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August 30, 2015

After four days of talks, WGA rejects studios' offer

by Jason Hughes, posted Nov 30th 2007 9:01AM

Writers Guild of AmericaOur long, dark national nightmare ... continues. After four days of talks and media silence, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) disclosed the latest offer presented by Hollywood studios to the striking writers. But the WGA (Writers Guild of America) quickly rejected this offer, according to Yahoo! News. The studios described their offer as a "new economic partnership" with writers, who refer to it instead as a "massive rollback."

They went on to disparage the offer point by point. As an example, the studio offered less than $250 for a year's reuse of an hour long show for Internet streaming, one of the biggest catalysts for the strike in the first place, as compared to $20,000 plus for a single network rerun airing.

Talks will resume next Tuesday with the studios said to be presenting additional proposals. Is it too late to just hug it out? It doesn't seem like they're even close to the same library yet, much less the same page. It's been 25 days, man ... my palms are getting itchy and sweaty ... and there's a Gremlin swinging from my light fixture looking hungry, should I feed him? ... I can't take this much longer!

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I can't believe the callousness of some comments here.
People who work are not paid fairly and they try to do something about it. Whether it's writing TV shows or driving buses, that makes me care - because unless you're a billionaire studio head or Halliburton CEO - you're very likely very much in their shoes. The article is biased. Considering who owns the media, it's to be expected.
This is about much more than our entertainment.

November 30 2007 at 9:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Bring on Big Brother!!! The only scritpted show I'll miss is Pushing Daisies, and that is so dense that you can watch it over and over.
Do you really think any average American cares about a writers strike? While they're walking a picket line in the sun of California, I'm fighting lake effect snow storms to drag myself to my 2 jobs everyday.

November 30 2007 at 3:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You seem to forget what residual payments are. They're literally leftover payments, pay that wasn't doled out upfront and is instead given out as a percentage of gross. They exist to reduce the studios' upfront risks. It's not a bonus, it's a percentage of a writers salary salary regulated by the success of the product. Sounds like not only a fair concept, but one that benefits the studios (a certain percentage of salary only paid if the project is a success). Labeling that "greed" just shows your lack of understanding of the situation.

November 30 2007 at 1:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This is an industry that has set "greed" as a standard. I'm in the software business. I have programmers that "write" code as well as the striking writers write screenplays. When they're done writing code, I own the software. I take all the risk, and, they're paid a fair and reasonable salary for their efforts and expect no royalties. My industry would be in the toilet otherwise. I'm sure this could be applied to most, if not all, industries.

Why should Hollywood be any different? If a writer develops work independently and the studio buys it, yes, they should get royalties. If a writer writes script on behalf of a studio and gets paid a fair salary for a job well-done, The End.

Do these writers remember the day they got their first job? I'm sure they were so happy to break into the industry they were willing to work for nothing. What happened? Greed and entitlement sets in. If these guys think they should be entitled to more, then I say they should quit their jobs, go independent, take all the risk, write great work, sell it to the studios, and then expect royalties. Otherwise, count your blessings and go back to work or quit and give the job to someone who wants it.

November 30 2007 at 1:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Craig's comment

Residual payments benefit the studios. They aren't bonuses. Essentially, the writers ARE assuming some of the financial risk if a project isn't successful. Which is how they differ from your programmers. Residuals are deferred payments against the lifetime value of a script. It benefits the studios by allowing them to pay only when a script has actually produced income, instead of having to pay much more up front. The studios aren't suggesting they replace diminished residuals with higher upfront payments They are just suggesting that they rollback what the deferred payments. That's just not a fair offer. The writers are being more than reasonable in their demands, and the studios keep insisting on what will amount to a paycut even as their revenue and profits increase.

November 30 2007 at 2:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Eric H

Most writers are freelance

November 30 2007 at 3:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Precisely, there are so many people out there who blame the writers when they have absolutely no idea how anything works in Hollywood. Butchering by the writer????!!!! HAH!!! Anyone with any knowledge about how anything works knows the studios are the ones who calls for remakes of remakes of remakes or the 10th installment of the same freaken show. (Ok, occassionally it's the writer who does that cause they get a little desperate and wanna make a bit more money and they become the producer of the show too.) But writers have no power to remake anything unless if a Studio wants to remake it. Most often it is instigated by the studios to make a sequel or remake a movie or make a spin off because the original made lots of money. If the studios are paying, somewhere a writer will jump on the opportunity because at least it'll get them in the door.

