Tuesday, January 01, 2008

WGA Strike - Days 54, 55, 56, 57, 58

Day 58 lands on New Year's, and I'm hoping there was good (non-uber-windy) weather over the Rose Parade for the fans4writers skywriting campaign.

I've been away from my computer and my blog for a few days, and there have been some new developments. Hopefully no one is actually getting strike "news" from my blog, because you'll be woefully behind, but the big development last weekend was making a deal with David Letterman's company so his shows (Late Night and the Craig Ferguson show) could get back on the air with writers intact. I have to admit, I had mixed feelings about this move, specifically about allowing a CBS profit center back on the air while we're still trying to make an overall deal with the AMPTP, but any misgivings are mitigated by two things. One, I'm sure the WGA negotiating committee argued the same points to death before making this move and two, there needs to be movement to break the logjam. Whatever else the Wordwide Pants deal is, it IS movement.

Nikke Finke some quoted "angry feature writers" who vowed to get back to work right now, because he or she is fed up with being on strike for issues that only affect television. Here's the commentary from Finke's column to Deadline Hollywood (url to the right).

"Before today's announcement, I received phone calls and emails from some well-known WGA members, especially feature film writers, angry that the WGA was even contemplating such an agreement while at the same time dumping those issues important to screenwriters like possessory credit, free rewrites and endless meetings without pay. They told me they planned to stop picketing and possibly go Fi-Core over what they see as a strike that's become more about television that movies.

Tonight I've managed to reach one of those successful screenwriters who phoned me and he's furious. "I'm going back to work," he said, asking me not to use his name. "I have gotten five phone calls tonight from feature writers and every single one of them has said some variation on, 'Bullshit on this. Why am I looking at staying out of work until April when these guys are going to start picking up paychecks on Tuesdays?'"

The writer continued: "All you're doing every time a movie or TV star goes on Letterman is making money for a member of the AMPTP. If you're going to strike GM, then you strike GM. You don't say, 'We're going to give a waiver to the guys making pickup trucks because they're really good guys.'" You don't maintain solidarity by letting a handful of guys go back to work. So what's next: Lorne's people go back to work? Then Colbert's people go back to work?"

This guy is essentially making my earlier point, so I have some sympathy, but not to the point of going financial core or scabbing. And I find myself getting tired of people suggesting that issues important to television writers have no effect on feature writers. As someone with size 15's firmly in both camps, I'll note that getting coverage on projects released over the internet is going to be vitally important in both arenas. And these feature folks shouldn't be surprised if one day the television world comes knocking, in which case suddenly all these TV issues will be VERY important. I sold 14 feature screenplays my first few years in the screenwriting business and never even considered a career in television until, well, I had a career in television.

I can't get back to wrapping up the final season of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA or continue working on the two features I have pending, so believe me, I know frustration. But going off the rails because Letterman's writers are back to work isn't the answer. The (unfortunately corny, but so it goes) answer is sticking it out, trusting the negotiating committee and getting a fair deal.

Oh, and... Happy New Year...


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