2/06/2008

From Joss Whedon: Do Not Adjust Your Mindset

This was submitted by WGA and DGA member Joss Whedon.

Dear Writers,

I have good news. I have lots of good news. In fact, I have way too much good news.

The strike is almost over. A resolution is days away. Weeks. Friday. Valentine's day. Two weeks exactly from whenever my manager/agent/lawyer told me. Yes, after talking to writers and actors all over town, I'm happy to report that the strike is going to end every single day until March. Huzzah! All of this entirely reliable information means that at last the dream of the writing community has been realized: the Oscars will be saved.

Let's step back.

The Oscars seem to be the point of focus for a lot of this speculation. That either they must be preserved, or that the studios feel they must be preserved, and therefore this terrible struggle will end. There is an argument to be made for wanting the show to go on: it showcases the artists with whom we are bonded (there's no award for Best Hiding of Net Profits), and it provides employment and revenue for thousands in the community that has been hit so hard by this action. Having said that, it's a f%$#ing awards show. It's a vanity fair. It's a blip. We're fighting (fighting, remember?) for the future of our union, our profession, our art. If that fight carries us through the Holy Night when Oscar was born, that's just too bad.

And the studios? Well, the Oscars provide advertising revenue and a boost for the films that win. But the studios have shown impressive resolve in ignoring short-term losses in order to destroy us. I don't hear any knees knocking in the Ivory Towers over that night of programming. Hey, I wish I did. I wish, like a lot of people, I could hear anything from in there besides that weird clicking sound Predator makes.

I ask you all to remember: the studios caused an industry-wide shutdown. They made a childishly amateurish show of pretending to negotiate, then retreated into their lairs (yes, they have lairs) to starve us out. They emerged just before Christmas to raise our hopes, then left in a premeditated huff. They Force Majoured with gay abandon, cutting deals and 'trimming the fat' (I've met a couple of 'the fat' on the picket lines. Nice guys.) and made every selfish, counter-intuitively destructive move in the Bully's Bible. They met with the DGA and resolved quickly, as expected.

We have been advised to tone down the anti-studio rhetoric now that a deal might be progressing. Our negotiators have the specific task of forgetting the past and dealing only with the numbers before them. Their ability to do that impresses me greatly, but I maintain that it's their job to treat the studios like business partners and it's our job to remember who they really are. The studios are inefficient, power-hungry, thieving corporate giants who have made the life of the working writer harder from decade to decade. They are run by men so out of touch with basic humanity that they would see Rome burn before they would think about the concept of fair compensation. I maintain that they have never revealed their true agenda in the causing and handling of this strike, and to expect them to now is cock-eyed optimism of the most dangerous kind.

I have heard people both in and out of the industry say, "But that's enough now, right?" I have seen the thing I fear most: that whatever their agenda, they are beating us down. With hope. With rumors. With Time. The mindset seems to be shifting to one of relief and even unspoken gratitude for their return, instead of flaming indignation that they ever (illegally, do you recall?) left the table in the first place. It's the mindset of the victim. The lethargy of limb that strikes the fighter as he unconsciously lets himself lose. The studio strategists have worked this scenario as carefully as they have everything else. It is so crucial that we outside of the talks remember that, and let them know we do.

This is not over. Nor is it close. Until the moment it is over, it can never be close. Because if we see the finish line we will flag and they are absolutely counting on us to do that. In the room, reason. On the streets, on the net, I say reason is for the 'moderates'. Remember what they've done. Remember what they're trying to take from us. FIGHT. FIGHT. FIGHT.

I have been mugged an embarrassing number of times, even for a New Yorker. I've been yelled at and chased, beaten down and kicked, threatened with a gun and the only mugger who still hurts my gut is the one who made me shake his hand. Until there is a deal – the right deal, not the DGA deal – held out, let's keep our hands in our pockets or on our signs. Let's not be victims. Let's never.

In solidarity,
Joss Whedon

71 comments:

Jon Raymond said...

Awesome post, Mr. Whedon. Truly. Thank you.

I kept thinking, I was one of few hold outs that wasn't buying this 'it's almost over' media hype. Then I see posts from real writers here, Verone's video, and now this; all warning that it's not over. 'Not even close' you say. Bravo! This is real life. It ain't no fairy tale. Being optimistic is bullshit.

I won't believe a bit of it until the writer's vote and they say it's over. It's their call, not the mews media, not some mogul in his box at the game, not even the bloggers, no matter how good their intentions.

I have a question, though. Why is the Oscars' date set in stone? Is someone's dick going to fall off if it's pushed back until this thing ends. Someone going to turn into a pumpkin? Obviously no one's in a partying mood anyway. It takes time to heal these wounds. The Oscars should be canceled, even now, until further notice, until this thing is over. Then there will be real reason to celebrate.

stuiec said...

"Our negotiators have the specific task of forgetting the past and dealing only with the numbers before them. Their ability to do that impresses me greatly, but I maintain that it's their job to treat the studios like business partners and it's our job to remember who they really are. The studios are inefficient, power-hungry, thieving corporate giants who have made the life of the working writer harder from decade to decade. They are run by men so out of touch with basic humanity that they would see Rome burn before they would think about the concept of fair compensation."

Wow. If that is who and what the studios really are... why would anyone ever choose to do business with them? Isn't that just allowing them to exploit one's creative labors to become even richer and bigger and more exploitative?

I don't think toning down the anti-studio rhetoric is necessary because of the state of negotiations. It might be necessary to allow writers eventually to return to work with and for people and organizations that they're currently being told are Satan's minions on Earth. (I imagine it's hard to form any kind of working relationship with an entity that subsists on the flesh of innocent babes.)

The One True b!X said...

So when do the "it's a f%$#ing awards show" t-shirts come out?

rene said...

"I ask you all to remember: the studios caused an industry-wide shutdown" Uh, as far as I can remember the writers walked out. Yeah the studios were being dicks but the writers played right into their hands.

If the studios are such assholes then why not stop writing and working for them?

Fortunately, for Mr. Whedon he can probably afford to be out of work for a few more days, weeks or months. I love it when all these big time writers come out and start preaching to everyone saying how they should do this, remember that and so on. Gimmie a friggin break!

