Thursday, January 31, 2008

Strike Day 89 (14 A.D.)

It was positively gorgeous out today. Crystal clear blue sky and crisp but not really cold temperatures. You could see all the way to the snow-covered mountaintops in the distance, at the Northeastern edge of Burbank.

On the line things were sparse, as they have been all week. Sparse but not bare. In fact, over at the Warner Bros. Main Gate #2, there was a virtual HORDE of picketers, which kind of shocked me in a happy way -- until I realized today was the weekly writing "Teach-In" -- the second one so far. Last Thursday was "Medical Drama" day and today was "Half-Hour Comedy" day. When and if they get around to scheduling a "Terrorism procedural" day, I will make a point to show up with my best lecture notes in hand.

Meanwhile, at Gate #5, things were not all that bad. First it was me and my strike buddy. But we were joined by several other regulars. After a while he had to head home for child-care reasons and it turned out the three of us who were left picketing were all Executive Producer/Showrunner types -- which was kind of funny.

A tourist in a cab stopped to ask us where she should go in order to take the Warner Bros. Tour.

It was a great set-up for a funny punch-line -- we could've told her anything but all we did was tell her and her cab-driver to make a U-turn and point out the proper spot for him to drop her off at.

Then something kind of odd happened. Close to a hundred people filed out of the Warner Bros. office building across the street from the studio, headed over and walked past us onto the lot. Each and every single one of them was carrying a copy of the same book. It was called something like: "THE POWER PHRASE - How to Mean What You Say and Get What You Want."

They filed past us while we watched quizzically. None of us had ever seen such a large group of people heading into the studio. We asked one of them what kind of event they were attending. The guy answered with one word, delivered in absolute deadpan: "Party."

I think it turned out they were all Warner Bros. employees who I guess were attending some kind of seminar.

They didn't look like Business Affairs executives, being coached on how to drive harder bargains with agents and entertainment lawyers.

It was kind of a perfect visual joke -- a hundred corporate employees entering a studio lot, marching past three screenwriters, each and every single one of those hundred employees clutching a copy of a book about how to use words to get what you want.

Today a lot of people -- regular studio people, not the seminar horde -- stopped to ask us how negotiations were proceeding. We told them all the same thing: no one knows but everyone is hoping for the best.

As the three of us kept picketing the conversation inevitably turned to our experiences running various writing staffs, for better and for worse. We traded some funny horror stories of really bad behavior by writers who had been our employees, as well as surprisingly outstanding behavior.

The truth is writers come in all shapes and sizes -- not just physically but in terms of capability, responsibility and simple decency. Some of us just plain suck. Others are incredibly talented but awful human beings. Still others are absolute social cripples. But even the God-awful worst of us is entitled to a decent share of profit-participation when stuff we write is delivered for a profit to an audience over the internet.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Probably take tomorrow off -- but I said that last week and then wound up picketing at NBC from 2:30 to 5:30pm, so you never can be sure.

If you sat at home most or all of this week, try hard to show up at NBC tomorrow -- those folks are out there five days a week and they could use all the help you can give them.

If you picketed this week, then enjoy your day off -- and enjoy Super Bowl Sunday. I have to help my son build his very last Pinewood Derby car, since he will be graduating to become a Boy Scout in March.

I remember the first thing he said to me about the strike, when it just about to begin, he said something along the lines of: "Why don't you just make your own deal with Warner Brothers so you can keep working?"

He's a very rational boy and, like most kids, he usually cuts to the heart of the matter pretty quick.

I told him that was impossible for many reasons, foremost among them being that it would be wrong to the point of moral and ethical bankruptcy.

Then, after the strike had gone on for a few weeks and after he'd seen and heard about lots of actors coming out to join us on the picket lines, including some he knew who I had worked with in the past, he said to me: "The actors should just go on strike right now, so the studios can't make any movies or TV at all."

I told him they couldn't do that because it would be illegal -- but that it was in fact a great idea which would end the strike faster than anything else could. Then I explained the term "WILDCAT strike" to him. For the next couple of weeks he would occasionally ask me: "When are actors gonna' call a Wildcat?" To which I woulld just chuckle and shake my head and say something like: 'It's not gonna' happen, son."

To be honest, thinking back on them, my 10 year-old son's questions and comments on the strike seem a lot more cogent than most of what I heard this week on the picket line regarding the current negotiations. He was using his mind to formulate what I would deem very appropriate questions or comments. Pretty much all the rumor-mongering and postulating I heard this week was driven by a seemingly desperate need to fill in the blanks.

Then there's the thought process on the journalism side, where they've been explaining how this strike is really about writers searching for more positive father-figures and how our leaders are in danger of lining up with Yasser Arafat, historically speaking (see my post for Strike Day 80).

This past week started out very strong for the WGA with the big SAG-WGA rally over at Fox, then ground to something of a slog, with what I would bet was low attendance on picket lines across town. People seem to be desperate for some good news. Maybe just desperate for ANY REAL NEWS AT ALL.

If you ask me the only news that will matter will be the news that we have a deal good enough for the Negotiating Committee to present it to us. Until that happens -- whether it takes until next week or until the end of February or until the middle of March or until July 1st, when 100,000 SAG members join us on the picket lines all around Los Angeles -- the strike-related news is not going to be all that important.

Of course, the one exception to that would be news that mass numbers of our fellow guild members have suddenly chosen to opt out of full membership in order to go back to work as members of the "Financial Corps."

Who knows, maybe there are in fact legions of such persons out there, balancing their psyches on the razor's edge, ready to take the irreversible leap into the land of scab-traitor-collaborationism.

I think that's pure nonsense but I don't know everyone in the Guild, so I can't promise you it's not true.

All I can promise is that I will be back out on the picket line, with a smile on my face -- mostly for the tourists -- and a sign in my hand, walking back and forth until until our Negotiators say we have a fair deal for the future.

Hope you'll be there too -- and not just in spirit, if you know what I mean.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Strike Day 88 (13 A.D.)

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Not original, I grant you -- but very, very true.

If we were the Writers Guild of China today would have been the luckiest of times -- day 88 -- double wealth, double fortune, double prosperity (the Chinese pronunciation of "8" is identical to the word for "money").

Only time will tell.

Started out pretty cold today but warmed up as the sun kept climbing, which was nice.

What wasn't so nice was the inarguably thin showing at all the Warner Bros. gates.

Avon Gate #5 actually wasn't that bad off, compared to the rest. We're probably the smallest gate and we still had 4 or 5 people picketing for most of the morning. The Main Gate (#2) had only 10 to 12 people picketing, which was not too good.

I think one of the reasons our numbers fell off yesterday and today was the big "Unity Rally" at Fox on Monday. Oddly enough, in the immediate aftermath of those big city-wide events, I think lots of people feel like they've earned a day off. Those big rallies, while energizing, can also be draining, and I think that can keep some of us from returning to the regular daily grind of the picket line, at least for a couple of days.

At a certain point it was down to just myself and one other guy -- and this is where the "best of times" aspect of today comes in: he was a 19 year-old aspiring director who drove down from Valencia to show his respect for the Writers Guild by joining the picket line.

The best part was he didn't ask me about how to get an agent or if I could get him a job, he just talked about movies he loved and why he loved them and the feature-length script he wrote last Summer and the book he was trying to adapt into a screenplay and how he wanted to get a chance to pitch an idea for an episode of "CHUCK," his favorite new TV show.

I suggested that his best bet on the "Chuck" front would be to write a spec episode, since virtually no one ever gets to pitch freelance episodes to showrunners.

He stuck around for more than an hour, then went to check out the main gate.

If he hadn't been there I would've been picketing all by my lonesome, which kind of sucks, so I was very happy he showed up.

The next time my partner and I get a show on the air, if that guy wants a PA gig, it's in the bag.

Of course, by that time he might be in the middle of directing his first feature.

Before he showed up there was some talk about the "growing frustration" of guild members, especially with the news blackout making it impossible to really know how things are going with the "informal talks."

I guess I understand this frustration. What I don't understand is using it as an excuse to evade doing what you are supposed to do -- to avoid walking the picket line.

Some people seem to think that since our negotiators are locked in a room with their counterparts from the other side, it will make no difference whether they themselves show up to walk back-and-forth or not. Following this line of thinking, what goes on in the negotiating room is in no way connected to what goes on out in front of the studios. Sure, maybe us picketing in healthy numbers for more than two months was what convinced the conglomerates to actually come back, sit down and reopen talks with us -- but now that we've reached that point, it's all up to the folks in that room.

I don't mean to offend you if this is your way of thinking but that is some of the stupidest shit I have ever heard.

If you don't think the companies are paying close attention to how many of us show up to picket, you are ill-informed or in denial.

If you don't think that knowledge is power, you are simply wrong.

Everything is connected.

The more of us who picket every day, the stronger the position our negotiators have inside that room.

If you are staying home to frantically finish up the assignment you were working on when the strike began... well, I guess I can't convince you to stop working and just picket but maybe I can convince you to spend half of your time out on the line and only the other half back at home, doing whatever else you feel compelled to do.

A woman on her way back into her office from lunch asked us to keep fighting the good fight and mentioned that most of the people she knows who work at the studio support the WGA's position in this strike. I know I say this strike is not a popularity contest and the only people whose opinions really matter are us -- the membership of the WGA. As long as we stick together it doesn't matter who loves us or hates us. Still, I wouldn't be honest if I didn't say hearing that makes me happy. It reminds me that I'm not crazy or suffering from tunnel-vision or drinking tainted koolaid.

