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October 7, 2015

Strike update: It doesn't look good

by Bob Sassone, posted Dec 7th 2007 11:02PM

Just wanted to give you an update on the ongoing writers strike, before you head off to your glorious weekends of skiing, Christmas shopping, Naked Twister parties and whatever else you folks do on Saturdays and Sundays.

Talks broke off between producers and the writers on Friday, after four days of talks that at first seemed to be productive and then ... well, not so much. In fact, the Writers Guild of America sent out a letter Friday afternoon that pretty much said that the producers were dragging their heels in the talks and even accused them of trying to sabotage the talks. Of course, the Alliance of Motion Picture And Television Producers also sent out their own letter on Friday to explain their side.

As 2007 is about to turn into 2008, it really doesn't look like we're going to see that many new scripted shows for the rest of the season (besides what is already in the can and will be seen in January and February). This could last for months.

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For some reason the cable company sent letter raising the prices of cable, when not much of any shows are on. I have had to adjust to watching television, but I have found something very interesting. Not all bad has come of this strike. I am now tuning into shows I would have bypassed by before, but now, since it's all I am stuck with, I am starting to find them very interesting. The history, discovery, food, forensic and scientific channels have some great stuff on there. I wasnt tuned into how many murders actually take place in our country, and how people make the mistakes to get them caught. I didnt know how the scientists were working so hard on saving this planet recycling every computer peice thrown out, making actual drinking water from waste water using ZeWeed, I didnt know they were taking forensic science DNA to solve Bigfoot sightings, Cops has become my new betting/comedy channel, I have now noticed within myself what not to wear, I now want ot go buy a buch of realestate and totally remolded and make profits, my children says my cooking has improved so much, and now I have answers to all those little gadgets I just couldnt figure out how they were made and what about that new planet thats been discoved that nobody seems to care about...It's actually WONDERFUL that the strike has truly opened my eyes to a whole new world! Thank You!!!

January 13 2008 at 11:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

i don't know very much about the subject (plus im not from USA), but forcing people to join gilds it's just wrong, the reality/animated can't be forced to join the WGA, and forcing them to do so is like eliminating the competition...
Im not in the side of the producer ether, is just that that point sound really unfair

December 09 2007 at 2:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

These writers need to get back to work. I am already watching shows online that don't even appear in reruns on tv. this means that the studios will be paying writers money for shows that today have no financial value. So although writers may be getting less than on cable reruns they will have more opportunities to make money off their prior work since even the crappiest shows that lasted only 1 season are likely to show up on the web. Even if they are making less per show they will make more on their body of work as a whole.

December 09 2007 at 11:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I really hope this strike doesn't last through the summer, manly because it will mean we will not see most of The Daily Show and Colbert Report Indecision 2008. I honestly don't think I can get through the election with them.

December 08 2007 at 7:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I love TVSquad.com
I love love DeadlineHollywoodDaily.com
I love love love seeing a graphic I created a month ago show up on both sites --

-- but seeing the graphic with attribution to someone else WILL make me comment... it's more clipart than original, 'cuz I uh, borrowed, the original Hollywood sign image to make it.

And I hope that the writers win this.

@#12 Heinlein:
The concept of giving residuals (or royalties in the case of other creative formats such as books) to the CREATOR of the actual content is key in the creative arts. Work For Hire will always be a preferred stance by those who are producing the effort. It's easy and cheap. In the early days of filmmaking everyone was Work For Hire. Edward Jay Epstein wrong a nice book recently, including stories such as that of writers who were fired the day before a holiday and hired after.

Writers write. Good ones don't have to write strictly for movies/TV. A good script can make the studios money, and poor scripts often are a recipe for financial disaster.

Offering a piece of the film's potential ensured that quality writers would accept the job and produce quality work. This was eventually codified, but with this new media, the potential for a changing profit picture changes the request for payment.

