You were a nasty, unforgiving, brutal fucking year, and frankly, we're glad you be rid of you. So off you go, then. You can leave the three or four good things you did and take the rest of your awfulness with you. We don't want 2008 to be influenced by its violent older brother.
Don't bother coming back. You're dead to me. I've saged the room, so be warned.
For a recap of anything good that happened in 2007, everybody should just go watch "Best Year Ever." But I'm wondering if, even in fun, they can call it that and not burst into tears.
I thought I'd wrap up any old 2007 comments, so we could all start with a fresh slate. Sure, we'll all be talking about the same old shit next year but at least it'll be shined and buffed by the promise of 2008, and not the car crash of 2007. Is it just me, or do the aughts feel like the 90s, only more expensive and with slightly better music?
Come on, 2008. Prove me wrong, sweetie.
I appreciate how moderate you're trying to be, and I don't want to beat this pony any longer, but just a comment on the following:
Now as to the negotiations themselves, I understand completely that the AMPTP walked away, and I also understand they are not exactly being fair, to put it mildly. But if the other side starts to walk in one directions, you don't walk in the other just to spite them. And no one, outside of the negotiating committees really knows what's going on behind closed doors. Both sides are trying to spin things to their end. Sure, I'm more likely to believe the WGA, but in a situation like this, you take what either side says with a grain of salt.
The right answer to "What do you do if the other side scampers off in a different direction?" is not "Why, run after them, of course!" The WGA is not becoming more militant. The deal the guild just signed with Letterman's company was the December 7th offer, not some new, radical offer that the AMPTP had never heard before. The WGA looks militant because the AMPTP is trying to make them look militant.
And you, my fine friend, are drinking that particular fruit drink.
I'm telling you that the AMPTP is out to ruin everything sacred and good, including the Dodgers. and putting in Mazin as "the voice" would just about kill me...
Most. Frightening. Thing. EVER.
Now I read that Craig is "apologizing" for his words and actions being turned against him? Say, what?! Like his words and actions weren't damaging to those of us out on the lines everyday?
I'm a little late to this one, but yeah. I'm still puzzled as to what was taken out of context because the LA Times article seemed entirely consistent with what Craig said on his blog. Now, he may not have intended that to be the case, but that's how it reads. And it's pretty sad if a professional writer can't make his intentions clear.
Back to the Dodgers: only 66 days to catchers and pitchers report for spring training. Which means Vin can't be far behind. Yippee.
With ya there. Looks like they felt bad that all the Dodgers-turned-drug-pushers are not longer Dodgers, so they signed a backup catcher who was embroiled in that scene. Nicely done, my lads. But is there any better time than spring training? For me, it's the promise of baseball entwined with the promise of the Derby horses. A totally awesome time. I'll warn y'all when the racing posts are coming up. I don't do it to torture you guys.
Who knows, maybe there'll be a signed deal by then. And a good one for the WGA.
That would be phenomenal. I think the Letterman deal is a good thing; it shows the WGA can make a deal, and it puts pressure on the other late-night shows. Not just the writing, mind; but the guests. Now, it's incumbent upon the WGA members to picket the hell out of these shows. Let's see who crosses the picket lines.
Anonymous (LOVE the name! So bold!) had the balls to post this:
Wanna knew why Christmas sucks this year? Stop scratching your heads in wonderment, stop feverishly outwriting each other on screenwriting blogs and Listen Up --
Ironically, Anonymous is trying to outwrite everybody on screenwriting blogs. But let's see what he/she/it has to say:
the WGA is getting laughed out of the negotiating room by the Producers for bringing Reality to the table and here's why. Verron and company made the attempt to organize reality a awhile back and it flopped like a dying fish and the writers of America's Next Top Model all lost their jobs. Why did it flop? Not because the Producers brought the hammer down -- of course they brought the hammer down! No, it flopped because the WGA rank and file, despite their current red t-shirt, little red cookbook, coal-miners, Norma Rae, power to the people rhetoric, didn't support it.
Yes, I know a few real writers came out and walked the lines with these folks (this is your cue to chime in if you were there, I have no doubt you will), but face it, it was overall a pathetic show of support. The rest not only didn't support it, most pretended they didn't even know it was happening. Hands over ears La-la-la-la-I'm busy on a spec, I'm busy on a pilot, I have a meeting for a big job.
First of all, you don't understand what constitutes a negotiation. I am sick to death of belaboring the obvious, so go look it up.
