Above the AMPTP's Nick Counter (seated) is informed by the WGA (standing) that the union will go on strike.
The Writers Strike will start shortly, the WGA announced earlier tonight.
Laeta Kalogridis, who wrote the pilot of the new Katee Sackhoff/Michelle Ryan Bionic Woman, explained the issues with great clarity on the United Hollywood blog, answering the question, "Or, what the heck do those crazy writers want, anyway?"
What are we asking for in Internet and New Media?
1. Residuals for reuse of content (like replaying tv shows) on the internet.
We're asking for residuals of 2.5% of revenue -- that means for every dollar they get paid, we'd get 2 and a half cents. It's a flat percentage, so if they're right and they're never ever going to make a penny, well then, we won't either. No harm, no foul.
Since 2.5% is our starting point, in any normal negotiation we'd end up somewhere between what they want to pay (.3%) and what we're asking for (2.5%). I'd guess 1 to 1.5 %.
2. Coverage and protections for original content (new stuff we create for the internet.)
We're asking for basic protections so that when we write original stuff for the internet, we have rights -- health and pension, minimum amounts, credits and separated rights (so if we make some amazing character or show, we get the right to share in its success.)
We're just asking for the same protections we already have for writing in tv or film. Nothing new or weird. Just the basics.
What are the other issues?
Currently we get .3% per dvd, we're asking for .6%.
Translation: now we get 4 cents per dvd. We are asking for 8 cents per dvd. Since most dvd's cost at least 10 bucks, that doesn't exactly seem like a bank-breaker. Whatever.
Enforcement of Coverage
There are lots of shows, like game shows, documentaries and talk shows, where writing is supposed to be covered under our contract. The companies sometimes just ignore the contract -- which means folks don't get health and pension, and if they ask for it, they get fired.
We want them to stop that, and honor the contract they signed.
Expansion of Coverage
We want to cover stuff where writers are working without coverage, which means without health and pension and other protections. The two big areas are animation and reality. We think those writers should be covered.
See also this News From Me update and Working Life.
And as always, Deadline Hollywood and United Hollywood will keep on top of the latest moves.
With the strong unity within the WGA, and the public alliances with SAG and the Teamsters, the pressure may build to end this strike quickly, one can hope.
below: Nick Counter fumes, malodorously.