Joe said...

Amen Joss.

I'm a newer member of the WGA and I've been sick to my stomach the past few days feeling more helpless every single time I read the "it's over" propaganda that started on Saturday.

I have a hard time believing anything is over until we are given a fair deal. Not the DGA deal.

Not some, "well you'll get a taste in year 3" deal.

I want to know I went on strike and depleted my savings and racked up some debt for a reason.

I want to know we won something and we've bettered the landscape for all the current and future writers of the world.

I want to know we're not going to be sitting here in 2011 holding signs and walking in circles.

I went out on strike for 3+ months for a reason and I don't want to accept "less than" because of some f'ing awards show.

If not seeing and hearing what Diablo Cody says in her acceptance speech is the punishment, I'll live.

I hope the guild leadership doesn't show up with spam on a one-ply paper plate on Saturday.

I hope the AMPTP realizes that we have all the leverage right now and it's time to stop hoarding.

If we don't take this deal, they'll lose their Oscars, the rest of their TV season, their fall season and they are going to have to start scrambling to have some movies to throw up on a screen at some point in 2009.

I'm all for fighting. This has to have been worth something for the union and for the industry as a whole.

I want to go back to work as much as anyone, but I'm also willing to keep fighting if the deal is not good.

I hope everyone else in the union feels the same way.

yallbothsuck said...

I should probably add at this point that I do think Mr. Whedon is the best writer working in TV (and "comic" books for that matter) right now.

Rodney Peterson said...

I love it. A realistic and well thought out reply from a guy whose work I don't know well, but I have seen how he interacts with his fans and treats people with respect-even bothering to talk to me when addressed though he doesn't know me from Adam and I'm not a guild member. This despite the fact I kind of looked like a clown, I would think, the first time he met me-if I had been wearing Crocs, it would have been appropriate. There I was in my foot tall red white and blue novelty hat I had worn from the first day I started walking with the WGA and continued to for several weeks until I was asked not to for fear of making the writers in general look like they might be crazy. I'm not crazy at all, but I felt as I entered the battle I needed a way in to meet the people I wanted to talk to in my ultimate goal of getting my script read and an agent referral I really need. It wasn't that I had created that outfit for the WGA strike, either-I had been wearing that silly costume for months-it was part of what being a writer was all about to me-I never intended to become a writer, but both fate and love for a very special girl that entered my life unexpectedly and with whom I have crossed paths ever since the first unbelievable meeting propelled me to become one-and both writing and everything associated with it have become the hardest thing I have ever done. But along the way I've met some fantastic people, including David Weiss, who has promised to read my script and for that I couldn't be happier even though I have been homeless throughout most of this difficult ordeal. But if anyone represents the diversity of writers and how some writers become writers, I do. I'm in good company in many ways-after all, J.K. Rowling created Harry Potter on welfare and there are countless other examples. I believe completely in my story and what we are all doing out on the picket line-fighting for the current pool of WGA writers and other entertainment professionals and those who will soon become guild members, such as myself and countless others who will follow in our footsteps as WGA members. I feel a connection as never before in many ways and have been proud to be out striking with all of you since the thought first occurred to me that I could back in December. I even discovered much to my amazement I have at least nine things in common with certain to be Oscar winner Diablo Cody (it's a combination of life circumstances both based on Diablo (real name Brook) and her Juno MacGuff character, who will always be a part of her. And I'll be eager to be at Disney tomorrow and maybe for all of us that WILL be the last time we need to do this and everything will be saved-all of our sanity, happiness and also things that are tangible will be improved like residuals. I hope some of you understand if I wear my old uniform, guild permitting, at least part of the time, which includes that hat and two custom printed signs along with my standard WGA picket signs that I usually write myself while most likely pulling my suitcase along. If it gets to be counter productive or I'm asked not to do that, I won't and instead march proudly with all of you in regular fashion as I have been doing for weeks. I know I'm far form the best writer in the world even though I have put together a decent story and an outline that has tremendous potential and some of you will become friends and mentors of sorts and that will be yet one more exciting and wonderful thing I will have gained from taking the initiative to be marching and fighting with all of you and I look forward to what I hope is an association with the guild and other entertainment professionals that lasts many years.

Rodney Peterson

www.cuttingconfessionsfilm.blogspot.com

Carol said...

I am so happy to see this writeup. I can't even count how many times I've heard, "So, I hear the strike's almost over" in the past week. I heard Larry King say something to that effect on his show last night. I've heard it on the news. And if it's on the news it must be true, right? Oh wait, I remember reading the New York Times reports on the strike and having to pick my jaw up off the floor because of their shocking inaccuracies and misleading information. Until a deal is signed it all sounds like more AMPTP hornswoggling and propaganda to me (yup that's right, I said hornswoggling). Thanks, Joss.

joycemorrison said...

a very nice post. so i won't be holding my breath just yet. man, the strike has been going on for so long (for me) that i've almost forgotten how things were before it. i just want justice for the writers...

QuoterGal said...

That's our Jossir.

He's the man what got me into this here strike work in the first place.

*proud to be from Whedonia*

(How 'bout this, b!X: http://www.quotergal.com/wga/frakingawards.jpg)

ajs said...

You said it Joss! Don't ever back down!

Cyber said...

"Wow. If that is who and what the studios really are... why would anyone ever choose to do business with them? Isn't that just allowing them to exploit one's creative labors to become even richer and bigger and more exploitative?"

Because they're the only game in town.

It takes alot of money to turn a script into a tv series or movie, and said movie or tv series has the potential to bring in alot of money. However, unless you have alot of money to begin with, it's kinda hard to do a good script justice *and* get a return on it.

You see, the biggest companies out there are the ones holding out against the writers -but the smaller companies are signing deals that are getting the writers back to work. But the bigger companies are the giants, the ones who employ the most, and have the most resources to get tv and movies on the air. Without companies that big -or without a company that can compete- those biggest companies are the biggest game in town.

