Monday, December 03, 2007

Your nightly strike update

Nikki Finke of Deadline Hollywood Daily has two new scoops. First she reports that the major media moguls are starting to break ranks, and that most of them want one of their own to lead the negotiations and sideline the current top negotiator, Nick Counter of the AMPTP. Finke also wonders why the studios are sticking together at all when it would be to their competitive benefit for each company to make individual deals with the WGA. (As an example the big three auto makers don't join forces when dealing with the UAW, each company makes their own deal with the UAW.) Of course then the WGA would benefit from the competition. (In this scheme in talks with Disney/ABC they could say, "Well, NBC/Universal gave us X, so don't you think you should too? Maybe there is a game theory expert out there who can sort this whole thing out. Maybe the recent Nobel Prize in Economics winners could help.)

Finke's second report is about how the goal of Tuesday's talks is haggling. Apparently the WGA leadership is feeling receptive to the idea of flat fees for internet usage instead of relying on Hollywood's "creative book keeping" to get a percentage. But, with the AMPTP offering numbers as low as $250 for one years of internet reuse when normally a writer would have gotten a check for around $20,000 for a network rereun of their show, I'd say they have a lot of haggling to do for such divergent numbers to get even close to each other.

Also Maureen Ryan in the Chicago Tribune The Watcher Blog, asks, Who will control the future? That's the question at the heart of the strike:

Entertainment conglomerates are not the only game in town, as musicians have realized and as Hollywood writers, directors and actors are figuring out. The strike blogs and videos that have proliferated in the last few weeks are indications that it’s easy—and fun—to do an end run around the companies that allegedly control the entertainment industry.

Unless studio executives begin to view the people who create films and TV shows as their partners, not pesky contractors, it’s the executives who’ll be writing the “death warrant” for the industry, contrary to a blustery statement one anonymous executive made to the New York Times Dec. 1.

People who harness their imaginations for a living — whether they work in film, music or TV — want more ownership of what they create, and they want more of the revenue that comes from those creations. And the Internet is one of the things that will allow them to do that.

In other news, Lost showrunner Carlton Cuse, a member of the WGA negotiating committee explains the recent reports that he had crossed the picket line to edit episodes of Lost. Carlton says:
On November 16 I, regretably, was quoted by a Wall Street Journal reporter saying I was going to perform some of my non-writing, post-production duties on episodes of LOST to protect the show for the fans. However, I'm sure to the delight of the AMPTP, my statement became the story and gave the false impression that there was disunity among showrunners over the issues of this negotiation.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Every showrunner I know, whether producing or not producing, stands in full support of the goals of our guild.

For the past two months I have been working seven days a week on these negotiations alongside my fellow negotiating committee members.

As a committee we did everything we could to get both parties back to the bargaining table this last week. We were fully prepared to enter into the kinds of back-and-forth discussions that are necessary to reach any sort of labor deal. I sincerely hoped this return to the table would lead to real progress.

I was wrong.

In fact, given the events of last Thursday -- and where things currently stand -- I can no longer in good conscience continue to work on my show in any capacity.

What I will be doing is continuing my work as a member of the committee for as long as it takes, contributing in any way I can, to get us the fair and just deal that we must have.

And finally, here's a recent funny strike video by a Colbert Report writer, about how YouTube cats, dogs, and other animals are joining the work stoppage:

3 comments:

Logan Gawain said...

While the above post notes that the WGA seems open to flat rate payments for internet reuse, streaming, as well as for work created directly for the internet such as webisodes, I assume the WGA still will seek percentages in regard to electronic sell throughs -- downloads and an increase in the DVD rate of 4 cents to something close to their goal of 8 cents. The AMPTP is supposed to show their EST proposal today.

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