Deals, Lies & Backchannelling: Why This Is A Bigger Mess Now Than Ever Before

(...keep refreshing for the latest...)

For days, only sources within the Hollywood moguls camp, but not the Writers Guild of America, have discussed what really went on during 11th hour negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers at the Sofitel Hotel Sunday. And the movie studios and TV networks were especially savvy in getting their story out first and foremost about how the writers were to blame for the bargaining talks breakdown. And they’re still telling that story. (Just read the producers-slanted coverage by Variety and The Hollywood Reporter and even the major newspapers which all depend on studio and network advertising, while I stay smack in the middle.) But now the WGA leadership is breaking their silence.

Top guild sources tell me they were “deliberately duped” by the moguls in a backchannel deal to bring the guild back to the bargaining table Sunday. They say the lure was a promise by two Big Media CEOs -- Peter Chernin and Les Moonves -- that, if the writers gave up their DVD residual demands, then the producers would respond by improving the formula on the central sticking issue of Internet downloads for movies and television. My producer sources confirmed to me such a deal was indeed made. In other words, it could have been possible that a settlement might be only days or a week away, with enough progress to induce the writers side to suspend the Monday start of the strike.

The writers say they kept up their end by dropping their DVD demands – a huge concession which later puzzled the WGA membership because it seemed to come out of nowhere and had to be explained by WGA president Patric Verrone without revealing the whole backstory. Why didn’t he? Because the WGA says it was abiding by the “mutual pledge of confidentiality” with AMPTP that, for the first time in all the negotiations, applied to Sunday’s session. Today, sources there decided to spill to me because the writers’ side of the 11th hour talks story has gone untold. The WGA accuses the producers of not delivering on the all-important electronic sell-through issue all day Sunday. And the producers confirm to me that, no, their negotiators did not offer anything on "EST". So, according to guild sources, that’s the real reason the 12:01 AM strike wasn’t averted, and their dropped DVDs demands put back on the table.

As a spitting mad WGA leader put it to me today: “All I can say is, if someone calls me and says, “You do X, and I do Y” and that someone doesn’t do it, then I’ve been lied to and I’ve been played. It’s a complete betrayal. I just don’t know what the studios’ game is.”

So why is this news important? Because now both sides in this writers vs producers fight are further apart than they have ever been, and that’s saying a lot. Both sides believe they have fresh and ample reasons not to go back into negotiations anytime soon. And by soon a worst case scenario of months and months and months. Both sides believe that, after Sunday’s betrayals, they can’t trust the other side enough to even talk about scheduling new AMPTP/WGA negotiations much less try backchannelling. Ironically, as I was being told the WGA’s complaints today, moguls were being briefed on what went down Sunday inside the negotiating room. But are they being told the whole story? About the backchannel deal? Not that I can tell. About the promise that’d been made? Not that I can tell. About not keeping it? Not that I can tell. Instead, I received a warning from inside that camp today not to report the WGA accusations, or name the two moguls, or repeat what went on inside the talks Sunday. But, to stay smack in the middle, I can't do that -- just as I can't favor the other side when reporting about this strike and its issues. 

Let me start at the beginning of last weekend: Yes, a Barry Meyer-John Wells-John Bowman backchannelling avenue was being explored. And any and all other backchannelling avenues were being cultivated as well. As I’ve reported previously, among the moguls Chernin, the No. 2 at News Corp/Fox, is the biggest hawk, and Moonves, the CBS CEO, one of the biggest moderates. The two got in touch with WGA negotiating leaders and made this pledge: that, if the writers got back to the bargaining table over the weekend and once there gave up their DVD residual demands, then the producers would respond by improving the formula on the central sticking issue of Internet downloads for movies and television. It was quite a surprise to the writers side because it was such a big departure since, as recently as last week, AMPTP had been telling the WGA that it wouldn't move off the DVD formula on digital downloads.

As the Sunday negotiation was being scheduled for the Sofitel, the producers announced to the media Friday night that both sides had been “ordered” back to the table by the federal mediator. “The companies used the federal mediator to give them cover so they didn’t look like they’d caved and made the first call,” a WGA leader told me.

“We arrived at the meeting at 10 AM and it started a few minutes later with some discussions about procedure. We made it very clear we were ready to negotiate without stopping, as long as 2 to 3 days if necessary. But we said that, without a deal by midnight, or unless we were really really close, we were not going to suspend the strike. We said that, as things stood, the strike was going ahead at 9:01 PM in the East. And they said they understood. And we got going. And, as a gesture of good faith, we took the DVDs issue off the table. And they said they would get together and talk and get back to us with a response. In the meantime, we all said we’d work on one of the other proposals.”

That other proposal was the funding of the Showrunner Training Program, which is exactly what it says. The WGA side claims it waited, and waited, for the producers to keep the “DVDs-for-ESTs” promise and get back with a response. They claim the AMPTP negotiators kept "stalling and returning again and again to the bullshit side issue of Showrunner Training Programs for hours." [The producers told me it “only took 15 minutes and was handled.”]

Both sides agree that two more producers proposals were discussed: a new economic model for streaming TV shows online, and a new jurisdictional model for made-for- New Media content. But the WGA described them as “fuzzy unfocused proposals”. (A WGA leader told me, “they’d say, ‘we have to figure out the numbers later’. But it’s all in the numbers.” The producers I talked to agreed their proposals needed more “fleshing out”.

Around early evening the two sides left the talks and went out to dinner instead of ordering in.

Finally, a little before 9 PM Pacific time just before the strike was to start at 12:01 AM Eastern time, “the producers came back to us with an answer to our DVD. It was all very calculated,” a WGA leader told me. “They said, ‘We are not going to make any concessions on the Internet. We stand by our former position that you will get the DVD formula on digital downloads. And we would like to ask if you guys would suspend the strike starting at midnight in the East. Are the pickets starting?’ [The producers confirmed to me they didn’t move off their electronic sell-through position to answer the WGA’s taking DVDs off the tables Sunday. "There wasn't enough time!" one of their insiders claimed to me.]

“We told them what we’d said right at the beginning of the day’s discussion -- that we had to see progress for the strike not to start. They said, ‘Well, that’s it, we’re walking out. Goodbye and good luck.’ Our guys shouldn’t have been shocked but they were shocked. They weren’t ready for the game that was being played. We had made every effort, thinking that if the other side sees you’re serious... and we were shaken that the promise to us had been broken.

"But they’d obviously planned. They knew we were completely unprepared and in the haze of believing our mutual pledge of confidentiality. Their story was that they saw on the Internet that the strike had started – but they just happened to have a news release ready. By the time we realized what was going on, we’d missed the news cycle. They clearly orchestrated this, and we got caught with our pants down."

[I can confirm that the WGA's statement came out hours after AMPTP's immediate one and noted "the AMPTP proposed that today's meeting be 'off the record,' meaning no press statements, but they have reneged on that."]

Again, the producers’ side has been told by me and other media. But, again, this is the first time the WGA’s side of the story is being told. Each believes that their version of events is truthful. Which is why this is akin to a crowd observing a crime and later few can agree on the facts of what really happened.

I’m dismayed and discouraged by all of it.

201 Comments »

  1. so… what’s the Producer’s motivation for not holding up their end? To make the WGA look stupid?

    Comment by glum — November 6, 2007 @ 6:53 pm

  2. I don’t understand the studio’s grounds for “feeling betrayed.” The writers didn’t do anything they didn’t give ample warning about. They said they’d strike days before.

    Clearly this strike was a desired consequence on the part of the AMPTP.

    Here’s hoping they desire now to end it rather than run thousands of working people into the ground.

    Comment by Anonymous — November 6, 2007 @ 6:55 pm

  3. It will be interesting to see how these Corporate Bullies explain to their respective Corporate Boards and shareholders how their disingenous “bully” tactics cratered their stocks and revenues for the coming quarters.

    Now the word is out and more and more TV Showrunners will shut down production as a result of their risky gamesmanship. Explain that.

    Comment by PJ — November 6, 2007 @ 6:55 pm

  4. Thanks, Nikke.

    Reading you these last few weeks has been very frustrating!

    I hope this is a sign that the WGA is going to start owning their PR and getting the real issues out there.

    The AMPTP wants to sit this out until SAG contracts are up and it’s so very depressing.

    Comment by loopy lou — November 6, 2007 @ 6:56 pm

  5. I’ll keep refreshing until my hands fall off or Nikki posts something new. Why? Because without her, the only thing we’d have is the stuff in the trades. And that stuff should be taken very very lightly.

    Nikki, thank you.

    Comment by Bob Loblaw — November 6, 2007 @ 6:57 pm

  6. Thanks for giving us false hope with your previous post. I’m glad I kept refreshing to hear the worst possible news ever.

    Comment by M — November 6, 2007 @ 6:57 pm

  7. WOW.

    This town is fcuked.

    btw, you deserve all the ad clicks you get!

    Comment by Writer/Director — November 6, 2007 @ 6:58 pm

  8. Thanks for update - not exactly drudge material but thanks. btw, guys complaining about the advisory not being posted fast enough — hello - she’s a writer - she needs to compose - and - who can blame her for a little advance - remember nothing new had been post all day except for anecdotes etc. my prediction: this strike will mark an even bigger advance of the digital revolution’s dominantion arrival.

    Comment by lanikaisugarco — November 6, 2007 @ 6:58 pm

  9. Surprise!

    What have I been saying all along. This strike will end when the powers that be say it is going to end. Much like the Iraq War will end when the people really in power (Oil Companies, Halliburton, Dick Cheney), say it is going to end. This is no different.

    The people pulling the purse strings want to lower their overhead significantly, and this is the best way to do it.

    I applaud Moonves and Chernin for trying, and sounds like they were using Wells as a conduit. But if those two were in on it, there is some major collusion going on, which I believe is against the labor laws of the State of California.

    You see, after 6-8 weeks the AMPTP will want to go back to the table in one of the most transparent gestures in the history of barganing and we will be right back where we were on November 4.

    DVD resids off of the table, and the Internet finally addressed. The question is in this state of lies and deceit, will the WGA be placated by that…my guess is no, and we are in the muck for a long period of time.

    There is a great play by John Galsworthy called STRIKE, that really shows the cause and effects of a labor stoppage, and how everyone loses. I believe in this case everyone is going to lose.

    Writers are now learning what agents and negotiators on the studio/network side do everyday. You don’t have to trust the person you are negotiating with, just get the best possible deal you can for your clients. The idealism on both sides needs to stop, and reality needs to come into play here.

    REALITY: The feature studios don’t need writers for a long while. The TV Networks need writers now or else there is no TV season after February, unless you count shows from BBC, TV9 in Australia, or some sort of French game show as entertaining television.

    Hell, I’m an agent at a mid-sized agency, and I think I can get this thing done in 4-5 hours. It ain’t brain surgery.

    Comment by Agentatanotheragency — November 6, 2007 @ 6:59 pm

  10. When you next speak to your “mogul” sources, ask them the following three questions…

    1) Did the WGA pull the DVD demand off the table (the answer is clearly YES).

    2) When they pulled the DVD demand off the table, what did you offer in return (the answer, from all sources, seems to be nothing).

    3) What did you offer over the course of those Sunday negotiations that would have prompted the WGA to wake their sleeping writers up in New York and tell them (at 12:31AM) to… um… start writing immediately.

    The “moguls” look more like “children”, greedy and a tad bit pathetic.

    Comment by Jeffrey — November 6, 2007 @ 6:59 pm

  11. I still don’t understand why an outside mediator can’t force the two sides to meet - especially since this impacts thousands of people and an entire city is going to be impacted by a prolonged strike.

    Comment by Producerman — November 6, 2007 @ 6:59 pm

  12. Huh. That sucks. I was hoping for a speedy resolution to the strike too. *sigh*

    Comment by Daryl Walker — November 6, 2007 @ 7:00 pm

  13. Speaking as someone who lived thru the first strike, I can’t tell you how valuable it is to have an objective source of information. And given the bilge the LA Times and the Trades have been pouring into the middle of this mess? Your work is even more important. Thanks.

    Comment by Harley — November 6, 2007 @ 7:01 pm

  14. it’s gonna be a long, cold winter…

    Comment by unemployed — November 6, 2007 @ 7:02 pm

  15. You are amazing. Thank you for all your tremendous hard work during this extremely difficult time.

    Comment by a — November 6, 2007 @ 7:03 pm

  16. Wait, what? WHY ARE THE producers upset at US? If this is true, we’re the only ones without reason to come back to the table. Shame on you Les et. all. Shame, friggin’ shame. Nikki, thank you for reporting this. They’re disgusting. Their agenda is indefensible, and now so are their actions.

    Comment by ifwestrikeletsmakeitcount — November 6, 2007 @ 7:05 pm

  17. Chernin & Moonves: Way to let your greed and duplicity fuck up this entire industry. Well played, douche bags. (How do you sleep at night?)

    Comment by Anonymous — November 6, 2007 @ 7:05 pm

  18. If this is true then it sounds like the Boards of Directors had better get on the horn to their CEOs and Presidents and tell them to do whatever it takes to restore trust. Six months from now there will be no Studio System as we know it. Replacement shows are already springing up online.

    Comment by John from TheDisneyBlog.com — November 6, 2007 @ 7:05 pm

  19. I KNEW ALL THIS BUT IT IS ALWAYS HELPFUL TO BE ABLE TO GO TO THIS SITE AND READ UP ON THE LATEST - there (sorry - caps thingy) but I dont agree that the sides will stay away from the bargaining table for “months and months and months.” This to me makes no sense - I understand that it doesn’t help us to get a crappy deal, but we can’t get even a fair deal without talking the issues through. The WGA has every right to be upset over what went down Sunday night but it doesn’t help anyone (especially the “middle class” writers) to stay away from even talking just to show how tough we are. It’s too bad someone else can’t negotiate for the producers - instead of Counter - say… Pol Pot.

    Comment by SKOONIX — November 6, 2007 @ 7:05 pm

  20. I am rock solid ready to fight to those lying m*therf*ckers like they stole something for me. And when my money runs out I will work at f*cking 7/11 and picket those motherless f*cks till I either stop breathing or die of too much frozen burrito consumption.