The companies themselves aren't bad, and are filled with workers much like the writers. The bad ones are the company heads who are holding out with greed (and the length they have been holding out should speak for how much money they have). All the writers want is a fair deal. They're not picketing against the companies, but against the *heads* of those companies (who, for the moment, run the company). If new company heads came into power who give fair deals, I dare say the companies would be classed as beautiful. Because they're tools. The heads are the ones who wield those tools.

J. said...

Well said! Let's remember that whatever they are offering us is, essentially, their first true offer. The first offer is never the best offer.

Everyone wants to get back to work, but this is the first time they want us back to work. That feeling will only increase as their

We finally have some leverage, so let's not treat this offer like its the only one that's ever gonna come.

The only deal I want is one that I am proud I took ten years from now.

Because that's what this deal will be...

Jake Hollywood said...

If it's such a great deal then it can wait until after the Oscars get tanked. If it's such a great deal and the studios and the wga leadership like it so much then it'll be a great deal after in a couple of weeks.

But it isn't a great deal, it's not even a good deal. Anything that allows the 17 day promo the first or second year of the deal is a total bullshit deal...

And that's just one part of the "deal," the good part.

So, I've already made up my mind, if the deal has the word "promo" and "no pay for promo" in it, it's a non-started for me and a "NO!" vote from me.

Dennis Wilson said...

Nikki Finke has adapted for tomorrow's L.A. Weekly her massive Feb. 4 story recounting the "informal negotiations" last week between WGA brass and the Peter Chernin / Robert Iger team, and the contract terms that came out of them.

Interestingly, the newstand version is no longer titled Strike Status Report: Where Things Stand Right Now," but has been retitled -- though the article is largely unchanged otherwise -- Will the [Crappy] WGA Deal Go Down? Don't be surprised if writers revolt over this one.

The scary part for me is where she writes: "Verrone, Young and Bowman will be explaining and recommending the deal to the membership at a general meeting Saturday at the Shrine Auditorium. The guild's negotiating committee and board have already been briefed. Then those two panels will vote. That can't happen until the deal is drafted."

"Once both the WGA negotiating committee and the WGA board approve the deal, then the guild leaders will call off the strike immediately. I'm told that was an integral part of the agreement because the moguls didn't want to wait for the membership at large to weigh in on the deal. Among those pressing for this was Bob Iger, who for obvious reasons wants the picket lines to come down so Hollywood can feel free to attend ABC's Academy Awards."

Which would be wrong. The strike should not be called off until any new contract is ratified by the membership, especially if the deal is as "crappy" as the L.A. Weekly says. If the strike is called off and the contract is voted down, getting everyone to leave their desks again and get back out there on the picket lines again will be unimaginable hard. And our relations with the rest of the town will be damaged for years.

http://www.laweekly.com/news/deadline-hollywood/will-the-crappy-wga-deal-go-down/18303/?page=2

Steven S. DeKnight said...

And this is why I'll follow my mentor and fearless leader to Hell and back. Or to Fox, whichever comes first. But no musicals. Unless they involve stout men singing about mustard.

mheister said...

Joss Whedon makes some serious points. I have speculated repeatedly that the studios/networks' real agenda is to bust all three major creative guilds (okay, four if you count AFTRA). They have used lies, intimidation, expensive PR firms, illegal collusive pressure on prodco heads who dare to sign interims (as Harvey Weinstein reported), force majeur, refusing to bargain, well-paid shills in the MSM (some of whom dare to actually call themselves journalists. To quote John Lennon: How do you sleep?), and perhaps not-so-well-paid shills to troll in these comments areas.

The studios/networks, are also, I have opined, using this strike as their excuse to apply what Naomi Klein refers to as the "shock doctrine" to their business model. IOW, it's their opportunity to engage in radical restructuring, disgorging and/or dislocating labor and rolling back compensation and benefits packages for anyone who's not high enough up the totem pole. Hence the cancelled deals. Hence the firings. Hence Jeff Zucker - whose network is otherwise getting its clock thoroughly cleaned by Fox - speaking publicly of the end of pilot season as we once knew it.

As much as these corporations are under pressure from their overlords to keep turning a short-term profit, they are also under greater pressure to pursue a very aggressive anti-union and generally anti-labor agenda, as this type of strategy has driven down labor costs in the long term and driven up corporate profits significantly in other industries. Not to put too fine a point on it, but the corporate heads, when they crunch their numbers, see no difference between a jet engine and a movie. All they want is profit. It's how the system is built. And they're thinking strategically, which means not in months or quarters or even years but in decades.

The only reasonable response for an intelligent and unified labor force is to hit them where it hurts - their wallets - for as long as it takes. We need to make it clear we will not accept their strategic goal of busting our guilds. It will hurt us creative types more in the short term, but we will be protecting ourselves for the coming decades.

So if ABC isn't concerned about their Oscar show, why should we? I already know who won the Actor award (I voted for one of the other guys, but I know who won), because my guild already honored him. And soon I'll know who my writer friends have honored amongst their peers. To get all Teamster on them (with all due respect and apologies), if ABC's owner Disney is determined to not meet a guild's reasonable demands, they can kiss my grits. They can have their clip show (so named because it's the advertisers who may very well feel clipped) and no Viggo Mortensen.

I'm looking forward to walking with my WGA friends tomorrow. And for as long as it takes.

Caitlin said...

I would just like to remind everyone that they have not seen the deal. We don't know if it's good, we don't know if it's bad. People saying we shouldn't hope too soon while condemning the deal already won't help anything. Saturday. We'll all know then.

Luzid said...

@ rene:

Run, don't walk, to get your memory checked.

The *AMPTP* walked away. TWICE.

Educate yourself.

paddy chayefsky said...

Write on! (But not until the strike is over.) No deal until it's a great deal - we didn't come this far to stumble for the Oscars, and certainly not to make life easier for the studios who couldn't give a sH** about us. Vanity Fair has canceled its party. This is no time to party. This is not my beautiful wife. This is Life During Wartime!! Let's make sure we don't have to strike again for a very long time.

Ruthie said...

To Rodney Peterson: There may be a place for your long, rambling self-promotion, but this blog and particularly this post ain't it. Kindly delete it (an I'll do the same to mine).

just a thought said...

the only people that that thinks the Oscars are worth watching are the the "snipes" in the various enclaves, you know what I mean.

