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Understanding the WGA Writer's Strike
November 10, 2007 7:10 PM   Subscribe

As the Writer's Guild of America strike wears on into its second week, it seems appropriate to remember why they're striking in the first place. If you ask me, the terms seem almost too reasonable. But in the defense of the studios, I'm sure the businessmen involved have gotten used to spending those millions of dollars, and wouldn't want to see them go. Now that Broadway has shut down in allegiance to their Hollywood compatriots, things are looking grim for anything to be resolved without more financial bloodshed.
posted by GoodAaron (90 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
I have mixed feelings about it all. Looking at the details, I agree that the writers are getting screwed.

But they're part of something larger, something I feel no sympathy for at all.

The writers are on the lowest deck of a sinking ocean liner; they're drowning first. But the whole ship is sinking -- and the sooner, the better. The only real problem here is that the writers will drown first, and they're least responsible for my wishing for the ship to sink.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 7:20 PM on November 10, 2007 [3 favorites]


It's been said that if the writers ever woke up, they'd realize that they own Hollywood. Maybe this is a first, well-deserved step towards that.
posted by muppetboy at 7:22 PM on November 10, 2007 [9 favorites]


But the whole ship is sinking -- and the sooner, the better.

I don't feel sympathy for the WGA the same way I feel sympathy for, let's say, coal miners, but you're railing against TV and movies why exactly?
posted by dhammond at 7:31 PM on November 10, 2007


I hope the TV writers stay on strike forever.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 7:32 PM on November 10, 2007 [3 favorites]


Man! Read your own Variety article:

At issue in the talks are contractual employment obligations, particularly the hiring requirements for the process of loading a production into a Broadway theater. Producers want to establish flexibility on rules — for instance, the obligation to hire a fly operator even for productions that have no flies — that they see as outdated and overly costly. Stagehands, meanwhile, refuse to give up what they see as hard-earned protections of their livelihood without receiving other benefits in exchange.

No suggestion it's related to the WGA strike - the stagehands have their own issues, and Equity is respecting the picket lines in support of them.
posted by rkent at 7:32 PM on November 10, 2007


DHammond, because the entire institution is intellectually bankrupt, morally corrupt, pretentious, and seduced by ludicrous self-importance. It is hubris embodied, and deserves its nemesis.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 7:34 PM on November 10, 2007


And maybe I'm wrong, but the stagehand's Local One strike seems to have little if anything to do with the WGA strike, other than, well, they're both striking over contract negotiations.

If the UAW calls a strike right now, is that in support? What about the grocery workers?
posted by pupdog at 7:36 PM on November 10, 2007


Or, what rkent said...
posted by pupdog at 7:36 PM on November 10, 2007


the entire institution is intellectually bankrupt, morally corrupt, pretentious, and seduced by ludicrous self-importance.

Quick, someone make an FPP about The Wire.
posted by dhammond at 7:38 PM on November 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


To my knowledge, the screenwriters guild only protects people who the producers have hired. Therefore, nobody else should have any loyalties to them.
posted by Brian B. at 7:40 PM on November 10, 2007


Brian, I don't agree with that logic, because I do have an abstract commitment to justice. There are cases where I will support an activity even if I don't personally benefit from its success.

Just not this one.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 7:45 PM on November 10, 2007


because the entire institution is intellectually bankrupt, morally corrupt, pretentious, and seduced by ludicrous self-importance. It is hubris embodied, and deserves its nemesis.

And lo, did we search for such a nemesis, and verily it be found on a blog.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:48 PM on November 10, 2007 [3 favorites]


because the entire institution is intellectually bankrupt, morally corrupt, pretentious, and seduced by ludicrous self-importance. It is hubris embodied, and deserves its nemesis.


Yeah. Damn those Hollywood writers, always writing sentences full of big words that mean absolutely nothing upon close examination.
posted by drjimmy11 at 7:48 PM on November 10, 2007 [10 favorites]


I agree with Steven. Most Hollywood writers have for decades shown breathtaking arrogance in refusing point-blank to become Republicans; they deserve whatever is coming to them. I can't wait for the day when the American media machine grinds to a halt and we receive our news and entertainment from the only valid source, Karl Rove's fragrant bunghole.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:50 PM on November 10, 2007 [9 favorites]


I can't wait for the day that network executives go on strike and the pages of Metafilter will be filled with glorious, snortwrenching snark.
posted by dhammond at 7:54 PM on November 10, 2007


"...the entire institution is intellectually bankrupt, morally corrupt, pretentious, and seduced by ludicrous self-importance..."


