurisdiction over animation and reality TV -- but it's still this member's opinion that keeping DVD residuals off the table is a mistake.

And I'm curious as to what percentage of the WGA membership feels as I do: that when talks do finally resume, DVD residuals should be back among our demands.

Much as I appreciate and value the input of BTL Guy and most of the other non-writer contributors here, I'm just asking the writers, now...

What's your personal feeling about the DVD question? And what are you hearing from your colleagues at your picket site?

B said...

Same question - when you let Weinstein make movies, aren't you just giving the big companies a way around the strike? The little companies sign and produce, the big companies release.

Am I wrong?

Someone correct me and I promise I will stop asking.

Geo Rule said...


Personally, I think we need to normalize terms here.

I think this strike is really against "producers".

The thing is, vertical integration means many producers are also distributers. Therefore some people want to smack around someone wearing their "distributor" hat in order to punish them for their sins committed wearing their "producer" hat.

At least that's my read. Tho I wouldn't mind hearing others take the subject on. . .

hollarback said...

B, those companies will have legally accepted the exact same terms that the AMPTP says are unreasonable; what is to not get about that? It puts writers (and crew) back to work under agreeable terms, which is what the entire thing is about. Think about it, it's fairly straightforward.

B said...

Hollarback -

I really appreciate your response, may I pick your brain one more time.

My concern is this, UA/Weinstein go back to work and are quite rightly held to the terms of their deals but they are producing product which will be released by MGM. Meanwhile, the big boys in the AMPTP hold out and eventually sign a deal unlike the one UA/Weinstein did. So in actuality all these deals with the smaller players that include favored nation clauses are just a way for the AMPTP to get movies going while still not settling the strike.

Or am I thinking about it too much?

Thanks again for helping me to understand.

B said...

geo rule -

I agree but if a company does both, how do you separate the two and if a company is distributing a film made by a smaller company that signed a side deal (even if that signing shows that the WGA terms are reasonable) doesn't it work to the good of the producer/distributor companies?

Thank you for addressing my ?.

bobalouie said...

Just a question because I do not understand. Being just a lowly film fan, not a writer, why is it OK to accept the Film Critics awards complete with no picket lines, A-list stars and Red Carpet nonsense, the works, from two struck companies, Viacom and Paramount but not OK to accept the Golden Globes. You are still making money for the companies involved and it seems to me coming across as weak. If it is wrong in one place it is wrong everywhere, right?

smoothlatinkid said...


UA (and possibly The Weinstein Company and Lionsgate) have cut a deal, agreeing to a CONTRACT with WGA (I agree with the earlier poster that said we need to make clear the difference between waiver and contract.)

Even if the larger companies of the AMPTP distribute, the compensation due the writers is what is at issue--and the producing companies that have struck a deal with the guild are doing so at terms that the AMPTP could've had sewn up long ago.

I don't pretend to know the dollars and sense of the deal UA or the Weinsteins have with their distributors, but dollars to donuts says what the larger companies get as a distribution fee will not compare to what they get if they are generating the content IN HOUSE (there are ownership issues, etc., they don't get to touch based on how and where the content is originated.)

So any monetary benefit it gives to the larger companies is negligible in the face of what the union and the community GETS here.

The win on this is three-fold: PERCEPTION; it shows that the deal the guild is asking for is do-able and fair (much to the consternation of AMPTP), MOMENTUM; Because UA can accept new material NOW, they can keep moving. Their competitors---Lionsgate, the Weinsteins--do not want to be denied the opportunity to move forward with THEIR projects, and since one company has already stepped out to do a deal, it makes it more acceptable for others to do so. First WWP, then UA...little by little, cooler heads prevail.

And lastly, it gives some writers the opportunity to start working again. Hope this answers your questions.

Dennis Wilson,

I hate that DVDs are off the table. Which is why I see us holding out much longer now--the companies sucker-punched us. I'd LOVE to put that back on the table, personally. But in the interest of give-and-take, I don't see the leadership doing so.

Once something is off the table, it seems to stay that way, in the interest of moving things forward.

Since no one is talking now, and things are so raw, I don't see our side as being willing to put something new and inflammatory back on the table and possibly keep people out of work longer (and NO, reality and animation were NOT new demands to anyone lost on that fact.)