DLJ said...

Right on. I knew there was a reason I liked this guy.

Drew Goddard said...

Seconded. Deknight, we're making a charge behind our king. You get the trident, I'll get the net. We ride at dawn.

(I love you, Joss.)

Frustrated Bystander said...

It's been very interesting hearing the excitement of my friends who are loosely affiliated with the Industry, as I am. Their excitement lies in the belief that the writers are going to get some kind of decent deal because of the press releases. These friends can't wait to hear what I might report second-hand from hubby's reports from the meeting this upcoming Saturday.

When I talk to my friends about what I consider the "sticking point" of the promotional window, and what I believe is not a small minority of hard-liner writers but what I feel might actually be a sizeable number of writers in the membership who think the original promotional window in the DGA deal is still too much time without compensation, their excitement falls. Then when I talk about the other strategic levels that making this deal could mean, they get thoughtful. The facts outweigh the spin. As much as my friends want something great to happen, they understand the power of evaluation and determination, and are willing to weigh all the options.

So here's some of the things that I have mentioned to them. Does the WGA go for it, and call off the strike and just ratify this deal to give SAG a starting point for their negotiations, just as the DGA deal gave WGA a baseline foundation? And then let SAG do the next bit of heavy lifting to see if they can get the deal up more when it's their turn to come to the table? Or should the WGA hold out for more? Is there more to get without pissing the powers that be off? Or should the WGA take the biggest hit, being the baddest and most hated boy in town and allowing the strike to continue? Or should the WGA "panic" and feel that it should do the deal just so something is set in stone? Will there be a backlash if the membership votes down this offer? Is it true that SAG could really be split when it comes time for them to have to hit the sidewalks?

What does it really mean if the membership does not ratify this deal? And what would it really take to make the membership happy?

These are the questions that are relevant right now. NOT who's the hardliner? NOT Who's the moderate? NOT Who's the pussy? NOT Who do we pressure and hate as a displaced and split off discharge for feelings of powerless and frustration for the last 3 months?

Right now, information and evaluation is the key. Knowing TRULY what the membership is willing to settle for, is the conversation that should dominate on Saturday.

stuiec said...

Here is a prediction that I can make with 100 percent confidence: whatever contract is finally ratified, it will not satisfy all of the WGA members -- since the ratification vote doesn't have to be unanimous. The same is true on the AMPTP side. And that means that there will be pressure from day one of the new contract to get a better one three years from now.

Here is another prediction I can make with equal confidence: regardless of how good the contract is this time around, there will be issues of contention in three years' time. The WGA will demand certain terms be improved, and the AMPTP will demand that certain terms be rolled back. Some of that will be due to changes in the industry, the economy and the behavior of consumers. Some of it will be due to the fact that the AMPTP will always look for ways to cut the cost of "inputs to production" in order to meet their fiduciary duty to stockholders to maximize profits, and by the same token, some of it will be due to the fact that workers always seek to improve their economic situation.

There is no such thing as a contract that guarantees decades of labor peace. The only reliable way to obviate the need for strikes is to use other tools of leverage to get what you need and keep what you have at the bargaining table. The only course of action with any real chance of guaranteeing labor peace for decades is building a powerful labor movement, one powerful enough to demonstrate to management that the best course of action at all times is to treat labor with respect as a business partner, one powerful enough to take swift and effective action when management needs to be corrected -- up to and including striking for as long as it takes to get management to see the light and get back on the right path.

The principle of trade unionism is that all workers have equal worth as laborers, even if the market prices their hourly wage differently. All of the entertainment industry guilds and unions have to forge a united labor movement, one that keeps all of the unions apprised of each other's issues and challenges, one that coordinates mutual support, one that educates the brothers and sisters of the rank and file of the value -- the indispensibility -- of membership in the labor movement. And an essential part of that movement is preparation on the part of all for a strike on the part of any, so that all can give unqualified support whenever and wherever it is needed.

Ilike2think said...

Mr. Wedon, it has totally amazed my through this strike how much you have rallied writers and fans alike. I'm not a fan of Sci-Fi (sorry) but you have been so amazing I will give it a try.

Hang in there writers. Get the right deal. We can wait.

A fan in solidarity
Ilike2think

Carol said...

Oh how I enjoyed watching Variety's Cynthia Littleton on Ferguson's show tonight. Craig asks if she thinks viewers are really that distraught over missing their scripted shows and she replies, "I think if it had persisted much more..."

Did I miss a memo?

Jason said...

Why don't the members get to vote before the strike is called off?

Shouldn't we get to vote over ending a strike that we've been supporting for three months?

What's going on here?

We get the deal info saturday, then we have to go to a 'sense of the membership' meeting saturday night?

Doesn't that send a message to the AMPTP that in all future conflicts with the WGA you just make a demand that the board ends the strike as part of a deal?

Something smells off here. It's our union and we should be making these calls democratically.

Epona said...

Please end the writer's strike.

I'm now out of a job and the VFX gig I was about to sign on to (Where the Wild Things Are) just got pulled.

Us poor 3D artists are not unionized, if nothing is getting written then nothing is getting produced and none of us are working.

I don't look cute in poverty, I can promise you that!

Princess of Darkness said...

I'm glad you wrote that thoughts down.
You'll be seeing me next week at the picket line when I'm in LA.

Joss you rock!


xoxo Princess of Darkness

WSchapiro said...

Just as long as deKnight and Goddard don't have horses chasing Winnebagos, I'd be overjoyed to see them following Joss anywhere (oh! Except into the bathroom together! That was bordering on creepy, guys! ;-)

Keep on fighting the good fight, Joss!

embers said...

I have gotten to the point, over the last couple of months, where I wouldn't put any gamesmanship trick past the AMPTP. When I hear that writers are advocating taking ANY deal (eg the DGA deal), I assume the AMPTP is just creating that rumor. And when I hear rumors that there are writers who are threatening to quit the WGA and become scabs, I find myself sure that THAT is also a lie put out by the AMPTP.

I'm just saying that the AMPTP is not to be trusted. But I'm pretty sure the negotiators know that and they will be looking closely at the legal language of any deal offered. No one should be tricked or fooled into giving up at this point (it would be crazy to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory at this point)!

