It's Day 87 of the Writers Guild Strike. Informal meetings are taking place between the WGA and the AMPTP...that will hopefully lead to official meetings. (Doesn't it seem like there should be more effective means of conducting business than meeting to prepare to meet?) The Directors Guild recently cut a deal with the AMPTP, and many hope the WGA will follow suit. Others don't feel the DGA deal is reasonable. National Screen Actors Guild Executive Director Doug Allen and SAG President Alan Rosenberg just sent an e-mail to members of SAG criticizing the DGA deal, and claiming they would not accept similar proposals. Then DGA President Michael Apted criticized SAG for their criticisms. Scripted television production in Los Angeles has officially stopped. Everyone seems to want an end to this madness in time for the Academy Awards, but tensions seem to be just as high as they ever were.
The strike has brought about a lot of interesting and insightful comments from Cinematical readers. As I've mentioned before, the comments we get here at the site range from "UR gay!" to thought-provoking discussion. We read 'em all, and appreciate (most of) them greatly. I thought this might be a good time to highlight some recent strike talk from our readers, and to encourage even more. Whether I agree with all of these opinions or not, it's great to see an important issue like this being discussed.
span style="FONT-WEIGHT: bold">Byl Butler said...
Patrick, to preface this comment, I'd like to say that I am 100% in favor of the writers viewpoint.
However, I am wondering if there is a contractual agreement that states that the studios cannot hire new writers in lieu of the strikers. I don't condone this, but it seems to me that there are a lot of aspiring writers out here who would jump at the chance to get hired, barring ill feelings via "that's show business", realizing that this is an opportunity for oneself. Again, I emphasize that I am not so callous to suggest such a thing. Just merely wondering why this does not happen. Thanks Mr. Walsh, peace BB
Great question, and I'm sure a lot of new writers are trying to do just that. "I'm not in the Writers Guild, what the hell do I care? A job's a job!" The trouble is, the WGA would officially ban anyone who did so from ever joining the Guild. It's happened before, and it will happen as a result of this strike, mark my words. On top of that, if you were to cross a picket line, you'd be wildly unpopular amongst your peers. You'd have a really rough time getting work post-strike. It does happen though, it's probably quietly happening now, and it never does anyone any favors. There's a reason they picked such an ugly word for those who cross picket lines -- "scab."
p.s. Mr. Walsh, Now that you mention it, I can hardly name two screen/teleplay writers. I even stay for the credit crawls and read the posters credits. But it seems that the screenwriter's names are somewhat lost in the mix of other credits that only support what the screenwriter has produced for all to enjoy. Are the moguls that hungry for lettuce? Creative encounters are what the movies are made of, only creative minds are able to produce these stories. I say let the viewers unite and boycott any re-runs on TV, and any movies that open at the beginning of 2008. Since cable rates are increasing at the beginning of the year and gas prices staying at a record high, this could be a win-win situation. And yes, I know the old adage that in hard times, it is entertainment that keeps us afloat, but times, they are a changing.
Two weeks ago in this column, I reported a controversial statement by WGA West President Patric Verrone regarding the interim agreement granted to the NAACP Image Awards. Verrone said, "Because of the historic role the NAACP has played in struggles like ours, we think this decision is appropriate to jointly achieve our goals."
Commenter seraphlux asked...
Did the WGA compare their strike to the Civil Rights movement in that statement?
I hope it's not official, because otherwise...God...
Yes, they said the writer's strike was similar to heroic struggles such as the freedom from being hanged, raped, beaten and traded. Yup, they went there. And I replied to a post by Kim Voynar a week or so ago, that this had devolved into an ego trip on both sides. But I was wrong. The writers are pulling out in front of the studios in hubris AND ego. Every time some studio signs an agreement with them, no matter how small the studio, they bang their pots and pans for all to hear. The information I get about the strike is 90% from the writers angle, and 10% from the studios. Yet to hear the press tell it, we never get any writer's strike news. Oh really? Drudge has something on it nearly every day, as does Reuters and Breitbart.
I'll go one step further: I hope this drags out for another year or so. There's two reasons I use my TV: the last season of The Wire, and Wii. Oh, and football. I guess that's three but whatever. Since TV has become irrelevant, I've gone back to going to the gym and walking the dog. Thanks WGA. You've given me the desire to better myself that I thought was lost forever.
I must admit, despite my full support of the strike, I found the Verrone statement pretty unfortunate and insensitive. Writers earning fair wages is most certainly not comparable to the Civil Rights movement. But keep in mind, that's one man speaking, not the WGA as a whole. As for the public turning away from television, it's a valid concern. Being separated from their favorite shows might just make people lose interest altogether. A lot of friends have remarked that not being tied down to television shows has "given them their lives back." Pretty scary. Oh, and The Wire is awesome. If ever there was an argument for why we need writers, it's that show.
Chris Vaughn asks...
Didn't one of the major studios or networks sue YouTube for having their content illegally for millions? That says Internet content IS worth something. Yet they claim the internet is too young or the methods are too young.
The net is over a decade old, and the methods are over 5. How much more time do the suits need?!
Yup. Fox sued YouTube over leaked Fox programs. Viacom sued YouTube for a billion dollars. NBC made demands for YouTube to take down Saturday Night Live clips and eventually joined Viacom's battle. I don't think many could argue that the networks and studios know full well that there is loads of money to be made from the net, regardless of how they spin it.
How about you? What are your thoughts on this whole affair? Are you rooting for the writers? Are you losing patience? Don't care as long as you get some new episodes of 30 Rock, and fast? Please share in the comments or at my personal site.