All we're asking for is a fair deal. Nothing more. Nothing less.

If you don't think that's the case, then I guess you should stay home rather than come out and do your time on the picket line.

But if you do agree, don't sit home or sit at the coffee-shop or sit wherever else you've been sitting. Don't kid yourself into buying the line that showing up to picket doesn't matter one way or the other. It does matter. Out at Warner Bros. today, the security guards were counting us every hour on the hour, as usual.

The other side cares about how we feel and the only way for them to gauge that is to count how many of us are out on the picket lines. If the companies believe we are losing our heart, losing our commitment, losing our focus, they will adjust their behavior at the negotiating table accordingly.

Wouldn't you...?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Strike Day 87 (12 A.D.)

Today was a good day for me.

John McCaine won in Florida, setting him up as the undisputed Republican front-runner heading into next week's Super-Tuesday primaries, plus Rudy Giuliani fared pretty awfully and is expected to drop out of the race and endorse McCaine tomorrow.

Meanwhile, my partner and I got some very good news concerning a movie we wrote some time ago -- and which we were rewritten on during the intervening years. I was happy the current strike made way for something good on the work front.

Out on the line today it was low-key in a good way. A mix of new and familiar faces and weather that got better as the day went on.

And then there were the RUMORS -- one after another, most good, some bad, all easily dismissible.

The very kind and beautiful SMOOTHIE WOMAN of Valencia -- probably familiar to most Warner Bros. picket veterans -- stopped by and graced those of us on the picket line with some very delectable fresh and nourishing drinks.

I finished up my shift and headed home -- and then something happened that hasn't happened to me before for the entire length of the strike: I got a phone-call -- actually two phone-calls in a row -- that put me on the receiving end of yet MORE RUMOR.

It was the same story from both sources -- an agent and a lawyer -- very positive, pointing to the strike ending in the next few weeks.

Perhaps this will be born out by future events, maybe not.

The bottom line remains: IT JUST DOESN'T MATTER.

Not yet.

When the end of the strike comes, it will matter a helluva lot.

Until then, for those of us not on the WGA Negotiating Committee or Executive Committee, only one thing should matter:

Showing up to picket as often as we are able.

At Warner Bros. today the security guards walked out every hour on the hour to do their head-count of we picketers and pass the info on, as it is their job to do.

That's their job.

Picketing is ours.

Let's not lie down on the job.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Strike Day 86 (11 A.D.)

Wow, FOX was pretty crowded, at least from 9:00am until 12:00 Noon, when I was there.

Saw a lot of actors, some of whom I knew personally, others who I know only as a fan.

One of the actors from "Sleeper Cell" made it out, which was great. I also got a chance to picket alongside the only writer-producer from the first season of the show other than my partner and myself. She was actually working at FOX before the strike began, so she's used to marching up and down Pico and Avenue of the Starts on a regular basis.

She had an amazing strike tale. A couple of weeks back she was over at Warner Bros. with the rest of the Guild on the Monday everyone went there to protest the possibility of massive lay-offs by the studio. I ran into her that day. What I didn't know was that when she arrived back home on the West Side she discovered she had lost one of the DIAMOND EARRINGS she'd been wearing that day.

I suppose there is some humor to a story about the loss of luxury jewelry while marching on a picket line -- but as you can imagine she wasn't laughing.

When we picketed together that day she was kind of depressed about the possibility of losing her deal at FOX. She's married with two kids. But what she told me today was that marching around Warner Bros. with all the people who were out that day -- and there were hundreds of us at Warners that day and it was beautiful out -- somehow reinvigorated her spirit and led her to decide, after discovering the loss of her earring, that she was somehow going to get it back.

So the next day she drove back to Warner Bros., looked around where she had picketed, with no luck, then walked over to the table where they keep the sign-in sheets and the picket-signs, pointed to one of her ears and asked: "You haven't by any chance seen an earring that matches this one, have you...?"

And the person at the table narrowed their eyes at her ear, pointed to the table and said: "Yeah, right here. Some guy turned it in fifteen minutes ago."

So listen-up, AMPTP: no matter what else , the members of the Writers Guild of America have got each others backs -- even if it means turing in DIAMOND JEWELRY!

Gotta love that.

There were a lot more familiar faces on the picket line at FOX, including a really cool comedy-writer mom whose son graduated last year from the school all three of my kids attend.

She's a strike captain now.

We're all strike-somethings now.

How much longer shall we continue to fulfill those roles?

Who can say?

I'll tell you who can say: NO ONE.

Not yet.

So try not to obsess about it too much.

Good rumors, bad rumors, they've been flying like bullets at a firing range -- and they are capable of doing a lot of damage to our side in the current unpleasantness.

If you absolutely, positively have to get your hopes up... then I ask you to hope for the best -- and expect the worst.

Tomorrow it's back to the old stomping grounds for each of us, wherever that may be.

I encourage you to make your presence known at your corner of the WGA strike universe just as I shall make my presence known at mine.

I'm gonna get some sleep, get up and head back to the picket line at Warner Bros.

Hope to see you there!

Oh -- I went to a reading of a new play directed by a pretty close friend of mine tonight. Ran out on my my wife's dinner and the rest of my family to make it. The cast was uniformly excellent and the play itself was quite good -- until the ending, which, to be honest, really pissed me off.

One good thing about this strike: the ending is very unlikely to piss me off.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Strike Day 83 (8 A.D.)

Well, today my luck with the rain ran out.

I went out to lunch with a friend -- a dad whose two kids are friends with my two older kids and who works as an accounting/finance executive at Warner Bros. Home Video.

After lunch I realized I was only a few blocks away from where the lone location for this Friday's picketing was going to be -- out in front of NBC, where people line up to see The Tonight Show.

I had heard via e-mail that things were relatively rough for the folks manning the picket lines at NBC. I think they are always asked to show up on Fridays, since the Ellen show and the Leno show both tape every day of the week -- and they are never supposed to take a break from their routine in order to attend any of the big events at various locations all throughout town, like the Martin Luther King, Jr. event at Paramount this past Tuesday or the Union Solidarity event last Monday at Warner Bros. Plus, having picketed at NBC several times in the early days of the strike, I know there's lots of relatively high-speed traffic zipping past on one very busy intersection over there. When I was there I would sometimes worry that a car doing thirty or forty miles per hour would turn too tightly and jump the curb, taking out a handful of WGA picketers.

I usually take Fridays off but since I was so close and the picketing was going to start in less than half-an-hour, I felt I should head over and put in a little overtime on the picket line.

Of course, it was also raining.

The last two days I had missed the rain and missed the hail but not today.

I got there a little early and hardly anyone else had shown up -- but by the time 2:30 hit there must have been at least thirty or forty of us and as the shift wore on even more showed up. I wouldn't be surprised if more than a hundred men and women were on that picket line today, though not all at the exact same time. Considering most of the three-hour shift was in pretty heavy rain and that Friday is our official "day off," that's not too shabby.

I recognized a few people from various picket lines I'd been on before but I didn't really know anyone there, which was kind of different from the usual dynamic with me. I ended up talking with an actor, a young writer who had gotten into the Guild just before the strike began and another young writer who had written for theater in New York City before coming to LA to try to break into television.

Towards the end of the shift I ran into the reporter from the "Socialist Worker" who was at the Scene of the Crime picket in Encino before the holiday break and whose story on the strike included a quote from me. She asked what I thought of the DGA deal. I said in my opinion the most important thing about the DGA deal for us in the WGA is that before our strike began the AMPTP had told us that agreeing to our demands regarding any profit participation in New Media whatsoever would lead to the "death of our industry" -- but now they had somehow found a way to include some element of New Media profit participation (albeit not as much as we would like) in their deal with the DGA.

It doesn't take a genius to figure out why that happened -- and it's not just because the DGA brought their two-year study of New Media with them to the negotiating table.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: it's because the WGA has been out on strike for more than two months, grinding our industry to a complete and utter halt.

I told her I thought the biggest story of this strike is the incredibly high degree of solidarity that has been shown by the membership -- at least so far. No, that doesn't mean it will continue forever but from where I'm sitting -- and standing and picketing and listening, I don't see it changing any time soon.

Tonight my family went to dinner at a friends' house. They have two girls who are classmates of our two girls. The husband is a producer and the wife used to work at a studio. The husband's company actually wants to sign an "Interim Agreement" with the WGA. After dinner, while the four girls were all playing together and my son was playing at the foosball table, the husband asked me if I had been writing. I told him no, I was too busy picketing. Maybe if I wasn't married with three children, I could manage picketing every day, then come home and work on a spec script. But in my partner and my positions (he's married with two kids) it just hasn't been feasible.

He said some writers he knew were using this time to work on spec scripts they had always wanted to written but never had the time or opportunity to pursue. He said some other writers he knew were still working on assignments they had booked and started writing before the strike began.

None of this was a surprise to me.

Yes, I know there are writers who sit home and never picket.

And I know there are writers who are working on spec scripts for movies and TV pilots (in my own opinion this isn't a terrible thing to do -- so long as you put in your hours on the picket line FIRST).

And I know there are some writers who are even working on assignments they booked before the strike began.

Hey, there are something like eight-thousand members of our union. No one could expect that each and every one of us would put our individual work aside and head out to the picket lines.

But guess what?

Thousands of us have done exactly that for nearly three months.


And amongst that number are counted some of the most successful people in our industry.

Like everyone else, I want this strike to end as soon as possible.

I just don't want it to end before we get a fair deal.

My guess is the vast majority of my fellow WGA members feel pretty much the same way.