VDOVault said...

Speaking of whining, you should see what former publicist Sid Ganis and now the loudest 'save the Oscars' shill is saying about not getting his damned WGA waiver to which he believes he is so utterly entitled already (and for which he's alternately begging and threatening the WGA to do something)

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/7232618.stm

The studios will sacrifice Sid and Gil and some damned expensive party that most of the flyover part of their audience in the USA could barely give a flaming one about in a heartbeat (it's like the criminal masterminds will roll on a foot soldier if given the opportunity)...while expensive and lucrative, the Oscars are not nearly the cash cow the whole damned industry is, and online will become.

Meanwhile those evil geniuses are already firing strikeing writers...check out this from BuddyTV.

"The WGA strike is expected to come to an end in the coming days, but this has not stopped the execs over at NBC's 'Days Of Our Lives' from firing its entire writing staff, comprised of Emmy Award winner Hogan Sheffer, Tom Casiello, Frederick Johnson, Meg Kelly, Gordon Rayfield, Judy Tate, Judith Donato, Renee Godelia and Richard Backus.

On Friday, February 1, the scribes were informed that their services were no longer needed. Casiello believes their firings are the result of what was going on behind-the-scenes.

"I could probably launch into an essay about the inner workings of a television show… the secret cabals and the back alley strike deals that were made," Casiello wrote on his official MySpace. "I could potentially try to analyze the whole situation, try and find out how a writing team that started out the year doing strong [in the ratings], then ended up in LAST PLACE [due to dictates from the higher-ups] then somehow managed to come back and end the year in 4th place in Households and 1st place in the 18 - 24 demographic were all summarily kicked out at once."

That said, Casiello went on to acknowledge various members of the Days Of Our Lives cast and crew, as well as avid followers of the show. He also bid farewell to his co-writers, deeming them as the “most wonderful team” he has ever worked with, and singled out Sheffer, a “true friend mentor.”

“There wasn't one moment of paranoia, bitterness, anger, drama, jealousy - nothing but laughter and support and a genuine love for what we do. That's so rare to find around a writers' table in soaps these days… They were my heroes before I got the job, and they're my heroes after,” Casiello said. "Hogan Sheffer is a gentleman, a scholar and a true friend and mentor. Whether you liked what he did or hated it, I'm telling you - as a boss, you can't ask for anything more. He is full of joy. He is integrity. He is the real deal.”

It is widely believed that Dena Higley, who returned to Days Of Our Lives during the strike, will be named the permanent head writer of the show when a strike settlement is finalized. Higley had worked with the NBC soap until 2004, when she was hired to write for ABC's One Life to Live."

source: http://www.buddytv.com/articles/days-of-our-lives/days-writing-team-axed-16453.aspx

If I were a WGA writer I'd be very wary of signing a deal with people who fire strikers. And you can damned well bet I'm calling my Congressman and a bunch of Hill staffers I know about this little stunt of NBC's today and strongly recommending that they start the hearings and the public media circus ASAP.

Meanwhile I think you all should be moving production elsewhere and getting ready to produce your stuff for yourselves first and corporate *partners* second. You don't need corporate *masters* or people who want us all to live in financial indentured servitude from cradle to grave...they may need you and us to finance their layabout lifestyles but we and you do not need them.

It's time for an entertainment industry Emancipation Proclamation folks. Let the parasites find somebody else to bleed dry.

S.E. Olson
Moderator and Law & Order Criminal Intent Fan Liason
http://community.livejournal.com/wga_supporters/

Ingrid Glomp said...

Great post. Way to go, Joss.

Chris S said...

It's true we must keep the fight going. Picket on, don't lose that spirit...

Until of course the strike is over. Which will happen.

Maybe next week. Maybe not.

But it's okay when it ends. That's actually a good thing. That's actually what we've been fighting for: to end the strike with a decent deal.

Perhaps the negotiating committee and our leadership deserve the benefit of the doubt. We'll see on Saturday.

Either way, when it is finally over (and it will eventually be over) r, the studios and networks will indeed be our business partners again. As they were before.

rene said...

@ Luzid: You are correct AMPTP did walk out of negotiations. What I meant to say was that the writers decided to strike.

Bill said...

Jason said...
"Why don't the members get to vote before the strike is called off?"


Do you have a copy of your Guild's constition and bylaws or current contract? Can you find anything that says a ratification vote is required or that the board has power to end a strike for any reason?

I alway keep copies of the IBT contracts with me and refer to them often.

BTL 399

WGA Comedy Writer said...

Joss Whedon has provided me with endless hours of entertainment. I would slay a puppy to work on one of his writing staffs.

But I think he's wrong on this one. It IS over. Not because we want to save the Oscars or because this deal is perfect, but because our leadership supports it and because it's the best we can do without blowing up the industry that we love.

I'll go to Disney today, and then I'll hope that reasonable minds prevail and I can go back to work on Monday.

just a thought said...

This was posted yesterday.
"Verrone, Young and Bowman may be about to experience the perpetual reality of revolutionary leaders everywhere…that the same mob that cheered you when you led them to the barricades will be the mob calling for you heads months later when you tell it what it doesn’t want to hear"
I'm thinking that this is going to be the case. It seems to me you have lost faith in your leadership. The guys who took you out on strike. Before you go to that meeting on Saturday , take a cold hard look at yourself and ask do I trust them. It may be one you don't is the person in the mirror.
There's a sub text in this letter. I think it's more personal than objective. Just a feeling.

kimmy2007 said...

Joss is a great writer and I am sure he has the inside scoop as to what is going on, Good for him for speaking out , I was a little annoyed when the strike started and he was all for it, I don't think anyone should have been for it , but I think its everyone's right to do what they feel is right at the time, I am happy that it might be over soon, like next week, I just want to see my favorite shows back on the air,I hope everyone gets what they want and is happy . keep up the good work Joss! BA 4 EVA!

Not An said...

1. Very few people have seen the deal. I, for more than one, think it is irresponsible and maybe even undermining the neg committee to talk about it in this way until it has been made known to the members.

