writers guild of america
This year's awards season, barely a month old now, has not been a good one for Hollywood. First, the Golden Globes ceremony was reduced to an Access Hollywood special after members of the Writers Guild and Screen Actors Guild boycotted the show. Now, it looks like the Grammy Awards ceremony may also be in trouble.
It is being reported that the striking guild will probably bar its members from working on the February 10th Grammys telecast. Grammy organizers have yet to ask for a waiver allowing for writers to work on the show. However, according to a WGA spokesperson, a waiver grant would be unlikely. There is no word if the WGA will picket the ceremony. If it does, then SAG members will not cross the picket line. This potentially means another exciting 1-hour infotainment special.
I'm sure members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences are sweating a bit now.
As the strike lingers on and the Writers Guild of American (WGA) and Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) seem no closer to bridging their philosophical and monetary gap, the WGA is set to try a new tactic. According to Variety, the WGA is going to make a "legal demand" today for individual members of the AMPTP to schedule bargaining meetings with the WGA. However, at this point it isn't clear if the companies are legally obligated to do so, and if not, will they?
The Golden Globes weren't the only award nominations announced today. The Writers Guild of America announced the nominees for their awards too. The festivities are on February 9 in LA and NY. I wonder if the writers will show up to get their awards if the strike is still going on?
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.
A joint statement was released late Friday night, reading: "Leaders from the AMPTP and the WGA have mutually agreed to resume formal negotiations on November 26."
- The WGA-East declares that "Ellen DeGeneres Not Welcome in NY."
- Lost's co-creator Damon Lindelof announces, "Television is dying" in the New York Times.
- Some soap writers are crossing the picket line to resume work.
- Today (Tuesday) was dubbed "Picketing with the Stars" as 100 actors from 30 TV shows joined the picket line at Universal Studios in a show of solidarity.
- Seventeen entertainment blogs went dark for a day in support of the writer's strike.
- Peter Chernin (president of Fox's parent company, News Corp) bragged that the strike is "probably a positive" for the company as it will most likely save them money.
- CBS News is preparing for a possible strike by 500 of their news writers.
- The Simpson's Mr. Burns tells striking writers they can't have the internet: "It's Mine!"
Nothing, according to Brothers & Sisters creator Jon Robin Baitz. In an open letter to the Governator, on yesterday's Huffington Post, Baitz basically accuses Schwarzenegger of "fiddling while California burns."
What would Ryan do? B.J. Novak, who plays Ryan on The Office, is also a writer for the show. So, will he show up for work today? He belongs to competing unions: The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) has stipulated that actors must show up for work. However, as a member of the Writers Guild of America (WGA), he could be fined by his union if he crosses the picket line.
So far, Hollywood writers are back at work today but union reps hinted that they might be asked to stay home from work beginning on Monday morning. Union leaders did say that there are some "back channel" negotiations happening so a strike could still be averted.
This is getting serious.
Both sides are still far from agreement on a new deal, and a strike by the Writers Guild of America could start in a couple of weeks (the last offer was rejected by writers). That means that scripted shows (Lost and House, for example) and late night talk shows would suffer the most. Some shows have a schedule that means they won't be affected that much, like The Simpsons, but most other scripted shows will be hurt in some way. As for daytime, Martha Stewart wouldn't be affected at all, but The View uses union writers so that should could be hit. (The View uses writers? So that means a writer actually puts those words into Elisabeth Hasselbeck's mouth?)
Writing is one of the oddest professions. A lot of people just don't get what we do, why we do it, how we do it, or what we get paid. I've encountered countless numbers of people who think that I'm rich because I'm a writer and "that lady J.K. Rowling is a writer and she's rich!" or they think I shouldn't get paid that much because "writing is easy and fun" or some other sort of logic.
Brookes Barnes doesn't get it either. He has an op-ed piece in the New York Times this week about the latest negotiations between the WGA and the AMPTP. TV and film writers want a piece of the DVD sales pie. Barnes seems to think that they're asking for too much because...well, I'll let Barnes explain it himself, in his opening paragraph:
Well, the NLRB finally ruled on the matter, and NBCU came out on the losing end. Sort of. The board dismissed the case yesterday, ruling that there was no evidence that the union coerced or pressured the show-runners of those shows to not work on the webisodes. So, while NBCU technically lost, all they wanted from this case was for the WGA to admit that they didn't pressure anyone, which is what they got, according to Broadcasting & Cable. Another dispute between the two parties, about a "side-letter" agreement regarding web content, will be decided by a private arbitrator in late spring.
Waiting for new Battlestar Galactica webisodes on SciFi.com? Well, you may be waiting for a long time because executive producer Ron Moore said he won't be delivering any more of them, including the ten episodes that have already been completed. Why? Because SciFi's parent company, NBC Universal, is being a bit tight with the purse strings.
Universal executives are witholding residuals and credit from the writers of the BSG webisodes, claiming that the three-minute episodes are 'promotional materials'. When Moore heard this he halted delivery. In turn, NBC Universal seized the webisodes and filed charges of unfair labor practices with the Writers Guild of America. The WGA then went back to Moore and told him not to deliver any more Internet content until their was residual deal.
Last month, nearly six million people streamed BSG episodes within two days of the premiere. Compare that to the 2.2 million people who watched the third-season premiere of the show. This goes to show that the Internet is beginning to draw more and more television viewers into its gaping maw, and that the industry is going to need to work together with the WGA to determine the best course of action.
If you recall, the writers and editors at ANTP went on strike in July over issues like health benefits, pensions, etc. It was the first attempt by the Writers Guild of America to bring reality writers into the union, and the show's staffers thought that going on strike would get everyone's attention. It did... at first. But according to this TV Week article, the picketers have decided to stop protesting in front of the show's offices -- the show's on hiatus, but they won't come back after the show resumes production -- and start looking for other jobs. The show has shifted the strikers' responsibilities to show editors.
Technically, the strike continues, but I'd imagine it's like Kramer's strike on H&H Bagels on an episode of Seinfeld; after a while, even the protesters are going to forget they're on strike.
The fact that the WGA has been able to get cooperation from producers, who aren't in the union, makes it seem like they may have a pretty legitimate complaint. The network thinks the webisodes are for promotion purposes only; if they don't make money on them, they claim, they can't justify paying people extra to do them. But to me, that doesn't wash; I had to watch an annoying FedEx ad before the last Office webisode started, so they must be making some money. And if they're making money, so should the creative team, even if it's only a few hundred bucks. It's only fair.
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