    Comment by slk writer — November 6, 2007 @ 7:07 pm

  21. Another insightful post. All of this stuff has been a good read for us outsiders.

    Comment by NickF — November 6, 2007 @ 7:07 pm

  22. both sides believe they have ample reasons not to go back into negotiations? from what you say, it sounds like the writers are the only ones who have a good reason not to negotiate.

    when is everywhere going to realize that there is more at stake here than just a cut of the internet, and that more was lost in ‘88 than just home video residuals?

    the studios are treating the writers like this because twenty years ago we gave them a reason to think they can. this strike is about taking back our respect and showing them that when we really want something we are not afraid to fight tooth and nail to get it. and i’ll be out there on the picket lines every single day until we do.

    Comment by frustrated screenwriter — November 6, 2007 @ 7:09 pm

  23. Thank God for Nikki.

    Comment by Anonymous — November 6, 2007 @ 7:10 pm

  24. Who gives a shit if they like each other, or even trust each other? Why should they? They have fundamentally opposed viewpoints. That doesn’t mean they should stop talking while the town shuts down for months. People in a lawsuit don’t like or trust each other either, but they have to keep talking to bring a conclusion. The Producers have an obligation to their employees and shareholders, and the Guild has an obligation to its members. If they don’t like the deal, then don’t sign on the dotted line. But saying they don’t want to meet because they are upset with each other is ridiculous.

    Comment by Writer — November 6, 2007 @ 7:11 pm

  25. With both sides pouting and declaring betrayal like a plot turn in your daytime soap opera of choice, I don’t see the strike ending anytime soon. It’s clear that both sides hate each others guts so much that they’re completely incapable of negotiating a thing so what needs to be done is new leadership on both sides to be brought in to hash this out. This is the problem with having people in positions for too long. Things become personal because past slights come into play. We need fresh yet knowledgable people to enter the room and sort this out.

    Comment by Non WGA Writer — November 6, 2007 @ 7:11 pm

  26. I hope this gets resolved quickly. Picketing is a lot more exhausting than I thought. And I doubt I can count on Eva Longoria to buy me pizza every day.

    Comment by One Time Sitcom Writer — November 6, 2007 @ 7:13 pm

  27. Nikki, you write, “Both sides believe that, after Sunday’s betrayals, they can’t trust the other side enough to even talk about scheduling new AMPTP/WGA negotiations…”

    How was the AMPTP betrayed? They pulled a bait-and-switch on the writers, whereas the writers kept their word (and got punished for negotiating in good faith). I know you’re trying to remain objective and “smack in the middle,” but that doesn’t mean that both sides were equally betrayed on Sunday.

    Comment by anonymous — November 6, 2007 @ 7:14 pm

  28. Nikki, you are amazing. Please keep up the great work.

    Comment by A Writer — November 6, 2007 @ 7:14 pm

  29. Now that the Counter is out of the bag I am now predicting/hoping as a face-saving measure Nick Counter will be fired or replaced. The WGA simply doesn’t trust him after the Sunday fiasco.

    And the negative PR associated with their tactics is nothing short of disheartening and embarrassing…

    Public opinion is now with the WGA, yes, their PR spin backfired, in a big way because people like fairness and these guys were not only unfair but dishonest.

    Comment by PJ — November 6, 2007 @ 7:15 pm

  30. I hear Chernin and Moonves realy did want to hold up their end, but others didn’t (coughIgercough). I heard much of Sunday was spent by the studios side in their caucus room fighting and yelling at each other.

    Comment by Klaatu — November 6, 2007 @ 7:21 pm

  31. This business is just not fun anymore. Downsizing, lay-offs, reality shows, super-bully moguls…

    Geez, give the writer’s what they deserve. Suck it up…

    Comment by Vicki — November 6, 2007 @ 7:22 pm

  32. Amen, slk writer. I feel the same way. I’ll walk the line until I need to go get a real job. I did it before, I’ll do it again. But I will never cave to these fucking scumbags. EVER!

    Comment by Mister Fabulous — November 6, 2007 @ 7:26 pm

  33. I’ve been very nice during my picketing. That will change tomorrow. I’m furious, and if employees of the companies have to be uncomfortable, then that is the fault of their masters. This has turned very ugly for me and I will act that way.

    Comment by Changed Man — November 6, 2007 @ 7:32 pm

  34. It seems that this has become personal. The name calling and press spin is out of control. I’ve seen it before in other unions. The bottom line is that business is business and it can’t be held as a personal attack.

    If the parties are feeling “betrayed”, then this has escalated to a point of ego before business (big surprise, I mean this is Hollywood after all). That is a very dangerous place to be. There are a handful of power players on both sides that are now trying to make the other side pay.

    I don’t know where the mediator is at this time, but unless both sides and remove the egos from the table (and that must a really BIG table) there will be a LOT of collateral damage. Countless thousands depend on this industry for their livelihood, but a handful of people who’s feelings have been hurt are going to shut them down.

    I ask both sides to PLEASE just get back to business and TRY to work something out. Forget the games and see if there is ANY common ground. Until the ego’s go on hiatus, there will be nothing productive and lots of people will lose more than just their favorite shows.

    Comment by An Observer — November 6, 2007 @ 7:32 pm

  35. The stocks of these companies did not drop and their bottom lines will not be impacted for awhile if at all. It’s pure economics. The studios and networks do not care about jobs lost, homes lost, etc. If they get half the ratings with a reality show but it costs half as much as a scripted show then that is fine for them. Know thy enemy.

    The studios and the networks are middlemen between the artists and the audience. As businesses and markets grow and evolve middlemen are traditionally cut out.

    The artists and audiences will remain and the artists who succeed will be the ones who are able to get their art/product to the audiences on their own through new distribution mechanisms. This is inevitable and just being a mass entertainment writer will not allow you to survive. Hollywood will remain in some form but YOU (Writers, myself included) have to diversify within the medium to ensure a steady income and stable life. Use those other 4 hours wisely. ;)

    Comment by FlyBy — November 6, 2007 @ 7:33 pm

  36. Is it also possible that Moonves & Chernin were not in fact pulling a bait-and-switch, but that their message was either distorted by Nicholas Counter’s “crack” team of fascists OR simply not received. Meaning: what if Moonves & Chernin were willing to agree to a settlement, but that Counter’s team F-ed it up?

    If that’s the case, it would seem that this situation requires a Lew Wasserman-type to bring everyone together to resolve it. Or am I missing something?

    ALSO — where the F is our Governator through all of this? After all, doesn’t the state of CaliforNIA suffer if no one’s making money and therefore paying less in the way of taxes?

    justoneguysopinion

    Comment by Justoneguysopinion — November 6, 2007 @ 7:37 pm

  37. This sounds like a Union breaking tactic. The producers knew taking DVD residuals off the table would piss off the rank and file. That’s why they offered it under confidentiality - then revealed to the public that the Union had “caved in” and taken residuals off the table. It’s all designed to break solidarity and get people angry at Union leadership.

    I can totally see why negotiators have seething hatred for the producers now. Talk about being tricked and stabbed in the back. They absolutely cannot trust anything they say now. This will make negotiations a hell of a lot more difficult. I suspect somebody somewhere will have to be replaced for this to move forward.

    Comment by a reader — November 6, 2007 @ 7:37 pm

  38. They say we’ve played our hand by taking a DVD residuals increase off the table - but I’ll be real disappointed if they don’t put it back on for good. Look, the studios wanted a strike, they got one. So maybe it’s a force majeure scam or maybe it’s a combination of reasons. The fact is, they’ve lied and cheated and manipulated their way to this strike. But someday they’re going to want it to end. By that time, all the below-the-liners who are going to lose their jobs from the strike will have lost their jobs long ago, and it’s now very clear - hopefully to everyone - that this is the producers’ fault, not the writers’. I only hope that this revelation (thank you Nikki) will strengthen our resolve to keep writers’ demands on the table - until the studios have had enough.

    Comment by pissed striking writer — November 6, 2007 @ 7:40 pm

  39. I still don’t understand why Nick Counter, a man I wouldn’t know if he walked in my house and kicked my dog, something I think he might enjoy, has had such a major influence on my life the past 20 years.

    Comment by Michael The Writer — November 6, 2007 @ 7:40 pm

  40. I think Les’ contract was just re-upped for in excess of 10 mil with perks. I think he sleeps just fine at night…too bad.

    Comment by scriptmaniac — November 6, 2007 @ 7:40 pm

  41. Okay, so it’s bad. No other way to really spin it. Bad for writers, actors, directors and all affiliated businesses — but only for a short time. We are a business in transition and what we are transitioning from — Studio made, network delivered media is dying.

    So transitions are hard. Pity the dinosaurs because they are what is going out. Storytellers always remain.

    Now, writers, get smart, write for the web. WGA, work out some deal with SAG and DGA so we artists can unite and make top notch entertainment and stream it, collecting the profit and doing a fair distribution… LEAVING the big media congloms without their MEDIA!

    We artists control that. We must embrace the transition and leave them behind. We can do it. We must do it. We shackled ourselves to them, our choice. Let’s unshackle.

    If you think about it… we no longer really need them. We like their money. But their money comes from the same people who will pay us to stream the content without them. They are bankers. We are talent. And a new distribution paradigm sets us free.

    Actually, this labor strife is looking a little less scary every minute… at least for me. I hope it scares the hell out of Moonves and the suits. Their days are numbered… and i’m gladly, gleefully, tearing the pages from their corporate christmas gift calendars towards the day they are the Enrons of their time!

    Comment by metinker — November 6, 2007 @ 7:40 pm

  42. This sucks

    Comment by LesNews — November 6, 2007 @ 7:41 pm

  43. Again…if the federal mediator had the authority to bring them together Sunday, why can’t he do it now? Or do both parties have to agree to meet? I think they could come to an agreement easier of Les Moonves had his Kid Nation cast negotiate on the moguls behalf.

    Comment by tired feet — November 6, 2007 @ 7:41 pm

  44. So the rumors about the two sides meeting on Thursday are false?

    Comment by JF — November 6, 2007 @ 7:42 pm

  45. The AMPTP did this so they know how far the WGAw will cave. It’s classic negotiating. They know the guild will bend at least that far. Now they can clean house, dump some deals, hide crappy TV development choices behind the strike and cut some end of quarter costs through Xmas. Then, when all the cheapo reality stuff dies they’ll come back with the exact deal left on the table Sunday with an internet pay model that is awful, but not so awful that we can pass it.

    The only thing that has a chance in hell of making this thing go quickly is the truly amazing response of the show runners (probably only made possible by the extreme duplicity and sheer unmitigated smug prickiness of Counter and co.) These guys and gals are playing with real skin in the game and every time you see a hyphenate who is not completing their shows you should by them one big-ass Krispie Creme. They are the only folks who can make this thing work and their solidarity has been really amazing. Guess I have to take back all the bad stuff I said when they passed on me last staffing season! Except you-know-who. He’s still a twit.

    Comment by IWalktheLine — November 6, 2007 @ 7:42 pm

  46. The AMPTP should SHELVE THEIR F**KING PRIDE and negotiate! They’re behaving like greedy, arrogant, spoiled children, for F**K’S SAKE!!!

    Comment by supernova8610 — November 6, 2007 @ 7:43 pm

  47. Is the federal mediator still involved? For that matter, is anyone involved who has a level head and the thick skin needed for an actual negotiation?

    Comment by Screw'em! — November 6, 2007 @ 7:43 pm

  48. The studios do not feel “betrayed.” That’s just the face they are putting on. They duped the writers, and made them reveal what they were willing to concede - DVDs. The start of the strike in the east was exactly what they expected and it was their plan all along to exit once the strike started, then grab the news cycle.

    The producers are liars, and have been negotiating in bad faith from the start. Fox should send a thank you note to ABC, CBS, NBC, and the CW because those companies just gave Fox the spring TV season. They’ll be even less to compete with American Idol than there was before.

    Comment by just another opinion — November 6, 2007 @ 7:44 pm

  49. All this “keep refreshing” is no different than a talkshow host claiming “we’ve got a great show coming up after the break, folks, so stay with us.”

    I utterly respect Nikki’s reporting and courage and efforts here — without a doubt.

    Yet, her claim that she’s “smack down the middle” while reporting from bunker on which banner ads are posted . . . I don’t know. I realize this is how media works these days; but there’s something a little fishy about all this.

    I for one am washing my hands. Fuck it. If what she’s reporting is the truth, what in God’s name will picketing ever accomplish? If I’m to take her reporting to heart, it sounds as though the studios are simply taking taking out the garbage, the guild playing to their every need.

    The WGA should have sniffed the fecal matter in the CEO’s pockets days ago, called their bluff, and held off the damn strike “in good faith.”

    What’s being gained by the strike? Meanwhile, people losing money while the Guild leaders “write” history here.

    NO ONE FUCKING WINS during a strike or a war, people.

    Actually, that’s not true, the shareholders of the studios will win.

    Just like Vegas, baby.

    We just along for the ride.

    WGA: Want to fuck the studios? Suspend the strike. Don’t give them the force majeure.

    I love you, Nikki!

    Comment by Jake Hutton — November 6, 2007 @ 7:44 pm

  50. I also agree with the posts complimenting this site - if for no other reason than where else is anyone trying to give updates - even the WGA site is rather thin when it comes to updates and current info - I really would like the WGA powers that be to address when we can expect them to try and discuss the issues again with the moguls.

    Comment by skoonix — November 6, 2007 @ 7:45 pm

  51. Keep up the good fight, writers and their supporters. The fans are with you. Check out this site put up by fans(from Whedonesque, but it reaches out to other fandoms) http://fans4writers.org.
    Rumor is the Supernatural fans dropped off fruit to the strikers, so it seems the moguls might want to rethink their internet ideas, though you’d think they’d have learned what screwing with fandom can do after all we’ve done(NUTS!) for our shows. People are even talking about boycotting I-Tunes once they heard writers weren’t getting paid for downloads.
    Oh, here’s another site with about fans support(I hope, since I didn’t have permission, I’m not doing anything wrong by posting.) If so, I’m wicked sorry

    Comment by rebelqueen — November 6, 2007 @ 7:47 pm

  52. Given the number of people within the industry that read your blog, I can’t figure out whether your reports are helpful or hurtful. Are you concerned that your reports are potentially fanning flames of outrage and anger that can only exacerbate the situation?

    Comment by Anonymous — November 6, 2007 @ 7:48 pm

  53. Today I…

    Walked the picket line in front of Raleigh with the most of the gang from our show, met writers from other shows, asked Jesus to keep the soap operas in production by letting the soap actors improvise their lines, ate some Zankou, and got tickets to Iron Maiden through the on-line pre-sale. (In the pi, ‘kin brilliant!)

    All in all… a pretty good day.