Why was it a pathetic display of support? Here's why. And brace yourself: because the rank and file of the WGA (most, I'll venture an opinion) don't consider the people that make Survivor, Amazing Race, Top Chef or any of it, real writing. They are an elitist organization, pure and simple. Now, I'm sort of OK with that. Elitist suggests elite. Elitist often works (Harvard, MIT, anyone?) But it's true. Go to artfulwriter.com, find the thread on 'reality campaign is dead' and read it. Read Josh Olson's oh-so-witty rants about how it's not real writing. He makes a damn compelling case for Reality not being written. Find how many WGA members include laaa-ser quotes around the word writing. It's all there. Pre-strike Truth. Of course now they want reality to stand up en masse and walk out on their 3000 week Survivorâ€ paychecks (not writing) so the folks on According to Jim (writing) can get their fair share. Now they need reality writers for the cause. Welcome 'writers'! They say. But see it reeks of desperation and hypocrisy.
I don't have to read what Josh wrote, because I read it back then and I agree with it. I think there are reasons it would be good to have the reality folks in the WGA, but they have nothing to do with writing. I want to make those fucking shows as expensive as possible to produce, and I want our pension and health funds to grow as fat as possible. Yes, it's purely selfish on my part. But whether or not I think what they do is writing is, frankly, irrelevant. They deserve and desperately need to be organized. They are being treated horribly and unfairly, and I believe the labor board is looking into the conditions under which the reality folks work.
As for being elitist, fuck you. Just because I worked my ass off to become a part of the WGA doesn't mean I went to Harvard. I didn't. I went to a state university, and not UCLA. I don't have family money, okay? And many of my writer friends didn't even fucking GO to college. Learn something before you get all het up.
I do find it ironic that you're all pissed off that the WGA members were too busy decorating their second homes to support the ANTM dispute. While there have been a smattering of reality folks out there on the lines, the majority are working feverishly on the reality shows that are going to replace scripted programming. If they really, truly wanted to be a part of the WGA, shouldn't they be out on the lines? I think they need to get their organizational shit together before they can join a guild or a union. But should they be organized? Without a doubt, yes. If it's the WGA, fine. If it's something else, great. But people should not be treated this way.
It's also interesting that you don't seem to feel strongly about the animation writers, and their plight is a real crime. The studios are making assloads of money off the animation writers, and they are actual real live WRITERS.
The Producers see it as much as I do. Yes, the reality writers/editors (preditors, they are called, and they can create a compelling story out of a close up of a stick of butter and a soundbite from Mother Teresa -- they are storytellers, folks) need coverage, they need benefits, they work too many hours. Fo sho. But many of the ones I know would rather continue working that way, and find their own way through the dark woods of show business than run after Shawn Ryan's WGA bus (it's a tour bus, actually, very sleek), hoping it will slow down to pick them up. Then, of course, take a welcome seat...in the back. I support the WGA 100 percent and hope they bring these crusty old billionaires to their crusty old knees. But stop being such obvious opportunists. Your enemies are not idiots. They see the game that's being played out and are laughing at the obviousness of the strategy.
More irony. Because you don't seem to understand the strategy at work here. Just think, for a bitty moment, about the structure of a negotiation. Just THINK about it. And then understand that jurisdiction is not won during a labor negotiation. Seriously, this isn't hard. And tell your reality show friends to fucking ORGANIZE, even if they do it amongst themselves. They need to do that FIRST.
Let me anticipate your well-formed, well-written come-backs: 1) I'm aiding and abetting right now because in wartime, dissension is Morally Wrong or at the very least just Not Cool. I Disagree. 2) I have no stake in the fight. I definately do.
My suggested solution? Just be elitist, for chrissake! Embrace it. Stop painting yourselves Blue Collar or Red T-shirt. Stop confusing the issues. Stop giving your enemies ammo. They may be rich, but they aren't stupid. Just be writers! Forget Reality. It's too late to make that case. You had your chance. Besides, nobody ever apologized for going to MIT, and they certainly wouldn't bring Bowling Green alumni to help them in a crunch. Or is it Bowling Green. At the very least, be consistent. Your leadership doesn't understand how you feel. They might actually think that Reality writing is ...writing. Most of you, based on the past facts of your union ...don't.
Man. You are ALL over the place, aren't you? I don't take you seriously when you say you have a stake because I DON'T KNOW WHO YOU FUCKING ARE. So that point is moot. You can disagree with anything you want to, and I can disagree right back. But because I DON'T KNOW WHO YOU FUCKING ARE, YOU COWARD, even your disagreement is negated. Your terror at the reality show thing and your obvious reverse snobbery concerning writers tells me what you DO, but not specifically who you are.
Basically, you don't get it. So I'll urge you to just take a deep breath and calm down. Think. Use your cabeza. Your noggin. Your melon. And have a nice, relaxing New Year. Okay?
Bill wonders what I think about this article
from the LA Times.