With all due respect to you Steven,the entire institution in question must by definition be intellectually bankrupt, morally corrupt, pretentious, and seduced by ludicrous self-importance in order to accomplish what they accomplish. What Hollywood does would be impossible if it was perspicacious, morally upstanding, modest, and humble. All you'd have would be PBS! They couldn't even make a PG13 movie. Hollywood must be all those things you said and moreso, by default.

Steven, you being upset with Hollywood like this is like looking down on a plumber cuz occasionally he interacts with raw sewage transit systems. DUH! HE'S A PLUMBER! That's why people pay him big bucks to install toilets and septic tanks. You can't shovel crap for a living without gettin' a little bit on ya now and then. Comes with the trade. That's nothing to be ashamed about, and people shouldn't look down on ya for it.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:57 PM on November 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


Obligatory link to Coupon: The Movie
posted by dhammond at 7:57 PM on November 10, 2007


I agree with Steven. Most Hollywood writers have for decades shown breathtaking arrogance in refusing point-blank to become Republicans; they deserve whatever is coming to them.

Oh, baloney. I'm not a Republican any more myself.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 7:58 PM on November 10, 2007


Okay Steven, but if any budding writer has a bigger obstacle with existing writers than producers, then writers justice be damned.
posted by Brian B. at 8:02 PM on November 10, 2007


And lo, did we search for such a nemesis, and verily it be found on a blog.

XQUZYPHYR, tu quoque is not refutation.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 8:07 PM on November 10, 2007


Uh...what exactly do you think it is that's sinking, Steven? Are movies and TV going away forever? Did I not get the memo?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:09 PM on November 10, 2007


Oh, baloney. I'm not a Republican any more myself.

They *are* getting increasingly hard to find . . .
posted by hackly_fracture at 8:10 PM on November 10, 2007


I'm in a weird situation. I'm not a WGA member but I'm putting together my first documentary - it's in post right now. And I think I can sell it to the Discovery Channel HD or HD Net - I'm putting alot of work into it.

Now, because these documentaries are unscripted, AND I'm not a member of the Writer's Guild, I don't - think - there's any problem - hell, this might be the right time and the right place to break into the documentary market.

But...

By providing the unscripted material, am I essentially "scabbing-out" the WGA?

I suppose I'd feel more sympathy if they had an easy union contact on their Web site where I could call or e-mail them with questions about the strike. Also, if they didn't require $2500 and 24 credits to join up...

Still, I don't like the idea of crossing any picket line - though I think I'm not crossing it - merely going around it, so to speak.
posted by BrianBoyko at 8:14 PM on November 10, 2007


what exactly do you think it is that's sinking, Steven?

The big media companies. It's not just the movie studios, it's also magazines, the TV networks, newspapers. That whole industry is sinking.

What I've read is that they peaked about the mid 1970's and have been in a long, slow decline ever since, but it's accelerated in the last ten years. The WGA is just one small piece of one part of it all, and perhaps they're the part that's stuck in steerage. But they lay down with dogs, and have the same fleas.

It's an interesting thing: if you look at independent figures, the US economy is very healthy. Unemployment is low, employment has never been higher. The GDP is growing right now at an excellent rate, and inflation is low. Things ain't perfect, of course, but they've never been perfect and never will be.

But if you read the news media you'll hear nothing but gloom and doom about how the economy is going to hell. Why? I'm reminded of an old joke: a recession is when some other guy loses his job. A depression is when I lose my job. The news organizations are talking about how awful the economy is because their part of it really is in terrible shape and is sinking.

But their sector is almost the only part that is suffering that kind of decline.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 8:21 PM on November 10, 2007


employment has never been higher.

I would love to see a link for this.
posted by dhammond at 8:25 PM on November 10, 2007


But their sector is almost the only part that is suffering that kind of decline.

Oh, dear. Well, I've been telling people for years that Lord of the Rings is a docudrama, and no one believes me, either. History will vindicate us both, my friend.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:28 PM on November 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


I understand the What and the Why of the strike, and I don't have any illusions that it's about being "fairly compensated," so much as it is about extracting the maximum dollars out of relationships between content providers and content publishers.