    Comment by BJS — November 6, 2007 @ 7:50 pm

  54. let’s see how the studio execs like it when these same media companies use the strike as a pretext for ‘reorganization’ and start slashing development jobs in days ahead. no writers, no scripts, no development, right? so why continue paying exec salaries? if i worked at paramount i’d be scared shitless. perfect catalyst for the long-awaited dreamworks takeover.

    Comment by Anonymous — November 6, 2007 @ 7:51 pm

  55. Okay, it’s time to break out our biggest weapon… the air horn. It’ll be hard to concentrate in the Disney building with that blaring every few minutes. Huh? Who’s with me. Sigh. I’m ready to hunker down for six or seven months, although I was hoping not to. Corporations, cool, huh?

    Comment by Striker — November 6, 2007 @ 7:53 pm

  56. I heard Nick Counter make a statement on NPR yesterday to the effect that top-tier writers stand to lose way more income in the event of a prolonged strike than they could ever gain as a result of favorable negotiations. In other words, “even if we give you an extra penny per DVD, the strike is a big waste of time and you should continue to bend over and stop complaining.” It was so telling and completely exposed what we’re dealing with here — someone who can’t fathom the idea that there are people in this world willing to take a position based on what is fair and right even if it hurts their bottom line. Sadly, this is clearly a breed of people that folks on his side can’t relate to.

    Comment by VeniceWriter — November 6, 2007 @ 7:55 pm

  57. I’m going to fight back the only way I can think of… by turning the arrow around on any yellow production sign I see hanging on a pole… Maybe by sending the crew the wrong direction for a few minutes it’ll slow stuff down.

    Comment by Sign of the Times — November 6, 2007 @ 7:56 pm

  58. Keep posting, Nikki!

    Amen to these comments. We canNOT back down on this battle. It sucks to be out there picketing every day, but my god, it’s the only way we’re going to get any respect here.

    The studios and networks are running scared. they won’t ever admit it, of course, but they’re suffocating without us. Let’s not forget that.

    Comment by firsttimepicketer — November 6, 2007 @ 7:56 pm

  59. So now what do we do? The below the line people need to unite and be heard before we lose everything. Any thoughts?

    Comment by Laurie — November 6, 2007 @ 7:57 pm

  60. Unfriggin’ believable.

    Did the moguls and producers take a look at the cretinous, venal RIAA and music industry and decide they wanted to walk down the same suicidal path?

    Piss off your content-creating artists with bullshit deals: check.

    Piss off your consumers with sub-par product and a lack of technological foresight: check.

    Refuse to cut costs at the “top” (aka their gravy trains) and not just what they incorrectly look at as “the bottom”: check.

    At this point a long strike might be necessary just to put some fear of God into these guys.

    Remember, remember the 5th Of November…

    Comment by Guy Fawkes — November 6, 2007 @ 7:57 pm

  61. I’m a forty year old non-union television screenwriter with a mini-series and two TV movies coming out this year. I just broke into the business after working at it my whole life. Dream come true. Was working towards joining the union, now this. My pen is down as well.

    The producers have no argument beyond greed as far as I can see. The writers guild negotiators should demand to meet with the producers side every single second of every single day. Both sides can not act like children. The writers union reps should act like mature professional adults, they should hold firm to the upper hand, force them to the table over and over and over again, regardless of the producers tactics. Demand sit downs. Demand face to face meetings. If the current negotiators aren’t up to the task, if they can’t keep their personalities in check like professionals then new people should be brought in ASAP to replace them. The writers are the ones who create the content. The writers are the storytellers. They are fundamental to the process.

    Nikki, although your whiny rants about Eli Roth make me think you’re insane, thanks for keeping the real news flowing.

    Refresh.

    Refresh.

    Refresh.

    Comment by Matthew Chernov — November 6, 2007 @ 7:58 pm

  62. “then the producers would respond by improving the formula on the central sticking issue of Internet downloads for movies and television”

    is this the central sticking issue? the writers are already getting the (albeit crappy) formula for pay-downloads on the internet. that is ONE issue…but the real sticking issue, as far as i understand it, is not getting a SINGLE PENNY on monetized reuse of content (aka free streaming episodes with paid advertising)

    am i getting this wrong…or is a blogger that EVERYONE in this town seems to be reading now for updates getting it wrong?

    Comment by Anonymous — November 6, 2007 @ 8:01 pm

  63. 1. Provide a service people are willing to pay for.
    2. Get paid
    3. If not paid enough, go back to step 1.

    Comment by Evan — November 6, 2007 @ 8:02 pm

  64. This is awesome if you think about it. People will give up on tv and movies and be forced to hang out with their children and get out in the world. The obesity epidemic will stall, the econcomy will surge, children will stop becoming hoodlums with drugs and getting knocked up. This is the single greatest thing to happen to America, ever.

    Comment by optimus maximus — November 6, 2007 @ 8:02 pm

  65. sounds like a bunch of tweens on their period

    Comment by land surveyor k — November 6, 2007 @ 8:03 pm

  66. I have a quick question. I’m a college student… Can anyone who is not a writer or in the industry walk the picket lines?

    Comment by Student — November 6, 2007 @ 8:04 pm

  67. As one who’s been around these players a long time, I always thought this strike would be over the moment that Moonves and Chernin and Meyer and all the rest of the new “moguls” who came up through the Hollywood ranks woke up and realized what side of the business they were really on. Realized that this town that makes this “content” that their corporate bosses so greatly desire doesn’t run like other places. From the craft service guy who really wants to write, to the A.D. who wants to call the shots one day, to the studio exec who really has her finger on the pulse of what’s next — we’re all emotionally invested in what we make. And we’ve all taken a huge gamble to be doing what we’re doing. (Spend a holiday dinner with a writer’s family and you’ll know what I mean.) That means that we are partners in this acheivement. We claim ownership rights because we’re the ones who made the damn thing. From scratch. Without any help from corporate. They’ve gambled their money, we’ve gambled our lives. Most of our salaries are enough to get by — as long as the next job comes along quickly. They think they can buy and sell us, break our unions — but if they do, they’ll be killing the golden goose. If there’s no reward from success in a business that is all blood, sweat and tears, what self-respecting creative person will stick around? We work like dogs on our shows. Because we love our shows. Not because anyone make us. And we should benefit when they succeed. Only a handful of people get rich in Hollywood, and for the last 20 years it’s been the people in the corporate towers. Average writer’s salary 200K? A friend of mine said his average would be 15 mil a movie if he and Tom Cruise were alone in a room. Let’s get real. Let’s hold out for the right deal. And let’s hope Les and Peter and Barry and all the others who know what show business means can make it happen by talking some sense into their corporate bosses. Or else the “divisions” they run will be gone for good. Along with the rest of us.

    Comment by vettvwriter — November 6, 2007 @ 8:04 pm

  68. oh well. Netflix has a lot of DVD’s I have not yet seen. I’m very glad I don’t work in this industry…it’s about as honorable as the garment trade.

    Comment by viewer — November 6, 2007 @ 8:05 pm

  69. What a bunch of overgrown babies. I hope they enjoy bathing in doubloons while everything I’ve ever worked for is slowly taken away from me.

    Comment by Sammy Glick — November 6, 2007 @ 8:08 pm

  70. This update confirms what I’ve observed too much in my career: PRODUCERS LIE. I can’t stand it. Never have been able to. I will be on the picket line for as long as it takes. Nudge me with your fender Studio Asshole and don’t surprised if ten writers haul you out of your car.

    Comment by 20 year writer — November 6, 2007 @ 8:09 pm

  71. Slk writer, YES! That is the attitude we need to have. Enough of this “hard cold winter” and “omg, we’re all f’ed” crap. We need to stand strong; the producers are just waiting for us to wuss out. I’ll work any lame job out there if it allows me to hold out for a good contract. We all should.

    Comment by Mad — November 6, 2007 @ 8:11 pm

  72. Individuals should negotiate on their own. If you need a collective, then maybe you aren’t all that special.

    Comment by JB — November 6, 2007 @ 8:12 pm

  73. BOW TO THE WgaEST 5 times a day. Both sides suck. The dif is that Chernin and Moonves SWALLOW!

    Comment by Amir Krocabalony — November 6, 2007 @ 8:15 pm

  74. This is so depressing. I’m just a crew guy trying to raise a family. The level of arrogant power is simply heart crushing. I don’t know what to do. Finish the last few days on this TV show that was supposed to feed my family until May. I don’t know how anybody can possibly survive, much less triumph, with this kind of corporate hubris. I just don’t see any light anywhere. And all afternoon, I kept hitting the refresh button hoping and hoping that wiser, cooler, and human heads were working diligently to solve this. My family is doomed.

    Comment by Julius Fort — November 6, 2007 @ 8:15 pm

  75. When all is said and (in this case) not done - it’s time for the AMPTP to let go/fire or in reality venacular - “vote off” … Nick Counter!

    Comment by kc — November 6, 2007 @ 8:18 pm

  76. I don’t think Moonves and Chernin would do the bait and switch. Makes no sense. More likely they thought they could sell something to the other members of the AMPTP and found out they couldn’t. Or Counter screwed it up.

    We need to fix this thing.

    Recommended reading for both sides: Getting to Yes by Ury and Fisher

    Comment by RM — November 6, 2007 @ 8:20 pm

  77. Thank you for offering unbiased news coverage regarding the important issues at hand. So how does it go again Studios = Greedy Corporate Moguls and Writers = Underpaid Creative Geniuses? I agree that it is sad that so many people will suffer from the greed of a few. It amazes me how a writer, such as Shawn Ryan, can be so heroic in his fight for fair pay from the greedy corporate empire while he is safely nuzzled under an $8.5 million overall with TCFTV. This whole situation is getting really ugly, really fast. We have writers booing execs and blocking the driveway when they are trying to enter the studio lot. Not exactly civil behavior. We are now in it and in it we will be. Tomorrow will be a sad day because we are shutting down a number of shows - shows that we fought hard to get the back nine picked up on, shows that my friends work on, shows that could have been successful given time but they will never return. As a studio it’s a constant battle - fighting with the network to keep a show on the air, fighting with the actors to show up and act, fighting with the writers to write. There is something in the air in Hollywood - absolutely everyone working in the industry has complete and utter disdain for it. There is a sad irony that occurs when people tell you how fabulously important you are and that is that you start to believe it. When you’re agent tells you that you couldn’t possibly work for $40,000 an episode because you’re a “creative genius” - you believe it? Viva the Writers Greed of America!

    Comment by Absurdity — November 6, 2007 @ 8:20 pm

  78. Thank you Nikki. You are a great asset during this time. I think the AMPTP do not understand that the internet has made it easier for us viewers to unite to support the writers we love, appreciate and admire. I know many fans will be doing anything we can to help support all of you.

    Comment by Jessica — November 6, 2007 @ 8:20 pm

  79. A word from the post-production side of this (which I haven’t seen discussed by anyone - not those who work in it and not reporters either) …
    I work at a company that does digital visual effects, mostly for episodic television. Today the CFO sent out an email saying that we had 1-2 months of work left as each respective series completed what they were going to complete (this varied among shows with some going dark right away and other continuing to shoot completed script/post-produce those in the can). After that, he said that “unless the strike is short-lived it may unfortunately impact staffing.”
    I’ll say.
    I have to admit that I get the writers’ point. The producers acting like the internet is an unknown quantity seem disingenuos, at best. But, if this goes on for a long time it will shut many businesses down and many will never recover.
    After reading about all the acrimony between the two sides (and reading it first-hand here), I’m starting to think about my second career.

    Comment by FXChick — November 6, 2007 @ 8:21 pm

  80. “how does he sleep at night?”

    This current generation of media mogul sleeps just fine. You don’t get to that position by having a conscience. I’ve worked in network tv for 11 yrs and any sense of noblesse oblige or class or just plain compassion is a dead, ridiculed concept among senior management. A few thousand people losing their houses in foreclosure or dozens of restaurants shutting down or kids not being able to attend college will not bother them in the least. Hell, bread lines on every street corner wouldn’t bother them. You’re either a competitor or a schmuck, and they truly don’t understand the concept of someone just trying to put food on the table. In the 17 yrs I’ve worked in entertainment, Hollywood has gone from a fraternity system with its ridiculous little hazing rituals to something much darker and meaner and more cosa nostra. I think this is my last year … it’s just no fun anymore.

    Comment by ex net exec — November 6, 2007 @ 8:22 pm

  81. I agree with Vicki. The biz is no fun anymore. The corporate mentality in film has almost ruined the industry. I hope all the studio execs go back to managing Wal-Marts or whatever it was they did before killing the entertainment industry. Best of luck to the WGA.

    Dave

    Comment by davw w — November 6, 2007 @ 8:24 pm

  82. It shouldn’t matter if they hate each other, they should be sitting at a table staring at each other every day until they figure it out. That is, if the producers care at all.

    And to everyone thinking the boards of the companies are going to be mad, I doubt it. They want the shows to be as cheap to produce as possible.

    Comment by counterneedsabj — November 6, 2007 @ 8:25 pm

  83. It strikes me as odd that the Writers went on strike and yet they now want to blame the companies for “putting thousands of people out of work.” The writers should have continued working through the negotiations. They may not end up with more, but at least they, and the “thousands” of other innocent bystanders wouldn’t lose anything.

    Comment by Chip — November 6, 2007 @ 8:27 pm

  84. I guess we’ll all be watching BBC television and reality shows and dramas filmed in Vancouver or somewhere.

    Comment by Leekstep — November 6, 2007 @ 8:28 pm

  85. On the whole force majuere angle, I dunno…big writer deals are few and far between these days. The studios have run a pretty tight ship in that sense since the end of the 90s. I would think if you do the math on the expenses saved versus ad revenue lost (and intangible promotion for movies lost)… hard to believe it’s actually worth the strike.

    If someone has facts to dispute this or back it up, I’d love to hear them because it’s on everybody’s mind.

    My thought is that it could be dawning on the “moguls” that Counter is kind of fucking this up for them, and sooner or later they’ll kick him to the curb.

    Comment by Mike — November 6, 2007 @ 8:31 pm

  86. Something to chew on… Here are just a few salaries of the people who are unwilling to give writers their fair share… Bob Iger: $42.4 Million in ‘06. Chernin: $42.5 million in ‘06 and Moonves: $28 million in ‘06. Yes, this is with stock options and bonuses, but these are the people who think we are asking for too much.

