By David Poland firstname.lastname@example.org
A New WGA Direction
While hopes for a brighter week in reality next week in the negotiations is being held out and Bryan Lourd kept breaking the press blackout that existed until tonight, WGA started laying out the next round of strategy for the strike.
“The Showrunners Strike,” as the first month has been called, is pretty much over. The 10 or so showrunners who crossed lines are now done with whatever was pending. Television is as dead as it’s going to get until the strike ends.
The sense inside the union is that hopes for a quick end to the strike are now over. The very real threat that this strike will last until SAG negotiations are done is quickly becoming a consensus opinion. Underlying all of this is the question of when the other side wants the strike to end, because right now, there is little being offered.
The next phase is trying to have a direct effect on the movies that are currently in production… especially showrunner JJ Abrams’ feature, Star Trek. (Apparently, Eastwood’s The Changeling, another prime target, is hidden well enough behind studio walls that the effort to disrupt the show has been set aside.)
There are around 100 scripts that are currently considered within range of being produced at the studios in the near future. Projects do continue to fall through because “the scripts are not ready,” but whether actors are actually supporting the strike of being self-preserving, using the strike as cover for dropping out of iffy projects, is unclear.
Meanwhile, The Committee of Hyphenates, the 1400 or so writer-directors who are in both WGA and DGA, are starting a serious push to get DGA to join in real support of the WGA, as SAG has done.
And as far as the press goes, there is growing sentiment amongst the ranks that the media is being effectively played by – get this – being too encouraging, therefore crushing morale when things like this week it’s-gonna-happen talk or the notion that there would be real Teamster support turns out to be a dead end of nothing new. Guild members are being told not to trust any media gossip… even/especially if it makes them happy.
Personally, my favorite new adjustment by WGA is offering a set dollar amount for how little the union demands would cost the industry… just over $50 million a year. If the AMPTP had a sense of humor – a nasty one – they would just offer the union the $150 million over the three year contract as a flat rate addition to the current contract to change nothing. And if WGA had a sense of humor, they would offer to take the offer of an annual flat $250 per episode for free hourlong show streaming by making it for every 100,000 downloads… which is still only a quarter of a cent per view, which is about what the rate is for network reruns.
Every day I see the whole thing as more like another more familiar battleground… red vs blue… Democrat vs Republican. The WGA seems to be endlessly interested in talking about being righteous. And the money men just keep being about money… maybe it’s not moral high ground, but it is absolutely consistent and quantifiable. The problem is, in a war of public opinion, the Republicans won, against all logic, the last two presidential races.
Michael Moore is doing a quick stop in L.A. soon… maybe he can shake things up.