What I don't understand is the How.

As in, how did it come to this? How were the contracts allowed to be so flawed as to not include standard languages about all means of publishing? How were the contracts so flawed that the union members approved a contract with giant loopholes like work-for-promotions and so forth? How did negotiations break down on a fundamental level with so many content publishers? How is the strike supposed to work? How does the union expect the content publishers to react in a truly positive way?

These are rhetorical questions, of course. I know how -- union leadership is nearly universally, mind-boggling short-sighted because of its fundamentally conflicting goals (serve its members ... wait, um, serve ourselves ... hold it ... we have to serve our true clients, the management, in order to get paid at all ... ummm) and fucked up Chinese democracy management structures.

Jackasses. All of them.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:32 PM on November 10, 2007


First link, entertaining us during a work stoppage, equals SCABS. I don't want to devalue the hard-fought gains of my coal-mining and auto-assembling forefathers but after watching the second link, produced by the guild members and as entertaining as those filmstrips they used to show us during history class, I'd like to see more from the scabs. Two links concerning this topic is my limit until someone offering a necessary service - like transit workers or garbage collectors - hits the picket line in sympathy.
posted by TimTypeZed at 8:46 PM on November 10, 2007


DHammond, I'm talking about total employment, not percentage or some sort of other relative measure. More people in the US have jobs now than any time in history.

Go here, select "Total Civilian Labor Force" and then push the "retrieve data" button. The numbers are given per-month, but I'll extract out just the January figures:

1997 134,317,000
1998 135,951,000
1999 137,943,000
2000 141,228,000
2001 142,828,000
2002 143,228,000
2003 145,301,000
2004 146,068,000
2005 147,125,000
2006 149,090,000
2007 151,924,000
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 8:47 PM on November 10, 2007


Oh, baloney. I'm not a Republican any more myself.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste


Let me guess: Malkavian?
posted by Curry at 8:50 PM on November 10, 2007 [4 favorites]


intellectually bankrupt, morally corrupt, pretentious, and seduced by ludicrous self-importance. It is hubris embodied...

Well, the whole "24" series, anyway.
posted by Balisong at 9:01 PM on November 10, 2007


Hmm, I had no idea a strike was going on...maybe because I don't watch television...and I rarely go to the movies. If television shows ceased to exist, it wouldn't phase me in the slightest.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 9:21 PM on November 10, 2007


Hollywood was weaned on depressed economies, and continues to thrive based on its export to others internationally. Condemning the entire visual media industry is just stupid, there's a lot of talent and value in there. There may be vast reforms needed, but I don't think any of us will see the end of the American dominated media any time soon. Our greatest monopoly is on information and fantasy.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:25 PM on November 10, 2007 [2 favorites]


American exceptionalism much?
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:37 PM on November 10, 2007


Total Civilian Labor Force

Have you controlled for natural demographic population growth?
posted by meehawl at 9:54 PM on November 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


Steven C., I really dislike numbers without a context. So I went looking... over those ten years we've added 1.7 million jobs a year. Awesome! Except we've added 2.2 million new adults in that same time. (census.gov XLS file)

- - - Total jobs New jobs New adults
1998 135,951 1,634 2,197
1999 137,943 1,992 2,335
2000 141,228 3,285 2,472
2001 142,828 1,600 2,658
2002 143,228 0,400 2,241
2003 145,301 2,073 2,198
2004 146,068 0,767 2,128
2005 147,125 1,057 2,033
2006 149,090 1,965 2,099
2007 151,924 2,834 2,209
- - - - TOTAL 17,607 22,570

This does not take into account people not making it to their 18th birthday, but I'm going to assume it isn't 5 million out of the 22 million.

In other words, we are almost certainly jobs-negative over the past decade.
posted by andreaazure at 9:54 PM on November 10, 2007 [9 favorites]


It's an interesting thing: if you look at independent figures, the US economy is very healthy. Unemployment is low, employment has never been higher. The GDP is growing right now at an excellent rate, and inflation is low. Things ain't perfect, of course, but they've never been perfect and never will be.

Every one of those things is a lie of one form or another. Not YOUR lie, you're just repeating what you're being told, but every one of those numbers is fudged, often heavily.

