Thursday, February 21, 2008

E-Day (end of Strike day) +8

Keep driving through Gate 5 on Avon at Warner Bros. and looking for picketers but just ending up in my office.

It's getting late and I need to be up early tomorrow but wanted to mention it looks like we may have some good news on one of our pilots.

Will be back to keep you updated -- and give my strike wrap-up -- soon...


Monday, February 18, 2008

E-Day (end of Strike day) +5

Hello to anyone still reading out there!

It appears this blog still has some traffic so I feel compelled to file a report from South Beach Miami, Florida, where my family and I spent this past President's Day weekend attending the 50th birthday party of a dear old friend from Brooklyn.

My partner and I are in the midst of working like crazy to finish up one of our two pilots and so far things are going pretty well. We'll turn it into Warner Bros. TV early this week and see what they have to say. Hopefully not much, otherwise I doubt it it will get to the network in time to remain in serious contention.

I have some more pics to load and one or two more thoughts about the upcoming contract vote, so I won't say "Goodbye forever!" quite yet.

The beach in Miami was fantastic, with soft sand and warm water -- and then there's the tale of the "Coral Castle" which we managed to visit yesterday and qualifies as a worthy tourist destination.

After we're back I will follow-thru on these morsels.

Until then, I bid a fond farewell!

-- and Devon -- if you stop by this blog, LEAVE ME AN ACCURATE E-MAIL ADDRESS so I can get in touch with you.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Strike Day 100 - Strike Ends

Well, I voted my conscience but more rational minds prevailed, so it's back to the office tomorrow for my partner and myself.

It will be a mad dash for those of us still alive in this current bastard pilot season and we shall see if we manage to make it to the the finish line at the CW and/or CBS.

I really wanted to animate Savonarola so that Variety burst into flame in his hand but tonight I had to settle for a still image. Oh, well -- tomorrow is another day!

There were about a hundred writers lined up outside the Guild building when I showed up just before 2:00pm today. The timing on my part was a fluke -- I drove a school trip, taking my son's 5th Grade class to the Los Angeles Science Center, next door to USC and the LA Coliseum. It was like deja vu, since I'd just been there at The Shrine for the big Guild meeting a few nights ago.

People are happy to be going back to work, which is great. The rest of the city is happy to see the industry gearing back up to spend money as usual -- or at least much closer to it -- which is also good.

The Guild leadership has declared victory and I think in fact they are correct. We did indeed achieve victory. It seems as if -- in the aftermath of the "Hundred Days" -- Nick Counter may be in line for a ticket to St. Helena after all. I still don't believe for a moment that he is the reason for the strike, that the real powers that be in charge of the big conglomerates didn't tell him exactly what they wanted him to do every step of the way. But that doesn't really matter. He's the fall guy. It will be interesting to see if the companies use him to speak for them when talks finally begin between them and SAG.

My last word on the strike is... I think we writers should be proud of ourselves.

For the most part we stuck together for much longer than anyone would have expected or predicted. For the most part we kept our dissatisfactions to ourselves in order to present a united front to the opposition.

I have to check a list of the writers making up the so-called "Dirty Thirty" -- who are now said to have pressured our leadership to take the DGA deal or face public rebuke and division within the Guild -- to see if I know any of them personally. The thing I find funny is that it was -- as people were saying out on the picket lines -- some of the most financially successful among us who were the most desperate to get back to their jobs with no regard for whether or not that would be the best thing for the Guild as a whole. I understand having to cover a large nut on a monthly basis but that's still no excuse for being a selfish scumbag -- in my humble opinion.

My big question now is whether or not I'll vote for Patric Verrone and his "Writers United" brethren when they all run again in our next election. Their very name offends me -- "Writers United." I mean, it would be great if it had something to do with writers going up against directors or actors or composers or producers or something like that -- but they were and will be running for office in competition with OTHER WRITERS! So how can they lay claim to a party name such as "Writers United" when one of the key purposes of their party is to overcome/defeat various other writers running for the same offices?

Maybe I'm just a stickler for words. But it does sound super cool, yes indeed.