2. Mr. Whedon, I am consistently surprised by respected and talented writers like yourself who can create nuanced scripts with characters with shadows and yet in real life seem only to see black and white, us and them, evil and good. This kind of rhetoric makes it difficult for those who do not carry your weight to get the chances that your talent got for you, plus it also make achieving a new type of marketplace infinitely more difficult.

3. Carol, you seem elated that CL from Variety couldn't make a case for people missing their scripted TV shows - just exactly how is that good for writers?

4. I will forever be perplexed about why NF is seen as a friend of the WGA. She has a vested interest in stirring things up. I respect the opinions of any WGA member and his/her right to express those opinions. NF works for a paper that profits from enormous studio spending on advertising, she links her blog to that paper and thus indirectly profits from that advertising, her page views are directly related to keeping the WGA membership riled up, yet she is revered as a journalist while the people who write for the NYT, the LAT, the WSJ, the FT and the trades are demeaned. Obviously, all of the papers have an agenda and some of those agendas are in line with the AMPTP but so does NF and it ain't the working writer in the WGA.

5. I am tired of hearing that the Oscars should be cancelled or are meaningless. They provide millions of dollars to the economy; forget the big money stars, they provide recognition to crafts people and people other than the moneyed corps of the main categories. If they aren't important then I suggest if you are ever nominated for an AA you turn it down and not at the awards where you get a lot of coverage but just send a letter and say, "No thanks, the awards aren't important."

6. All of the "we're in this for the future", we're smarter, more moral posturing kind of goes out the window if you are willing at the end to cut a deal with the devil because he is the only game in town. People who really think all of the studio people are in league with the dark forces shouldn't do business with them.

I hope there is something to work with in these first terms. I have too many friends who have depleted their savings, some in businesses related to the industry who may never recover, people who have risked just about everything to for the negs to continue to be treated as just a "whose is bigger" contest.

Plus, as much as I respect the fans and realize that they are integral to success, I am tired of hearing from people who have nothing at stake other than missing Lost,

Joe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeremy said...

I think that posts like this, fanning the flames of the membership, before the deal has been made public, are destructive. The deal you get if you hold out until SAG goes on strike will be slightly better than whatever you get now but will it be good enough to warrant staying out that long? The truth is, the membership will start to fragment before long, BTL'ers will become more vocal and your leverage will be decreased, not increased as we enter June because the studios will have already lost the season (hence nothing, or less, to lose).

You are at a turning point where the Studios are feeling the pain and the membership is still united which does give you leverage. Have faith that your leadership used that leverage to the max and consider taking the deal, even if it's not a great deal or even 100% (in your view) fair.

I guess I just find it annoying that the contract is already being torn to shreds before you even have it in your hands. All the rumours on it's contents are just that, rumours. I get the feeling that many of the writers will be going into that meeting convinced that they will not support it. As someone "below the line," I emplore you all to at least know what it is you are criticising and give your leaders a chance to tell you why they think you should take it, even if it at first sounds lousy. I for one am praying that it doesn't sound lousy.

Four Cent said...

Oh my God - I sincerely hope there are people there on Saturday like me who understand that a negotiation is a negotiation and that nobody in the leadership ever promised we would get 100% of what we asked for at this juncture. What has happened to people with all this 'fuck this shitty fucking deal' that you haven't even seen? What is it? Don't you want the deal to be good? See you Saturday - I'll be the guy at the back actually listening to the leadership and rationally weighing the pros and cons of it all.

Teresa said...

@ notan:
Plus, as much as I respect the fans and realize that they are integral to success, I am tired of hearing from people who have nothing at stake other than missing Lost.

Actually, the reason why a lot of those people, myself included, are speaking up about this, and volunteering our time in support of the strike, is because we see this as being about more than just writers and producers. It's not just about "missing Lost", it's about labor vs. corporations. It's about deciding how much, or how little, workers are going to allow corporations to take advantage of them. We do have something greater at stake, and it's in everyone's best interest to become invested in a fight like this. Why choose this strike and not one that's less glitzy (the Aramark workers are on strike down the street from my office here in NYC)? Because it's public. When it's about TV, everyone pays attention. Hopefully, they're listening. Hopefully, they'll see themselves in it and realize that "You know what? This isn't fair!" Hopefully, they'll recognize that workers in all fields should not allow themselves to be taken advantage of.

Also, as a writer myself (not a unionized one, nor a dramatic writer for that matter), I support this strike because I support this profession. I support the idea that writers deserve respect. You don't have to weld steel to be considered a "worker" and be treated professionally. And the involvement of average fans - whether they're in it for their favorite shows or something "more" - is vital to bringing this message to the general public.

It's about pride in our profession. It's about pride in being a worker. It's about all of us.

Thank you, Mr. Whedon, for posting this. You remain an inspiration to me.

Carol said...

not an: I believe you misunderstood me. My point was that she said, "I think if it had persisted much more..." as in, if the strike had persisted much more the viewers would be more upset. As in, she's telling the entire TV audience that the strike's already over, which doesn't help the WGA one bit. If the strike doesn't end on Saturday I wonder who the media will blame for the "shocking" turn of events. I'm thinking it won't be the AMPTP.

What J. mentioned earlier got me thinking. This is the AMPTP's first true offer. It looks to me like this was the plan all along. Refuse to negotiate. Give the writers hope just before Christmas, then break off talks to demoralize the membership. Refuse to bargain in good faith until you've made all of Hollywood (and many other film communities where American productions are shot, I might add) weak and desperate. Then actually begin to bargain just in time to save the Oscars and pilot season.

aka this strike is working out exactly as the AMPTP planned. If the strike ends Satuday, their little scenario cooked up by their lawyers worked perfectly. The thing that worries me is, what happens next time a Hollywood union is forced to strike? There will be no deterrrent for the AMPTP to pull the exact same crap as it has clearly worked out so well for them this time. Or at least it will have if they get their deal in time to save the Oscars.

Don't get me wrong, I want the strike to end as much as the next person. But with a good deal. This is the time when the WGA has all the leverage. I just hope the leadership uses it and isn't afraid to let the strike go on a bit longer to take the AMPTP's offer from piss poor but acceptable to good. Ok, end of rant.

