Thursday, December 13, 2007


Good evening Mr. and Mrs. America and All The Ships At Sea...

Well, I guess I'm dating myself, though I'm not even close to that old.

I'm a WGA member who has been on strike for the past 38 days and just posted a reply on someone else's BLOG regarding the strike and decided I need to start one of my own, for better or worse.

I guess the real reason for doing this is the frustration I feel reading the major news sources' ongoing coverage of the strike since it began, with particular emphasis on this past week, starting with the AMPTP's press release last Friday, in which they referred to the WGA leadership as "radicals" on an ideological mission to change the way Hollywood works.  They also explained how the real roadblock to an agreement is the WGA leadership's absolute focus on bringing Reality TV and Animation writers into our Guild, and how they -- the AMPTP -- are more than ready to come to a reasonable agreement regarding that other little thing called a FAIR SYSTEM FOR INTERNET DOWNLOAD AND STREAMING RESIDUALS.

I mean... give me a f*#@ing break, dudes.  Nonsense.   Pure and utter nonsense.

And yet... for the past week I have found it repeated not as ONE SIDE'S VERSION OF EVENTS but as hard fact, in the Hollywood trade papers (I know, I know, they owe their entire existence to the companies, what should we expect) and even the REAL papers, like the New York Times.

I think it's pretty obvious who the target audience for this drivel is: US.

I don't mean the United States, I mean the membership of the WGA.

They simply want us to eat ourselves alive -- the way the WGA pretty much ate itself alive in 1981, 1985 and 1988.  Of course, as all members of the WGA know all too well, the price of all that eighties cannibalism was being screwed out of meaningful profit participation in CABLE TV and HOME VIDEO -- first VHS, then DVDs.

It's a familiar bit of pop-wisdom when people criticize military leaders for "PREPARING TO FIGHT THE LAST WAR"  Well, I think the AMPTP prepared and currently is fighting the last strike.  They expect that by filling the media with attacks on our leadership and negotiators they will create serious cracks in the relatively impressive solidarity our membership has been showing in support of this strike.

By now most of us know this is the case and I admit it should be pretty damn obvious to anyone with half a brain paying any attention -- but still, it needs to be addressed.  I know many of us -- including our leaders -- are working hard to address it, but I guess I feel like making myself into one more finger in the dyke of WGA solidarity, struggling to hold the ocean of potential infighting, recrimination and defeat at bay for as long as humanly possible.

So, I say again -- to any and all of my fellow WGA members and any other interested parties, please, please, PLEASE:


No one in the WGA leadership or negotiating committee is putting reality TV and animation ahead of internet residuals.  No one in the WGA leadership or negotiating committee is trying to "change the way Hollywood does business" or serve an "ideological agenda" -- unless you count gaining a minimally fair share of profit participation on future digitally-streamed and digitally-downloaded profits an "ideology."  Personally, I would say the ideology it falls squarely under would be Capitalism.

By the way, I am a proud Capitalist.  So proud in fact that on a few occasions while walking the picket lines in the early days of the strike -- when chanting was pretty much non-stop -- I refused to join in chants of: "Hey-hey, ho-ho -- corporate greed has got to go!"  I don't think corporate greed has got to go.  I firmly support corporate greed -- with special emphasis on the greed of my own personal corporation.  My problem is not with corporate greed.  My problem is with OUTLANDISH GREED.  Greed that knows no bounds whatsoever.  Robber Baron greed of the sort which Teddy Roosevelt stepped in to temper with Federal anti-trust laws.  Unfortunately this is the type of greed we appear to be dealing with in our current situation.

Politically I am pretty conservative.  That's why I chose the name WGA "StrikeHawk" for this blog.  I've given the maximum donation to John McCaine's current presidential campaign as well as his run back in 2000.  The idea that I would be out walking a picket line in support of "radicals" serving some unspecified leftist "ideological agenda" is not only ridiculous, it's personally insulting.  I'd be willing to bet that I've voted for more Republicans than all the Network and Studio executives I've done business with over the past 2 decades put together.  The idea that this strike was born out of politics as opposed to economics is simply absurd.

And that's another thing -- the executives.  Those guys and girls from the other side -- the ones who actually deal with us (us being we writers, writer-producers and writer-directors) -- the ones I know and talk to, from the moment the strike began, they all thought we were right.  But a funny thing happened this week.  Those men and women from the other side -- the creative and business affairs executives at the studios and networks -- the ones I still talk to from time to time, sometimes when they stop to chat at the picket line, sometimes on the phone... all started to change their minds, thanks to the spin efforts of the AMPTP and their hired communication guns.

Those executives started to believe that we were the ones responsible for deadlocking negotiations -- even though it was the other side that walked out, not once but twice.

Those executives started to believe that what our negotiators are really after is Reality TV and animation, as opposed to our fair share of new media generated profits.

And the thing is... one of the executives I know who started to believe that IS MARRIED TO A WGA WRITER!

This has me thinking that even some of us may be starting to believe this drivel as well.

If it's you -- PLEASE STOP!!!  Wake up and smell the disinformation.

Every negotiation includes two agendas -- two lists of "demands."  The two sides trade stuff away back and forth in an ongoing effort to keep hold of what matters most to them.

No WGA leader has said we won't negotiate about ANYTHING.  If the AMPTP come back and sit down, chances are they will get most if not near all that they want -- so long as we get to walk away with the one or two things that REALLY MATTER to us.  But they won't do that.  Why not...?

Because they still believe that by stoking the fires of dissension in our ranks we will eat ourselves alive one more time -- thereby saving them the trouble of having to share equitably in the internet distribution profits of the future.

I'm not asking for blind obedience or lock-step herding -- I'm just asking that you keep focused on real news -- real developments and the real situation, as opposed to the partisan VERSION of events the other side wants us all to be focused on, or -- more accurately -- distracted by.

That's it from me for now.

See you on the picket lines Monday...


Triple7 said...

Thanks for the link -- your post is right on the money.

I think an unfortunate confluence of events gave the AMPTP's claims some credibility. In hindsight, the timing of the rally at Fremantle Media was a mistake. I would make the argument that the rally itself was a mistake, but it's really the only disagreement I've had with the leadership.

What the AMPTP uses to its advantage is this, I believe: when we're at the table with them, everyone (writers and execs) gets their hopes up for a deal. The AMPTP ends the talks, we are disappointed and emotionally vulnerable and start looking for someone to blame. They know this and exploit it with disinformation.

Which is...evil. I don't know if there's another word for it. Anyway, I think I just did a worse job of restating what you already wrote.

Brooklyn scribe said...

Hey triple7,

Glad you liked my freshman blog effort.

I'm also with you about the timing of the Freemantle rally. I do think it was an "unfortunate confluence of events" rather than a design on the part of our leadership. Last night I was watching local ABC channel 7 news at 11:00pm and they did a report on the strike and had extended interview segments with a spokesman from the AMPTP. When the report was all done the anchor said they had contacted the WGA to find someone from our side to interview but that no one had been available.

I don't know if it's just Disney/ABC manipulating the news for their own vertically-integrated "evil" self-interest or -- more likely -- our leadership dropping the ball. We have literally hundreds of members who could have done a decent job of giving a human face to our side and sticking to the key points of our argument. But the reality is -- In every game that lasts more than a few minutes -- balls get dropped. We have to be ready to accept that kind of thing, stick with the program and move on. I'm not saying we shouldn't point out the problems and try to correct them for the future -- of course we should -- but we shouldn't allow that sort of tactical error to influence our strategic goal.

See you on Monday... (if you walk at Warner Bros.)