Anyway, despite my dislike for their trappings and sound-bytes, they did a good job preparing for and organizing the strike and the negotiating committee they put together did a very good job trying to avert it and then trying to get the best deal possible out of it. I still believe that taking a very different approach to the negotiations two years ago might well have led to a similar deal without requiring the 3 month strike -- but that's all water under the bridge now. There is a strong argument to be made that reelecting our present leaders would be the best thing to do, simply because the companies will be forced to sit down across from them once again, with the memory of our recently concluded unpleasantness never far from their minds. If Verrone and company speak softly and carry the big strike stick, we may be in good shape for the next round of negotiations.

Enjoy being back at work and enjoy not having to walk the picket line and -- if you are one -- enjoy being a writer.

...and count your blessings!

I know I will.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Strike Day 99 (24 A.D.) - 1 day after the strike died

Well, for all intents and purposes, the strike has ended.

But how will I vote on ending it...?

To be honest, a big part of me feels like ending this strike now, for this deal, is the wrong thing to do. When will we find ourselves in a position to get what we want again? If we hold out until July 1st hits and SAG goes out on strike... how much better could our contract become? Personally, I think it would become significantly better.

At the same time, the other part of me -- the part that never wanted to go on strike, the part that did not vote in favor of authorizing the strike -- says this contract is good enough. In fact it says any contract would be good enough.

I walked into the big meeting last night expecting not to get out of there until well after midnight -- but in fact, a large segment of the membership in the audience started to leave after about the first hour-and-and-a-half (maybe around 9:00pm) and the very last question was asked some time around 10:30 -- making for a grand total of about a three-hour long confab.

By the time it ended, it seemed like there were more people on stage belonging to the Executive Board and Negotiating Committee than there were simple guild members in the audience.

And as far as the meeting itself goes, the questions were not what I had been expecting -- which was much more rigorous and intense debate.


I think there were two reasons.

Reason number one was the general way they kicked things off, with Patric Verrone waiting in the wings to make a somewhat dramatic entrance, which began a tremendous standing ovation. That was followed by more ovations, for our Strike Captains and for our only real ally in this fight, the Screen Actors Guild.

There was a great deal of mutual backslapping and congratulations and good-wishes. As I've seen it described elsewhere, it was indeed pretty much a love-fest.

Then, to top off all the positive energy, our president said that the Board had decided to call for a vote on whether or not to end the strike, using the "48 hours" provision in our bylaws.

This was clarified as meaning the entire membership would indeed be given the opportunity to vote on ending the strike, with voting to be held on Tuesday -- 48 hours after we had all been advised it was coming -- and, assuming the vote was in favor of ending the strike, all of us returning to work on Wednesday. It received a tremendous ovation as well, and to my mind, that cinched it.

That was reason number two.

A lot of people, myself included, were very uncomfortable with the idea of us all returning to work immediately because that was what our leaders had basically promised the other side we would do. It's not that we didn't want to return to work -- it's just that after walking on picket lines for more than ninety days, we felt we deserved the chance to meaningfully participate in in that all-important decision.

Using the 48-hour vote rule makes it possible for work to restart nearly instantly, while enabling the membership to avoid feeling disenfranchised in the process. You have to give our leaders credit for choosing this path to the finish line.

Then John Bowman, our chief negotiator, and David Young, our top union professional, went over the deal point by point.

After that, a lot of people started to leave.

I think the one thing that might have led to a substantial fight on the floor of The Shrine last night was the idea that we were going to be ordered to go back to work.

When that disappeared in the opening remarks of the evening... the chances of any sustained debate or argument disappeared with it.

There was really only one confrontational, argumentative question -- and I unfortunately was not able to really listen, either to it or the answer it received from the stage, because at the time I was being led by "SECURITY" to the back of the auditorium...

I had spotted a writer -- and now producer -- who did amazing work on both seasons of Sleeper Cell, got out of my seat and walked over to say hi and talk to him. While doing so I was intercepted by someone from the Guild staff, who saw that I had an iPhone clutched in my hand and asked if I had used it to take any pictures. I was honest and said "Yes," and then they escorted me to the area at the center-rear of the auditorium, where the people running the production of the evening were situated. By now we had been joined by several of those giant guys with shaved heads and suits and ties. They said something to a woman who I assume was in charge and she looked at me and said something like: "You're breaking the rules. Didn't you hear what Patric said?"