As for bringing in fresh talent, they are going into hollywood ALL THE TIME!!! You don't think producers don't take advantage of fresh talent...cause they are cheaper. But Producers also rather work with tried and true talents not because it has anything to do with union, because they are too scared to take risks sometimes. They want someone with a track record, something they know will deliver a product that they think will sell. In the end, producers are the ones who are looking out for the monetary side of the show more then the art side then any other person high up on the project. Of course they are absolutely necessary, but just you remember that. They are the ones thinking about the money and not necessarily the art. Their bottom line is will this show make them and the studio money. Writer's bottoms line is that they wanna do something creative, but at the same time please the producers enough to hire them again the next time. And also keep in mind, any TV show has a huge team of writers who writes every show, with producers making them make changes, and on top of that, changes are constantly made on set during a production. Lines added by directors and sometimes even the actors themselves (depending on the show and who that person is), and a whole bunch of stuff. That's why they have to have at least a writer or two on set to help with last minute changes and additions. That's also why productions have to stop when the strike started. They have scripts, but they can't shoot because they don't have any writers on set to make last minute changes. There are so much going on a production that writers are only a small part of the equation in making a show good or bad.

It's good though to see a few more comments on the side of the writers. $250 for a year's run, that's a joke. Who are they even kidding on that. I catch all my shows on demand on the internet cause I have to. I don't have tivo, I'm not home to watch the shows as they air because of rehearsals I'm attending. The industry is all going online. On demand viewing is the wave of the future, there is absolutely no denying that. I am certain AT&T, Disney and all those other advertisers pays a whole heck of a lot mroe then $250/year to have their lovely ads interrupting every show I watch on NBC.com, ABC.com, Fox.com, CW etc. That is not even pocket change to those people. It's absolutely a joke. Keep striking and get the fair deal the writers deserve.

November 30 2007 at 12:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

No one cares Hollywood. I'm 20 minutes from Hollywood & Sunset, and my life hasn't changed at all. In fact, it's gotten better since production isn't tying up any freeways or thoroughfares.

Can you guys just please keep striking? I mean, strike for royalties on the brainwaves you waste trying to think of the same tired plot points and "reimagine" them for a new advertiser, er I mean, audience.

I mean, we'll all really miss your work, but look on the bright side, your kids will finally know what it's like for all those homeless you guys always fundraise for! Too bad you took all those english classes in junior college instead of a basic econ class, failures.

The forces of economics For The Win.

November 30 2007 at 11:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

So do I read this correctly that writers gets $20k every single time a network rerun plays?? So the longer they strike, the more they get paid? Genius.

November 30 2007 at 11:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

These people talking about bad writing on shows just have no clue how the writing world really works on shows and movies. There's the script that a writer writes. Usually episodes are divided up and given to different writers. Then the script is looked at by producers and executive producers and executives, ad nauseam and then given back to the original writer with all sorts of notes on what must be changed, whether they like it or not. Then the show runner usually gets a crack at it. That doesn't take into account the butchering it takes from the director, or how the actors read the lines or work the stage directions.

Sometimes bad writing is just bad no matter what, but sometimes a show is so bad, or an actor so poor, or a director so clueless that no writer could save it (Bionic Woman anyone? Even with Jason Katims of FNL fame, the show blew).

Shows that are great are really rare because greatness requires not just great writing, but great everything. If a show sucks, it's not just the writer's fault.

November 30 2007 at 11:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

$250 for 4-5 repeats on an episode? HAHAHA

And the people who make the big money aren't what the strike is about, it's about the co-writers and helper writers who get screwed.

November 30 2007 at 10:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joe stalin

Bring in the scabs! It can't be much worse than the drivel they're already writing. Like in any industry, unions promotes below average talent into thinking it's the shit. Can em all and bring in the fresh meat!

November 30 2007 at 10:43 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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