So until we hear that a fair deal has been hammered out, lets keep doing what we've been doing.

Sticking together and walking back and forth, over and over and over again -- a simple physical act which makes it IMPOSSIBLE FOR THE OTHER SIDE IN THIS DISPUTE TO FORGET ABOUT US FOR EVEN ONE DAY.

Trust me, our fellow Guild members who haven't come out to the picket lines are not going to start showing up now.

We who started picketing must continue picketing.

For as long as it takes.

Remember, there is a deadline. July 1st is five months away. I know five months is a very, very long time -- but it is a lot closer than the eight months away which it was back on November 5th, when the strike began.

The media moguls didn't think we could hold out for even one month, let alone three.

They bet on us collapsing. Imploding. Consuming ourselves. But we haven't done that. Lets not start now.

Come out to Fox for the big WGA-SAG "Writer/Actor Togetherness" day on Monday.

If nothing else, you'll get to see some actors you love -- or hate -- and maybe even a few bonafide stars.

Help swell our ranks so the other side can see one more marker pointing to the very real possibility that the bet they made is not going to pan out after all.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Strike Day 82 (7 A.D.)

Call me double lucky.

Yesterday my shift ended just as the rain began.

Today I began picketing just after the rain ended.

It was just my partner and I at the Avon Gate.

Actually, despite being a bit of a bummer in terms of membership presence, it was kind of cool.

For something like the past decade up until the day this strike began, we have spent the lion's share of every working day together. There was one stretch while we were co-executive producing our first TV show when we literally didn't take a day off for about two months.

So it was nice to spend some time together.

Of course it would have been nicer if we were sitting at our desks or pacing the floor or yelling at each other on the other side of the Warner Bros. Studios wall, inside our warm and cozy offices, rather than walking back and forth, slightly delaying traffic on its way in and out.

But a writer has to do what a writer has to do.

A family of Australian tourists came by to ask us about the strike and we gave them the usual rap (all facts, little to no hyperbole), explaining that it's all about one thing -- profit participation in internet distribution.

Whenever I tell a tourist about the companies saying they needed three years to study and determine whether or not the internet would be able to sustain a "working business model" for distribution of scripted entertainment, it always gets the same response.

Care to guess what that is...?

The exact wording can vary somewhat but it all boils down to:


The WGA just announced that Lionsgate and Marvel Studios have signed interim agreements with the WGA.

That brings the total of AMPTP member companies to have signed such deals to something like an even dozen.

And on the other side of the balance sheet, there lies John Ridley and about a dozen (the last time I heard) daytime soap opera writers who have opted to join the "Fi-Corps."

(I'm not even gonna' start musing about possible mottos for that particular elite writing unit. I remember reading an oral history of WWII that included a story told by an American infantryman about how he watched a German tank get blasted by a bazooka team and start belching flame, then saw a sole surviving crew member manage to climb out, apparently unharmed. The American GI watched the German tanker slide down the side of the crippled tank and run back towards the German lines -- and even though he had the German in his sights the whole time he never pulled the trigger but simply let him go. Some targets are just too easy.)

I think objectively speaking you would have to say that in this area of the strike -- the "dueling drop-outs" or "dueling divide and conquer strategems" we are definitely on the up side, at least so far.

On the strictly personal side, my partner and I learned from our agents today that one of the companies which has made those deals wants us to come in and talk about possible projects with them.

Obviously that doesn't mean we're gonna' walk out with a paying gig, chances of that are slim, but it does mean that SOME UNION WRITER OR WRITING TEAM is going to get a gig over there.

I don't know about you but that puts a smile on my face. Sure, it might not be me but it will be someone. I guess I'll add that I hope whoever it is has been out on the picket line as much as they could manage. If not, I hope when they cash their commencement check they will donate a little piece of it to the strike fund in order to assuage their guilty conscience (unless they were unable to picket due to financial distress which required them to take another job or some other personal crisis).

If we actually end up booking a gig while the strike is still on I will talk to my partner about the both of us kicking in a piece of the money to help our less fortunate fellow guild members. Not that he and I are rich -- not by a long-shot -- but thankfully we're not on the verge of losing our homes or cars or being unable to feed our families. If we booked a gig like that we'd have to split our time between writing and picketing -- but hey, that would be a high-class problem.

I hate to say it but when you stop and think, it's pretty messed up that I have never read a single article in a newspaper or magazine which points out the incredible degree of unity and solidarity that has been shown by our membership from day one of this strike straight through to the present day. I'm not asking for the article to praise the WGA membership for staying so united but just to POINT IT OUT as a rather pertinent FACT.

Actually, I did read one article that pointed it out -- the on-line issue of "Socialist Daily" that my quote appeared in (if you're interested see my January 17 blog titled "Strike Day 75"). But that doesn't count as "mainstream media" does it?

Ah, well. Sometimes folks don't live up to your expectations of them.

On a totally separate topic which I've been meaning to address for weeks if not months: doesn't it suck that "" went the way of all flesh -- or all flesh that is threatened by litigation?!

Man, what a tragedy.

I remember the day I first clicked on a "" link to that site, read through it and nearly fell on the floor laughing. Man that was one helluva funny website -- at least for its target audience, namely us.

The absolute highlight in my humble opinion:

"AMPT to the motherfuckin' P!"

If you visited that url for weeks afterwards it had been taken over by a page for some kind of film/TV industry military technical advisory firm, was was kind of surreal -- but now it hosts a neutral "Why can't the writers and producers stop being babies and settle this thing?" page, which I suppose was put up by the AMPTP.

A painful loss indeed!

Heard something funny today -- considering John Wells' enthusiastic endorsement of the (mostly still-unseen in fine print detail even by him) DGA deal. Turns out the entire writing staff of "ER" showed up for the "Teaching Medical Drama" picket this morning outside the main gate at Warner Bros. My hat's off to 'em. I've seen their current hands-on showrunner walking the picket line several times. Gotta' give that staff their Guild props, despite their superstar boss's arguably ignominious behavior.

Tomorrow we get the day off from picketing, which will be nice. We'll see if it's still raining Monday. Even if it is, it's a lot better picketing in the rain than picketing in the single digit Fahrenheit temperatures or the snow the way they do on a regular basis back in NYC.

Now, onto something VERY SPECIAL...

Earlier today I got an e-mail from an editor who worked on both seasons of "Sleeper Cell."

Apparently he read my partner and my installment of "Why We Write" and was inspired to write something himself.

The individual in question is extremely talented -- but he is also an IATSE member, as well as a Scotsman.

But luckily for us all, I managed to convince him to let me post his missive without having to pay in advance or accuse my own Guild of being a "Strike-Happy House of hate." So here goes:

Why do I edit?

First up: I edit because at heart, I am a storyteller. I grew up watching old b&w movies on our three channel television set. They were mostly cowboy and war films starring John Wayne or William Holden. I never imagined that one day I would be living in California working in an industry that was so foreign to me.

My interests were varied growing up. I attended art school, studied English literature, and worked as a professional photographer. While at the New York University Film school, I discovered a discipline that satisfied all my interests. Editing's palette included photography, design, music and of course, story.

Editing is like doing a 100,000 puzzle. Sure it is nice to collaborate, but finding a home for the most intricate piece by yourself is most satisfying.

I also edit to avoid owning dress socks, working in sales, and interacting with the general public.

And last but not least, I edit in order to afford a large pornography collection.

After all, I am married.

Just goes to show you, we WGA members do not have a corner on good writing!

Now, to all my fellow WGA members, married and unmarried:

A lot happened this week -- and none of it was bad for us.

Stay calm. Stay patient. Stay together.

Have a great weekend and I'll see you on the picket line Monday -- either at the big "WGA/SAG" solidarity get-together at FOX or over at NBC...

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Strike Day 81 (6 A.D.)

Strike goes on.

I was lucky today -- I finished up my shift on the picket line just as it was starting to rain.

The turn-out wasn't bad but it wasn't great either.

I showed up a little bit early and no one was at my usual gate. It was like a ghost-town. Nothing but the water-cooler and some stacked up picket signs. Then my "Strike Buddy" arrived and at least there were two of us. We started picketing. After about 15 minutes a bunch of regular faces marched over -- turned out they had joined all the other picketers at Warner Bros. to listen to and ask questions of a member of the Negotiating Committee who had stopped by for that purpose.

So it turned out things weren't as bad as I imagined when I first showed up.

Later in the shift I talked with a studio executive on his way back from lunch who's a pretty good friend of mine and a very decent guy. Mostly we discussed the primaries. When the discussion turned to the future timeline of the strike neither of us was optimistic or pessimistic -- we simply agreed there was no way to know but that we hoped it would end as soon as possible. For me that means as soon as we can get a fair deal on internet profit participation -- and guess what? For him it means the exact same thing.

Like virtually every executive I know -- including the ones who work in business affairs as well as on the "creative" side -- he believes the WGA is on the right side of this dispute.

I'm pretty exhausted but there's one other thing I feel I need to write about...

Divisiveness is our greatest enemy.

The AMPTP is our opponent in this dispute but the greatest threat to us succeeding in gaining what we need for our next contract is divisiveness within the Guild itself.

If we keep sticking together, sooner or later, either in order to save the last vestiges of pilot season or in order to save the Academy Awards or in order to prevent a shutdown of all remaining feature film production or in order to end the complete and utter shutdown of the scripted entertainment industry (if the strike drags on all the way to July 1st) -- sooner or later, the AMPTP will have to give us a fair deal on internet profit participation.