For those of you reading this who weren't there, she was referring to the fact that our President had been informed duirng the meeting that someone in the building was "Live Blogging" the event and had made an announcement asking for whoever was doing it to cease and desist (needless to say, it was not me).

I said something like: "Yeah, I heard what Patric said. I'm not 'blogging' the meeting -- I'm not sending pictures to anyone, I'm taking pictures, the same way I took them at all our other meetings."

I asked her what rules she was talking about -- and said I never saw a sign anywhere at this or any of the other guild meetings that said we couldn't take pictures. She said there were signs outside that said no press allowed.

You can probably guess my reply to that, which was to simply point out that I wasn't a member of the press, I was a member of the guild. At that point she kind of shook her head/shrugged and said something to the gathered security people like: "it's all right, let him go."

But at some point during my discussion with her, one of the security guys had started asking me about my phone. I already had it out in my hand and I had used it as a prop when I told the woman in charge that I hadn't blogged or sent any pictures -- I had held it out towards her and asked her if she wanted to check and make sure. Then when she was done, the security guy in charge -- the one who had first come to get me and the only one who wasn't at least 6'2" with a shaved head and a dark suit, white shirt and tie -- asked me how to turn off my phone...

It's funny but at that moment I didn't pay any attention to the context of the question, for some reason I just latched onto the simple logistics of it, held up the phone, pushed the POWER button and slid the arrow across the screen, turning it off.

After that, the guy in charge said I could go back to my seat.

At that point the context suddenly returned to my mind and I realized what I had just done. Without intending to I had conveyed to these security guys the idea that I was acquiescing in their efforts to keep me from taking any more pictures of the meeting.

That had not been my intent when I switched off my phone. All I was thinking about was answering the guy's isolated question -- showing him to turn off my iPhone.

So, instead of returning to my seat I asked the security boss very matter-of-factly: "What happens if I return to my seat, switch the power back on and take more pictures?"

I swear I was not trying in any way to be a smart-ass and I didn't say it in a particularly smart-assy way.

It was at this point that biggest of all the shaven head and suited security guys -- who was at least 6'2" and 200lbs. and who had seemed quite unhappy with my presence from the moment I had entered his peripheral vision and my voice had entered his hearing range -- said something to the effect of:

"Then I go get you and throw you out of the building."

Hahahahahaha... yes, it was going to be that kind of conversation -- or whatever else it might become.

Now, this remark put me in an interesting position, because what I really wanted to do was turn around and go back to my seat so I could hear what was being said by the questioner and our leaders response(s) -- but I couldn't just walk away.

So I said something like: "Oh, really? Why would you be doing that?"

And he said something like: "To enforce the rules."

And I said something like: "But there is no rule against me taking pictures in here, I'm not the press, I'm just a member of the union."

And one of the security guys, maybe it was him but I don't really think so, said something like: "The guild is taking pictures. You can ask for copies."

And I said something like: "So if you visit Paris and go to see the Eiffel Tower, you won't take any pictures of you and/or whoever you're traveling with -- you'll just buy postcards instead? I'm a member of the guild and I want to take some pictures to help me remember tonight and I'm doing anything with them that I'm not supposed to -- I would never do that."

Then the biggest, most pissed-off Security guy said something to me and I replied by asking something like: "What did I do to annoy you so much?"

And he said something like: ""I'm not annoyed. You have a wonderful evening, sir."

To which I replied: "I've been on strike for three months, do you really think I'm going to have wonderful evening?"

To which he smiled and replied: "I know, and I've been helping you for three months -- helping enforce the rules and protect you guys."

To which I replied by bowing in deference to him and holding out my hand for him to shake and saying: "Thank you so very much for all you've done for us."

Well, he shook my hand and then I left, with my phone in my other hand. By the time I got back to where my partner and that wonderful writer who had worked both seasons of Sleeper Cell were now sitting together, the argumentative questioner at one of the microphones was wrapping up his even more argumentative follow-up, turning and storming off, while our president was saying something to the effect of: "Well, you can take care of that for the next contract, after you've become president" -- which struck me as not being a particularly nice thing to say -- but of course I had been kind of busy for all that had preceded that final zinger, so maybe the argumentative questioner really deserved all of Patric Verone's dismissive contempt, as much or even more than I had deserved the dismissive contempt of the giant security guy.

