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!

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