I really believe only one thing can prevent that from happening:

Tearing ourselves apart.

Eating ourselves alive the way the WGA -- to greater or lesser degrees depending on whose history you read -- ate itself alive back in 1981, 1985 and 1988.

If you have an opinion on the DGA deal and whether accepting it as is or taking any other course of action would be a good thing or a bad thing, I encourage you to MAKE YOUR INDIVIDUAL OPINION KNOWN TO THE LEADERSHIP AND THE NEGOTIATING COMMITTEE OF OUR GUILD.

Tell Patric Verrone and John Bowman and David Young and all the rest of them what you think and what you want and what you can live with in a contract and what you can't live with. By now you should have all of their e-mail addresses. If I wasn't as exhausted as I am I'd go get them and post them all right here.

I returned to this post Thursday, January 24, in order to add:

Patric Verrone: pverrone[AT]
John Bowman: johnfbowman[AT]
David Young: dyoung[AT]
Robert King: rking36[AT]

NOTE: I used a common method to camouflage the addresses so these guys don't each get a dozen junk e-mails selling Viagra courtesy of my blog page being scanned by spammers.

But please, please, please -- do not begin to mount organized group lobbying efforts and/or petition campaigns.

Whether I agree with your opinion on the matter at hand or disagree is not the issue. The issue is that only one thing will unequivocally come from such efforts and/or campaigns: they will divide us.

There's nothing wrong with debate and discussion and there is nothing wrong with making your voice heard, especially when your opinion runs against the grain.

But I think there is something wrong with launching organized efforts at influencing the decision-makers in our Guild unless you make those efforts transparent -- unless you make them known to the entire membership of our Guild.

If you feel uncomfortable having your name associated with a particular position at this time, then chances are you probably shouldn't take it.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Strike Day 80 (5 A.D.)

What a day, what a day.

Lots of stuff happening.

First off, we had the Martin Luther King commemorative picket at Paramount. It appeared to me to be well attended. Lots of familiar faces, from the past decade or so of my career and from the picket lines over the past two-plus months.

Seemed to me like it went well. Don't know if it made it onto the local news but my guess would be probably not.

Then came the really big development -- word from WGA headquarters that we were formally removing our demands for jurisdiction over Reality TV and animation before our negotiators begin their informal talks with various CEOs from the agenda-setting conglomerates of the AMPTP.

Pretty big, huh?

Hard to call our leadership "radical" when they throw a bone that size to the opposition before even re-entering into active negotiations.

Seems like the road is being paved to a settlement -- at least on our side of said road.

Then came my least favorite development of the day -- and the one that I have been obsessing over since I read it a little less than twelve hours ago: the op-ed column in the LA Times written by Patrick Goldstein, in which Patrick Goldstein compares our president, Patric Verrone, to Yasir Arafat.

I shit you not, my friends.

You gotta' laugh... don't ya?

I'll tell you what makes this even more obsessive for me. Patrick Goldstein and I are dads at the same school. I've said a few dozen words to him in friendly passing over the course of the last three or fours years. So I've been thinking about what to say the next time I see him up at school...

I came up with this:

-- but before I write it I feel like it's necessary for me to do something which I've never done here on this blog, though it was not an omission by design.

Oddly enough, although I reference my credits and my colleagues, I've never once mentioned my own name. I don't know exactly why. I think at the start I felt like the strike was not the place to try and grab a spotlight or become a center of attention. Of course, the truth is my little blog here has no spotlight and is no center of attention, so I shouldn't have worried about it.

Anyway, for the record, my name is Ethan Reiff.

Now, regarding Patrick Goldstein...

What I will tell him is that he blew it. Missed a real good opportunity. He would have been much better off comparing Patric Verrone to Adolph Hitler.

Speaking for myself, I believe you can kind of make the argument that Patric does slightly resemble Hitler, in a strictly physical sense -- he has kind of the same straight and stringy black hair and does favor conservative attire. At least then -- with a Hitler reference -- there would have been SOMETHING IN THE ENTIRE EXPANSE OF THE UNIVERSE for Patrick Goldstein to fall back on in defense of his pathetically sorry excuse for a newspaper column.

No matter what you think of the WGA or the current strike, how can you believe comparing Patric Verrone to Yasir Arafat is an appropriate thing to do?

Yasir Arafat?!?!?!?!

I was pissed at the column before it reached that surreal "Arafat" point. Two or three times Patrick Goldstein -- addressing himself to the leadership of the WGA -- said something along the lines of: "It's time for you to return to the negotiating table."

You know, if Patrick Goldstein believes that us refusing to publicly back off from the six items listed in the ultimatum the AMPTP presented back on December 7th made it impossible for the AMPTP to return to the negotiating table and was foolish and unreasonable on our parts, he's entitled to think that. Hell, for all I know he may even be right. But he is not entitled to lie.


Why is it so difficult for so many highly-educated, sophisticated and well-informed members of the press to get that through their heads?

Again, if Patrick Goldstein believes we were wrong to refuse to give up on a bunch of stuff that the AMPTP wanted us to give up on in exchange for their return to the negotiating table, why can't he just say so? Why does he have to push it over the edge into what is undisputed untruth?

I gotta tell you though, I don't think it hurts our cause at all.

Not. At. All.

Because now, as before, only one thing matters on the WGA side of this dispute: solidarity. Unity. Sticking together.

No, that doesn't mean we all need to agree about everything. No that doesn't mean we all need to love our leaders. And no, that doesn't even mean we all need to hate Patrick Goldstein.

It just means we need to keep picketing until our very reasonable Negotiating Committee informs us they have come back with an offer for a new contract with the Writers Guild.

As I've said before, I didn't want to go out on strike. As I've said before, I was surprised and disappointed when a deal much like the one the DGA just got for themselves wasn't offered to us just before our own contract ran out.

At that time I would have been the first member in the meeting room to get on my feet and state the case for taking such a deal -- a deal that was not even close to what we were asking for but still a lot better than nothing. A deal that, most importantly of all, would enable us to get at least half of one of our feet through the door of internet profit participation.

That would have been enough for me.

If Patric and all our other leaders from the PLO, Al-Qaeda, HAMAS, North Korea, the Warsaw Pact, Imperial Japan, Fascist Italy and the good old Third Reich say it's enough, then it will be enough for me now as well.

But if the Overlords of Darkness to whom we have pledged our unholy fealty say that in order for evil to triumph our barbarous brotherhood must keep holding out, that all we extremist partisans must keep on picketing a while longer... then that is what I will do.

Ironically enough, one of the items included in our leadership's e-mail update earlier today was a polite request for the membership to please remain calm, cool and collected when speaking with the press, in light of what an extremely sensitive time it is for negotiations right now.

I thought that was very smart and very appropriate.

If only the AMPTP had sent a similar e-mail to their bitches.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Strike Day 79 (4 A.D.)

There were some developments today.

Only one will be discussed here -- in a shamelessly self-promotional way.

My friend Charlie Craig (I'm dropping his name so often around here it's as if he's taking over this blog!) and his fellow Executive Producer on "Eureka" Thania St. John have been running a site for writers, both professional and amateur, to discuss what it is that makes them write.

Today's entry was from my partner and me.


Why We Write

Or just slip your cursor over to the right, where that site has been linked for the past few weeks.

It was fun for my partner and I to get a chance to write something without being scabs.

I do this blog alone but it's a very different animal. Don't get me wrong -- I enjoy it and value it more than I might have expected but it's very different nonetheless.

My partner and I are hoping to see Charlie tomorrow morning over at Paramount, amongst the hundreds of WGA members who will be gathering for the Martin Luther King event.

Then we're going to have lunch with our favorite Line Producer, who supports the WGA about a hundred-and-ten percent, which -- especially considering how level-headed and intelligent she is -- is always nice to hear. I think it kind of sucks that so many people refer to the other side of this confrontation as "The Producers."

My partner and I are producers. The woman we will have lunch with tomorrow is a masterful producer. The people in charge of the other side in this strike are not producers. That's not a criticism, just an observation. I couldn't do what they do for a living any more than they could do my job as a producer. But it does kind of annoy me when people call them by that name.

Word is that tomorrow the AMPTP is coming back to sit down with out Negotiating Committee, which is a good thing.

It doesn't mean the strike is going to end any time soon but it does mean the process required in order for the strike to come to an end whenever it finally does -- which the other side had put on hold -- has resumed.

I know it sucks for all us WGA members to keep reading about how wonderful the DGA deal is and how the DGA got it because they are mature adults who know how to "negotiate."

But think how much worse it would have sucked if we had accepted what the AMPTP had to offer us a little less than three months ago -- which was profoundly less on the New Media front than the DGA just got for themselves.

It borders on the surreal, how little is being said in the mainstream media about the obvious connection between our strike and the gains made in the DGA's new contract. I know some of us are dismissing those gains as too little and too inapplicable to our own needs -- and to some extent they may well be right -- but that's not the point. GAINS WERE MADE. Taking nothing away from the DGA's own leadership and negotiating team, how any thinking person with their eyes open could fail to connect those gains to our strike is patently absurd.

But guess what?

It doesn't matter.

Sure, it matters to the contemporary record -- it impacts what the average uninvolved reader may think about the current labor dispute in Hollywood -- but it doesn't matter to us or the strike.

Not unless we allow it to.

Not unless we either (A) actually start to believe that lie of omission or (B) let the current wave of anti-WGA leadership spin swallow us up.

Either way -- choice (A) or (B) -- leads to drowning.


Keep your spirits up.