    Comment by tvdued — November 6, 2007 @ 8:32 pm

  87. This entire fiasco could be SO fuckin’ easily resolved if both sides realized that double-naught spy type secrecy could only serve to shield the smarmy from the light of day. The lives of too many people are involved to allow those clowns to dick around with no apparent common sense, no sense of urgency, and (clearly) no basic skills of negotiation. The reality of the matter isn’t tricky. Each side has goals. Each side must give to get. I’d do this one gratis - just for sport. Fuck - I live in New Orleans. Around here negotiating life in general is more tricky than this shit. But nobody asked… so I’ll kick back and observe.

    Comment by sandboxnegotiations — November 6, 2007 @ 8:38 pm

  88. Unfortunately, I also believe the true goal of the AMPTP is to bust the union(s) and clean house. I wouldn’t put it past them to be so greedy that they are willing to alienate and insult every showrunner and staffmember in town, dump even their successful shows in favor of starting fresh with non-union writers and eventually non-union everybody.

    Comment by Jennifer — November 6, 2007 @ 8:39 pm

  89. The Writers have the support of many fans worldwide. Just let us know how we can help.

    Someone else posted something I thought of, National Blackout Day on all TV. Mine was just on all Reality TV. However, a lot of fans don’t have the resources to reach far and wide, especially those with Nielsen boxes…

    So writers we are here to help, you just gotta let us know how..

    Oh just a side note: On my way to work yesterday I saw signs that said Underbelly, this way.. However, when I drove by it there wasn’t much set up yet. I don’t know if they ever shot yesterday or not.

    Comment by TV Fan — November 6, 2007 @ 8:39 pm

  90. Let’s not deluded ourselves about the web. all of the major streaming content sites are owned by major corporations, esp the media conglomorates. the ones that aren’t will be snapped up big deep pockets corps and we’re right back where we are now. different plantation same masters.

    Comment by anonymous — November 6, 2007 @ 8:40 pm

  91. UNIONS WERE GOOD AROUND 1900, BUT TODAY - WHAT A WAIST. I CAN SEE YET ANOTHER INDUSTRY GOING TO INDIA OR CHINA OR FOR THAT FACT RUSSIA - YEAH! THEY HAVE SOME PRETTY SMART FOLKS THERE TOO. BOLLYWOOD WILL SOON OVERTAKE HOLLYWOOD JUST AS CHINA HAS TAKEN OVER EVERY OTHER INDUSTRY FROM THE U.S. WHAT WAS IT A WRITER PUT DOWN FOR THE MOVIE “WALL STREET” - GREED IS GOOD! WHEN WILL WE LEARN.

    Comment by jJOHNNY THE C — November 6, 2007 @ 8:41 pm

  92. “People will give up on tv and movies and be forced to hang out with their children and get out in the world.”

    And deprive an entire generation of “According to Jim?!” How dare you!

    Comment by One Time Sitcom Writer — November 6, 2007 @ 8:42 pm

  93. I’m not sure I see why it’s a “bait & switch” scenario, because that’s a tactic to lure to someone in to do a deal of some kind–but they offered nothing (no “switch”). That makes no sense, from anybody’s perspective, unless they simply wanted to enrage everyone at WGA, suspend negotiations and ensure a drawn-out strike. Hmmm…this utterly blows.

    Comment by zippy a — November 6, 2007 @ 8:45 pm

  94. As a manager for writers and writer/directors, I can only say how sad the spirit of these negotiations has made me. I do the job I do out of respect and admiration for people who sit in front of a blank screen and create magic. I couldn’t do it. I would be drunk in a bathrobe, seeing nothing human for months on end. There would be NO TV, NO Feature Films, NONE of it, without writers. So what up with the sheer disrespect? There is enough money and credit to go around. This is disgraceful. I started in the film business in the early 80’s, and worked at Anblin during the last strike. It didn’t seem anywhere near this vile and vitriolic. Maybe I just don’t remember it well enough. But I do remember how bad it was financially for many writers, a great time to buy a house as the writers threw theirs on the market in fire sales. Now it’s happening again. But it feels like things have changed. The film business used to be fun. Now it’s corporate media moguls swallowing massive profits and causing this industry to shrink and become totally have and have not. I wonder what Irving Thalberg would think. It’s been years and years since my colleagues have liked their jobs, and most people in this business have early “exit strategies.” It’s because of the demeanor mentioned above. Greedy, impossible, fear-ridden and non-creative people turning this into a business of greed, rather than the creative endeavor it was meant to be. It breaks my heart. I hope for all of us this is over soon. It’s mindblowing that things have come to this.

    Comment by ManagerChick — November 6, 2007 @ 8:49 pm

  95. I’m not connected to Hollywood except as a tv viewer. I am also usually opposed to unions. So, you know the situation is bad when I support a union’s side of things. The WGA’s demands are not that unreasonable. Yet, the producers refuse to even discuss DVDs or new media. Give the mediator something to work with here.

    The producers need to get it through their heads that without writers writing, actors acting, directors directing, camerampeople cameraing, etc, they would have no product with which to distribute on new media.

    Stay strong. Thanks for this site Nikki.

    Comment by rosettaresearch — November 6, 2007 @ 8:52 pm

  96. I agree with you Striker about the air horn. Not sure how many the guild has but I’d be willing to buy one myself if necessary. Thanks Nikki for giving us even more to yell about - all day long.

    Comment by Loud Striker — November 6, 2007 @ 8:53 pm

  97. Hmm … is it just me, or does all of this sound like a reality show in the making?

    Comment by Trekscribbler — November 6, 2007 @ 8:55 pm

  98. I find it depressingly ironic that at the top your page there is a picture of Arnold on his cell phone. If there were ever a “role” of a true leader for him to play it would be to shame everyone involved into getting a deal made. I don’t get why he’s *not* gotten involved, since this strike threatens Hollywood film making so much. God I wish there was one iota of good news!

    Comment by Julius Fort — November 6, 2007 @ 8:56 pm

  99. Heads up to everyone driving my Sony Studios. If you honk as you drive by on Culver Blvd you annoy every studio exec in the Thalberg Bldg. Let them hear it!

    Comment by Honk for Sony — November 6, 2007 @ 8:56 pm

  100. Thank You Nikki for some terrific reporting.
    But at the end of the day, does it really matter who is right and who is wrong?
    The only thing that matters is getting this strike behind us and putting people back to work.
    I wish both sides would look at what is possible, not what has happened.
    Just what is possible to agree upon so we can all get back to work.
    Just what is possible.
    no name calling.
    no trust issues.
    just, how to we solve this problem.

    Comment by fredtheagent — November 6, 2007 @ 8:58 pm

  101. Two thoughts on reality… anecdotal but up close and personal.

    Was in a meeting with a bunch of Fox reality execs although they didn’t know I was a guild writer. Nothing to do with me or my scripted writing, just a fluke. Anyway, they are scared shitless of the strike and have crapola coming down the pike. They admitted as much in the meeting. Believe me, they do not have surefire hits coming down the pipeline. They can’t even make the formats they bought from Europe work.

    Second point, was at a small dinner party with a host of a major reality show that’s also considered the cream of the crop. Emmy winner. He’s on the writers’ side. That’s a given. And his daughter, 12 years old, doesn’t even watch his show and spent the whole night skyyping her friends. When I asked her what she watches on TV she said “I don’t watch TV.”

    So, I’m just saying… It’s a Mad, mad mad mad mad mad world.

    Comment by StudsTerkelFan — November 6, 2007 @ 8:58 pm

  102. I loved the Halliburton comment. Made me smirk. Note to Hollywood writers: lessen the liberal conspiracy theories when writing movie scripts. You’ll make more money and get more residuals.

    Comment by Geoff — November 6, 2007 @ 9:02 pm

  103. I will STOP watching TV until the strike is over.
    I will NOT attend any movies until the strike is over.
    I will NOT rent or buy any DVDs until the strike is over.

    I WILL read books for entertainment, as they are also written by writers.
    And my friends will too.

    Writers, pick up your pens and for the time being give us books instead. Get that novel out that you always wanted to finish.
    Make it a grass roots movement.

    WGA, tough it out to the end for the average folks who are not even in your industry.

    Studios and networks, beware literacy.
    It will be your downfall.

    Comment by Average TV/Movie Consumer — November 6, 2007 @ 9:06 pm

  104. I wonder how the adult movie industry is surviving the strike.

    Comment by MikeyG — November 6, 2007 @ 9:10 pm

  105. The other thing to remember is that the studio and network reps WANT us to be scared - so anyway they can get the press and the trades (many of which are in bed with these huge corporations) to spin it negative and bad and frightening, they WILL! It’s the same with the White House - scare the public about terrorism - keep them nervous and off guard - it’s using FEAR to try and get what they want so don’t let all the negative news get to you. The strike will last as long as it lasts and worrying about it won’t help. When you worry about what you, yourself, can’t control, you create your own punishment.

    Comment by violentgum — November 6, 2007 @ 9:15 pm

  106. rebelqueen -

    Fandoms like whedonesque always warm my cynical heart…the link you posted is unavailable - I’m thinking the server was overloaded?

    Comment by Alex - the assistant/wannabe — November 6, 2007 @ 9:16 pm

  107. Nikki, this article just made Drudge Report.

    Comment by Tim Tebow — November 6, 2007 @ 9:17 pm

  108. If one correlates the way producers give notes to screenwriters with the way they are so far giving them bargaining plot points, it all makes sense.

    Once again, they’re taking a great story - underdog writers take a stand for what’s right and gain fair concessions - and turning it into crap.

    Comment by Brian — November 6, 2007 @ 9:21 pm

  109. This is just a bummer all the way around. I hope for everyone that has a family and bills, writers or not, that this thing ends quickly.

    Comment by Mike — November 6, 2007 @ 9:35 pm

  110. The game is on. The moguls want to strangle hold and create pent up demand for Hollywood content. This shows the rest of the world you can’t live without Hollywood content.

    This is only a game. The sows must shut down. The movie stock pile run dry and the movie tickets stop selling….and so on….Then when the pain gets to a point that no one can bear - Network revenue - theater revenue - ad sales going to the web……the Bollywood encroachment and so forth….the strike will be settled.

    The TV season is lost at the end of Nov. Some say lost now. But who cares. I own a advanced version of final draft where it writes the scripts for me! I think the producers have the same version. Another gallon of wine please….my spell check is off. Final draft please complete the third act of R7 for me.

    Comment by Big daddy Al BDA — November 6, 2007 @ 9:38 pm

  111. After reading your post, I agree that the Producers are playing for keeps. They want to break the union.

    In the short run, this has served to unite the union against them. Showrunners, in particular, have rallied to the cause. I wonder if they anticipated that?

    I hope the DGA is paying attention.

    Comment by SR — November 6, 2007 @ 9:48 pm

  112. The impetuous finger-pointing on both sides is disheartening. The WGA slogan “We’re all in this together” is true only if you look at the bigger picture: the writers need the corporations and the corporations need the writers. At least for now, for the long-term forseeable future, as long as the current business model for producing TV and movies exists. We ARE all in this together, we are a family, and for our family to survive we need to set aside our emotional outrage and figure out what the hell to do to stablize our family. It’s true that writer’s will suffer more, as will their comrades the actors and assistants and crewmembers, etc. But the corporations will suffer, as well. Suffering is suffering. What’s worse? Setting aside your pride and righteousness, or allowing yourself to suffer the consequences of a prolonged strike? Who’s right, who’s wrong — WHO CARES?! Come to terms, compromise, and let’s all move on and help each other enjoy profitable, fulfilling careers.

    If this rant sounds simplistic, it is, and it should be. Producers: give WGA a little more. WGA: settle for a little less. The pragmatics are simple. It’s the emotions that undermine.

    If only computers were negotiating this mess instead of humans. It would be over in .00045 seconds and both sides would be slightly disappointed but ultimately satisfied.

    We are in this together.

    Comment by anonymous — November 6, 2007 @ 9:49 pm

  113. Let’s face it: Copyright is dead. The idea of “ownership” ended when the Internet began, but it really kicked into high gear with the advent of Napster, YouTube, MySpace, etc.. There aren’t enough lawyers on the planet to go after every pirated and plagiarised work floating around out there.

    So the studios’ philosophy is …if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

    Studios don’t need writers when there are plenty of teenagers with webcams to do the writing, distributing, and production, of higher quality work than the “professionals” are doing now.

    And, best of all….we don’t need to pay royalties to MySpace, and YouTube members !

    Comment by Cold-Hearted Mogul — November 6, 2007 @ 9:51 pm

  114. I believe Arnold released a statement earlier today stating that he will not get involved. I’m guessing it’s because of the fact that he’s anti-union.

    Comment by Alex — November 6, 2007 @ 9:53 pm

  115. Guys, this is just a post in solidarity and support from a science fiction novelist.

    The deal for all of us is: I write, you publish, they buy, you pay me.

    When middlemen try to default on the last bit, to hell with ‘em.

    You guys are talent. They think because there are so many people behind you who want in that those people would be just as good. *BZZZZT*! I’ve read slush. The people in line behind the pros are in line behind the pros for a reason.

    See how fast the viewers get tired of “reality shows” when that’s all that’s on.

    Don’t give up. If TV and Screen won’t pay you, take your talent to a different kind of outlet that will. Screw ‘em. They’re replaceable. You’re not.

    Comment by Julie Cochrane — November 6, 2007 @ 9:59 pm

  116. Student:

    Yes, anyone can walk the picket lines. Just go to any of the strike locations listed at wga.org, look for a guy with a clipboard and sign in. Several volunteers were at my location today and all were graciously welcomed. Hope you come and thanks!

    Comment by richinspiritwriter — November 6, 2007 @ 10:00 pm

  117. I feel so bad for everyone who is hurt by this… I suffered through the ‘88 strike and it basically broke me financially and I moved on to another business but wrote books as well… To me it became an opportunity to see what I could do as a writer when I had nothing left to lose… And I found out I was good enough for myself… Nobody wins, everybody suffers, people grow and move on. Don’t give up on yourselves, writers — business is business, your talent is real.

    Comment by dave — November 6, 2007 @ 10:04 pm

  118. On a side note… I have never been prouder of the WGA membership. All the people I picket with are devoted to the cause and ready to tough it out. Our Strike Captains are well-informed and the picketers are determined. This is going to be hard on everyone but we are in this together!

