Monday, December 17, 2007

Strike Day 43 - and the big Guild Get-Together...

Well, stop the presses -- THE THIN RED LINE of WGA solidarity remains INTACT!!!!

Yes, pretty good news from what appeared to be the pretty well-attended Guild Meeting in Santa Monica earlier tonight.

Both myself and one of the friends I sat with were pleasantly surprised by the relative lack of bitching, moaning, complaining, second-guessing, etc., etc. Which is not to say that no one poked or prodded or asked probing questions -- people did, as they should have.

But -- and personally I see this as INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT -- no one seemed to be buying the AMPTP's spun version of the recent negotiations breakdown, which laid all the blame on our "radical" leaders and their obsession with unionizing Reality TV and Animation.

One highlight was Sean Ryan -- of "The Shield" and "The Unit" fame -- saying he was personally offended when the AMPTP emerged from the negotiations collapse and branded Patric Verrone and David Young as being "crazy." Ryan said he took offense at not being included, not being seen as important enough to be called "CRAZY" himself. He elaborated and his point was that the WGA Negotiating Committee includes some of the most successful TV and movie writers on earth, whose "products" (to borrow economic terminology from the other side) have earned the companies which make up the AMPTP billions of dollars. It's a good point. Even if Verrone and Young were crazy and out to fight some extremist, anti-conglomerate, pro-labor crusade... would Carol Mendelsohn from CSI and Neal Baer from Law & Order SVU and Sean Ryan himself and Ron Bass and all the other writers up there... would they all be going along for the ride? Well, I'll admit, maybe Steve Gaghan would -- BUT NOT THE ENTIRE NEGOTIATING COMMITTEE!!!!


Some will say the future is not yet here, so why fight so hard for something the details of which will most likely change profoundly before three years run out and the next deal has to be made. Well, for me the simple answer to that one is: THE FUTURE IS NOW. We know for a fact that viewership is migrating to the computer, so we have to get a fair deal now. If we wait it will be too late. Once the companies -- who have tighter control over the digital distribution systems than they do over traditional TV, even now, with all the vertical-integration -- get rolling they will not be turned back. If there's one thing to take from the home-video profit-sharing debacle of the past, that's it. It means nothing if we can show them factual proof that they are making billions of dollars hand-over-foot without spending anywhere near the 80% manufacturing and distribution costs which we gave them a pass on back in 1985. It means nothing. They will NEVER GIVE US BACK THAT MONEY. If we give up a fair percentage of residuals from the net now, we will not get them back later.

Learn from history in order to avoid repeating it.

The early part of the strike day was on the picket line at Warner Bros. The big highlight for me today was when a family on their way to take the VIP Tour stopped to talk. It turned out they were visiting with their son, who's a Marine at Camp Pendleton -- and who will be shipping out to Iraq in February. It turned out the mom -- who had been in the Air Force -- and the son were both big fans of the TV show "SLEEPER CELL," which I created and ran with my partner. The Marine had only missed one episode. I told him I would send him a copy of the entire show on DVD. He didn't know his PO Box mailing address at Pendleton, so his mom gave me her address back home. I'll try to ship the DVDs out before the end of the week.

After talking with me and another striking writer, the family took the tour. They cheered us from the stretch golf cart on the way into the studio lot.

The mom who was in the Air Force comes from a military family, her dad was Air Force too. She and her son traded some inter-service put-downs, which for me at least was a new twist on the whole "inter-service rivalry" thing. Turned out she had something of a tradition with the USMC as well. Three men from her family had served in the Marines. All three were killed in action. Her son said he is hoping to break that particular family tradition. I hope and pray he succeeds.

Truth is that mom, her son and the rest of their family have much more serious challenges to face than anyone on the WGA picket lines, whether they're about to lose a house, or a car... or even a marriage. Just one man's opinion.

Strike goes on.


VDOVault said...

Just wanted to drop you a comment thanking you on behalf of another military family (my father is a retired Army colonel with 2 tours of duty in Vietnam to his credit and I grew up as an Army brat).

It was very kind of you to make sure that the young Marine got to see all of his Sleeper Cell episodes. I don't know how much TV & film writers know about military life overseas (regardless of whether there is a war on or not) but Americans and their families stationed outside the USA cherish every chance they get to enjoy a taste of 'home', especially TV shows and movies. Having lived overseas for a few years I can tell you how much even we military kids prized being able to see an American movie on post or watching Armed Forces Network (and this was back in the 70s).

Today you would not believe how important it is to young soldiers to have DVD players and movies and TV shows on DVD (especially when they are in combat assignments)...they are outstanding morale boosters.

Kudos to you for your small but much appreciated kindness.
S.E. Olson
Moderator and Law & Order Criminal Intent Fan Liason

Brooklyn scribe said...


Wow, thanks for your kind words!

I happened to be scanning some stuff on my old blog pages and stumbled across them. Wish I had read it when you first put it up but I'm glad I got to read it now.