Gas is very near $100/barrel, and inflation is LOW? Nuts to that idea.

All the numbers we've used to measure have been hijacked and corrupted into meaninglessness. This really started under Clinton, but has been enthusiastically continued by the present administration. The numbers don't measure what they used to; the yardstick changes, literally month to month in the case of inflation.

Hollywood is upset about the economy being bad because it's bad.

Oh, and as far as this earlier comment goes:

DHammond, because the entire institution is intellectually bankrupt, morally corrupt, pretentious, and seduced by ludicrous self-importance. It is hubris embodied, and deserves its nemesis.

Translation: Hollywood is liberal.
posted by Malor at 10:15 PM on November 10, 2007 [2 favorites]


Steven C. Den Beste, the guy who loves anime catgirls whining about the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of hollywood? That's a larf.

Anyway, I think the writers strikes rocks. I hardly ever watch TV, and lately I haven't been watching any of it. An extra hour a day, without worrying about the clock (I only watch the Daily Show/ Colbert report and sometimes SNL)

Frankly I hope they strike for a couple years. But likely if it goes on too long they'll just hire scabs. I mean it's not like content can just stop being produced forever, but the fact that it can stop for this long is just amazing to me. The entire Hollywood machine is just turned off.
posted by delmoi at 11:23 PM on November 10, 2007


DHammond, I'm talking about total employment, not percentage or some sort of other relative measure. More people in the US have jobs now than any time in history.

Well, as other people pointed out, that's a totally useless number. It's incredible that a guy with a couple of engineering patents could get this wrong, so the most likely answer is that it's not credible, and that you're lying and you know it.
posted by delmoi at 11:27 PM on November 10, 2007


Hmm, I had no idea a strike was going on...maybe because I don't watch television...and I rarely go to the movies. If television shows ceased to exist, it wouldn't phase me in the slightest.

If the thread was about fishing, would you feel the same irresistible urge to open up the thread and add nothing else to the discussion but to point out you don't fish?

Seriously, what makes you think anyone cares?

Anyway, I miss Daily Show and Colbert, but I'll survive. I've heard that some new shows may get canceled before they get a full season which will suck, I really think stuff like Journeyman deserves more time to develop.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:53 PM on November 10, 2007 [2 favorites]


[The media] is intellectually bankrupt, morally corrupt, pretentious, and seduced by ludicrous self-importance. It is hubris embodied, and deserves its nemesis.

It's an interesting thing: if you look at independent figures, the US economy is very healthy. Unemployment is low, employment has never been higher. The GDP is growing right now at an excellent rate, and inflation is low

There's a theory which states that the amount of information in a statement is inversely proportionate to the predictability in that statement. As such, considering the author, neither of these comments contain any information whatsoever.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:34 AM on November 11, 2007


Steven has turned this conversation oddly beside the point. The conclusion of writer strikes isn't destruction of the system that contains them, it's more reality television.

All executives not paying their union workers fairly gets us, in this case, is craptons of reality TV.

Somebody get started on their Project Runway and NBC's super exciting 150 hours of green week posts. What? They were totally planning to give us 150 hours of green before the strike too.
posted by birdie birdington at 2:25 AM on November 11, 2007


First link, entertaining us during a work stoppage, equals SCABS.

Actually, since the piece was produced for the internet, it technically is not in breach of the WGA protocol (and therefore not "scab material"), since Internet-exclusive media is not yet under the umbrella of the Writer's Guild (although if they get their way, it will be after the strike).
posted by GoodAaron at 2:26 AM on November 11, 2007


Also, while the Broadway Stagehand Union strike is certainly done so for its own reasons (it would be nonsense for them to shut down Broadway for the exclusive reason of "union solidarity"), it's generally believed that they struck specifically during the WGA strike so that each guild could benefit from the mutual shutdown of the entertainment industry, encouraging both negotiations to resolve more quickly.
posted by GoodAaron at 2:29 AM on November 11, 2007


Let me guess: Malkavian?

John Malkovitch has formed a political party? Where do I sign up?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:16 AM on November 11, 2007


"How did negotiations break down on a fundamental level with so many content publishers?"

"So many"? There can only be one...
posted by Auz at 4:57 AM on November 11, 2007


Just chiming in to say my usual, that TV has been kicking ass the past few years, and bragging about not watching is empty, snobbish, and illogical.