    Comment by TV WRITER — November 6, 2007 @ 10:08 pm

  119. My sentiments mirror those given by rosettaresearch. I’m not connected to Hollywood in any way save as a TV viewer, and my life has been negatively touched by unions, so I’m not, as a general rule, a supporter of them at all. However, I really feel, as a creative person myself, that the WGA isn’t asking too much from the producers.

    I hope the strike doesn’t go on long, but I’m making a point of cutting out the minimal amount of reality TV viewing I do so I can make a small point. As far as the producers “spin” on the breakdown of talks yesterday, you’d have to be braindead to not read the truth between the lines. Seems pretty obvious to me that if one side makes a concession then you make one as well if you have any desire to avert a strike. So, the producers got the strike they wanted. I just hope that most of the rest of the country sees through this ploy and turns off their reality TV. Hit the producers where it counts.

    Comment by HighQueenEB — November 6, 2007 @ 10:17 pm

  120. The average person having absolutely nothing to do with Hollywood and living outside of California must have his head in the sand to not have heard about this strike. It has played a huge role in the headlines. Average person consensus: writers should get their fair share.

    Comment by zagyzebra — November 6, 2007 @ 10:18 pm

  121. I wasn’t sure whether or not to buy the “bait & switch” rhetoric or all the talk about the moguls actually wanting a strike. But, now, after reading Nick Counter’s latest comments, I believe it’s true. The fact that he refuses to bargain until the WGA quits striking is a clear indication that they want the strike to continue and will continue to use their puppet shills like Variety to blame the writers for all the turmoil this strike has caused. I also believe, like some others have pointed out, that they’re trying to bust unions in hollywood at large. This is more than a fight for DVD rights. This is a fight to prevent movies and tv from becoming corporate merchandise. We’ve long known that studios like Sony only care about the bottom dollar. They don’t care about making the best movie, but one that will make the right numbers. How did these people ever get put in charge of a creative making medium? I’d be shocked if any of them even enjoy movies, much less feel the passion that writers, directors, actors and crew put into their work every single day. It’s a shame this nonsense has to continue, but it looks like it will be a very long fight. Since the studios are insistent on riding this one out, I urge all writers to keep up the good fight, past this season of TV, through the waves of mediocre movies that will paralyze our industry and well into the next TV season. Only then, when both actors and writers are on strike, will we truly have the leverage and I hope and pray that we can stay united long enough to stick it in their fucking asses and force them not to “settle” with us, but to give us everything we wanted. Put it on the table that the longer they wait to make a deal, they more they’ll have to pay. Every month, our numbers for DVD residuals should go up. Right now it’s eight cents a DVD? Come december it should be 12. January, 16. And so on. Maybe then, we can peel Nick Counter off Peter Chernin’s cock and get them to do what’s right. WHAT IS RIGHT.

    Comment by Behold the truth! — November 6, 2007 @ 10:27 pm

  122. It’s going to take several hours of fuming and pacing before I can even THINK about addressing this matter.

    If all I have read here is the truth (and I have no doubt it is) then this has suddenly become an atomic situation.

    WAAAAAY worse than I had ever suspected.

    Comment by theworkkingman — November 6, 2007 @ 10:27 pm

  123. Ah, hell. That’s all I’ve got. Just…ah, hell.

    Comment by Bill C. — November 6, 2007 @ 10:42 pm

  124. Fans,

    You’ve posted you want to help. Well I was thinking how you might be able to. I think the success of the writers strike is dependent on early heavy pressure.

    Fans have had success with various campaigns from Farscape, to Jericho to some soaps. I think it would help if fan groups like Whedonesque and other groups can help by doing what they do best, campaigning to get their TV back on track.

    What if people mailed back covers of their fave mags to execs with a stamp reading “Return to Sender”, or “New Episodes need the Write Stuff”?

    If pressure came from all fronts, maybe it would help.

    Comment by Joe — November 6, 2007 @ 10:46 pm

  125. As previously mentioned, Public Opinion is on the side of the WGA as it has bargained in good faith and has been honest in its rteporting of events. Intrepid Reporters like Nikki Finke are one of the very few sources of non biased info available to the public as she is not controlled by Big Media, and with the internet, people an draw their own conclusions.

    It is shameful how some of the trades are working hat in hand with the Moguls but I guess they know where their bread is buttered, doesn’t make them an objective source of news though, does it?

    I had always predicted to my fellow Writer buddies that there would NOT be a Strike. Though cooler heads would prevail and there was simply too much economic pressure to allow for one. The City of Los angles, Publicly traded Media Companies beholden to shareholders, the increase in global market profits, etc. The WGA has not been asking for much really in the grand scheme of things, just a fair deal… but I NEVER thought in my wildest dreams the producers could be THIS stupid and greedy. The WGA is more unified than it has ever been by the way it has been treated, that is — lied to in such a duplicitous manner. That has now fueled the shutdown of TV Show Production b showrunners and it won’t get any better as the other Unions, SAG, DGA now realize how they are about to be treated. So, I was wrong, very wrong…

    I never thought it would come to this, but I also have to say it never should have if both parties had simply bargined in good faith. WGA has never had its core issues addressed, they were bullied into making another bad back channel deal (as the sellout Wells had done before) but now, Patrick Verrone has heard it vrom the troops and the DVD removal deal is off and public Opinion won’t be controlled by big media as long as the Internet shares the truth with people.

    I see this snowballing against the Studio Moguls, where only a few are destroying the fair sharing of the fruits for many. They are now known as the new Holywood “Mullah-cracy” IMO and will go down exposed as the lying, greedy, arrogant, cold hearted bastards they are.

    Comment by PJ — November 6, 2007 @ 10:50 pm

  126. Amazing work. Keep it up. Writers need to know the truth.

    Comment by DJC — November 6, 2007 @ 10:59 pm

  127. FOR SALE: Split level, 3000 square foot Spanish-style home. Pool, guest house, nice lot size. Studio City, easy access to most studios.

    Comment by middle-class writer — November 6, 2007 @ 11:08 pm

  128. I swear, after the desperate blowjobs Variety gives to the studios and now with the biased strike coverage, the only thing I’m gonna use Variety for is toilet paper.

    Comment by Mark s. — November 6, 2007 @ 11:20 pm

  129. Nikki, you’re doing an amazing job here as are many of the commenters. The passion you bring to this is galvanizing. I hope you keep it up.

    Comment by I write, do you? — November 6, 2007 @ 11:24 pm

  130. Want to do help? Fax the Governor’s office. Don’t email, they don’t respond to that. And faxing is better than calling.

    You can fax at 916-445-4633.
    You can also call at 916-445-2841. But an individually signed written fax is best. Fax today.

    Tell him as a voter you want him to get involved. Tell him as a voter you EXPECT him to get involved.
    And you expect him to get involved immediately.

    He’s pro-business and pro-Hollywood talent, and as such is ideally suited to getting the sides to make a fair deal. He did a great job helping San Diego deal with the fires. Now it’s his time to save the town that made him a worldwide icon.

    Hollywood needs a hero. And Hollywood needs you to let him know. Today.

    Comment by George Glass — November 6, 2007 @ 11:27 pm

  131. Now I’m posting anonymously.

    I read tonight’s column and went ballistic. Kicked and screamed. Tore up several pitch documents and swore I’d get into another field of work (yeah, that resolve goes right up there with losing weight…) and then a thought occurred to me…

    And I know this is pie in the sky, but ….

    Never has so vast and rich an opportunity been offered to one or two of the “super moguls” as there was tonight. Anyone outside of the entertainment industry could swoop in and bag half the creative community in one fell swoop. Announce the start of a new, “fair deal” network, where talent is treated as an asset instead of a commodity and do a deal with the WGA.

    Showrunners would agree to bring all new series to this (and soon “these” as others realized the incredible opportunity) entity which would have the pick of the crop because they entered into a deal with the WGA… while all competition is held at bay because the WGA would refuse to negotiate with the other studios. Let the seven fuckers wither and die.

    This would allow new, modern-thinking corporations to get a massive leg up on the old dinosaurs. They would have the only new shows in America. They wouild have dramas and comedies while the networks have reruns and Howie Mandel (and how much can America really stand of either?)

    I think it’s even legal.

    Bill Gates, David Geffin , Paul Allen, Steve Balmer… this is an opportunity that may never come your way again.

    The WGA would do the dirty work and get a fair deal in return.

    OOOOhh, this dream may warm my bed tonight before I have to wake up to the cold reality of the screwing we got over the weekend.

    Comment by ifyoukenwhoiwasiwouldhave2 — November 6, 2007 @ 11:38 pm

  132. I wanted to ask the writers on here, what’s your view on a fan boycott of reality TV? If we organised a formal one, you think that would help or hinder your cause? The way I see it, if we stop watching the reality TV they’ve got lined up (or what’s on now, maybe?) and encourage others to do the same, then their advertisers are going to be pissed. No viewers watching ads is no revenue, right? Thoughts?

    Comment by Dana — November 6, 2007 @ 11:52 pm

  133. Ok, so each and every one of us is pissed off about the producers’ underhanded tactics this weekend, that’s well established. It’s also well established that these assholes don’t give a shit how pissed off or upset we are. In fact, I bet they’re lapping it up. I bet they just love it, Chernin and Moonves and their pals, witnessing our collective emotional distress on day 2.

    I’m not saying don’t be pissed, I’m saying EXPECT to be pissed, expect underhanded tactics. Let’s remember this is a sport to these bastards and be better competitors. We’re in the early stages of what is shaping up to be an aggressive PR war. They control the media, so we will lose this battle if we fight by conventional means. It’s already happening. What can we do? Let’s harness the power of the very medium they’re trying to steal from us: THE INTERNET.

    Let’s reach out to our viewing audience via YouTube and iFilm and MySpace and elsewhere and ask them to support us (and hasten the return of their favorite shows) by not turning on their tvs every Friday from now till the end of the strike. ‘FRIDAY IS TV OFF DAY’. Let’s get top level talent to deliver the message. If you think that’s a dumb idea, by all means propose a smarter one, truly, my point is it’s not 1988, our strike shouldn’t look like ‘88. Picketing the studios isn’t enough. We need to think globally.

    Somebody should create a website, a no-frills strike forum where writers can communicate directly with their audiences about what is happening. Some of our most successful writers have cult followings. They have a relationship with the public based on mutual respect. Let’s activate those fan bases. Let’s make the internet the picket line. If creators and consumers unite, the studios and networks will be forced to listen.

    We’re writers, we communicate ideas better than any of these CEOs, that’s our gift, that’s why they employ us. So let’s stop whining like we all just figured out the world isn’t fair and start finding ways to bring the full weight of our abilities to bear upon these shameful men.

    Comment by Controlled Aggression Wins — November 7, 2007 @ 12:12 am

  134. Love the Friday TV off Day. But let’s make it Wednesday. I think bigger shows are on Wednesday, and we’ll get the media coverage Thursday and Friday.

    But either way, great idea, Controlled Aggression.

    Comment by Good Idea — November 7, 2007 @ 12:33 am

  135. The public is getting a good show. It’s a bit didactic, really, but it’s about corporate greed. By that i don’t mean the greed of corporations, but the incredible malice groups of people can radiate when they’re strongly united behind the concept of taking all the money. And I do mean all. Most writers aren’t making any money. Except for a handful of show runners and a smaller fist full of feature writers — most are unemployed. The price of screenplays and teleplays is radically down from the ’70s –80s and ’90s. So when one does work or sell a script, it doesn’t create sufficient income to sustain an individual and certainly not a family. The vision the distributors have of the future is that all the artisans will become hourly employees. They will, upon ocassion, work for hire. The product of their labors will belong to the studios. The writers will eventually even become anonymous. I’m not a collectivist. But maybe the reason there are so many communists in Hollywood is that the studios and networks breed them. The real assault, ultimately, is upon the audience, upon the culture, upon the human spirit.

    Comment by Rod Taylor — November 7, 2007 @ 12:49 am

  136. OK, I’m young and not at all entertainment-industry savvy, but God, won’t this create a kind of microdepression in Los Angeles, which in turn would ripple across the entire U.S. economy, which would then affect the global economy, or am I giving the U.S.’s pop culture apparatus too much credit? I thought we had laws in place, economic checks and balances, to prevent this kind of thing from escalating into a situation that creates financial ruin for massive amounts of people.

    On the one hand, I think the writers are smart to push for their future in digital media, because as a college student who gets ALL her entertainment from the internet (TV, movies, music, reading material), I know that’s where my generation is going to be. On the other hand… who exactly (and how many) are going to benefit from this strike, and is it worth the cost to everyone it touches? I suppose every huge cultural shift has its casualties, but one would hope an effort would be made to adapt as a whole, rather than every man for himself. Again, I thought that was one role of government in our society…

    Comment by MEL — November 7, 2007 @ 12:50 am

  137. I blame that dope Jeff Zucker. Fire his ass and redistribute his salary and bonuses to the writers… that ought to cover the residuals.

    Comment by Non Writing Producer — November 7, 2007 @ 12:52 am

  138. There is one fact you must ALWAYS remember when thinking about Hollywood negotiations: The Guilds, however good, bad, savvy, naive, right, wrong, confused or competent they may be, are USUALLY speaking with ONE united voice. The AMPTP is ALWAYS a room full of competitors who don’t like each other, don’t trust each other, and whose coordination by Nick Counter is, as they say, an act of attempting to herd cats. Whether the actions described here of breaking an agreement to fix one problem in return for solving another were intentionally Macchiavellian as some would like to believe or merely the usual process when somebody on the Producers side THINKS they’ve got their act together but finds out belatedly that their “partners” won’t go along as is MUCH more likely, it all goes to show how VERY difficult this kind of deal really is to get done and how much comparisons to one-on-one negotiations between parties are just plain silly. I appreciate the comments by the agent(s) and others above who THINK this is so simple, but my own experience tells me that they really don’t get this basic fact: Those who compare the studio honchos to evil pols or gangster bosses fail to note that AMPTP is less coordinated, less organized, and less unified than the Five Families were when they met to divide up the country, and more analogous to the UN…and we all know how much progress THAT bunch makes on ANYthing. Its gonna be a long time until EVERYONE is hurting enough to work together to solve this. Until then, the WGA has no choice but to hang tough, stay cool, and wait.

    Comment by JoeMovie — November 7, 2007 @ 1:15 am

  139. Better yet, download your TV, commercial-free, via bittorrent. They’ll hate that. You know those AMPTP piracy ads? The ones that prey upon the viewer’s sympathies for the poor, starving artists that can’t make rent without their residuals? Ha. The moguls are the ones raking in that dough, not the talent.