Anyhow, for a moment or two there, Strike Hawk came mighty close to having his wings clipped -- but in the end no blood was spilled. Believe me, I know most if not all of it would have been my own, so avoiding that was a very good thing indeed.

At one point the entire gathering of shaven and suited giants had tried without success to spot my red wrist-band -- until I realized what they were doing and rolled up my right sleeve. Then it turned out that I was apparently supposed to have my red wrist-band on my left wrist rather than my right one. I told them the woman at the table in the lobby hadn't specified which arm I was supposed to hold out for her, so as a life-long conservative I naturally held out my right arm -- but if she had explained and asked me to replace it with my left, I would have done so at once.

I don't think that really helped my cause with the security guys, but oh well -- we all are who we are, aren't we?

Anyhow, getting back to the matter at hand, there is one more thing I really want to say about last night's meeting.

It happened after almost everyone had left the building and I was sitting alone with that excellent writer-producer (he actually earned his producer credit on the second season of the show and he really lived up to it) who me spotting and getting up out of my original seat to go and see had earlier led to my "encounter" with the security people.

One of the very last questions of the night -- probably asked some time around 10:00pm or so -- really hit me. It actually wasn't a question so much as a comment.

The commenter introduced himself as a writer who had come to town several years ago to work on the producing end of the business but who had found his way to writing and earned his way into the guild. He said he didn't have a lot of money, probably a lot less than most of the other people in the building, but that when the strike was called he went out and did what he was supposed to do.

Earlier in the evening it had been said by our leadership that the point at which we had finally been able to make a deal with the other side was a point located at the edge of a cliff -- a cliff that presented itself simultaneously to both sides. If we went over the cliff, the Oscars, the last vestige of the 2007-08 television season, all of the 2008 TV pilot season and any further feature film production after mid-March would all have been wiped out. That would have hit the companies hard -- but it would of course have hit our membership hard as well at the very same time.

Anyway, the commenter basically said:

"I know some people wanted you to go over that cliff and I just want to say thank you for not doing it. Thank you for not going over that cliff. Because if you had, that would've been the end for me. I would've had to pack up and move back to where I came from and I would have given up the dream I've had since I was sixteen."

The truth is I kind of am one of the people who kind of wanted them to go over the cliff. I feel like we had reached a point where we had more chance of getting more of what we wanted than we have had for more than two decades and I feel like if they weren't prepared to take this strike all the way to July 1st -- when SAG's contract runs out -- and possibly even beyond, then they never should have called for it in the first place.

But... what that guy had to say really got to me.

In the real world there are always moments when you have to decide when enough is enough -- decide how far is too far -- how much is too much.

Whether it's drink, drugs, sex, work, play, prayer, cynicism, optimism, charity, greed, hate, love -- or strike.

I still don't know for sure how I'm going to vote on Tuesday.

Deep down I believe that if the leadership had conducted itself from day one of its tenure in a very different way -- if they hadn't started out by throwing stones every single day at the companies they knew they would have to negotiate a new contract with during their time in office, if they had not waged a profoundly ineffectual campaign -- including arguably the worst-resulting strike in guild history -- to unionize "America's Next Top Model," if they had not refused to sit down and talk with the companies months and months and months ago, if they had not continually broadcast their fervent desire to extend our guild's jurisdiction in the worlds of animation and reality TV and establish the right to stage sympathy strikes...

Well, the truth is, I believe if they hadn't done any of that, they probably would have gotten a deal very similar to the one we have now.

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe if they had gone in and acted more calm and less fervently, the other side would have tried to screw us just as bad as they did.

But I think we all can agree that in life every action we take has consequences of some kind. Throwing rocks at the companies from day one had consequences.

I take my hat off to our leadership for the way they prepared and organized for the strike -- they did a very, very good job.

My issue is... if you enter the forest loaded for bear and out for blood... how can you call an end to the hunt after bagging a quail?