I'm a little disappointed that this probably means we won't get our promised 16 episodes in a row of Lost, but other than that, the shows I love are worth the wait for the writers to get a fair deal.

And Weeds last week was awesome.
posted by lampoil at 4:59 AM on November 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


To tie in the actual subject of this post and SDB's attempted hijack, Hollywood is one of the few bright spots in the US economy. As someone pointed out to me in the thread about Chinese toys, movies are one of our major exports.
posted by octothorpe at 6:36 AM on November 11, 2007


Without the writers, well, TV would really, really suck. News, top-100-whatever, reality, that's about all we'll get without the writers, and that's the stuff I hate the most. If I want reality, I just look anywhere but at the TV. TV is to *escape* the harshness of reality. I don't want that option to disappear. There are quite a few TV shows I enjoy these days, and what draws me to the shows I like is primarily the quality of the writing.

I totally support the writers. They deserve a share of the proceeds for net sales or whatever other income streams may appear. It's not like they're asking for *all* of the proceeds or profits from such income streams, just a share. And the guys they're arguing with make 100 times what the writers do, so I certainly don't feel sorry for *them* if the writers get their way. Boo hoo, they'd only make 90 times what the writers do? Have to downgrade their solid platinum swimming pools to solid gold? Downgrade their Ferraris to BMWs? I'm sure they'll be able to suffer along.
posted by jamstigator at 7:04 AM on November 11, 2007


So what are all you television watchers watching? Is it all reruns of Gilligan's Island now?

TV has been kicking ass the past few years, and bragging about not watching is empty, snobbish, and illogical.

Not necessarily, not if there are better alternatives, such as many, many more years of books and music to enjoy, not to mention exercise to be had, places to visit, friends to talk to, things to write, instruments to play, and so on.
posted by pracowity at 7:10 AM on November 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


So what are all you television watchers watching?

Netflixing my way through The Wire. Speaking of that show, did they complete the fifth season before the strike? Hope so. If not, oh well, I'll just Netflix through other scripted shows I couldn't be bothered to watch when they originally aired.

And anyway, I love reality tv, and I'm not ashamed to say it. I'm eager to see what they'll come up with this year.

Hmm, I had no idea a strike was going on...maybe because I don't watch television...and I rarely go to the movies.

No newspapers either? Magazines?
posted by Danila at 7:24 AM on November 11, 2007


By providing the unscripted material, am I essentially "scabbing-out" the WGA?

Not in the "legal" sense of the term, and from an ethical standpoint I think traditional documentaries are okay, unless you think providing content other than raw footage during the strike is scab behavior.

I do think a lot of reality TV is problematic, as the structure and plotting of those shows is so highly artificial as to cross the line from documenting to writing. Some of the people working on structuring those shows are scabs to my mind, and in a perfect world the guild would be fighting to have them reclassified as writers. It would be damn hard to figure out where the cutoff point is though. If an editor drops in a reaction shot that has nothing to do with the event it's being shown in relation to, is that writing? If a showrunner tells a contestant "Whatever Mr. Trump says, you keep smiling during this interview", is that writing? If the jerk who was voted out of the house six weeks ago is dramatically brought back to disrupt things, is that writing?
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 7:28 AM on November 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


John Malkovitch has formed a political party? Where do I sign up?

Honestly, from what I've seen of Malkovich's party thus far, they kinda freak me out.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:34 AM on November 11, 2007


There's a theory which states that the amount of information in a statement is inversely proportionate to the predictability in that statement. As such, considering the author, neither of these comments contain any information whatsoever.

It's called information theory, and it's not so much a theory as a branch of mathematics. Specifically what you're talking about is the Information Content of a bit which is equal to log2(1/p(bit)) where p(bit) is the probability of that bit.
posted by delmoi at 7:52 AM on November 11, 2007


Neal Pollack and Diablo Cody seem to be having a good time.
posted by muckster at 9:27 AM on November 11, 2007


So what are all you television watchers watching?

This isn't going to become the Mefi version of "Breeders" I hope.

Oy. The most predictable episode of According To Jim is more original that the standard anti-TV screed. Most books suck, most music sucks, and your writing and guitar noodling probably aren't all that great either. And, let's face it, most people you talk to aren't exactly special little snowflakes.