They don't have to be sky-high, just high enough to get you out on the picket line as often as the rest of your life's routine allows for -- which is hopefully at least 3 hours a day, 4 days a week.

But if not, then you won't get grief from me -- so long as you come out and carry a picket sign as often as you can manage on a regular basis.

Of course, if you do any of the various more sophisticated stuff at WGA headquarters, like loading and unloading the vans or making tons of phone-calls, that counts just the same -- because no matter what, I REFUSE TO BE DIVISIVE ON THIS BLOG!

Hah-hah-hah -- just a touch of strike humor.

A very slight touch. Never said I was a comedy writer.


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Strike Day 77-78 (Day 2-3 A.D.)

Well, this Sunday turned out to be quite a day indeed.

First came the football games -- both of which involved 2 teams I really like. It's true -- my four favorite teams made it into the conference championships and faced off against each other, so it was kind of a win-win situation for me. Still, despite despising the Red Sox like a good native New Yorker, I have been a big fan of the New England Patriots since junior high school.

The first game was good but the Giants' overtime win over Green Bay was simply awesome. I'm a Green Bay fan mostly because I'm a bit of a reactionary and traditionalist and the Packers are pretty much it in terms of tough, old time football. I wore a Green Bay jersey when I played with the same bunch of guys for more than ten years in Manhattan and Brooklyn. And if you're a football fan and over thirty you've gotta love Brett Favre, for his longevity if nothing else.

A great day for football.

Then came the big strike-related development.

Now, this is kind of a switch for me, since I'm the guy who's always ranting AGAINST reading tea-leaves, finding hidden messages and/or divining the future.

I'm the one who keeps repeating: it's all very simple. Stick to the program -- which means come out and picket every day or as close to every day as you can manage and leave the negotiating to the Negotiating Committee.

Well, I'm still saying all of that -- but tonight I can't help but say a little something which I have to admit IS like reading tea-leaves, finding a hidden message and/or divining the future.

Maybe I'll turn out to be wrong or maybe not -- but here goes...

Earlier today I read an e-mail that got posted on, the strike-related blog of a friend of mine, Charlie Craig -- the showrunner of Sci-Fi channel's 1-hr drama "EUREKA." There's a link to reach it at the top right of this page.

A friend of his had sent the e-mail to him and then he checked to make sure it was cool to post it on his blog, got the go-ahead and put it up.

The e-mail was about the informal talks held over the weekend by members of our Negotiating Committee and some of the CEOs of the agenda-setting conglomerates that run the AMPTP.

The message was that those informal talks had gone wonderfully well and a WGA/AMPTP deal was close at hand and --

(this is where the tea-leaves start gathering in the form of a recognizable message at the bottom of the cup)

-- it turns out that those who are really to blame for this whole dang strike thing dragging on for so long are -- TA-DUM-TA-DUM...

NOT the chief executives of FOX, Paramount, Disney, Sony, Warner Bros., CBS, MGM or NBC Universal but rather Nick Counter and Carol Lombardini, numbers one and two over at the AMPTP offices in Encino.

Funny thing is it turns out that all this time, the bosses over at the 8 mega-corporations (well, MGM and even CBS probably don't qualify to be called such but they have no one but themselves to blame for the company they keep) have really, REALLY wanted to settle this thing like reasonable, decent men -- but have been kept from doing so by the evil, malicious, self-serving Nick Counter who cares about nothing other than his own EGO and PERSONAL AGENDA.

(In fact, turns out that Peter Chernin -- the big boss over at Fox -- says all he wants is for the strike to be over because it has been the worst experience of his entire career...)


Very interesting.

Now, maybe I'm nuts but this looks to me like the start of the script for our post-strike reality.

Of course, "Reality Shows" aren't scripted, are they?

Hah-hah, please don't get me wrong -- I'm not some "radical" out to unionize "Reality" or anything like that.

No, I'm just a simple fellow who has kind of a hard time believing that Nick Counter and Carol Lombardini could somehow trick or force or seduce (though I admit I've never seen a picture of Ms. Lombardini, so maybe I'm being presumptuous on that one) or cajole or torture or in any other way influence the handful of men who reign supreme over the world of film and television to do ANYTHING THEY THEMSELVES DID NOT WANT TO DO.

Nothing. Not a single, blessed -- or cursed -- solitary thing.

The AMPTP is an agent, a manager, a lawyer. An advocate and representative.

Whose job is to accomplish their client's objective. And whilst doing so, provide cover for their client when what their client wants done may piss off the other party to the deal.

So... maybe this is not just the end of the beginning but the beginning of the end.

Maybe the AMPTP will give us just enough more than they gave the DGA to enable us to make a deal we can live with without falling out amongst ourselves -- and proceed to hang Nick Counter and his sidekick Carol Lombardini out to dry as the twisted individuals who were REALLY AND TRULY responsible for the awful 2007-'08 writers strike.

Straw-man and woman to be burned for sins committed in the name of the media conglomerates they represent -- the conglomerates who, as it turned out, never even wanted things to go the way they did.

If that's how it goes, I'll be happy to gain the opportunity to go back to work ASAP -- so long as I'm not required to actually BELIEVE that's how it went.

Now I will dump the tea-leaves in the trash, put the cup in the dishwasher and go back to picketing like before.

Have a good Martin Luther King Day and I'll see you on the holiday picket line at Paramount on Tuesday...

Friday, January 18, 2008

Strike Day 76 - the A.D. era begins...

Today was the first day of a new era in the history of our strike.

I have lifted the historical term "Anno Domine" (Latin for "Year of our Lord") and dubbed this new era "A.D." -- for After the Directors deal.

So welcome to the new era.

So far, it seems a lot like the old era -- in that the mainstream press is filled to overflowing with exactly the kind of coverage I would dream of if I was a top executive at a big media conglomerate helping to set the agenda for the AMPTP.

The papers are filled with articles explaining how the incredible deal the DGA got sets we in the WGA up to collapse, to fall apart, to turn against our leadership and against each other -- if our leadership does not instantly sign on the AMPTP's dotted line to accept the DGA deal lock, stock and however many smoking barrels may turn out to be included.

Man, I wish they would just list the name of ONE F*#@ING WRITER WHO TELLS THEM THAT in the actual articles themselves -- don't you? And no, I don't wish that because I want to do anything inappropriate to the people who said these things, I wish that because then I might actually believe what I was reading was true.

Then again, I suppose we're better off if it's not true, so maybe I should just hope they keep leaving all the names out.

The only names of WGA members I have seen talking about how fantastic and wonderful the DGA deal is and what a disaster it will be for the union if we don't sign on to it ASAP are Dick Wolf and John Wells.

Those two guys are worth more than a hundred-million dollars each.

Both those guys have multiple TV juggernaut shows on the air -- and every day one of those shows isn't being produced hurts their bottom line.

Of course, every day my own TV pilots aren't being produced and every day the movie my partner and I are supposed to be writing for Universal isn't being written is hurting our bottom line as well -- and the same holds true for every working writer in the country.

At least John Wells, after pretty much jumping up and down with joy over the detailed terms of the DGA deal, said the only reason the DGA got a deal that good was that the WGA was conducting a successful strike. For that I nod my head to him. Also, what he had to say was in an e-mail that got posted, with his permission, on a writer's web-site -- not at a press conference.

It's kind of funny actually, in a bitter and twisted way. The mega-successful TV writer-producer worth more than 100-million dollars who said something good about the WGA, said it to a limited audience, while the other mega-successful TV writer-producer worth more than 100-million dollars had this to say to the press:

"If the WGA rejects the basic concepts of a DGA deal, there's going to be a great deal of dissatisfaction among the membership," Dick Wolf, creator and executive producer of the Law & Order franchise, told reporters. "The bottom line here is: this town should be back to work in three weeks."

If you are a writer who desperately wants to end the strike and return to work you would probably know that the way to make that happen is by convincing your fellow striking writers and the leadership of our guild that the DGA deal is a good template for a writers deal and we should move as fast as possible to settle with the AMPTP.

Now please tell me: do you further that goal by publicly predicting dissension in the ranks and sowing discord?

We are where we are now. No matter how much you might be against the strike -- philosophically, politically, personally, strategically -- do you really think that weakening your guild's position in the eyes of the OPPOSITION -- in the eyes of the opposing side in the current confrontation in which we are now engaged -- will help settle the strike under the best terms possible for you?

I certainly don't.

But of course, I don't run my own television empire either.

I wish I did. I'm jealous of those guys. But even if I had three shows on the air and was losing the opportunity to earn millions more every week, I can't believe I would say something like that -- something whose only absolutely predictable effect will be to give aid and comfort to the AMPTP while our guild remains out on strike against them.

I know Dick Wolf was against the strike more than a year ago. Just like I was. This has nothing to do with going on strike. This has to do with ending the strike on the best possible terms for us -- the Writers Guild of America.

The New York Times had an article about the impact of the DGA deal on the writers strike. It was shockingly inaccurate, at least from where I'm sitting or standing and picketing and listening to my various fellow guild members. One of the highlights was this paragraph:

Dennis Palumbo, a screenwriter-turned-psychologist whose practice includes a number of Hollywood writers, said guild members — many of whom have come to regard the companies as negative parental figures — appear to see Mr. Verrone and Mr. Young as friendlier alternatives. “Which parent do you go with, the big, bad parent that you know, or someone who’s presenting himself as an Alan Alda parent?” Mr. Palumbo said.

Now I see what the strike has been about all along, us writers finding a better father figure for ourselves. Thank you, New York Times -- paper of record -- for pointing that out to me.