I know there is a good strong argument from the other side of the issue. I don't dismiss it out of hand. The truth is, the best thing that can happen to my partner and me is that we go back to our office on Wednesday and return to work on our two pilots and one movie.

But the truth is it just doesn't sit well with me.

I'm happy that guy who asked the third-to-last question at the meeting didn't have to head back to Ohio or Michigan or Virginia or wherever he's from and give up his dream. I am happy about that.

But I think I will still vote not to end the strike.

Trust me, it won't matter. The strike will end -- probably with an overwhelming number of votes to do so.

I just don't think I can bring my vote to be one of them.

Strike Day 98 (23 A.D.) - the Day the Strike Died

Well, here we are, at the end of the strike road.

That is a good thing.

I have a few more things to say but it's about 1:30am and I need to take care of some last-minute preparations for my son's final Pinewood Derby race tomorrow -- nothing to do with his car, which he built nearly all by himself, but to do with calibrating all the digital scales that will be used for the official weigh-in at the big event. His birthday is this coming week and we spent today celebrating -- but then I disappeared to attend the big meeting at The Shrine. He had a couple of his best friends plus his two sisters plus my wife to go out to dinner with, so it is a very good bet he did not miss me at all.

Anyhow, I will return to blog some final thoughts -- but the truth is the proverbial Fat Lady sang tonight, and to be honest... she wasn't as off-key as I was expecting her to be. My guesstimate was that there were at least three-thousand members in attendance -- and towards the end of the meeting, Patric Verrone announced the official count was actually 3,500, which is the record for this strike and which accounts for close to fifty-percent of the entire membership of the West Coast branch of the Guild.

The bottom line our union got its foot in the door of the internet -- and now we, the membership, will get to vote on bringing the strike to an end, the same way we got to vote on authorizing it to begin with.

More on that tomorrow -- right now I have to work on the scales.

Plus I have to bury the third of four fish our kids got a few weeks ago. I'm hoping the sole survivor will maintain and extend his longevity. So far he seems healthy -- actively swimming and staying deep in the tank, rather than loitering close to the surface, which is never a good sign unless food is there.

It's funny -- I remember writing something here about how I had to miss a cub scout leaders meeting in order to attend the big Guild get-together in Santa Monica and how I had planned to explain to my fellow scout leaders that they needed to find a new home for all the Raingutter Regatta stuff that has been sitting under a tarp at the edge of my driveway for close to a year, in expectation of my son and I leaving the Pack.

Now, a couple of months later, I'm blogging about the pinewood derby.

The strike is ending but the race -- and life in general -- goes on...

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Strike Hawk Special Bonus: BONFIRE OF THE VARIETIES...

Hey out there in the strike-osphere, this is a SPECIAL BONUS I just couldn't help but bring you.

Earlier today my friend Charlie Craig posted links to a pair of Variety articles on his "My Strike Strike" blog (see link somewhere to the right!).

Now as we all know, since day one of this strike, Variety has been slamming the Writers Guild with an endless stream of so-called news articles that mostly read as if they were penned by the AMPTP press office. It's one thing when that kind of stuff comes out in an Op-Ed piece but another when it's put forward as objective, factual journalism.

Anyhow, now that our strike appears to be entering its final days -- perhaps even its final hours -- Variety has remained straight on the path it started blazing more than three months ago: a path that cuts right through the veins of every movie and TV writer in Hollywood -- except for John Ridley, John Wells and Dick Wolf.

Apparently unable to acknowledge the simple fact that our strike has forced the entertainment conglomerates to allow for profit-participation in New Media distribution -- something the companies said at the start of our strike would "destroy our industry" -- Variety chose instead to publish a pair of articles which pretty much paint the entire profession of screen and television writing as an apocalyptic wasteland, filled with struggling and soon-to-be-impoverished losers.

It's kind of like if you read a pair of articles about the North Vietnamese Army written just before their final assault on Saigon but the articles only discussed how woefully undermanned the NVA was, compared to their potential enemies in the Peoples Republic of China.

