What Did the Writers Guild Win?

The Writer’s Guild strike is over after a measly 100 days.

What was gained? If you strike, you don’t strike to win parity or a cast off breadcrumb.  You strike to win big.  You strike to take the ball back. Did the WGA win big?  No.

Some believe the strike cost $2 billion dollars to the Hollywood economy in lost production, catering closures, florists dying, valets being laid-off, hotels churning empty rooms, restaurant workers waiting on nobodies and costume-houses going dark. 

The WGA gobbled up a breadcrumb concession on payments from online entertainment.  That’s it.

On December 7, 2007, the Guild was rightfully demanding the unionization of Animation writers and Reality show writers as well as the right to Sympathy Strike.  On February 11, 2008 — when the strike ended — they won none of those demands.

The Writers Guild was whupped by the producers, and in the bloodletting, thousands of people lost their jobs, a few lost their homes, and everyone lost their respect for a Writers Guild strike that turned out, in the end, to be spineless and pointless.

Weak Leadership Dooms the DGA

The ongoing Writers Guild Strike in Hollywood took a reflective pause last week in the hopeful glow of a “done deal” with the Directors Guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.

Authors should not yet rejoice — the Directors Guild is notorious for rolling over and playing dead when it comes to hard-nosed negotiations with the producers — and any hoped-for “contract template” the Writers can use as a cudgel with producers based on the Directors deal will not even achieve most favored nation status. 

The producers are angry and they need to — and feel they must — punish the Writers for their disobedience in some formidable and permanent manner in order to save face and propagate their power.

There may be some easing of the tension between the Writers and the producers to get through the Academy Awards together — but that goodwill cannot last unless and until the Writers not only bend, but break, to the producers’ whims.

All Television Writing is Shakespeare

I recently wrote a WordPunk article called — Show Business Not Show Show — and the meat of that article argued Show Business is about making money and not creating art.

That said, we need to realize many professionally trained television writers — many are member of the Writers Guild — believe everything they write is on the quality level of Shakespeare… even if they are writing for situation comedies or reality shows.

That need to feel important and to lift the ordinary writing to higher level by historic association is vital to the author ego because it is a form of protection from the dual reality of their job:  Dreck passing for earnest entertainment.

Most television writing is pretty awful.  It lacks structure.  It has no substance, conflict, or dramatic core. 

Of course, no television author reading this thinks I’m writing about them — and we’d have it no other way.

Union Rage and Labor Equity

The unionized labor market is on fire and that continued rage of discontent will carry over into the next year as the Writers and Local One, the Broadway Stagehands Union, in New York are joined by the Director’s Guild and the Actors in violent and visual protest against untenable labor equity.

Are these work actions merely about money and respect or is something deeper going on here? Is there a revolt against condemning the Common Man while the rich become wealthier and crueler?

Continue reading → Union Rage and Labor Equity

Comments on the Writers Guild Strike

There is a Writers Guild strike that is currently and deliciously finally meting out justice to producers who do not value the written word despite their phony, opposite, claims, and I fully support the strike and the effort for writers — the instigators of original inspiration and creation — to get their fair share of future DVD and online entertainment profits.

Fight to the death.  Let the producers find their bloody end.

Continue reading → Comments on the Writers Guild Strike