- Marueen Ryan of the Chicago Tribune's The Watcher blog reports from the picket lines in Los Angeles, on the state of the strike. (Sounds like the strike will be lasting months.) Ryan reports:
“This winter is going to be Valley Forge,” British actor and comedian Eddie Izzard said at Friday’s Write Aid, a WGA benefit staged at UCLA’s Royce Hall by several comics.
Ryan also provides an update on Leno and O'Brien's return to work. Conan doesn't sound too happy about it in his statement:
"For the past seven weeks of the writers' strike, I have been and continue to be an ardent supporter of the WGA and their cause. My career in television started as a WGA member and my subsequent career as a performer has only been possible because of the creativity and integrity of my writing staff. Since the strike began, I have stayed off the air in support of the striking writers while, at the same time, doing everything I could to take care of the 80 non-writing staff members on 'Late Night.'
"Unfortunately, now with the New Year upon us, I am left with a difficult decision. Either go back to work and keep my staff employed or stay dark and allow 80 people, many of whom have worked for me for fourteen years, to lose their jobs. If my show were entirely scripted I would have no choice. But the truth is that shows like mine are hybrids, with both written and non-written content. An unwritten version of 'Late Night,' though not desirable, is possible – and no one has to be fired.
"So, it is only after a great deal of thought that I have decided to go back on the air on January 2nd. I will make clear, on the program, my support for the writers and I'll do the best version of 'Late Night' I can under the circumstances. Of course, my show will not be as good. In fact, in moments it may very well be terrible. My sincerest hope is that all of my writers are back soon, working under a contract that provides them everything they deserve."
The WGA says:
“The AMPTP walked away from the bargaining table on December 7, rather than negotiate a fair agreement for writers. NBC forcing Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien back on the air without writers is not going to provide the quality entertainment that the public deserves. The only solution to the strike is a negotiated settlement of the issues. If the AMPTP won’t come to the table, then it’s time for responsible companies to come forward and negotiate a fair deal.”
The WGA continues talks for an interim deal with David Letterman's company Worldwide Pants so that the Late Show and Late Late Show can return to air with their writers.
- Digital media legal expert Jonathan Handel has some ideas on how to restart talks. Read all of Handel's article if you really want to get deep into the weeds of the issues involved. The basic framework he suggests might actually be acceptable and reasonable to all sides. The alternative, he suggests, will be scorched earth and the probability that SAG will go on strike when their contract is up at the end of June. I'm not terribly optimistic, so it'll probably be scorched earth.
- Deadline Hollywood Daily reports on the latest example of illegal collusion among the member companies of the AMPTP. It you really study the issues it seems like a Sherman Antitrust Act or RICO investigation is warranted.
- You can press for action in the Los Angeles City Council.
- The DGA and the WGA will be meeting to discuss and share ideas (and perhaps strategy) regarding new media concerns. SAG reiterates its steadfast support for the writers.
- The AMPTP and their hacks continue to lie. And they don't even do it very well.
- Breaking: The WGA will not grant waivers for the Golden Globes or Oscar telecasts. DHD reports:
The decisions were announced tonight at the big WGA West membership meeting taking place right now at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association had requested a waiver for its NBC broadcast, but the WGA rejected it. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has not yet asked for a waiver for its ABC broadcast, but the WGA said it would reject that, too.
At the start of the meeting, WGAW president Patric Verrone introduced chief negotiators John Bowman and Dave Young to the crowd of striking writers who gave all three men a standing ovation.