Spend your time however you want, but you're not exactly Jack McCoy bravely defending Sturgeon's Law against the rest of us mouth-breathers just because of your entertainment choices.

And, yes, that's a reference you'd need a TV to understand.
posted by Cyrano at 9:37 AM on November 11, 2007 [5 favorites]


Oops, I messed up the Neal Pollack link. That was supposed to go to Scenes From the Writers' Strike.
posted by muckster at 9:45 AM on November 11, 2007


So what are all you television watchers watching?
posted by pracowity at 7:10 AM on November 11


Area Man Constantly Mentioning He Doesn't Own A Television
posted by tocts at 9:53 AM on November 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


The stagehands have been working without a contract for about 5 months, and are neither striking in support of the WGA or leveraging off of their strike....if they were, the stagehands working in television would be out, and they are not...this is Broadway only.
posted by nevercalm at 9:59 AM on November 11, 2007


John Rogers has a good post about this issue over at Kung Fu Monkey:

Listen, before you spout off the usual "The free market will out" along with "Hey, I'm smart enough to negotiate my own contracts, why aren't you?" with a side order of "just go somewhere else if you don't like it", you need to understand some things. If you don't, then every argument you make is without merit. Period. It's like trying to discuss the Middle East without the fundamental understanding of the difference between Shia and Sunni.

There is no free market in Hollywood. In television for example, with the dissolution of "finsyn" rules in 1995 almost every independent producer has been either absorbed into one of the big media companies or dissolved. We've gone from 40 producers in television to the big Six.

Six. Six companies control almost all mass media in America. They control all, and I mean all, the standard distribution channels in America. They are also negotiating as a single entity, the AMPTP. If you've read your Adam Smith, you know that this is actually one of the situations he notes in Wealth of Nations which will indeed break the fingers of the invisible hand.


Dissolution of industry regulation leading to craptastic consequences? Unpossible!
posted by ryoshu at 10:05 AM on November 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


The Office staff on the picket line
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:09 AM on November 11, 2007


Netflixing my way through The Wire. Speaking of that show, did they complete the fifth season before the strike?

Yes, they wrapped production a couple of months ago. Thank god for small miracles.
posted by dhammond at 12:19 PM on November 11, 2007


I was going to post that ryoshu. Honestly, some of you critics should read blogs kung fu monkey or the artful writer. You have a lot of misconceptions about the situation. Also, I find it funny that the people who loudly proclaim television is a wasteland conveniently forget or omit shows like the wire, sopranos and so forth.

Good writing is the foundation of stoytelling. Without them, we wouldn't have anything. This commentary makes a few good points about the role of corporate executives in the media.

The most profound change resulting from that ruling is the way networks go about the business of creating programming. Networks today exert a level of creative control unprecedented in the history of the medium. The stories my friends tell me would make me laugh if the situation weren't so self-defeating. Network executives routinely tell producers to change the color of the walls on sets; routinely decide on the proper wardrobe for actors; routinely have "tone" meetings with directors on upcoming pilots; routinely give notes on every page of a script. (When we did "thirtysomething" in the late '80s, we never received network notes.) And by the way, they have every right to do these things. As owners, they have a responsibility to satisfy themselves that their product is competitive and successful.
posted by clockworkjoe at 12:34 PM on November 11, 2007


This commentary makes a few good points about the role of corporate executives in the media.

From that commentary:

If you were foolish enough to independently produce a TV pilot today, when you took it to the network, you would give up at least half of your ownership and all of your control, even though the network wouldn't pay any more than it used to pay as that old license fee.

And to that, I say ... bummer. Too bad someone's holding a gun to your head forcing you to sign that contract.

Oh wait. There is no gun.

This is the worst kind of petulant, navel-gazing whining. Wahhh, the big kids won't let us play marbles the way we want to. Now we need the government's help.

Oh please. Either don't sign the contract or negotiate a new one. And if there are other producers willing to sign the contract and shut you out, that's competition.

Whining for government protection from finsyn rules is asinine, because the millions of shareholders of those big six media companies want their freedom, too.

No one wants to fund your pilot the way you want it funded? Bummer. Turn your pilot into an independent film, which it probably is better of as, anyway.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:50 PM on November 11, 2007


The networks fund the shows, so they feel entitled to whatever wallpaper they like. And yes, network execs often screw everything all up while the production company writers and producers pull their hair out. That's how it works and everybody gets very good at biting their tongues to keep their jobs.