Say you could wave your hand and eliminate the of the guilds(unions) (all existing contracts/obligations) and hire everyone piecemeal. It would all be Work For Hire. As the head of the studio, you'd want the best actors, technicians and creative staff. No problem, you'd get your studio off the ground just fine. People show up, get their pay, do their work, and go home. Then, out of the 30 TV projects you've made, five do poorly. You close those projects, and fire that staff. And 5 projects do extremely well, and you get an order for more. You've asked for more money for these extra episodes, and you've got it. But your staff has heard of this extra money, and they've all threatened to quit unless you pay them more. Do you fire everyone who asks for more money and replace them with someone else? Wait, you've just fired the folks on the shows that failed, they need jobs, what about them? No, you want to keep what works and still make some money, so you give everyone raises and away you go.

Well, with movies and TV going to DVD, the profits from those internet/DVD sales are like the increase in money that the studio sees but the staff doesn't. And they want a raise. Thanks to the power of collective bargaining, they all have the opportunity to strike.

Disclaimer: I'm clueless as to the actual structure and ramification of the creative guilds, but I am married to creative genius who does get paid by royalty check. And if you're interested in Hollywood, Epstein's book (ISBN:0812973828) is a very good place to start.

December 08 2007 at 12:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Walt's comment

NIce points!

December 08 2007 at 2:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"Which leads me to this fascination with residuals. What is so horrible with getting a fixed wage for the work done. That's the normal procedure for most people with normal jobs."

Writing isn't a normal job. Most normal jobs don't require you to work for months or even years with no pay before getting someone to pay for your work. Very few people would suggest that Stephen King should be paid a fixed salary for his work, or that songwriters should not get royalties for the songs they write.

"Why should the writers get residuals, but not set decoraters, make-up people, costume, sund technicians etc.?"

Crews do get residuals, at least if they are union crews. Granted it's probably less, since there often are more of them splitting up their share of the residuals, but they do get them.

December 08 2007 at 11:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The point isn't how much the writers make it is about how they are paid in the changing distribution environment. They are the creative people who outline the look of a show that determines what the costume, set design etc. and actors do and say. If a musician writes a song they get paid if it is on itunes, a cd or the radio along with the music producers. That is because they are the creative talent behind the song. The same should be true for the writers. The distribution of their material is in a great deal of flux right now. This is the time that they should stand and fight for the revenue being generated by DVDs, streaming internet from the networks and other outlets. They ARE the shows that we watch. It is their witty quips, emotional scenes, shocking reveals, creative twists etc. that hook us. What would Lost be if we just watched a group of people walking around on an island?

They should share in the newly developed revenue streams with the networks.

December 08 2007 at 9:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

There's plenty of alternatives to TV, like video podcasts, video games, Blu-ray Discs, and even going outside!

December 08 2007 at 8:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

CNBC reported the average pay of a working WGA writer is $204k a year and apparently the latest offer ups that to $230k.

The WGA have stated how its misleading though as it only takes into account the WGA members who worked in a year and apparently half the members dont work in a year which makes the median pay $5k. Although I think personally this is misleading personally as I dont think including people who dont work in a year is really fair.

December 08 2007 at 7:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

First I don't necessarily see myself as a AMPTP supporter. In fact I would call it a fair deal no matter what the final result would be.

Some people are upset that studios make a lot of money from popular shows, but you have to remember that they also produce a lot of not so popular shows, and sink money into pilots that never gets picked up. If it is true that shows doesn't really pay off until they get into syndication, then it is a big gamble for the studios, and the money from syndication helps finance new shows, some of which that will be a loss for thee studio. Are they greedy, most likely, but that doesn't really change anything. The studio puts in a lot of money into shows, writers and actors and other personnal puts in their time and expertice. When you put in your time, you normally gets paid (relatively) right away, but someone that puts in money could never recouperate and can go bust.

Which leads me to this fascination with residuals. What is so horrible with getting a fixed wage for the work done. That's the normal procedure for most people with normal jobs. Why should the writers get residuals, but not set decoraters, make-up people, costume, sund technicians etc.? What makes writers special? If you have uneven flow of money coming in, then the normal thing would be to save money in good time to use in bad times, or some sort of insurance, or alternative jobs (which many in Hollywood already seems to have) or loans. Wouldn't residuals also mostly benefit already successful writers (and actors etc.)? Not that it is necessarily anything wrong with that.

December 08 2007 at 6:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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