    Same for movies… The AMPTP can’t afford 4 more cents per DVD? Well, don’t buy the DVD. After all, the AMPTP is asking $20 bucks for it. That’s a damn sight more than four cents. Hell, I’d be embarrassed to give only four pennies to a bum on the street begging for change, and I make poverty wages.

    Call the AMPTP’s bluff. These guys make more in a day than most of us see in ten years of hard work.

    Comment by Disgusted — November 7, 2007 @ 1:21 am

  140. Any writer who can make eye contact and do three-digit addition can produce.

    Producers cannot produce without writers. 95% of all producers are just holdon middlemen ultimately unnecessary to the process.

    If studios want to save money, stop having seven Executive Producers, four Producers, six co-producers and innumerable Associate Producers.

    That would save you twice the money writers deserve.

    Comment by Big C — November 7, 2007 @ 1:27 am

  141. Okay, so my question echoes somewhat (with a difference) the sentiments of “justoneguysopinion” (7:37) and a few other people’s.

    Is it clear that the producers were lying/pulling a bait-and-switch? Or is it possible that Chernin and Moonves actually never had the authority to make that offer? Unclear to me, but if it is clear that is the case, then fine.

    However, Nikki, if you could make that clear in a later post, I for one would appreciate it.

    Comment by Fun Joel — November 7, 2007 @ 1:43 am

  142. It seems that the people in these negotiations should be smart enough to understand that they are killing off the major income source for most of the studios when they have a whole season with no new DVDs to sell except for “Reality Shows”. Do you know anyone who owns a “Reality Show” DVD?

    Comment by Dave — November 7, 2007 @ 1:48 am

  143. I’d be out there picketing with you guys if I lived in the area. Unfortunately, I’m in Utah, but that doesn’t mean I’m not mad as hell about this. As a make-up artist and an aspiring writer, I stand behind you guys 100%.

    And you can be sure that we fans are turning against the reality shows. Plus, those DVDs? I haven’t seen “Heroes” for under $45 around here, and they’re charging $60 for “Supernatural”’s second season, same with “Ghost Whisperer”, both seasons. I’d be more willing to pay it if I thought you guys were actually getting a decent percentage of what I’m shelling out.

    Comment by Dana — November 7, 2007 @ 2:06 am

  144. Strike!! Corp. types don’t seem to have any ethics anymore. At least you have a union. The computer industry doesn’t and look what happened to us in the last 6 years. Writing is a craft and you should be paid for it. Top shows should get top pay.

    Reality shows can’t carry the day. Reviews: “Survivor” - always seemed totally faked., “Bachelor” - on too many times, “IDOL” - takes too long to get to finals (too many commercials) - I won’t be watching till final 2 episodes., “Apprentice”- after 3rd series, ehh.
    “Hell’s Kitchen”- Gordon wisely moved on after 2(3) series.

    Worst TV shows: Prison Break–please, After 3 episodes - 1st season, can it. “Medium” - ughh!!

    Best Shows: “House”, “Friday Night Lights”, “Bones”,
    “Big Bang Theory”, “Kitchen Nightmares”, “ER”, “Grey’s Anatomy”, “Men In Trees” - although if Marin gets lost one more time…, “Back To You”.

    Honorable Mentions: “The Office” - 1st season., “Scrubs”

    Bye now, I’m off to the internet, DVD’s, and PBS.

    Explain that studio execs.

    Comment by TV-viewer — November 7, 2007 @ 2:15 am

  145. I am too old to be allowed into a Union, and during the 40 years I worked I really needed one many times.

    You guys are the surrogates for the entire world at this point. You have to do this. Listen to a lot of Utah Phillips music, do whatever it takes. The other side will do whatever they can to break your solidarity. They want to “undo” all the progress the unions have given this country.

    Remember one thing. They can’t write. If they could, they wouldn’t have other people doing it. Writing is fun, especially when it pays enough.

    If it wasn’t for the union, all the East Coast writers would be working the night shift in the mines with only a canary to tell them when the bosses had killed them.

    It’s all about the images a few words can evoke. A man in a tie never sees those pictures.

    Comment by Dave — November 7, 2007 @ 2:29 am

  146. Thanks Nikki for making your site the Central Front on the War on… oops, wrong Quagmire. Many thanks.

    If one were to ponder the amount of times these producer/studio/network execs have screwed someone over, lied, backstabbed, not returned calls, and abused another human - big number - makes one shake the head, huh?

    Then again how many deals and compromises have they made? The suits make deals and compromises that are equitable because of one thing: strength. Needing these people to change their inherent nature is not strength, needing anything from them is not strength. No need or it won’t work.

    Stay united writers. Don’t REQUIRE anything from these chronic backstabbers Negotiating Team.

    Rally the fan sites - boycott television and films - get this grassroots support going viral on myspace and facebook.

    Don’t offer proposals, don’t offer counter-proposals, don’t ask for their proposals. Strength. Look them in the eye and don’t complain - they will never change, that would require a conscious. Just keep saying “not enough” until it is enough. Don’t be baited when they scream and shout - smile instead. You are dealing with fucking assholes and they win a small victory every time you react.

    Don’t react and see them weaken. It’s the World Series of Poker baby - get the chips you have coming.

    Good luck Jim… [cue Mission Impossible theme]

    Comment by AspiringWGAMember — November 7, 2007 @ 3:20 am

  147. To all you fans and others talking about boycotting reality TV - if you’re not a Nielsen household (and believe me, you’d know if you are) it doesn’t matter if you set your TV on fire. Nielsen ratings are the currency with which TV is bought and sold and only Nielsen homes create the ratings. The rest of you can watch whatever you want and nobody will know or care.

    Comment by not a writer — November 7, 2007 @ 3:39 am

  148. WGA, go away. We’re all sick of your “shock” sex writing, anyway. Time for the producers to flush their toilets.

    Begone, I say!

    Comment by TJ — November 7, 2007 @ 4:12 am

  149. Sorry, but this story is simply not credible.
    Everybody knows the DVD is a doomed format and eventually content distribution will be either (1) broadcast or (2) over the internet. There is NO WAY the corporate types would be willing to pay more on all future content in exchange for paying less on the DVDs over the next couple of years. Either the union negotiators are lying to you, or they are very dumb and were easily tricked. You union members need to have a SERIOUS chat with your leaders and either get them some common sense or get some better ones before you send ANYBODY back into a room with the corporate reps. It’s at times like these when all those union dues and all that union talk are SUPPOSED to pay-off with solid performance on the part of the union leadership… this is one of those few occasions when you really need it. I suspect your current leaders are real bone-heads; you should have continued working under the old terms for the few months until the SAG contracts and possibly others expired and then struck TOGETHER for REAL impact. By working beyond the contract for a few months and occasionally “talking” with the corporate types you would have had more time to communicate with the public and gotten more public support. You would also have had more time to plan and coordinate with the other unions. BUMBLING, INEPT, UNPREPARED UNION LEADERSHIP. Good luck with that strike thing; your opponents may be completely evil but at least they seem to send professionals to the table who know how to play hardball. Ask your people why they showed-up planning to play whiffle ball. I’m just an outsider to this. I wish you folks “good luck” but I think this will end very badly for you if you send anybody back to the table before you get together with your “leaders” (who are SUPPOSED to work for YOU) and get a few things in order FIRST.

    Comment by TQ — November 7, 2007 @ 4:17 am

  150. SOLIDARITY!!!!

    for too long the emphasis has been on capital and it’s ability to function seemingly without the influence of labor. We are surviving a plummet in home prices that is somehow equal to their unequaled inflation in value over the last few years. A river will find its straight path. What goes up comes back down if there is nothing supporting it.

    this is a new age of entertainment and information distribution and i’m laughing to myself (that’s lol to you web-addicted) that the robber-barons (all ten or so of them) thought that the writers that gave them a voice on the internet wouldn’t want a bite of what was ordered. Shame shame shame. and silly in a naive -i don’t need you kinda way.

    Creativity is too valuable to be left to the bean counting efficiency experts with shareholders more important than art… they’d hire children in china if they could type.

    Dont watch the substitutes! aschew “unscripted” reality tv. let the ad revenue suffer.

    support the arts-feed a writer!

    Comment by no write, just wrong — November 7, 2007 @ 4:18 am

  151. Alex— sorry about the link. I suddenly turned techstupid. Here’s more from supportive online fandom
    1) http://fans4writers.org/
    2)http://community.livejournal.com/wga_supporters/

    Joe and others, Fans have already started a letter writing boycotting campaign. Kristen Vetch(sic?) posted many useful ideas on her Watch with Kristen blog here: http://www.eonline.com/gossip/kristin/detail/index.jsp?uuid=c227e569-13e9-46cf-b2ab-6d838b9d5d15
    but this is what she advises(and according to the comments, many people already are):
    That’s a great question, and here are two answers: (1) If you’re in SoCal or New York, you could visit the picket lines to show support for the writers. Also, if you are a fan of one particular show or another, and you visit the picket lines, please don’t be afraid to wear your I ♥ McDreamy T-shirt or dress up as a Viper pilot, or make a fan picket sign of your own—it would really illustrate how shows connect to audience members. (2) If you’re located out of town, you can send a letter to the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) at 15503 Ventura Boulevard, Encino, CA 91436, letting them know how you feel. Here’s a third answer: (3) You tell me: Do you support the writers? Do you have any ideas on other creative ways to show support? If so, post ‘em in the Comments below.

    Comment by rebelqueen — November 7, 2007 @ 5:06 am

  152. To “not a writer” (3:39AM)– No, we may not technically count, but, if we make enough noise, and we get the word out to those who do, then maybe that will make a difference. Saying “Oh, I can’t do anything, I’m not a Neilsen household” is a defeatist attitude and does nothing. I’m hardly sitting back and just posting banners.

    To “TJ” (4:12AM)– If you have nothing useful to contribute to the discussion, kindly stay out of it.

    To “TQ” (4:17AM)–DVD is hardly on the edge of obsolete. My computer, which has a very fast processor, can’t load anything on the official sites except CBS’s. Besides, why would I want to watch a pixelated, low-quality streaming feed that would get interrupted if my internet went down when I can sit back in my house, at my leisure, and watch a show? I could even do it without commercials! As for the strike, the reason they went on strike now is because their contract ended on Oct 31, and they couldn’t logically continue to work unless a new contract was made. Since they don’t agree to the terms of the most recent contract any longer, they couldn’t sign a new contract. Thus, they went on strike to get the contract they wanted. Telling them to “stick it out” as you’ve done is ridiculous, largely because it would have left them completely unprotected by a contract, at the mercy of the producers.

    Comment by Dana — November 7, 2007 @ 5:10 am

  153. I’m just an outsider who happened upon this article out of curiosity. You guys are really being portrayed as the bad guys. It’s good that you have someone like Nikki to get the other side of the story out. The public isn’t that stupid-they know there are 2 sides…
    As an uninvolved observer, if I were you I would now ask for more at the next “discussion”. You obviously have been betrayed but they know you know now. So dig your heals in and get more. After negotiations, you give a little and end up with more than what you expected. Someone will feel guilty (not the CEO’s) and start pushing them on their side to get this thing fixed. The CEO’s and shareholders are all about the money and that’s it-remember that and USE IT. The faster this thing gets fixed the better for all involved, right down to the ticker symbol and commercials.

    You have leverage-USE IT.

    Comment by Melissa — November 7, 2007 @ 5:30 am

  154. I still don’t understand why this strike is going on.

    If I get my roof replaced, I pay for the job and thats it. I don’t send the roofer a check every time it rains.

    When I bought my car used, I paid the dealership, not General Motors.

    Comment by Jaretha — November 7, 2007 @ 5:41 am

  155. I cannot understand why you writers even allow the WGA to engage in backchannel negotiations. You might’ve known they’d get the short end of the stick.

    The WGA should ask the writers before they take absurdly ineffectual steps like taking the DVD residuals off the table. Utter nonsense. The WGA negotiators are clearly incompetent.

    But then that’s your fault for expecting a union to do all your negotiating for you. Don’t get me wrong, I do sympathize. But, unions and contracts and studios are the three main reasons I keep my writings to myself. I’ll keep my day job.

    Comment by MTB — November 7, 2007 @ 5:45 am

  156. Rebelqueen,

    Thanks for the links but I’m a huge fan of the type of voice the Jericho fans used. Target an individual exec in each studio, find a creative outlet, like the Nuts campaign, and deluge that one exec to the point of driving them nuts.

    No one reads long letters in the exec ranks. The letters will get tossed. It needs to be a show of force directed like a fine point laser in a way no one can miss.

    And it needs to be swift.

    I’ve watched how the Internet, that unknown and wild west style new media, can be mobilized by the masses. IF it’s done with creativity and focus…it is incredibly effective. Supporting the writers on the line is thoughtful, caring and a beautiful jesture, but you have to hit the execs between the eyes with a creative act that they can’t dismiss if they are to get the message.

    Comment by Joe — November 7, 2007 @ 7:17 am

  157. Are most free-lance editors crossing picket lines to work, or are most of them staying off the job?

    Comment by A spouse — November 7, 2007 @ 7:38 am

  158. Most certainly, almost no one is reading through these comments. But they repeatedly show the egos of SOME WGA writers are more inflated than the Cali real estate market!

    NEWS FLASH: Virtually ALL of you ARE replaceable.

    Screen writing isn’t exactly astrophysics.

    Stringing together doggerel words in novel and clever patterns that resonate with the masses and stay safely within the staid genres of modern television doesn’t require legendary scribes on the level of modern-day Twains or Faulkners. Just dump in another political cliche. . . Slap down another cheap sex joke . . . Drivel out some hackneyed “new-age” or PC philosophy . . . Spray around another “clip” of ghetto invective. . . Cynically blast away again at traditional values . . . Celebrate dysfunction and glamorize caustic individualism.

    It’s just not that hard, is it? Slouching to the bottom never is.

    Perhaps breaking the union will foster percolation of new ideas. Maybe some of the less pompous WGA members will someday get more in touch with reality outside of the industry bubble (where millions of real people actually work for a living in nondescript jobs that aren’t “fun,” glamorous or lucrative). Possibly, burning down the WGA will increase competition and yield better programming.

    It’s too bad that the brilliant, “irreplaceable” WGA members have to take down some of the trades with them. But such is the “collateral damage” of a necessary (and long over-due) purge. Otherwise, how can you “make an omelet without breaking a few eggs?”