At this moment, having maintained awesome solidarity throughout a strike which has lasted for more than three months (only 1 active screenwriter and 10 daytime soap writers and 2 news writers have actually joined the "Fi-Corps") and now being poised to make historic gains in New Media -- do these surveys of the trials and tribulations facing some members of the Guild qualify as NEWSWORTHY OR IN ANY WAY TIMELY OR SIGNIFICANT?!?!?!?!

I'm no conspiracy theorist but the only reason I can see for publishing them right now would be an effort to weaken the confidence and resolve of the membership of the Writers Guild.

My reaction?

Well, I remember mentioning here when a previous Variety article really pissed me off that I was considering collecting up all the old copies of Variety I had collected throughout the years whenever my partner and I were mentioned on the cover and burning them.

Well, after reading these two articles today, now I am thinking we should do it on a somewhat grander scale, like somewhat fanatical statesman/monk of late 15th Century Florence, Girolamo Savolarona. Only instead of collecting and torching the trappings of vanity and immorality -- mirrors, make-up, lewd artwork, suggestive women's clothing, musical instruments, etc., etc. -- we should collect and set light to our very own BONFIRE OF THE VARIETIES.

It would be even better if we only contributed copies of Variety in which we ourselves appear -- thereby linking our own efforts to those of our Renaissance predecessor, since we ourselves will be torching not only Variety's propaganda masquerading as journalism but also our very own personal Vanity.

If anyone is interested in joining me for this event, let me know. I will provide Carney's hot-dogs free of charge, so that something tangibly positive comes out of the effort, in addition to the moral and ethical achievement.

So I invite you to join me for a BONFIRE OF THE VARIETIES.

And here now, for your edification, I post links to the two articles in question:

Vanity of the Varieties the first

Vanity of the Varieties the second

Friday, February 8, 2008

Strike Day 97 (22 A.D.)

There's a bunch of stuff I should be doing right now but I feel compelled to do this instead.

Right now it's Friday night, 11:16pm... and the much-heralded "deal e-mail" has yet to arrive -- at least here, at my place.

It seems like today was filled more with discussions and concerns regarding the manner in which we move forward from here to there than the actual "there" which we are now headed towards. Writers seems more obsessed over and concerned with the manner in which we are being asked/pushed/cajoled/railroaded towards this new deal than they are obsessed over or concerned with the deal itself.

But of course, we don't have the deal itself in our hands yet, do we?

No, but it is a good bet that nearly each and every one of you reading this now (not including football players in Queen, actors in Sherman Oaks and/or film & TV editors in North Hollywood) will have heard most of the pertinent "big ticket items" from your respective Strike Captains, near all of whom were present at the big captains meeting this morning-thru-afternoon. I know I have.

And I'll be the first to admit that those details leave a lot to be desired.

If the deal sounded even just a little bit better, I would be chaffing at the bit to get the red-tape out of the way and charge back to the office on Monday. After all, I pretty much live for my work, I didn't want to go on strike, as I've said here before I did not vote to go on strike (though I didn't vote against it either) and this strike hit in the midst of a rather strong run career-wise for my partner and myself.

But the phantom-deal just doesn't sound all that good.

For me personally, the toughest pill to swallow remains the 17 day/24 day "free window" for internet streaming.

As my partner puts it, that's like saying: "We'll pay you a cut of what your movie makes at the Box Office -- but we won't count the receipts for opening weekend, week one and week two."

To be honest, it's probably ten-times more difficult for me to swallow since that member of our Negotiating Committee who was visiting the picket line at Warner Bros. Gate #5 replied to my question about it by looking me in the eye, smiling and saying: "I think you're going to be happy."

WTF is up with that?

Just tell me, "Hey, man, we can't always get what we want" -- or say, "I wish I had better news for you but there are a lot of other good, solid gains in the new contract." Phrase it any way you like -- but don't flat-out fucking bullshit me. What does it gain you? What does it gain me?

I need to shake that moment out of my mind and approach things more rationally and less emotionally -- but that being said, I may waste everyone's time tomorrow night by directing a very specific question to that dude, who I presume will be up on the stage with the rest of the leadership.

It would appear this deal is going to go through.

It is being universally endorsed and its approval universally encouraged by our Executive Board and Negotiating Committee -- the same people we have been following in about as close to lock-step as is possible for ten-thousand autonomous individuals.