Claire said...

It's true that I really want to see Joss's latest creation Dollhouse made, but I can wait.

I'll be really disappointed if after all this time, the WGA caves and takes a weak deal. Setting a good precedent for new media usage for writers is so much more important than an awards show.

Fight hard to the very end, i.e. a signed deal, because your livelihoods depend on it.

I'm with you.

stuiec said...

cyber: "Because they're the only game in town."

I'm going to say something intentionally provocative here: Leni Reifenstahl could have said (in fact, I think she did say) the same thing about Hitler.

My point is not that the studios are the modern equivalent of the National Socialist Party. Nor do I believe that the Disney lot is actually hiding a Hellmouth.

My point is -- and I think you said something similar -- that the companies are a market for the writer's labor output, no more, no less. For a certain class of scripted entertainment, they're an oligopsony, a small group that comprise the only viable buyers around. But even that can change over time, with new sources of capital and new technologies that reduce the costs of production and distribution.

If writing jobs are relatively scarce compared to the number of writers, the studios have the upper hand. But if more outlets for writing spring up, then the writers become a scarce and demanded resource. The more alternatives you have to the studios, the greater the leverage you have over the studios.

Diggy said...

Hey Joss

Easy for you to say. How many MILLIONS do you have in the bank? Tell ya what - give me 50 grand and I'll sing your tune all night long.

Robert said...

Another "bravo" from this corner to Joss Wheedon for saying what we all know. (The fact that he's famous and successful, by the way, is a fact separate from the truth he's telling, so questioning his motives is just dumb.) Despite what "not an" says, we have a good sense of what the deal is, how little an improvement it is over the DGA deal, and of our leaders' fear their own membership is about to desert them. Everyone knows the three key terms of what we want. Everyone knows they still suck. Maybe "not an" hasn't heard about the phone calls from members of the negotiating committee to their friends. Maybe he hasn't heard that even the committee thinks the deal isn’t so good and wonders whether the membership can be convinced to vote yes (and praying we will because, through no fault of their own, they're worn out and beaten down). Anyone who wants to hear about those phone calls should call some agents and lawyers. Anyone who wants to know the last four words the studio heads said to our leaders can ask around. (Hint. One of the words was "take" and another one was "leave.") Anyone who wants to know who’s threatening to go core and help break the Guild can find out. None of it is hard to hear.

Worse, it looks like everyone is afraid the studios might be winning the public relations battle. Maybe they are. With writers like "not an" saying give the AMPTP a trouble-free Oscars, they're getting all the help they need.

Meanwhile, we should all read again the letters from the WGA presidents and the head of the negotiating committee. Do these sound like letters from optimistic people?

In case you're asking, I had a deal before the strike. Yes, I lost it. And even if I were filthy rich I still wouldn't be one of those writers who says, "I can do fine without the Writers Guild." Other than a deal, I had some other things before the strike, things we all had. We had the history of thousands of people who came before us fighting for what we have now. We had membership in a strong Guild fighting for our professional rights and the right to be fairly compensated. We had the promise of health care for our families and pensions and the promise of a fair share of the future.

Any second now, all that could be gone. Professional respect, a strong Guild, a share of the future, gone. When the studios made their first proposal on residuals, we knew the terms of this fight. It was about getting rid of every guild in town, finally and forever. If we give up now, there's no coming back.

As “stuiec” said above, he didn’t intend to compare Disney to Hitler, and I don’t mean any similar comparisons. But if a fraction of what we're hearing about this deal is true, Yalta was a picnic and Stalin is laughing from his corner of Hell.

Chris S said...

"I'm going to say something intentionally provocative here: Leni Reifenstahl could have said (in fact, I think she did say) the same thing about Hitler."

How about not comparing anyone to Hitler. It's not intentionally provocative to glorify a writers' labor strike to the struggle against (or collaboration with) a fascist regime.

Perhaps we can debate the situation on its own merits.

H said...

For everyone going on about compromise, empty bank accounts, and that f*%^king awards show... is that the game face you bring to a poker table?

I'm running on the fumes of my checking account. I pride myself on my critical thinking abilities. I love the pageantry of the Oscars, but it's very definitely a guilty pleasure. However, I applaud Joss Whedon's post. Standing ovation, even!

Don't waver. The AMPTP is waiting for one sign of weakness to knock us all on our asses... why back down now? On the eve of a possible contract! Leverage, people. Leverage.

Of course we all want the strike to end. This strike hurts, badly. But this fight was worth it to 90% of the guild last October. The stakes are even higher now. The AMPTP hurt us, yes. They hurt our whole industry. We are angry, yes, very. Let it fuel our resolve. We'll get a fair deal, and we'll set a precedent for the entire creative community -- actors, writers, grips, designers, techs, all of us. But we have GOT to hold the line. Especially now.

Lauren O. said...

Commerce has a mean suckerpunch. Anyone for the boxing gym?

stuiec said...

chris s: "It's not intentionally provocative to glorify a writers' labor strike to the struggle against (or collaboration with) a fascist regime."

No matter how many times I re-read this sentence, I can't figure out what you meant.

Let me clarify my meaning for you: if it's true that people you don't like and who are only out to exploit you are "the only game in town," then you're faced with only two choices: work with them, or quit the game.

I don't accept the premise. First, I don't accept the characterization of the studios as irredeemably evil and motivated by a desire to destroy lives and souls. Second, I don't believe that they are truly the only game in town, even if -- for now -- they control a key chunk of the playing field (forgive the mixed metaphor of gambling and sports).

However, it is definitely to the advantage of writers to find other games, so that the balance of power shifts from writers competing for scarce studio jobs to studios competing for (relatively) scarce writing talent.

Capsice?

Not An said...

Teresa -

With all due respect - and I do respect the fans - it's easy to get all high falutin' with someone else's career, income and family security and my family lives in the heartland and let me tell you people in the heartland don't give a flip about this whether it's about TV or not - and if you support labor you support them in all of their struggles not just the high profile ones but the little guys making socks in South Carolina, too.

Right there with you Jeremy, fourcent and diggy.