    Comment by The King of All Written Word — November 7, 2007 @ 7:40 am

  159. Writers, speaking as a TV fan, and as a professional negotiator for a large, multinational company (not entertainment related), let me offer some unsoliceted advice.

    First, think about who are the real influencers in this negotiation. While you may be negotiating face to face with Producers, and while you think that the studios are behind the producers positions, don’t forget who the studios must listen to: Their institutional shareholders. Second, data is your friend. What do I mean, and how does it relate to the institutional investors?

    If the guild can show the institutional investors that there is an upside to negotiating and reaching agreement, and a downside to a lengthy strike, then the institutional investors will bring pressure to bear on the studios and the producers.

    This would involve ACTUAL DATA, numbers that show the impact to the bottom line of the studios, and therefore the share price. I suggest that the guild hire someone to run the numbers for them, and schedule time with representatives of the institutional investors. Ask for their support. Really, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. You can be SURE the studio executives are doing this very thing. THose investors are calling, say, Sony, today, demanding reassurance that the strike will not effect the stock price.

    Emotions run high in these situations - and the fact that writers are creative and generally non business types can be used against you - clearly that’s what happened last weekend. Public opinion in your favor is wonderful, and should be taken advantage of. But HARD COLD FACTS are better friends when you are up against corporate types that must adhere to the superiority of the bottom line.

    If you must, hire consultants. There are plenty out there who will help you for a price.

    Comment by Anonymous negotiater — November 7, 2007 @ 8:13 am

  160. Though there are a few exceptions, most studio executives rose to power by cutting throats and stabbing people in the back. They relish seeing others suffer. Most studio execs are looking forward to seeing stories in the newspapers about writers losing their homes and their kids going hungry. The opportunity to inflict misery on thousands of people at once is too tempting for them to pass up. They will follow through to the bitter end and hurt as many people as they possibly can. They can’t help it. That’s just the way they are. This strike will go on for at least a year… or more — or until the studio executives become bored. Then, one day, they’ll wake up and say, “This is just too easy.” And the strike will end. In the meantime, prepare for a very long strike. A year. Maybe two. Mark my words.

    Comment by the truth hurts — November 7, 2007 @ 8:16 am

  161. Producers weren’t fair? Well, DOH! Looks like Hollywood greed is the big winner here. This strike will just about put the final nail in the coffin and then everything will move either north, or offshore, leaving H town to devolve into what Nero might refer to as ‘Slumius Maximus’.

    Comment by Sir Rodney Stiffington — November 7, 2007 @ 8:27 am

  162. How naive IS the WGA? You have no leverage, you have no clue. The studios will end your alleged ’strike’ when they feel like it. Nobody cares. You are all self destructing. Greed has got you in it’s little grip and you are all going down. Good luck, see you at the Carls Jr. drive thru.

    Comment by Sir Rodney Stiffington — November 7, 2007 @ 8:36 am

  163. I heard a radio talk show interview pundit yesterday state that writers are making $250,000 per year and top talent that much per week.

    He also stated the writers should be made at the union due to what they agreed to in the last strike. He said the union didn’t see much value in DVD’s and agreed to 1.2% of 20% (I may have the 1.2% figure incorrect).

    I’d like to hear from the writers what the range of salaries actually are as well as the mean. Right now, all we hear from them is that they are living on poverty wages, which we know is a lie.

    Comment by roenigk — November 7, 2007 @ 8:37 am

  164. Maybe this strike is the beginning of something bigger - maybe this is the time for a cultural rennaisance to kick all the greedy corporate middlemen out of the arts. They are nothing but a drain on creativity anyway - and there are so many of them. There’s change in the air. Don’t let the dark side win. Screw the suits! Support the Writers!

    L & R popehat

    Comment by popehat — November 7, 2007 @ 8:38 am

  165. To Dana (5:10 am)-OK, since you’ve appointed yourself the discussion Nazi, here’s something useful for you:

    Reality check–WGA has no power in this fight. GenX, GenY, and GenNext folks are dumping scripted network TV into oblivion. The rest, the families with decent value sets, block nearly every non-family friendly show because of the filthy “shock” content. The producers know this. All the moguls have to do is continue with reruns/reality shows until the writers cave.

    So, if you’re whole income is WGA driven, best look for that table bussing job at Shoney’s to pay the bills for now.

    Next.

    Comment by TJ — November 7, 2007 @ 8:52 am

  166. I’m definitely not a pro-union guy but I can understand why any content creator would feel that they deserve some compensation for any republication of their content. Why should an artist be paid or not paid based on whether their content goes over the air, dvd, or internet? Only question to me is how much and I expect there’s a lot of producers who may not feel they’re getting their monies worth and what incomes exist at all for new media (like internet) content. That will all change significantly before a new contract expires however so should be addressed now.

    Only thing that I find a bit confusing is why, if the issue is so straightforward as this, why haven’t the other creative guilds (actors, cinematographers, etc…) been talking about supporting the strike and joining them? That would wake up the industry real quick. As it is - the studios are dangerously close to killing their own industry much as the record labels have (needlessly) done and may lose all control in their first to retain all control. Any insights on this angle?

    Comment by Ben — November 7, 2007 @ 9:06 am

  167. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again — thank you, Nikki for your work and for this site, and thanks to the rest of you for sharing your hearts and thoughts here.

    Just a thought…If someone is going to organize a “TV Off Day”, I’ve always understood that Thursday is the night the advertising costs most, so that would be the ideal night to boycott…

    m.

    Comment by wackiland — November 7, 2007 @ 9:08 am

  168. Gee, Lesley Moonves, was a cheat and a liar… think that’s news, talk to his ex-wife

    Comment by RD — November 7, 2007 @ 9:23 am

  169. Here’s an idea of how all WGA writers and those sympathetic to their plight can fill their time during the strike.

    Watch only enough television each day to make a list of three products or services which advertise on television. Then … Writers, get to writing!

    Send letters to the corporate offices of those products or services announcing that you refuse to spend another dime on their stuff until the strike is settled and your favorite TV shows return to the airwaves. If advertisers begin to feel the pinch, or even pperceive that they will be pinched, they will pressure the networks. The networks live and die over ad revenue. It’s a logical progression.

    As Deep Throat said, “Follow the Money.”

    Ol’ Dad

    Comment by OO — November 7, 2007 @ 9:25 am

  170. I suspect that all of a sudden, some proles for the other side are posting very similar, anti-union comments on all the sites.

    If that’s not the case, it’s just another example of just how dumb the American public can be.

    This is, after all, the same group who elected Bush the second time.

    Comment by anotherwriter — November 7, 2007 @ 9:26 am

  171. I sympathize with the Writers Guild to an extent, but in the end I say either the pay is worth the work or it isn’t. If it is, then work. If it’s not, then don’t. There’s always going to be someone out there with talent to take the job who’s not a member of any union. Too many things are unionized in today’s society.

    Comment by Brent — November 7, 2007 @ 9:46 am

  172. I spoke to striking writers at NBC in Burbank yesterday afternoon. One of them told me he wrote the 10th best selling movie on iTunes and does not get paid anything for it. That is unconscionable. No recording artist would let iTunes sell their music for free.
    I work in the industry as a translite photographer. Without productions running, I have no income. But I cannot abide intellectual property abuse. I am bringing coffee and my wife’s muffins back to NBC this morning for the writers.

    Comment by Richard Lund — November 7, 2007 @ 9:49 am

  173. >>>so… what’s the Producer’s motivation for not holding up their end? To make the WGA look stupid?

    After conceding the DVD issue — even under confidentiality! — the WGA needed no help from anyone else to look stupid.

    This is the VHS days all over again.

    Writers are going to let themselves get screwed again.

    Comment by Mike Cane — November 7, 2007 @ 10:29 am

  174. As a crew guy, lemme just tell ya, this really blows. All of it. From inside the stages, looking at other guys and gals who truly work for a living from 6am to midnight, there is little or no sympathy for the writers. There was lots of gallows humor on monday when the writers didnt show up at Raleigh Manhattan at 7 am (When the working crew generally reports for work). Rumor was they got there about 9 ish. Some referred to it as “banker’s hours”. Some said it was because the execs wouldn’t arrive til then anyway…but just so you know how we look at things, it merely points out that the writer’s don’t care about the crews. Personally, I understand the walkout, the need for respect, etc. But I’m looking at people who are going to be on unemployment by Thanksgiving, who hopefully have set aside a little money for their kids’ Christmas, and who will be cancelling flights and travel plans for the holidays…and probably beyond. Working men and women who’ve bought homes in this oh-so-expensive real estate market are probably just a couple of paychecks away from foreclosure, I’d imagine. (I used to hate the idea of renting…now I’m sorta glad I still have our place). Anyway, if both sides wanna know how it is on the inside, this is the feeling. At least until it all goes dark.

    Comment by Crewguy — November 7, 2007 @ 10:34 am

  175. Anonymous negotiator is right. Most writers I know are incredibly naive about the business model of TV sales. I’m sure the studio heads are trying to line their own pockets, but they’re also trying to run profitable businesses, which is becoming more difficult all the time as TV ratings and revenue steadily drop every year. Studios are researching online alternatives and are wary of cutting any deals until they see how the new media can best make them money. It’s not just because they’re greedy, it’s because their industry is dying and they’re trying to salvage what they can. I’ve seen no indication that the WGA has any real understanding of TV ad sales (which is what still pays most of their salaries) and no understanding of the complex decisions facing studios and nets as try to figure out how to make money with online media.

    Comment by not a writer — November 7, 2007 @ 10:37 am

  176. “Look for the Union Label whenever buying a movie or new Chevrolet”…….

    The song’s the same, the tactics are familiar, and the folks holding the bag are the end users once again….you and me.

    Pay scales are now so HIGH for WGA members that only the very top tier of shows make it to syndication in any meaningful way…….

    I suppose production companies ENJOY Canada and New Zealand these days….perhaps they can scrounge up some writers from these places to lighten the load….

    TYPICAL…..

    Comment by Ted Donahue — November 7, 2007 @ 11:18 am

  177. >>>Everybody knows the DVD is a doomed format and eventually content distribution will be either (1) broadcast or (2) over the internet.

    No, everybody DOESN’T know that the DVD is doomed. As far as I can see Hitachi and Sony are going at each other’s throats for the “doomed” HD-DVD and Blu-Ray discs.

    You had better hope that buyable hard copies stick around a while. Otherwise one day — mark these words — you will be waking up to a world where all media is Pay Per View. That’s really what the executives drool over. A world in which entertainment is hooked up to a meter and all of us have to pay and pay and pay to see, read, hear it.

    And in such a world, dammit, the major issue of this strike — residuals — becomes Critical.

    Comment by Mike Cane — November 7, 2007 @ 11:58 am

  178. Good post, very useful information.

    The TV and movie fans supporting the writers are making an effort to push the studios as well - if you support the writers please pledge to not purchase DVDs, buy downloads, or view full episodes or other content on official sites.
    http://www.pledgebank.com/fanstrikesupport

    Comment by Christine — November 7, 2007 @ 12:27 pm

  179. The anti-creative posts from the TJs of the world are coming here because this was linked by Drudge. He tends to attract the knuckle-draggers who will then turn the comment threads into an alleged demonstration of how they represent “ordinary America.” There are too many industry people posting here to keep them from commandeering this thread, to which I say “thank God.”

    I’m not in the business, but as far as I’m concerned I’m with you guys at the WGA. Keep fighting.

    Comment by Mark Jeffries — November 7, 2007 @ 1:14 pm

  180. To The King Of All Written Word:

    It may not be astrophysics but, as a physicist, I can attest that writing is not something that anyone off the street, no matter their intelligence, can do. It takes talent, and writers deserve to be compensated for their work. The writers aren’t asking for anything outrageous; they want fair compensation, and they should do whatever they have to in order to get it.

    This whole thing is looking more and more like an attempt by the studios to bust the union. I hope the writers stay united and don’t let the studios succeed.

    Comment by Anonymous — November 7, 2007 @ 1:20 pm

  181. the writers have been so naive and idiotic about this whole thing. If they had brains capable of doing anything other than weaving mostly crappy stories, they’d realize that the studios hold all the good cards and all a strike will do at this juncture in time is put “working people” out of work! An intelligent assessment of the situation would have led them to realize they are dealing with multi-billion dollar corporate conglomorates who piss away the money the WGA is going after in a weeks time. The WGA knew the studios were going to play dirty and for keeps. For some reason they didn’t prepare to do the same. If the sushi-eating, coffee-run-begging WGA members would have waited until next summer and collaborated with the DGA and SAG, presenting a united front to the studios, the strike most likely would have been averted and the a guilds would have gotten at least some of their demands.

    as it stands now, everyone in town is fucked……oh, except for the studios and the suits.

    DUMB DUMB DUMB

    Comment by ole — November 7, 2007 @ 1:21 pm

  182. The true value of good writing has been lost on most TV network executives and movie execs for a long time now. Reality TV and remakes of old movie classics are the crowning achievement of that willful ignorance parade.

    Its no small wonder they don’t value writers. They think the public likes the crap they peddle and so why bother actually investing in creativity?

    That after all costs money right? Not when these executive “moguls” can make you watch a no-talent chef bitch out a bunch of chefs on tv and call it entertainment or make us watch washed up celebrities dance with each other?

    Calgon take me away!

    Give the writers what they want. Bring some real creativity and storytelling back into visual entertainment!

    Comment by Houdini — November 7, 2007 @ 1:41 pm

  183. Why not just pay the writers a fair hourly wage and leave it at that. I dont get royalties on progams I write. I go to work, do my job while being paid a set wage, why wont that model work for writers?

    Comment by Outsider — November 7, 2007 @ 1:47 pm

  184. Crew Guy,

    As a writer, I’ve been out of work since March, when the studios and networks ramped up production and the average writer like me was looked over for more “bankable” writers. Been hard to get any kind of work or deal, but I’m still on the picket lines. Why? Because I know this fight is just. Want to hear about rent payments and unemployement? Could give you those stories…about three months ago. How’s work been since then? Been eating any less lately? Think the days are coming? Keep posting and in a couple months when you catch up, I’ll fill you in on ways to “get by.” Until then, keep enjoying your “union job,” which, undoubtedly, was conceived, written and sold by a writer.

    Comment by The average writer — November 7, 2007 @ 2:08 pm

  185. Hoo boy…a lot of heat but not much light here.

    First of all, can we stop with all these dead-end ideas of how you can “hurt” the studios and/or producers? Turning around signs pointing towards filming locations? Not watching TV for a day? Are you kidding? A gnat on an elephant’s ass has more effect. And blaring air horns all day…quite frankly, that’s a loser’s tactic.