Later in the article the writer says the DGA decided now was not the time to "make a stand" regarding New Media -- but in the following sentence he goes on to say:

In the meantime, however, they will receive for digital distribution roughly double the residuals rate that has been paid for decades when films and television shows are resold on videocassettes or DVDs, and for the first time be paid a reuse fee for advertising-supported programs streamed free on the Web.

Funny but he never spends one syllable trying to figure out WHERE THOSE GAINS IN THE REALM OF DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION CAME FROM!

Like, say... the WGA's ongoing strike?

I suppose it's pointless to get riled over these things. They will write what they will write. At least it's not as bad as what Variety writes.

But please tell me -- what kind of big-time newspaper reporter can't connect the dots between one union's ongoing strike which is having a devastating impact on an industry and a brother union gaining serious concessions from contract negotiations conducted simultaneously with said strike? There wasn't even a passing mention of how one situation MIGHT have effected the other.

And I swear, I am not looking for "pro-writer" articles in the paper! Just an impartial presentation of the facts.

Ah, well...

Let's just wait and listen when the Negotiating Committee finishes crunching the numbers and tells us what they think of the DGA deal and how it applies to us.

After that, if you want us to take the DGA deal as is, great. Tell that to the leadership and try to convince all the rest of us.

If you want us to look for at least one major gain -- like shutting the "free window" for internet distribution -- great. Tell that to the leadership and try to convince all the rest of us.

If you want us to demand everything we ever asked for and hold out until the actors come to join us on July 1st in hopes that we will get it all... well, then the truth is I think you're crazy but for now I'll still say: great. Tell that to the leadership and try to convince all the rest of us.

And the same holds true for any opinion anywhere in between.

Just do me a favor and please don't hold a press conference where you announce that if things don't go exactly the way you want them to, the sky is going to fall.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Strike Day 75 - DGA Deal Day

Well, many were expecting it from the moment the week began but it actually arrived today.

I was out on the picket line at the Avon Gate around Noon. The WGA's Vice President visited Warner Bros. today but had to take off for Paramount before making his way over to our little gate, so our local WGA professional came by to fill us in on the latest developments.

Foremost amongst these were the very strong indications that the DGA deal would be announced before the end of the day.

A few minutes after our WGA pro left for the main gate I got a call from a friend telling me that Variety had an article up online announcing that the DGA and AMPTP had completed a "tentative deal." This same Variety article went on to say that "moderates" in the WGA were hoping that they could convince the guild's leadership not to dismiss the DGA deal "out of hand."

Man, sometimes I don't know whether to laugh or cry over this stuff -- or just burn all the copies of Variety I have saved over the years because my partner and I got our pictures in them.

What WGA leader -- or WGA "radical" member -- has ever advocated dismissing a DGA deal "out of hand"?

Wouldn't it be better for even the most "radical" writer to LEARN ABOUT THE DEAL FIRST, before dismissing it or embracing it?

Anyhow, a few minutes after that call I got a call from a friend who's a news producer for ABC Nightly News in New York City, letting me know that the AP had put a story out over the wire that said the same thing as the Variety article. Then the first friend who had called e-mailed me a cheat-sheet from the internet with the high-points of the deal.

News does travel fast these days.

Well, now things will get a little more interesting. Maybe a lot more interesting.

First, the DGA membership has to decide whether or not to accept this new contract. My guess is it will not take long for them to do so.

Then we will see how things proceed with us. I saw an "open letter" from the heads of the big conglomerates to the WGA on the AMPTP website, reaching out to initiate "informal talks" which could lead back to the negotiating table. That's interesting.

Of course, the informal talks we engaged in with those fellas earlier led to us getting screwed in pretty brutal fashion. Does that mean we shouldn't accept the olive branch now? I don't know. I can see the arguments for and against. I will leave that one to the leadership and the Negotiating Committee.

I do know the one thing in the DGA deal that stood out to me as probably being too bitter a pill to swallow at this point is the continued use of an internet "WINDOW" during which material of any kind can be screened without having to pay any residual of any kind. The window in the DGA deal is 16 days.

That means for 16 days the companies will take new material and make it available to stream and/or download 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That's what I would do if I was them. After that maybe they'll just pull the material off the net, or leave it there, considering it will already have been streamed and/or downloaded to death by the audience.

Then there are the actual numbers. Right now it looks like a grand total of $1200.00 for a year's worth of use and reuse on the internet. Well, that's a lot more than the $250.00 they offered us but it's also a lot less than the $20,000.00 one-time residual for traditional TV. A lot less. But this strike isn't only about TV reruns, it's also about gaining jurisdiction over material written directly for "New Media" -- and the DGA got that in their deal, which is a good thing.

I guess the bottom line is... where exactly does our own bottom line lie? Where is the WGA's line in the sand?

Well, I suppose it will be wherever our Negotiating Committee determines it should be.

Right now I don't have a problem with that.

From the start of real negotiations in July, I believe our Negotiating Committee did a very reasonable job of attempting to negotiate a fair deal.

So let's all learn as much as we can about the details of the DGA deal and listen to what the Negotiating Committee has to say about it after they've done the same. By then, the DGA membership will most likely have signed off on their new contract and the question will be... how do we move forward towards our own renewed negotiations. Do we go back to the "informal talks" that didn't work out so good last time... or do we require a return to more "official" and "on the record" negotiations...?

There are two different sets of dynamics being put into motion here and now:

The first set involves our own membership, some of whom, for a variety of reasons, may want to instantly sign off on any deal -- no matter how bad it may be in the long run -- in order to get back to work ASAP.

Some others will come at it from the opposite side and refuse to agree to a contract that doesn't gain for us all or close to all of what we have been on strike for during the past two-and-a-half months.

Personally, I think the lion's share of the WGA membership will fall squarely in the middle.

They will not be ready to sign on to a bad deal, nor will they want to remain on strike for months and months to come if a reasonable deal -- albeit one that falls short of our entire list of demands -- is there for the taking. For this group the devil will be in the details.

I would count myself in this middle group.

But please don't refer to me as a "moderate writer" -- since "moderate writers" are the ones Variety keeps saying are doing all sorts of things that make absolutely NO F*#@ING SENSE!

I also think the WGA leadership should be counted in this group -- the reasonable, middle.

Perfect, no. reasonable, yes.

As I have said before, no one on the Negotiating Committee or the Executive Board or any of our attorneys, has ever said that any one thing on our list of demands was "off the table" or "not open to negotiation."

No one. Not Patric Verrone. Not David Young. No one.

The other side keeps trying to make it seem like we have. They receive unstinting aid in doing so from the film & TV trade publications in general and Variety in particular. But the fact remains we have not.

Yes, Patric Verrone told participants as a mass rally that "reality TV jurisdiction" would be in our next contract -- well, that's something he wants. That's something lots of guild members want -- and lots of currently non-union reality writers too.

But that isn't the same as telling the AMPTP it is something we refuse to negotiate over.

Don't buy into our side being "unreasonable" until they actually DO SOMETHING that is unreasonable.

So that's the first new dynamic -- how this development will affect our own members.

The second dynamic involves the Industry at-large. All those people who are not writers but who have been out of work because of the strike.

Once the DGA approves their new contract, the rest of the industry is going to become a Greek Chorus alternately pleading and demanding:


If the deal is good enough for the directors why isn't it good enough for you writers too? Are you better than the rest of us -- are you so special? If someone cuts you, do you not bleed? What makes you think you're so different from everyone else...?!

Of course, we know what makes us different. The fact that a hefty chunk of our membership relies much more heavily on RESIDUAL PAYMENTS to keep their heads above choppy economic waters. Our membership and the membership of SAG.

Still, the DGA has some -- albeit more limited than our own -- interest in residuals as well. And when you need to get into the arcane nitty-gritty details in order to defend your position to an audience... well, you're pretty much screwed in terms of winning them over to your side. It becomes a very difficult thing to do.

A lot of production people support the WGA and support this strike. One of them walked out of Warner Bros, passed me on the picket line today and said he supported us 100% and wanted us to keep fighting for the future -- even though he was getting laid-off tomorrow.

But some production people don't support us and are sick of the strike and angry at us.

That's just how it is.

My guess is the DGA deal will instantly swell the ranks of those non-writers in town who think this is all our fault.

I hate to tell you but this should not matter to us.

We can't let it matter to us.

Contrary to what some say, I don't think this strike is a popularity contest. Whether the public is for us or against us matters much, much less than whether we are for ourselves and against splitting apart into cannibalistic factions.

So let's stick together the way we have been, read the nitty-gritty details of the DGA deal and listen to what our negotiators and our leaders and our lawyers have to say about it.

Stay calm. Have some more patience.

On the funny side, I found out I am quoted in a recent issue of the online journal "Socialist Worker."

The reporter was at the "Scene of the Crime" event outside AMPTP headquarters in Encino on the last big Strike day before the Holiday break. She was asking people about the strike and I talked to her for a while -- and then she began trying to recruit us for the Socialist Party.

Needless to say she didn't have much success -- at least with me or the couple of other writers who were speaking with her at the time.

But she wrote a pretty good, very straightforward article about the strike. If you want to check it out, here's the link:

Socialist Worker WGA strike article

As for all us WGA members -- Socialist and non-Socialist alike -- I reiterate:

Stay calm. Stay patient. Stay on the picket lines.

And please don't kid yourself or allow yourself to be convinced otherwise: were it not for hundreds and -- on occasion -- thousands of us WGA members walking back and forth on the sidewalks of Los Angeles with picket-signs in our hands for the past two-and-a-half months, the Directors Guild of America would not have the deal they do now. They'd have a deal, yes -- but it wouldn't be anywhere near as good.