And to the person who said that the strike will result in more reality TV: Bingo! Those shows are so cheap to produce it's sick.

/I have thinning hair and a sore tongue.
posted by mrhappy at 1:01 PM on November 11, 2007


I don't see what the problem is. I thought the actors did all this. After all, in interviews, they're asked all the time to explain their characters and motivations, while getting praised for any funny remarks or quips, so where would writers ever come into it?
posted by bonaldi at 1:08 PM on November 11, 2007


Seriously, what makes you think anyone cares?

Anyway, I miss Daily Show and Colbert, but I'll survive. I've heard that some new shows may get canceled before they get a full season which will suck, I really think stuff like Journeyman deserves more time to develop.


I don't think anyone cares what shows you like to watch.

No newspapers either? Magazines?

I hate the newspaper, unless I'm doing the crossword and I rarely look at magazines. Newspapers and the media are so incredibly biased and I'm tired of the whole liberal vs. conservative bullshit.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 1:11 PM on November 11, 2007


Newspapers and the media are so incredibly biased and I'm tired of the whole liberal vs. conservative bullshit.

So, the internet is for...everything?
posted by kittyprecious at 1:44 PM on November 11, 2007


Just chiming in to say my usual, that TV has been kicking ass the past few years, and bragging about not watching is empty, snobbish, and illogical.

Amen.
posted by hjo3 at 1:53 PM on November 11, 2007


BrianBoyko: By providing the unscripted material, am I essentially "scabbing-out" the WGA?

Not in the "legal" sense of the term, and from an ethical standpoint I think traditional documentaries are okay, unless you think providing content other than raw footage during the strike is scab behavior.


Unfortunately yes, very much in the legal sense, if you sell to a WGA signatory production company during a strike you are banned from the union for life.

See Strike rule 13:

"The Guild does not have the authority to discipline non members for strike breaking and/or scab writing. However, the Guild can and will bar that writer from future Guild membership."

Additional discussion over on Ask MeFi
posted by sammyo at 2:51 PM on November 11, 2007


An update from GreenCine Daily, including Not a Word.
posted by muckster at 3:02 PM on November 11, 2007


See also previous thread-- still active.
posted by Tehanu at 3:10 PM on November 11, 2007


Unfortunately yes, very much in the legal sense, if you sell to a WGA signatory production company during a strike you are banned from the union for life.

But to the original poster's point, does that include documentaries, as the term is traditionally understood, or does it only apply to more actively scripted shows like overtly fictional dramas and comedies?
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 3:48 PM on November 11, 2007


By providing the unscripted material, am I essentially "scabbing-out" the WGA?

BrianBoyko, some of the showrunners have been quoted as saying that they feel that editing is part of writing and that by being in the editing room, they're breaking the strike rules in spirit, if not in law as well. So it seems more complicated than what is and isn't scripted. You might try asking the guild through an email. They have contact information on the strike rules page. I don't know if there's a specific organization for documentary film makers, but what you're talking about seems different from most of what's being discussed in the news right now. Is there a more specific guild for your kind of work you could talk to? Otherwise it seems like sammyo is right, and the information in that link applies. You might try an AskMe to see if someone with documentary experience can give you firsthand advice.

In other news, apparently Ellen Degeneres is violating strike rules.

And I posted this in the older thread, but Shawn Ryan's email and United Hollywood's short version of what the WGA wants are the best things I've read about the strike so far.
posted by Tehanu at 4:09 PM on November 11, 2007


Are radio writers not in the WGA? I'm listening to Wait Wait Don't Tell Me at the moment and was struck by the fact that it has a new episode this week. It's technically a game show I suppose, but it's also pretty damn scripted.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 4:47 PM on November 11, 2007


With some shows there is a backlog of already produced material or scripts waiting. For instance, the soaps are expected to be running out of scripts sometime late this week or early next.
posted by nevercalm at 5:11 PM on November 11, 2007


Sure, but Wait, Wait is a current events show and most of the jokes were about events that have happened in the past week. It's more like the late night shows that dropped pretty quickly.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 5:55 PM on November 11, 2007


"I don't think anyone cares what shows you like to watch."