We followed them out onto the picket lines -- even though they dropped the universally-beloved demand for doubling the DVD profit-participation formula; we kept following them through the emotional roller-coaster ride of the Nikki Finke engendered highly-raised hopes which were dashed when the companies walked away from the negotiating table the second time, ensuring the strike would last through the Holiday Season; after the holidays we came back and kept following them as the DGA sat down with the AMPTP and came out with a deal (though no real contract, as we all know) in less than one week; then we kept following them through the to-be-expected but still traumatic professional bloodletting of "Force Majeure"; so the idea that the majority of us will not continue to follow them now -- when the opportunity to go back to work is just around the corner -- is a hard one to sell.

But that doesn't mean it's not worth trying.

My problem is... from where I'm sitting... all the reasons for rushing to approve this deal -- be it good, bad or indifferent -- are driven by the other side's agenda alone.

As I've mentioned before, my partner and I have 2 pilots that survived the "Force Majeure" shutdowns -- we also have a movie less than half-written at Universal, as well as another movie at Universal set to go into production next month -- though production may be delayed if the strike is still on.

On the one hand these could all be seen as very good reasons for me to want to end this strike this moment, no matter what the details of the new contract may be. If you roll all that stuff together we are talking millions of dollars here.

But so what?

What should the individual stakes of any individual writer or writing team mean to the WGA at this point?


The loss of pilot season is a threat to the companies.

The loss of all further feature film production come mid-March is a threat to the companies.

The loss of any further production of current 1-hour and half-hour scripted TV is a threat to the companies.

Will the exercise of these threats negatively impact various members of the WGA?

Of course they will -- the same way the strike we have been conducting for over three months has negatively impacted pretty much all of us, as well as a whole bunch of other people.

Why do these particular benchmarks of pilot season, the last vestige of current series episodes, the last vestiges of feature film production and the Oscars mean enough to call for the end of the strike -- even before anyone of us has seen a copy of the new contract?

It just hit Twelve Midnight and I went to check my e-mail... and there's nothing new. No notice from the Guild. Nada. Zippo. So maybe we won't have to worry about any of this tomorrow -- maybe the AMPTP lawyers ended up screwing themselves out of a deal. Maybe, maybe not. Maybe there is no "Midnight deadline" after all. No doubt we'll find out soon enough...

It could be argued that all those "benchmarks" will hit our collective membership in a big way -- but wasn't that to be expected...?

I can't understand preparing for two years to go out on strike and leading your union out on strike -- and not having prepped to see that strike all the way through. In the case of this strike, "all the way through" doesn't mean until the Oscars or pilot season or any of that other crap that we now seem to be in such a rush to save -- it means July 1st, when SAG will come out on strike beside us and the 70,000 actors who reside in Greater Los Angeles come join us on the picket lines.

That's the way I saw things. But it would now appear I was wrong. It would appear that for some reason or other -- perhaps because, having spent so much time up close and personal in intense negotiations with their opposite numbers from the other side -- our leaders have discovered that whatever this new contract we are about to be offered contains is the absolute be all and end all of what we will ever be capable of getting out of them.

I hope that is what's driving our leadership to drive us to accept this deal with such rushed abandon.

True, the new contract -- even in deal-point form -- does contain one profoundly great gain.

This is the gain that was given to the DGA but was in fact earned by our own shockingly effective WGA strike.

I refer of course to the establishment of a formula -- any formula -- for profit-sharing on digital delivery.

That is huge. That is the thing the other side said would "destroy our industry" before we went on strike.

Maybe I just need to concentrate on that and forget all this other stuff and then I'll be able to quietly accept going back to work on Monday, if it comes to that.

But a very big part of me just can't believe we're walking away from the strongest position the WGA has held vis-a-vis the companies in a generation, for what will basically be summed up as a modestly-improved version of the rather innocuous DGA deal.

I just have to keep reminding myself:

Innocuous but for the inclusion of the profound gain of unionized residuals for internet distribution!

Well, it's 12:30am -- and still no e-mail from the Guild.

Guess we'll see what develops tomorrow...