    Face the fact that it is not within any individual’s power to “hurt” these global corporations. Emotionally people don’t want to give in to that, but you’ve got a long way to go to show me how you can, short of becoming a “Fight Club” terrorist.

    More news:corporate executives have nothing to do with empathy, let alone fairness. All this fist shaking over how evil they are, and don’t they know how all of this is going to hurt all of us in the Biz (it will)…duh! If this particular group of executives weren’t there, there would simply be another group, equally as souless. It’s the nature of the corporate structure and the global marketplace that feeds the ‘evil’, more so than any shmuck executive.

    And just because the strikers have the high moral ground (and they do), don’t go throwing yourself on the executives’ cars or or spitting on them or whatnot. Really.

    The argument that the writers should have kept working without a contract makes a lot of sense- if you’re someone who also works in business but are not a member of the WGA. That wasn’t going to happen, as much as it sucks for all the crews left out in the cold now but who won’t see any benefit from these negoiations (save a resolution that lets everyone get back to work).

    The producers are jerks- so what? Go to the negoiating table every day, all day. If they won’t show, let everyone else know. It truly is the very least you can do. Besides, if the corporations really want there to be a strike, really want to shut everything down, what’s your option?

    Oh, all you trolls (i.e. TJ and whatnot), don’t you have to mow the lawn or something?

    Comment by PG — November 7, 2007 @ 2:12 pm

  186. Ironic that WGA members are still making residuals because the networks are forced into reruns. I’m sure you won’t find many among the groundling public that care one wit about the WGA strike.I know, I know, WGA members don’t make that much money…getting screwed since they are the creators…deserve more because nothing runs without them…greedy rich corporate entities are evil. Of course, that’s pretty funny in itself since they work for them and are their bread and butter.I believe it was Michael Piller I heard speaking on the radio the other day. He complained that writers who created Webisodes only made $20,000 instead of $50,000 for a TV episode and how unfair it was that they did not make residuals off Net based entertainment. That’s where you lose the public. $20,000 is a lot of groceries for a few days/weeks of work. It takes an average Joe many months to a year of sweat and actual hard work to make that kind of money. So forgive the general public if they think the job you are incredibly lucky to have pays pretty damn good already.

    Comment by Negative Man — November 7, 2007 @ 2:20 pm

  187. The WGA looks totally incompetent to be complaining that the studio had their press release ready when the strike started, but that the WGA was “tricked” into not getting theirs done in time. That’s a little crazy. They were the ones insisting they were going to go on strike if negotiations weren’t completed by the end of the weekend. Why didn’t they have multiple press releases written in advance that would cover whatever the outcome of the talks was? They are supposed to be WRITERS for goodness’ sake.

    Comment by JediJones — November 7, 2007 @ 2:30 pm

  188. This just in. 4 out of 5 doctors reveal THEY are the reason there is a writers strike. The statement issued from the doctors’ camp simply states, “sorry”. Said doctors, in charge of the overall health of TV and Film Moguls has revealed the Moguls’ shocking secret. Moguls respond violently and in some cases fatally to “fairness”. The doctors (not to be confused with Patrick Dempsey- actor) citing their Hippocratic oath, have advised the Moguls to avoid fairness at any cost lest death ensue. The 5th doctor, a Dr. Kevorkian, has advised the Moguls to seek fairness in the writers negotiations.

    Comment by shaun — November 7, 2007 @ 2:35 pm

  189. Anonymous Negotiator wrote:

    This would involve ACTUAL DATA, numbers that show the impact to the bottom line of the studios, and therefore the share price. I suggest that the guild hire someone to run the numbers for them, and schedule time with representatives of the institutional investors. Ask for their support. Really, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. You can be SURE the studio executives are doing this very thing. THose investors are calling, say, Sony, today, demanding reassurance that the strike will not effect the stock price.

    Emotions run high in these situations - and the fact that writers are creative and generally non business types can be used against you - clearly that’s what happened last weekend. Public opinion in your favor is wonderful, and should be taken advantage of. But HARD COLD FACTS are better friends when you are up against corporate types that must adhere to the superiority of the bottom line.

    The WGA would love to do this. Only problem is, the entertainment industry LOATHES transparency, and will not open their books anywhere near the extent necessary for what you propose. If they would, then I and other WGA members would be all for hiring a bunch of serious economists to come up with a sustainable plan to transition to from old to new media while still maintaining a decent residual rate. But, they won’t.

    Ted Donahue wrote:

    Pay scales are now so HIGH for WGA members that only the very top tier of shows make it to syndication in any meaningful way…….

    WGA pay scales are not what prevent shows from making it to syndication. On a typical show, the costs of writer/producer salaries is maybe three or four percent of the overall budget per episode. In rare cases, maybe up to six or seven percent. That’s for the entire creative team for the show.

    The costs that make scripted television so dicey in terms of recoupment are a) star salaries and b) on some flashier shows, the actual physical production and post-production costs.

    Comment by justofftheline — November 7, 2007 @ 2:40 pm

  190. You guys don’t get it, if the studios cave to your demands, then SAG and the DGA will ask for even MORE, using the WGA as precident.

    And if you cut into studio profits, who does it affect? The “cold-blooded” studio mogul? The “greedy” producers?

    No. It affects anyone that holds stock in the parent companies the studios are owned by.

    I guess it doesn’t really matter, most tv shows and movies suck anyway. That’s why the profit margin for the entertainment divisions of the big corporations are in the single digits…the LOW single digits.

    Comment by Joe Cool — November 7, 2007 @ 2:58 pm

  191. Just above, earlier today, I wrote:

    >>>Otherwise one day — mark these words — you will be waking up to a world where all media is Pay Per View. That’s really what the executives drool over. A world in which entertainment is hooked up to a meter and all of us have to pay and pay and pay to see, read, hear it.

    And look what pops up later the same day to give the general public a glimpse of that future:

    MLB rips off fans who bought DRM videos
    http://www.boingboing.net/2007/11/07/mlb-rips-off-fans-wh.html

    Comment by Mike Cane — November 7, 2007 @ 3:05 pm

  192. Justofftheline writes, in response to Anonymous Negotiator: “The WGA would love to do this [use cold hard facts]. Only problem is, the entertainment industry LOATHES transparency, and will not open their books anywhere near the extent necessary for what you propose. If they would, then I and other WGA members would be all for hiring a bunch of serious economists to come up with a sustainable plan to transition to from old to new media while still maintaining a decent residual rate. But, they won’t.”

    Even if the entertainment industry were to open up their books on new media, it wouldn’t tell you anything other than that they don’t know what they hell they’re doing yet. The industry is hiring research firms and consultants like me to figure out what their next steps should be. It shocks me that the WGA isn’t doing the same. They don’t need to hire a bunch of economists, they just need to do some market research. Without data the WGA is runnning blind.

    Comment by not a writer — November 7, 2007 @ 3:22 pm

  193. Your column was laminated and posted at the CBS/Radford picket this morning: thanks, Nikki.

    Something I feel like pointing out to those who pile it on about fat cat writers is that, sure, a handful of folks are making (well-deserved) good money in any given season… but the Guild ain’t out there trying to increase the frigging MAXIMUMS. Jesus Barking Christ… Ryan, Cherry and co are pulling the rope to haul the REST of us out of the tar.

    I’ve done nothing for a living but write for over 30 years. I find out my stuff’s on DVD when I see it in the store. I’ve never once been sent a copy of the VHS or the DVD or a movie or series I’ve written, even when I created them. Never received a nickel in royalties either, except on one show which had a very warm and wonderful person as its joint star/producer. My second-to-last animated series is now on the web in 3 languages and I get paid in none of them.

    The animated eps I’ve written pay my writing partner and me, on average, $1,000 each, after agent, dues and taxes. There’s the ugly truth. Around $1,500 each before taxes… fixed, final, forever, no residuals, no health care. My son lost his health coverage the year I started writing for Disney. The average studio PROFIT from a single popular animated episode over its “useful life”? Between $7 million and $12 million. That’s per episode, says WGA financial analyst Chuck Slocum.

    For each of those eps, I and my fellow scribes have to sign a contractual clause - common to all U.S. TV, unknown in the rest of the creative world - that calls the studio the “legal author, in all known or hereafter invented media, throughout the universe.”

    These “legal authors” then collect the DVD and tape levy from Europe on our episodes (a tax for the “creators”), paying them back in the first 18 months after production more than they paid for the scripts. And that shit isn’t even on the table here.

    I’ve got around 1,000 episodes of sitcoms, variety and animation in syndication out there… and I lived through 2004 and 2005 by putting virtually everything of value in my apartment on Ebay.

    All this by way of reminder to a possibly unaware public of The Main Point: the guild is looking to increase the minimums, not the maximums. I’m sorry to Crewguy and anyone else collaterally affected… but what do YOU do when you’re seriously effed-with at work? Do you just lay there and take it? How manly of you.

    Comment by A-Dude — November 7, 2007 @ 3:22 pm

  194. To those saying the TV industry is dying, as if there isn’t enough money to go around anymore — I’d be a lot more inclined to buy that argument if people didn’t continue to get filthy stinkin’ rich when they make it to the top. It seems obvious to me that the top 10% (or less) is hogging it all, getting an unfairly huge amount of compensation while the yeoman struggle. Maybe it’s no longer an industry where people on the individual level should be able to get as wealthy as they do, but you can’t tell me there’s no money in it. If there’s less money to go around, everyone should be taking a hit, not just the poorest. Otherwise, you’re shooting yourself in the foot.

    Comment by MEL — November 7, 2007 @ 6:43 pm

  195. Average Writer. You said it. I didn’t.

    Comment by Crewguy — November 7, 2007 @ 8:46 pm

  196. Posters wishing to learn about the writers’ side of this issue are encouraged to visit:

    http://unitedhollywood.blogspot.com/

    Mike Dieffenbach
    WGA member

    Comment by Mike Dieffenbach — November 7, 2007 @ 10:04 pm

  197. “I’m sorry to Crewguy and anyone else collaterally affected… but what do YOU do when you’re seriously effed-with at work? Do you just lay there and take it? How manly of you.” –A-Dude.

    You are terribly off base in attacking me in such an odd way. If someone “seriously effed” with me at work, I would summon my argument, confront that individual in a loud, authoritative voice in full view of as many people as possible and let them know the score.

    Kinda like right now.

    Comment by CrewGuy — November 7, 2007 @ 10:34 pm

  198. I am another crew person affected by all this greed. the greed is clearly on both sides. As of friday our show goes down. I am a single mother of to pre teenage boys. I feel for every IATSE member who has no controll over this pissing contest. All this just in time for Christmas. All this just after over 2,000 people lost homes due to the fires, Gas is over $100 a barrel and if any of you watch the stock market it just plummeted over 300 points last week. Then there is the housing market. HELLO PEOPLE!!! The real estate market is an example of what happened when everyone got greedy. The bottom fell out of the basket. Thousands of people are losing there jobs because of both sides of this Strike. A strike where no one is even negotiating. As long as no one is trying to work this thing out then we should continue working on our shows. I have not heard the mention yet that most of the writers on my show are all Producers. So how does one strike against oneself? Everyone is double dipping. Just fricken put all this BS aside for now and let all the shows keep running at least to the end of the season. We work long hours in the heat of summer, cold of winter and rain & snow, mud , and crapy locations to bring what you all write to life. If we didnt it would just stay on paper and you would not make the money you make. Appologies to those who dont make much. Its a chosen career just like the ones us IATSE members chose. We go to work and we know we dont get residuals and we will never make what you WGA and producers make. Most of us do it because we love our craft and we are loyal. It sucks that we are the most affected by the strike and no one seems to give a shit.

    Comment by crewgal — November 8, 2007 @ 12:06 am

  199. A-Dude writes:
    “The animated eps I’ve written pay my writing partner and me, on average, $1,000 each, after agent, dues and taxes. There’s the ugly truth. Around $1,500 each before taxes… fixed, final, forever, no residuals, no health care. My son lost his health coverage the year I started writing for Disney. The average studio PROFIT from a single popular animated episode over its “useful life”? Between $7 million and $12 million. That’s per episode, says WGA financial analyst Chuck Slocum.

    For each of those eps, I and my fellow scribes have to sign a contractual clause - common to all U.S. TV, unknown in the rest of the creative world - that calls the studio the “legal author, in all known or hereafter invented media, throughout the universe.””

    A-Dude, why are you not negotiating a better deal for your services, if you in fact have a proven track record of success? If your writing is making that kind of money, you don’t need a union to fight for you, you are able to negociate your next deal on better terms. Why do the writers feel that this needs to be set across the board, for everyone regardless of proven talent? And by the way, you don’t HAVE to sign any contract you’re not comfortable with. You might not work for that particular studio, however if they can’t get someone to agree to their terms then they will be forced to change them. That’s how the free market works, with unions we get strikes and lost wages and us vs them and all that other crap. Seriously dude, if you can show where eps you’ve written are making $7-12M, you’d have no problem scoring much more than $1500.

    Comment by RealityCheck — November 8, 2007 @ 1:29 pm

  200. RealityCheck-

    You’re in need of a reality check yourself. Few things are lamer then when someone (obviously not in the TV/movie business) simply applies generic free market principles and business concepts to being a writer in entertainment. This isn’t like selling cars or soda. I go on and show you point by point, but it would bore everyone here and I’m not sure you would even get it, as your post indicates you have a mighty long way to go to “getting it.”

    And BTW, the whole point of the union is to protect the nominal, “average” writer, the one whose value isn’t obvious. The point is that a union is better for 90% of the writers out there than a every-man-for-himself universe that you mistakenly think works out so great. Get a clue, please.

    Comment by PG — November 8, 2007 @ 2:32 pm

  201. Dear The King of All Word,

    Actually, that writers are replaceable is not only not news, it’s the motive behind the strike: maximizing compensation since most writers know they will be and are replaced constantly. Since you know this, too, and since your writing includes so many wowie-zowie quotation marks, cliches and general bitching, you are well-qualified to work in entertainment writing. Give it a shot. But don’t ask to be paid very much. It wouldn’t be fair and might make you look egotistical.

    CM

    ps — “caustic individualism” is a great phrase. Deleting it will certainly be the first note you get from a producer.

    Comment by CM — November 8, 2007 @ 6:59 pm

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