While I think it's good that writers are looking to the internet, one thing we must be cognizant of is how we're doing it. The internet isn't simply TeeVee on the computer, and it shouldn't be treated as such. Look at QuarterLife. This is a show that was developed for network, and not much has changed since it went to the internet. If all we're going to do is take failed and/or unproduced pilots and put them on the internet, we will not succeed. The potential audience on the internet is a new generation of viewer. Networks have already been freaking out about how the way people are watching TeeVee is changing. Now, audiences don't have to wait for anything. Want a song you just heard on the radio? You can buy it from iTunes moments later. Miss an episode of TeeVee? iTunes, or Bittorrent. You don't even have to be present to record your favorite shows. Just one push of a button programs a Season Pass on your TiVo or cable/satellite DVR. "Spoiler" has become a part of our lexicon. In the far-off past, you had to watch something when it was on, or you missed it for good. But now, you can watch TeeVee at your leisure, so there's no longer any such thing as a water-cooler show. People don't gather to watch shows, not nearly as much as they used to. We used to take it for granted that after watching something on Thursday, we could safely talk about it on Friday. But that's not the case anymore, so it's a lot harder to build a phenomenon. You don't have to rush home to find out who shot J.R. anymore. You don't have to watch commercials (unless you're at the movies, in which case you PAY for the pleasure).
And, most importantly, we're living in an instantaneous society that moves so quickly, it gives everything potential meta value. Was the "Leave Britney Alone" guy being serious, or ironic? Doesn't matter. He's now a celebrity. We treat the Lindsay Lohan trainwreck like a sitcom, because it appears alongside the Britney guy. We don't know what's real anymore because reality and meta-reality exist next to each other. The creators of Lonelygirl15 understood this and although the show wasn't entirely successful on a story level, it was insanely important on a meta-cultural level. The debate became less about the plot and more about the question of whether or not it was real. If you turn on the TeeVee and there's a living room with a laugh track, you know you're watching a sitcom. There's nothing the writers can do to make you think otherwise, and the network wouldn't let them even if they tried. "The Daily Show" may approximate a real news show, but you know it isn't, no matter how prescient it is. The act of turning on the television puts you, the viewer, into a familiar box.
The internet isn't like that, which is a large part of why people are fascinated with it. Anybody can shoot video and put it up. You don't see a "created by" credit. There isn't that familiar "let us entertain you" vibe that most of us are so used to with television. But the real point is, there's an entire generation that is growing up with MetaLife and it's our stodgy old TeeVee viewing habits which are confusing to them. The reasons they watch have changed. They DO watch with a different point of view.
They aren't passive observers. They are involved and invested in their online, "web 2.0" experience. They make anarchist videos from clips they find on the internet and post them on YouTube. They create fake social profiles on Facebook. They buy virtual gold from gold farmers so they can power up in WOW. They create whole worlds of machinimas INSIDE the already virtual world of Second Life. Simply putting a TeeVee show on the internet isn't going to be of any interest to them, unless you speak their language. Will Ferrell and Adam McKay understand this a little bit. Although FunnyOrDie.com is obviously a haven for comedy sketches, the outrageousness of some of the films shows me that they get that the internet is a different animal. They'll do faux "outtakes" from "Knocked Up" that mimic real-life shit that's been on the internet. The viewer knows it's not real, but it's so meta that he doesn't care. So far, comedy has worked much better on the 'net than has drama. But then comedy's always been the first to break the fourth wall.
So yes, it's good the writers are turning to the internet. The strike videos have been numerous and, for the most part, really fun and enjoyable. But we have to WANT to go the internet. And right now, it feels like we're being pushed there because of the strike. We need to take a step back and really ask ourselves, How do we do this and make it a great experience for the viewer, as well as for us?
My take, anyway.
I wanted to leave you, gentle readers, with my favorite moment from the 2007 TeeVee season. It's Don's Kodak pitch from the season finale of "Mad Men." This moment barely edges out Andy Milman's confession on "Celebrity Big Brother." It does so because it's the perfect example of how quietly unexpected and brilliant "Mad Men" could be. To set it up without giving anything away, Don's suburban life is perfect only on the surface. His family is going to go on their Thanksgiving trip without him, and this pitch is Don's realization of how much they mean to him. The pictures, for those of you who haven't yet seen the show, are of Don and his family.
This is brilliant, simple storytelling. It's story threads being woven together to fully illuminate Don's realization, while also staying true to the period and to the plot elements of the show -- Don as a high-powered ad exec for Sterling-Cooper, trying to win an important account for a product that's stumped everybody. Even if you haven't seen the show, PLEASE watch this clip. It sums up what I hope to accomplish with everything I write:
Happy New Year. Thanks for reading the blog, and I hope to have a new post up soon. That is, of course, my first New Year's resolution.
np -- Middleman, "Good To Be Back."