Yup, the strike changed nothing at all.
Thanks to everyone who tried with Blue Angels. While I'm still looking for the actual vinyl, Edouard managed to track down the mp3s, and I am eternally grateful.
I have over a month of comments that have gone unanswered. Welcome to my procrastination, and let's get to it!
StampnBead (love the name) is a big Millennium fan who wants to buy me a drink. Thanks!! I don't know what happened to Horace, but he pops up every now and then, so hold onto your hat. You never know.
Carlo C. had this to say:
I'm surprised nobody mentioned the threat reality TV has over the livlihood of scripted television.
Well, Carlo, because it hasn't yet. It's made inroads, sure, but at the end of the day, the pros of a hit drama outweigh the pros of a hit reality show. Unless it's American Idol, of which there is only one. And even in that case, it doesn't re-run on network TV, the DVDs don't sell all that well, it doesn't syndicate, and the music industry isn't too happy with it lately. Carlo also asks about comedies. They're not as cheap as you think they are, and there's something wrong with the comedy paradigm, in that it sucks. Comedies need to be fixed. Desperately. But the people who can do the fixing aren't being allowed to play the game.
Seems to me that for scripted programs to survive, writers and executives need to figure out how to make shows with cable-sized budgets appeal to network-sized audiences. I'm told that Burn Notice patterns at about $1.5 million, for instance. If you could put a show like Burn Notice on NBC and get a network-sized audience, that would be an amazing thing for the industry. But just cutting fat from POD deals, etc., doesn't seem like enough. The price differentiation between scripted and reality is just too great. And though I'd love to believe, as Jake Hollywood does, that this is just a cyclical phenomenon, I see no evidence to support this optimism.
The audience doesn't actually care how much Lost costs. All they know is, they like the characters and the stories keep them intrigued. When you're talking about the mass audience of people (the folks who aren't into their shows beyond turning the TV on once a week) their demands are rather small -- ENTERTAIN ME. The budgets and all that nonsense, that's about the networks. It's a sales tool. So it's rather easy to fix the problem.
Unfortunately, not enough POD fat was cut, and I fear the studios will use the PODs for development again this year. They'll try and cut from production, which is disastrous. They'll try and cut staffs even more (although at this point, that's next to impossible). They won't fire executives. They won't cut POD deals. They won't stop using feature directors for pilots. They'll continue to charge deals against shows. They'll micromanage every word and then wonder why they're not producing the next Mad Men.
I'm going to save the rest of this for my annual "Ten Things Wrong With TeeVee" post.
Brian McCabe beats this horse to death:
Kay says it's a good thing that Mazin shutting down comments is a good thing. Jake Hollywood says it's gutless to not allow people to reply.
Unity everywhere it seems.
Huh. You have an interesting idea of unity. I wasn't aware total agreement was a necessity. Freedom is slavery, I suppose...
Lemme know when you're going to be out here, man.
Are you fucking kidding? "Call To Your Heart?" I saw Giuffria open for the mighty Journey in 1983 and they fucking SUCKED in a way that only children who experienced the thrill of pairing a purple shirt with a pair of gray parachute pants can understand. I fucking love that shit. I also love "Big Country." Oh you minx you've opened a door now. How dare you, ma'm, how dare you? Oh, you are an evil mistress.
Hee. I'm glad Giuffria sucked, because... it just makes sense.
And as it pertains to "the deal" I'm voting against it because I don't believe it's the best deal we can get. A starting point, a road of improvement, a foothold into the future? Yes. The best deal? No.
But I'll live with whatever way the vote turns out.
And I'll do it with the knowledge that everyday of the strike I stood shoulder to shoulder with my brethren--together we stood up for our principles and our working lives. And except for those who were too cowardly to stand with us, I'm damn proud to say that I cannot think of a better group of people to be associated with.
Sadly, I think your sentiment is too complex for most people. But bravo.
And I still don't like (I'm not alone, see Blogging.LA to see what Harlan Ellison thinks--scroll past the Greg"My Name is Earl" Garcia thing to read it) it.
People lost their fucking minds when they read this. "Harlan Ellison called me a quisling? WTF???" But they read it without understanding it which, sadly, seems to be how most things are read these days. I blame the political punditry because, well... I just do. Let's break everything down into a black or white position, then let's break it down more, soak it in a salt solution to soften it, then let's masticate the holy crap out of it and spit it lovingly back into the baby bird's beak -- the American consumer brain. Harlan doesn't do that, and he has a fuckload more respect for the human condition than these other asshats.
Brian McCabe again:
I agree that writers are the primary source for what the town creates. I don't think embracing that fact is the problem of recognition though. I think writers need to not be so willing to canibalize each other. The re-write kills the uniqueness of the product and the uniqueness of the service. Directors are rarely replaced. And when they are that is usually the end of the project 9especially of one drops out). Ditto actors. But it is a fact in this town that any writer will do. Any writer not in the top tiers is going to eventually be replaced somewhere along the line (usually by one of those top tier guys).