So yeah, I wish we could get that back, but that's one I'm afraid we're going to have to let go.

Geo Rule said...

b said:

I agree but if a company does both, how do you separate the two and if a company is distributing a film made by a smaller company that signed a side deal (even if that signing shows that the WGA terms are reasonable) doesn't it work to the good of the producer/distributor companies?

Thank you for addressing my ?.

Well, the reality is there appears to be some disagreement amongst WGA supporters of good will on that question.

My personal opinion is the die was cast on that question when the WGA decided to negotiate separately with individual companies rather than the AMPTP as a whole. I think some other Guild supporters have not come around to that opinion as of yet. I still have hopes. :)

RJ said...

As an outsider (casual TV fan), I just thought I would pass along a few comments / thoughts:
1) The strike is now old news and many people have adjusted and are now doing something else.
2) If the globe does not go, we will watch football.
3) I do agree that profits should be shared...but so should the losses. Would everyone sign up for that? That is how most of the real world works.

Got to go...there is a good rerun on

B said...

TY, smoothlatinkid - it sure is a pleasure to post comments and ask questions on a site where there is civility and knowledge.

Thanks to all of you who helped me understand the issues.

Jerad said...


The company producing the film critics' awards is not a union shop, meaning they are not a struck company. They do not now nor have they ever used WGA labor. While I'm sure that the WGA would like to represent the writers for that show as it stands it is not affiliated with either the AMPTP or the WGA.

Dennis Wilson said...

RJ, we're not asking to share profits, but for a percentage of revenues derived from our work.

That way there's no misunderstanding over what constitutes "profit."

bobalouie said...

Jerad, thanks for clearing that up for me. I knew there had to be an explanation, just had to ask the right people. Thanks again and hang in there guys!

cory said...

Another one bites the dust. I lifted this from Reuters.

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - HBO's "Real Time With Bill Maher" will return with new episodes Friday without both writers and two of its most popular features, Maher's opening monologue and the closing segment "New Rules."

The round-table discussion with celebrity guests will stay as the producers of the live political talk show are tweaking the rest of the format because of the Hollywood writers strike, which is now in its third month with no end in sight.

The most recent season of "Real Time" was cut short by the walkout. The November 9 season finale was canceled and replaced by a rerun.

Monologues performed by talk show hosts who are Writers Guild of America members are at the center of a controversy, sparked by "The Tonight Show" host Jay Leno's decision to write openings for his show, which returned last week without writers.

The WGA has been adamant that, under its strike rules, such hosts cannot perform any "writing services" for their shows, including penning their own monologues. Meanwhile, NBC has claimed that the hosts are exempt and are within their legal right to write monologues according to WGA's 2004 collective bargaining agreement.

"Real Time" is one of three political comedy shows that are returning this week without writers, along with Comedy Central's "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" and "The Colbert Report."

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

film08 said...

Havent the shows already been aired by the time they hit the internet? And cant you negotiated above scale anytime? I guess i still dont understand..

Bartleby said...


If your question hasn't been answered, then let me: the answer is "yes". As reported in the NY Times today, the UA deal would essentially provide content for MGM, as would the Weinstein deal, and any deal with a separate indie production entity, like Senator, et al.

I think the "touchdown dance" that an anonymous writer was quoted as doing in the article is a bit premature, since UA makes only 6 films a year, and essentially will be allowed to go back to work on those films, one of which is UA head Cruise's own "Valkryie". A lot of these deals were made in 1988, and that did nothing to shorten that strike or get a better deal.

Still, a separate deal with Lionsgate, if it happens, might be something to keep one's eye on.

McG said...

I am not a WGA member, nor in the film industry, but as a freelance writer I am having a tough time figuring out why the striking writers would give up DVD residuals. With 'appointment television' nearly extinct, DVR and DVD are not the waves of the future but rather those of today. The Issue has a feature on the strike, and one of the article's we culled from is Pamela Ribon's "Why I'm On Strike." It is an interesting piece, and raises a few questions; Will writers be able to exist if they don't get a percentage of DVD/Internet residuals?
Personally I couldn't tell you the last time I watched a show on television. With that said, I regularly buy seasons of shows on DVD, as well as download of iTunes. Ten years from now no one will sit in front of the boob tube waiting for their favorite program to air.


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