Hey, Queen of the Metafilter Jackasses, in a thread about television we discuss television, not the fact that we don't watch television.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:58 PM on November 11, 2007 [1 favorite]



"I don't think anyone cares what shows you like to watch."

Hey, Queen of the Metafilter Jackasses, in a thread about television we discuss television, not the fact that we don't watch television.


The post is about the WGA strike not about television preferences. So someone stating what television shows they like to watch is just as relevant to this discussion as me saying that I don't watch television.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 9:41 PM on November 11, 2007


in a thread about television we discuss television

This thread is also about the Local One strike. On that note, I'm happy that Grinch and Phantom are dark.
posted by oaf at 4:41 AM on November 12, 2007


Not necessarily, not if there are better alternatives, such as many, many more years of books and music to enjoy, not to mention exercise to be had, places to visit, friends to talk to, things to write, instruments to play, and so on.

Well, I was talking about bragging about not watching. I don't think it's empty, snobbish and illogical not to watch. That wouldn't make sense. If you really haven't found anything you enjoy, fine, do other stuff, but it's not the medium's fault. And it doesn't make you any smarter or better. That's why it's stupid to brag.

I do all the things you list above and more in addition to my weekly TV-watching. Actually, I'm a book editor, and I think being tuned into all the non-book media I follow makes me much better at my job. That includes perusing this website. The idea that deliberately ignoring a big part of my own culture would make me intellectually superior is absurd. And to invoke the books I could be reading instead is pretty much the very definition of trite.

To answer your question about what I'm watching: Dexter on Sunday, Weeds on Monday, House on Tuesday, Wednesday is my reality indulgence with America's Next Top Model and starting this week Project Runway, and Thursday is my big day with Ugly Betty, 30 Rock and The Office. (Schedules change over the course of the year, but that's about as heavy as it gets). That's 5-6 hours per week. I spend at least 35 hours a week reading, writing, and editing just for my job. That still leaves more than 70 waking hours a week for things other than working, sleeping and watching TV. Am I frying my brain here?
posted by lampoil at 5:11 AM on November 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


"The post is about the WGA strike not about television preferences. So someone stating what television shows they like to watch is just as relevant to this discussion as me saying that I don't watch television."

I was mentioning shows directly influenced by the strike, and if you had any knowledge of the subject past "I'M SMRT BECUZ I DON'T WATCH TEEVEE" you would have known that, which is why you stay the fuck out of threads if you don't care about the subject, know jack shit about the subject, and have nothing to add to a discussion about the subject.

Seems like you have way too much time on your hands, get a new hobby, maybe watch some TV to use up your time instead of being a massive douche on the internet.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:32 PM on November 12, 2007


Seems like you have way too much time on your hands, get a new hobby, maybe watch some TV to use up your time instead of being a massive douche on the internet.

I'm going to go cry now...

*snickers*
posted by MaryDellamorte at 6:58 PM on November 12, 2007


I'm going to go cry now...

*snickers*


MetaFilter: The pinnacle of mature discourse since 1999.
posted by hjo3 at 9:28 PM on November 12, 2007


Strikers Gain Fan Support --... Seventeen entertainment blogs—among them Televisionary, Give Me My Remote and The TVAddict—will go dark Tuesday, replacing their sites with WGA solidarity statements.
...

posted by amberglow at 6:22 AM on November 13, 2007


Aww, that's cute Mary, you come into the thread to troll it and leave in the same way.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:35 PM on November 13, 2007


Battlestar Galactica Producer Talks Strike: Ron Moore on why he's striking and how Battlestar's final season is affected.
posted by homunculus at 12:22 PM on November 15, 2007


Daily Show writer explains writers' strike -- if digital content isn't worth anything, how come Viacom is suing YouTube for $1 billion?
posted by homunculus at 12:24 PM on November 15, 2007


"Just chiming in to say my usual, that TV has been kicking ass the past few years, and bragging about not watching is empty, snobbish, and illogical."

This ain't bragging. This is an observation. I haven't seen television kicking ankles the past decade, or anything else for that matter. Maybe television has been kicking subatomic particles something fierce, but that's imperceptible.
posted by ZachsMind at 5:20 PM on November 15, 2007


AMPTP and WGA to resume negotiations after Thanksgiving.

Campaign to send pencils to media executives.
posted by Tehanu at 12:22 PM on November 19, 2007


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