I know you guys just want to write, but there is plenty of work that can be done within the guild to strengthen it for the next round of negotiations in 3 years.
You're right, Brian. Unfortunately, there's too much precedent, and there's also the issue of turning down work. But that's a trap we find ourselves in, and you're absolutely right. More on this in another blog post. I now have about five blog topics backing up against each other. God help me.
But I have some questions. I understand that a negotiation means that nobody ever gets everything they want, but doesn't it concern you that these are among the things that you didn't get?
1. The cap on the percentage makes the percentage meaningless when everyone knows that the internet is going to be yielding a fortune in the future and history has shown that while the cap may or may not go up a small amount, it will be there forever.
2. The lack of favored nations, which has been there before and has been touted from the beginning as one of the reasons this is a fight for all unions, will mean that the writers won't share in any advances made by other unions on the sweat of the writers brow. I'm thinking, even the DGA, which did nothing to help writers, will benefit from whatever SAG might get and the writers won't.
3. The giveaway of leverage by allowing them a three and a half year contract to May 2011 so that the WGA will never again be able to hold their TV season or awards show season as hostage to negotiations, much like the granting of the year extension by SAG leadership last time meant that writers and actors weren't able to go out at the same time, unless the writers waited and let the studios stockpile for six months.
All a concern. Definitely. But my thinking was that the deal is acceptable. Not great, and there's some egregious stuff in it, but... it's okay. There's an assumption being made that the internet's gonna explode. It might, but it might not. And a percentage, even capped, is still favorable to the flat fee. Regarding MFN, I suppose we'll find out at some point if a handshake deal is worth anything to these weasels. And we DO have MFN for DVD, as some contract wonks have pointed out. I know exactly what you're saying about the contract expiration, and we could end up with another '88 season. But if TV starts to inch year-round before then, it's still going to be a problem. And there's something nice about not having to go out eight months before SAG. Something very nice. Also, the stockpiling simply isn't ever going to be an issue. You cannot stockpile in TV. It's not possible. And they could stockpile movie scripts but you're still going to have the same problem -- directors and big stars need to shoot fluid movies, and they will be reluctant to without the possibility of rewrites.
Most of us don't spend a lot of time on the internet. But you'd be amazed at how much anger people in this guild have for Craig Mazin and the so-called "dirty thirty" and other assholes who felt they were above the rest of us. Josh - and many other A list writers, and top showrunners were out there just like the rest of us ever day, balancing the record. They weren't trying to subvert the union, they weren't trying to shut down the strike, they weren't spreading false rumors about how badly it was all being run. They just did what everyone else did and supported their guild. If some of them think they're better writers than most of us, that's because the world's confirmed it. Art isn't democracy. But people like Josh have proven that just because you're an elite, top of the line writer, you can still be just another joe on the line.
Ditto that, and everything else you said. Great response.
On the Dirt Thirty, Michael says:
Kay, before you (or anyone else) villainizes the 'Dirty 30' (who comes up with these names anyway?) I'd recommend reading NegComm member Howard Gould's account posted on He-Who-Cannot-Be-Named's blog. http://artfulwriter.com/?p=331
It provides a pretty different account of things than the LAT article-- and remember, Gould was one of the NegComm members who was at that pivotal meeting discussed in the piece, so I'm inclined to believe him. And it doesn't really sound like a bunch of rich assholes behaving recklessly or condescendingly. Not to me, at least. But mileage may vary.
Let me just point out one thing, Michael. You're assuming there's only one of these groups, and you're assuming that the Dirty Thirty tag John Bowman applied was meant for this group. I took great issue with the way the Times portrayed, well, ALL of us in that article. And they use the term "showrunner" incorrectly. But my ire for the Dirty Thirty has nothing to do with that particular group.
Michael Taylor says,
The more we understand each other, the better we'll all be when the producers once again try to cut us off at the knees -- and they will.
Congratulations to you and all WGA members on the strike, and for reaching the compromises necessary to bring it to a successful conclusion. And now - hopefully - we can all get back to work.
Thank you for that, and for your support. I'm linking your blog as well. The ATL/BTL fire seemed to be fed by outside forces, and a few disgruntled folks from both groups. Because I've always respected crews, and so have other writers and showrunners I've worked with. I know I couldn't do those jobs. I would totally get fired. I know you guys don't always get the respect you deserve. I know, because writers don't, either. So thanks to all the BTL people affected by the strike who hung tight and didn't blame us. I hope you've all gone back to work!
PS: Anybody who likes "All About Eve," "Rebel Without a Cause," Philp K. Dick, and Robert Crais is okay in my book.
Backatcha. And dude, there's a NEW Elvis Cole novel coming out in July. Bliss!!!
In response to my "Profit In Your Poetry" thread, Anonymous was astute enough to post this link to Butcher Boy's MySpace page. Go have a listen. They're fucking great. The album's gonna be one of my top for the year. No doubt about it.
np - Well, Butcher Boy, right???