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WGA talks to resume Sunday - UPDATE

by Brad Trechak, posted Nov 3rd 2007 11:11AM
WGAAccording to Variety, the WGA has scheduled a meeting with the networks and studios on Sunday in a last-ditch effort to settle the impending strike. The strike is set to begin on Monday.

Going through the details of the article, it does seem that the WGA demands are not that unreasonable. It's very difficult to make it as a writer in Hollywood. There are many egos to contend with.

The problem I have with reading these article is that I'm not certain of the details. Before I decide if the strike is unfair or not, I'd like to know certain numbers such as sales figures and current percentages that the writers make on such sales. For example Nick Counter, president of the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers, states that the WGA made $56 million last year. But that's a sum and it's not given how many writers that $56 million was split up amongst. What if the number was 5,600 in which case each writer made about $10,000?

Of course, one could argue that, as a writer myself, my opinion is biased.

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Ken Levine has an insightful post on the WGA strike and his non-existent payments from dvd sales up on his blog:


November 04 2007 at 5:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I didn't say there were NO good scripted shows on TV. I only said there were a few, and if they are put on haitus due to the writers strike, people will just flip up/down one channel and watch contestants try to win the chance to sodomize Tela Tequila or dance with David Hasslehoff, and within 30 seconds they'll all forget about the ongoing plot of Lost, Heroes, Prison Break, Chuck, etc.

My derision is for the average american TV viewer and his/her lack of attention span. The few good scripted TV shows out there these days are all excellent (except Sarah Wayne Callies selfishness caused Prison Break to be ruined, but that's another argument for another day).

November 04 2007 at 3:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I watch a lot of shows, and none of them are reality or CSI-type shows. What about shows such as Chuck, Ugly Betty, House, Lost, Heroes, Pushing Daisies, etc? Those shows are all scripted and they are all good without going with the "conventional" good guy vs bad guy. I believe that the writing these days are good, and the writers don't ask a lot, just let them get what they ask for.

November 04 2007 at 2:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Bruce, in 1997, the #3 most watched show on television was Veronica's Closet. Your good guys vs bad guys mentality couldn't be further from the truth, either, if anything we now see more three-dimensional villains than ever before. I think you don't watch much TV, and clearly you don't care much to actually seek out the quality shows on television, so maybe the problem isn't with TV, it's with you. Food for thought.

If you ARE serious about not finding good shows, I'd suggest starting with The Wire, The Sopranos, The Shield, Lost. Every single one of those flies directly in the face of your "good guys vs bad guys" argument. But mostly, if you think tv sucks, maybe try supporting the people who are trying to create quality shows (who are in the WGA) instead of harping on the ones perfectly content to create dreck.

November 04 2007 at 1:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"As I understand it, in many cases there isn't that much of a
profit margin. The DVD sales often just make up for losses sustained when the movie/TV show was first released."

h, you could be right. However, my position is that the writers shouldn't be the ones who have to give up payment just so that the studios can recoup their money. I never read the original script for Gigli, but there were countless script rewrites the movie might have been better if filmed as it was originally written.

And there will always be movies that lose a pile of money, that's the nature of the industry. Every movie is a gamble. But it's my opinion that the DVD duplicators get paid what they are worth and, in the case of TV shows shown over the internet, the bandwidth providers get their money. Why should the writers be the ones expected to sacrifice if a movie sucks or a TV show doesn't bring in enough ad revenue on the internet? Maybe if studios had to pay writers more, they wouldn't be so quick to produce crap.

"I'm also shocked that Bill Maher is planning to be on this Friday (allbeit without any other writers!)."

segsig, I hadn't heard that. I am shocked as well. I never would have expected that from Bill Maher.

November 04 2007 at 8:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

In general I think unions have past their necessity, but for actors, writers, etc. the work is so unsteady that the unions are still needed. Can you imagine another batch of uninsured?

I'm actually quite surprised that SAG isn't supporting WGA, that they'll be filming everything written so far and the networks ordered more scripts than they would have normally at this point.

I'm also shocked that Bill Maher is planning to be on this Friday (allbeit without any other writers!).

November 04 2007 at 7:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Mandy: As I understand it, in many cases there isn't that much of a
profit margin. The DVD sales often just make up for losses sustained
when the movie/TV show was first released. Personally, it makes me queasy inside that someone would be getting residuals for Gigli.

Of course, I might be wrong. I'm not in the entertainment industry,
and all my information comes from the internet. But that's pretty
much the studio's position, isn't it?

Also, residuals would to to more than just the writer, actors and director, wouldn't it? Most of the production crew would get residuals in some form or other.

My main concern as a consumer, though, is that it looks like the writers guild is effectively ceding television over to Reality TV. At a time when reality programming is popular because it's cheap, it can't help to make scripted shows even less competitive.

November 04 2007 at 1:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"Movies and television shows can be okay with just good acting or slick directing, but they can't be GREAT without amazing writing."

Well said, Paul.

h: In my opinion, I don't think an extra few cents being given to writers or actors would be the cause of high DVD prices. Even if the pay of writers and actors doubled, that would total about 38 cents. I think studios could easily keep DVD prices down if they were willing to reduce their profits by that 19 cents a DVD. After all, when the DVD duplicating companies or the label printing shops go up on their fees, they figure out a way to make it work.

C. T.: I'd like to think that enough aspiring writers know that if the union is broken, they will never have a shot at decent pay, let alone affordable health insurance, residuals, and so on. But in reality, I think it's more likely that know if they work as nonunion writers, they won't be able to join the WGA and may never work again.

If I remember correctly, during the last strike soap operas hired fans to write the scripts. In a situation like that where those particular writers had no aspirations of ever being professionals, they likely didn't care about the WGA or their futures.

November 04 2007 at 1:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
C. T.

Pardon my ignorance, but what specifically is stopping the studios from hiring all new writers? I don't mean to endorse one position over another, but it seems that there are countless waiters in Hollywood with dreams to write; why not let them carry on the momentum of shows like Heroes, Desperate Housewives, etc., where even mediocre writing will keep fans glued to the regular time slot? I'm just curious to know what protocols or obstacles are in the way.

November 04 2007 at 12:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think what people are forgetting is the knock-on effect. Essentially, what the writers want to have their DVD residuals doubled. If they succeed, the other unions wukk also want to double their residuals, the studios would probably go under, or at least significantly raise the price of DVDs.

November 04 2007 at 12:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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