Anyone who argues with you over that one is either a liar or a fool.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Strike Day 74

Another beautiful blue-sky day in Southern California without a cloud in sight -- at least in the sky.

I did the 12:00 to 3:00pm shift on the picket line and to be honest for about an hour -- probably around 1:00 to 2:00 -- our WGA ranks were a little thin. It was just me and my "Strike Buddy." Then we were joined by a writer who was on her way to picket at NBC, noticed us as she was driving by and decided to park and join us, which was great. Then a couple of Writers Assistants showed up and we had suddenly more than doubled our numbers. The five of us kept picketing until the Guild van came by to pack up our signs and shut down the WGA presence at the Avon Gate around Three.

At one point while it was just the two of us, my strike buddy was off to the side getting a drink from the portable water cooler, leaving me picketing all by my lonesome, when a few Warners employees walked by and started giving me grief for being all alone. Basically they started heckling me. I heckled them back, as graciously as possible.

Another studio employee who was headed out crossed through the verbal exchange and added his own somewhat disparaging commentary, to which I replied with something like: "Well I'm just happy we live in a country where you and I can disagree about such things and still be able to live relatively happy lives," to which he replied: "You must be a fiction writer."

To which I then responded: "You mean because I said 'we can both live relatively happy lives'? Well, it's just my opinion but if you compare the average life here in the USA at the dawn of the 21st Century to the average life of anyone in the recorded history of mankind, I would stand by my claim that we count as 'relatively happy.'"

When my strike buddy came back to the line a minute later we both realized it had been a funny interlude but one which provided a serious lesson. The truth is, when you are marching back and forth with a picket sign in your hand ALL ALONE, you are an easy target. An easy target for derogatory humor on the one hand and an easy target to be made profoundly insignificant on the other. There is a big difference between one lone picketer and two picketers together -- and there is almost just as big a difference between two picketers and three. When you are alone, in any context on earth, you are an easy target for anyone who has half a notion to mess with you. When you are shoulder-to-shoulder with two other people, my guesstimate is that two-thirds of those who would have had the notion to mess with you -- even just verbally -- if you were all alone will not have that notion even cross their mind.

It takes much more motivation to mess with 3 people than to mess with one.

Now please don't get me wrong -- I'm not against intense, wide open debate, be it in the halls of the WGA or out on the picket line or pretty much anywhere else. In fact I have engaged in such debate many, many times throughout my life, everywhere from the streets of Brooklyn, New York to the streets of Shanghai, China -- but what I'm talking about wasn't "debate," it was heckling, plain and simple. And judging by my personal experience over the past two-and-a-half months, when there's more than one of us out there walking the line we simply don't get heckled.

So show up and walk the picket line, if for no other reason than to prevent your fellow guild members from being heckled!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Strike Day 73

Back to normal.

That's how I would describe today on the picket line at Warner Bros.

We had a decent turn-out, including a couple of game-show writers I'd never met before who had some great stories concerning everything from "Jeopardy" to "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?" Those guys come from an entire world that I know absolutely nothing about except as a fan, so it was kind of cool asking them questions about how those shows work on the inside.

Talked to some tourists from Kansas who had no idea what the strike was about. I tried to explain it in my most simple terms: television is moving to internet delivery and movies are not far behind. The Writers Guild needs to make sure that when stuff we wrote is delivered to an audience over the internet whoever wrote it gets their little piece of the profit pie. I may be an idiot but to me that is all this is about. They wished us luck and said they were happy to be in Southern California waering t-shirts, instead of back home in Kansas, where it was 15 degrees today.

Last night a mom at my older daughter's kung-fu class said something kind of funny. Her husband works for Staples Center, overseeing video broadcasts for all the big sporting events there. She said: "At least they don't need writers" -- in order for him to be able to broadcast all those programs. She wasn't trying to be mean, just relieved at her husband's relative job-security.

"At least they don't need writers."

She's a very nice woman but I said something about getting her a job application for the AMPTP.

The dreaded "Force Majeure" has begun to take out deals at studios and networks across LA. We heard half-a-dozen people with deals at Warner Bros. TV had their contracts "terminated." Hasn't happened to my partner and I yet but it could happen at any time. The downside is very obvious -- when the strike comes to an end we would not go back to receiving a regular weekly paycheck. But there would be an upside as well. We would be free to peddle our television wares all over town, rather than to just one studio. Don't get me wrong -- in this case I don't want to be free. But if I find myself free, I will revel in my freedom. One way or another we will get another TV show on the air. Hopefully it will be with Warner Bros. Television.

In a way I sympathize with the TV executives who we do business with. At least we know we are on the side of truth, justice and the American way -- if you consider enabling the workers who create successful products to share in the profit those products generate to be the American way. At least we have SOMETHING to do -- even if it's just march up and down the sidewalk carrying a picket sign in our hands. What do those executives have to do -- sit in their offices sifting through stacks of old pilot scripts while they wait to find out on whose head(s) the next cost-cutting initiative is going to fall?

True, they're still getting paid and that does count for something. But personally, I wouldn't want to trade places with them. Even more so because they aren't really participants in the decision-making process that brought us to this point. Even though I didn't vote to authorize the strike, I was given the opportunity to vote. Every member of the union -- including John Ridley -- was invited to every meeting, where they were able to say what they thought and be heard by how ever many of their fellow guild members remained in the auditorium. At least we are part of our side's decision-making process, even if we don't agree with the decision that gets made. At least we get to vote. The executives on the other side -- except for a tiny handful of guys at the top of the agenda-setting conglomerates, none of whom to my knowledge reside full-time in the city of Los Angeles -- pretty much have no say at all in the matter.

Of course we all have to live with the consequences, no matter how much or how little we were able to participate in the processes that brought them on.

McCaine came in second behind Romney in Michigan, which I suppose means the Republican nomination is now just as up-for-grabs as the Democratic one is. And there was no announcement today of a DGA deal. But it is coming. I don't want to say something like "and with it will come the temptation to cut and run" because for all I know it may include what we need to get in order to back to work. I'm not counting on it but I'm not counting against it either.

I am simply going to wait and see. And I think it's fair and reasonable to suggest you do the same.

See you tomorrow on the picket line -- where maybe I'll get lucky and meet someone who can educate me about some other writing genre that's totally alien to me, like Daytime Drama...

Strike Day 72

What a day, what a day -- I barely know where to begin!

I spent a lot of time out on the picket line today, way more than my standard 3-hour shift.

Why? Because there were SO MANY DANG PICKETERS OUT THERE! Every time I decided to pack it in and head home I would run into someone I knew and end up walking back and forth for another half-hour.

I went according to plan, parked on the far side of the freeway and walked to the studio lot.

On a normal day, at my little gate, we get somewhere from 3 to 10 people on the picket line.

Today we had from 30 to 50.

More than a month ago I sent an e-mail to the WGA letting them know that the security guards at Warner Bros. were counting how many people we had on the picket line every hour on the hour, or thereabouts. I thought it was important, not because there was anything nefarious about it but because I saw it as hard and fast proof that the companies -- or at least the company of Warner Bros. -- was paying attention to how many of us actually showed up to walk the picket lines every day.

Today, when the security guard came out, he had a hard time using his hands to communicate back to his colleague in the guard-house exactly how many of us were out there -- in fact he had to use one hand as a multiplier for the other.

And not one incident -- at least at the Avon Gate -- of tension or confrontation of any sort between Warner Bros. studio employees and the picketing writers.

There were two high points of the day for me...

The first involved a family of tourists from Australia, whom I spoke with a little while they were headed in on the studio tour, as I try to speak with any and all tourists headed in on the studio tour. When they came back out an hour or so later they walked over and asked what the strike was about. I did my best to explain it. The dad talked about how he and his family -- he was traveling with a group of 14 -- were kind of shocked by the extreme income disparity here in the USA, by how little some people, like the guy who had driven their stretch golf-cart and given them their studio tour, earned. I said that the USA has always been a somewhat extreme place, with more people at the bottom and more people at the very top, when compared with places like Australia or Western Europe, which have much stronger "labor" or democratic-socialist traditions. I said something about how the issue of internet residuals is about trying to preserve the "vast middle class" of the WGA, small as it may be.

Then the father asked what I wrote. When I talk to the tourists I don't say anything about my own credits unless they ask me. It isn't because I'm humble or shy. It's because -- despite having done a lot of work I consider to be incredibly good -- nothing my partner and I have created for TV or written for the movies has been a commercial triumph. Successful, yes. Blockbusters, no. At least not yet. Chances are the people I'm talking to won't be familiar with the stuff I've created or written. But when someone asks it's impolite not to answer. So I told the dad from Australia that my partner and I had created a show called "Sleeper Cell."

His face lit up like it was "Australia Day" and he started jumping up and down -- turned out "Sleeper Cell" was his favorite TV show ever. He was so happy and excited it was hard to believe. He gave me his phone number in case I ever visit Australia. Needless to say, it made my day.

Then the actress pictured to the right arrived to show her solidarity with we writers and the Warner Bros. employees who may face lay-offs as the week goes on.

I know this strike has caused a great deal of pain and suffering for a great many people -- including myself. But it would be dishonest for me to claim my mind was burdened by any of that during her visit, which comprised highlight number two.

Tomorrow it will be back to the normal scheme of the picket line.

Tomorrow may also bring news of a DGA deal with the AMPTP.

If so, let's hope that deal contains real profit participation for the internet.