H - damn, am I ever tired of hearing all the Sun Tzu lines and the bring your poker face lines - this is real life, let's negotiate like adults with responsibilities to families and community as well as to our union - and yes, our union demands that we look at the deal that the neg comm we were so gung ho about two weeks ago has come up with. If everyone believes all of the things that they have been writing about the neg team then we owe it to them to have a look at the deal - or was all that support and talk of loyalty just game face?

H said...

Not An:
I'm sorry you're tired of the metaphors. But this is most definitely a game to the AMPTP.

Did you see the latest news bit about Michael Eisner declaring the strike over? He knows it's not over. He's bluffing, everyone who knows anything knows he's bluffing. But it's a strategic move: he's setting up the public expectation that it's over so that the WGA will murmur, cower, and take whatever is offered on Saturday for fear of being painted as the bad guys again. He's playing a game. It's critical to our success that we adapt to that. He doesn't care about your mortgage or my rent. That is the "reality."

I also think supporting and empowering our negotiators is different from assigning them last word on the matter. Their job is to bring us the best deal they've been able to make -- so far. And I agree with you; our job is to look at it with clear eyes and make a responsible decision. But we can still send them back to work harder if it's not a fair deal. I hope it's a fair deal. That would be so full of awesome. But if it's not, showing our strong resolve gives the negotiators leverage in order to get a better deal.

Shanna said...

not an Say the same thing to your fans when the strike is over. We'll make sure not to get all high-falutin' when it comes to supporting your work.

Fans are supporting the WGA because they support labor and they support the people who entertain them and give them characters to relate to. The WGA would barely have leverage if the fans had rolled over and played dead. Some of us aren't losing money because of this strike but guess what, some of us will spend our meager dollars to buy products and swag that supports the making of those shows. And we've been supportive because we want a good deal for you. So think about that before you bite the hand that really sustains your industry.

Scott Ellington said...

I always figured Firefly wasn't all that fanciful and metaphorical. It was always about doing the right thing without getting more horribly screwed than was absolutely necessary.

Joss has addressed you writers with advice derived from direct experience of following conscience over the dictates of prudence. Heed it or don't. It's entirely up to you.

For my part, I'd follow it anywhere (that didn't smell totally self-destructive and stupid). So my own little boycott of studio product will continue until I'm satisfied that an equitable compromise has been achieved, and it doesn't matter tremendously what you guys decide to do.

The GladGirl said...

I have a fantasy of rabid WGA members toppling the giant Oscar statue on the red carpet- just like the
20ft. Saddam Hussein statue in Baghdad's Firdous Square.

The GladGirl said...

I have a fantasy of rabid WGA strikers climbing the giant Oscar statue on the red carpet and toppling it like the 20ft. Saddam Hussein in Baghdad's Fidous Square.

Mhari said...

@rene: "If the studios are such assholes then why not stop writing and working for them?"

.... Did you miss the part where that's exactly what they did?

Jessica said...

Incredibly amazing, wonderful, heartfelt post!!! :)

Abigail said...

did you all see this from CNBC and Michael Eisner? What a crock, folks. Read the subtext fellow scribes. Argh! Anyone feel threatened by any of what he said? I'm enclosing in this blog with a link to the video of the interview. Did I miss the memo sent out by the AMPTP declaring Eisner the official negotiations spokesman? I digress...here's the clip and the article from CNBC:
http://www.cnbc.com/id/23057002

Deal Has Been Reached to End Writers' Strike: Eisner
MEDIA, ENTERTAINMENT, WRITERS STRIKE, DISNEY, HOLLYWOOD
By CNBC.comCNBC.com
| 07 Feb 2008 | 06:05 PM ET
A deal has been struck between the major media companies and the Writers Guild of America to end the writers' strike, former Walt Disney chief executive Michael Eisner revealed on CNBC.
"It's over," Eisner said. "They made the deal, they shook hands on the deal. It's going on Saturday to the writers in general."
Eisner, speaking live on CNBC's "Fast Money," seemed to hesitate initially about whether it was possible that the writers could still reject the agreement, but finally suggested the deal's acceptance was inevitable.
"A deal has been made, and they'll be back to work very soon," Eisner said, adding, "I know a deal's been made. I know it's over."
Eisner did not elaborate on terms of the agreement. He said he expects most of the media companies affected by the strike to have "small" write-downs as a result of the deal. Eisner said the deal was struck last Friday.
As a result of studio cutbacks, however, many of the writers who went on strike are unlikely to return to the same big-money contracts they'd had as individuals with the studios, Eisner said.
Shares of Walt Disney and CBS were both up in extended electronic trading Thursday.
© 2008 CNBC.com
URL: http://www.cnbc.com/id/23057002/

Nate said...

Mr. Whedon, a modest proposal from a big fan...

http://www.lotus911.com/nathan/escape.nsf/d6plinks/NTFN-7BNKEV

Loth said...

As a television viewer(who isn't, these days?), I would like to say that neither I nor anyone I know vilifies the writers. We worry about the fate of our favorite shows, yes, and are desperate for some new programming, but we want the writers to get fairly compensated for their work. If it means a season of nothing but 'Survivor' and 'Big Brother,' we'll manage.

Thomas E. Reed said...

Quote: "The studios are inefficient, power-hungry, thieving corporate giants who have made the life of the working writer harder from decade to decade. They are run by men so out of touch with basic humanity that they would see Rome burn before they would think about the concept of fair compensation."

And how does this make them different from any other corporation in contemporary America? This strike is similar to the strikes of every other union - that is, for those of us who can still join a union, and for those unions that have enough gumption to strike, which is practically none of them.

n5 said...

Correct spelling:

Force majeure

Luis Gonzalez said...

Joss is my antipasta.

Luis Gonzalez said...

Or hero. Or anti-hero or whatever I meant to say.

Scott Ellington said...

Thomas,

"And how does this make them different from any other corporation in contemporary America?"

Ever-increasingly, they own the formerly-free (kinda) mainstream media and press, which politicians require to get elected.

The Outer Limits' prologue was bold and thrilling, once upon a time. Lately, it sounds a lot more like a terrifyingly accurate prediction:
"We will control all that you see and hear...everything that reaches from the inner mind (of content creators) to Austin City Limits."