But if it doesn't, let's hope we can stick together and leave it on the table. The same way I left the picket line and came home to my beautiful wife.

Temptation is a powerful thing -- but only as powerful as we let it be.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Strike Day 69 - 71

Well, tomorrow will be another big day at Warner Bros.

The WGA has called for a solidarity rally in sympathy with the Warner Bros. employees who may be layed off this coming week.

Personally, I'm not really a big fan of the idea of gathering several hundred to a thousand striking WGA members outside the studio where a bunch more people may be about to find out they are about to be let go because of the strike. Many of those people are very sympathetic to our cause and some actually do see it as their own cause as well. But some of them are not so sympathetic to our cause. Some of them are downright angry and pissed off at us in particular.

Now, I think those people are wrong, even from an objective standpoint -- but that doesn't change the fact that they have the right to their opinion.

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe showing up in the hundreds bordering on a thousand will just impress on all the people still working at Warner Bros. how much we striking writers sympathize with their difficult circumstances. To be honest, I think some of them will take it that way and others won't. I don't really think tomorrow's action will make us any more friends in the non-WGA Hollywood working man and woman community. But like I said, I may very well be wrong.

On the other hand, tomorrow's action may get us on the local news in a good way, talking about how much we do sympathize with all the other people being impacted by the strike.

I'll be there, doing my daily picketing routine, probably at the same old gate. My guess is parking will be impossible, so I plan to park in a supermarket lot just on the other side of the 134 Freeway and take a 5 minute walk to my post.

Meanwhile the Weinstein Company deal became official on Friday, which is pretty good news. Again, not because the Weinstein Company is big and powerful, since we all know it is not, but because it continues to show the world that the WGA is serious about making deals with companies, so long as they have any interest in making a deal with us -- and I think it really does help morale, if only by providing something POSITIVE for all us writers to talk about while we continue to march back and forth and back... and forth... and back... and forth. And it's good for the feature people -- the movie screenwriters -- since it will directly impact a small handful of them.

I shouldn't really say "them" since my partner and I are one -- or two -- of them, but we also work in TV and have been picketing outside our TV studio, so I guess I think of us as TV writers first in terms of this strike -- despite the fact that the strike has shut down a movie script we were writing for another studio.

The other day one of the new faces at our gate happened to be an animation writer -- which meant he is one of the very, very few WGA members still working, despite the strike. He pickets and he works. Double duty. On the bright side he is still getting paid.

As I see it there remain THREE POSSIBLE SCENARIOS for the strike's "End Game" and they are as follows:

(1) The DGA makes their deal with the AMPTP some time in the next few weeks and it contains numbers regarding internet profit participation which are good enough for we at the WGA to accept, so we do accept them and the strike ends.

(2) The DGA makes their deal with the AMPTP some time in the next few weeks and it does not contain such numbers, so we don't accept them and the strike goes on until July 1st, when SAG joins us on the picket lines, finally forcing the companies to come to an agreement regarding internet profit participation for writers AND actors -- or, in a slightly rosier version, the companies actually get along to doing that some time before the end of March, because once the end of March rolls around all further feature film production will otherwise have to shut down due to the looming threat of SAG walking out when their contract expires at the end of June. Studios won't be going into production on schedules that they are not absolutely confident they can get "in the can" before July 1st.

(3) Somewhere between now and July 1st, the WGA collapses from within. Dozens, then hundreds of us pull a "JR" (for "John Ridley") and go "Fi-Core," leaving the guild a hollow shell of its former self.

To be honest, I really don't think (3) is going to happen and that is pretty much all that matters to me. One way or another this strike will end. At one point or another we will go back to work -- back to writing movies and back to creating and running and writing for TV shows. The landscape -- particularly in the television world -- may well be a bit different from the one we left behind but the work will remain. There is simply too much money to be made by the companies for it not to.

Whether the strike ends thanks to a good DGA deal or thanks to the solidarity of SAG come March or July, it will end.

But until the day that it does end, the membership of the Writers Guild of America needs to stick together -- which is why I will be over at Warner Bros. tomorrow, along with several hundred of my fellow WGA members who will have taken all my potential parking spaces.

Sometimes the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.
Or the opinion of one.

Let's hope for a great rally and some good coverage on the local news tomorrow night!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Strike Day 67- 68



I was gone because I've been picketing all week without having really fully recovered from being ill this past weekend.

I passed out yesterday without making a Blog entry.

But if the Blog must suffer in order for another warm body to be out there on the picket line, then so be it my friends -- SO BE IT!!!

These past 2 days have actually been quite eventful out in my little corner of "WGA picket line" world.

Yesterday -- Wednesday -- we were visited by a couple of actors from the last show my partner and I did, who marched in solidarity with us for our entire 3-hour shift and then some.

This was good news for us -- and for the tourists, whose ranks happened to include some big fans of our show.

We were also visited by some unexpected guests -- including a father and son welding team from Oklahoma who were driving around looking for Mann's Chinese Theater.

I gave them directions, which were not that difficult from Warner Bros.

We were also visited by a larger-than-life (physically as well as personality-wise) furniture-liquidator from Northern California who grew up in Burbank and was related to William Wellman, director of 1927's "WINGS," the first movie to win an OSCAR for Best Picture. He was there to take the Warner Bros. VIP Tour but ended up grabbing a picket sign and walking alongside us for about half-an-hour. He called up his girlfriend -- a cop in Louisiana -- and asked her to guess what he was doing. Then he passed his cell-phone to my strike-buddy, who chanted across the country: "ON STRIKE, SHUT 'EM DOWN -- HOLLYWOOD'S A UNION TOWN!" The lady cop proceeded to tell him about a cartoon that recently ran in her local newspaper. It showed a guy getting his new 60" HDTV delivered. The delivery man dropped it off, had him sign for it and told him: "Enjoy the re-runs." She finished up by telling us to: "Give them hell."

Well, I don't know if we're really doing that but we were back on the line today -- Thursday -- and today's best guest was a TV sports cameraman and member of IATSE Local 600, who was driving by Warner Bros. on his way to visit his father's grave at Forest Lawn cemetery and decided to stop by and join us. He picked up a picket sign and asked how things were going with the strike. We did our best to fill him in. He told us that after a decade-ago strike, his union had accepted the companies keeping scab cameramen who had started working as replacements for union members during that strike. The union had even accepted taking those scab cameramen on as new members.

To be honest, that kind of blew me away.

Luckily for us writers there really is no way for scabs to do our jobs in the world of television, where intimate knowledge of characters and their world are prerequisites for being able to do even a remotely decent job. With a handful of incredibly-talented exceptions, people from outside the belly of the beast of a current TV show would have no chance at writing an episode.

However, in the land of movies, things are a little different. There it is easier to hunt down non-union but high-talent writers, either in schools or from the stacks of "new submission" spec scripts or from English-speaking lands overseas (and in Canada!). Of course, most of those English-speaking foreign lands have their own writer's guilds which have relationships with the WGA that are supposed to make it impossible for their guild-members to do things like scab work during a strike.

Anyhow, scabbing is not a major issue for this strike -- at least not yet. And that is a good thing.

For the 4th day in a row I was happily surprised by the turn-out at our Gate -- after the Holiday hiatus we seem to have come back to the picket lines without missing a beat.

Of course I don't know how the numbers are holding up anywhere and everywhere else but I certainly hope we are the rule and not just an exception.

Overall, I would have to rate this as a good week on the WGA side of the strike.

On the plus side we got the UA deal. On the minus side, John Ridley went "Fi-Core."

I suppose you could argue that makes it pretty much a wash -- but I would have to say that the United Artists deal is a bigger gain than John Ridley is a loss. Plus now we seem to be on the verge of a similar deal with the Weinstein Company. I don't like to talk about this stuff before it becomes REAL but both sides are discussing it in public so I imagine it will become real some time during the next week.

There was also the beginning of the end of this year's Award's shows. Ah, well. Maybe the DGA will get a deal before the Oscars and that deal will include reasonable profit-participation for New Media. Otherwise... I wouldn't get my hopes up for this year's Academy Awards working out too well.

A lot of people going in and out of work at Warners stopped to talk to us today and to tell us they support us and to tell us to "keep hanging in there" -- and this on the same week that Warner Bros. announced their Studio Services department, which provides all kinds of maintenance for physical production, will probably be laying-off large numbers of employees starting next week.

One woman on her way out of the studio actually apologized to us. I told her it wasn't her fault.

To be honest, it always makes me feel a little better when the studio folks are supportive. It reminds me that I'm not crazy and that we are not being unreasonable and they we in the WGA really -- REALLY -- didn't want for this strike to happen.

As I keep telling every tourist who stops to ask:

It is all very simple. It is all about ONE THING: profit participation when stuff we wrote is delivered to the audience via the INTERNET.

That's all we want. And that's what the companies -- so far at least -- refuse to even seriously discuss making provisions for.

And so the strike goes on.

Somewhere over the hill, over the mountain of months which lie before us -- months worth of weeks and weeks worth of days -- somewhere over that mountain lies the First of July. And on the First of July, whether the AMPTP likes it or not, we in the WGA will be joined on our picket lines all over Los Angeles by the "Big Battalions" of SAG.

Again I ask the question: how long will the companies hold their line when there are not only no scripts... but no actors -- be they bit-players or above-the-title movie stars -- as well...?

Not too f*@#ing long.

Hopefully it won't take until then for the strike to be resolved.

But if it does... it does.

Until then, just keep putting one foot in front of the other, one foot in front of the other, one foot in front of the other...