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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

Writers On A Plane

Bill Carter breaks the news… WGA will give a waiver to Worldwide Pants – and whether they like it or not – Viacom/CBS to employ WGA writers.
If this was a response to the growing crowd of people arguing that the strike will go well into the summer or the float of same on Nikki Finke’s gossip blog, it may go down as one of the worst moves ever by a union.
We are now beginning to see a theme from union leadership of picking favorites in every fight. Yes to Time-Warner

35 Responses to “Writers On A Plane”

  1. goodvibe61 says:

    I guess I don’t follow.
    What exactly is the upside of the WGA letting the Golden Globes go on, of letting all the stars and big shot directors go ahead and enjoy the fruits of everything, to let the producers of the show and everybody else experience the dollars from the show going forward? How exactly does the writers guild benefit from that?
    How is the writers guild supposed to get any kind of compromise regarding their contract without making somebody else feel some kind of financial pain? I simply don’t get it. There shouldn’t be a golden globe telecast, there shouldn’t be an oscar telecast, without the big shots agreeing to take care of the people that write their stuff.
    When exactly are the actors and the directors going to doing something, anything, to show some REAL support for what the writers are trying to do. And I’m not talking about showing up at the picket line with some donuts, which is nothing more than a marketing opportunity for said actors and directors, that’s all that is, plain and simple. Jay Leno has received more publicity in the past couple months by showing at the picket lines with coffee than he had the previous couple months being on the air, there is no doubt in my mind I’ve seen him on the news far more after the strike began. I’m talking about them showing some REAL support, how does that happen, and why not by refusing to cross a picket line at the golden globes and the oscars?
    I know I’m very naive on this subject, so Dave or someone please explain to me how the writers win by letting everyone else go painlessly on with their own situation while the writers continue to get the high hat?

  2. Andrew says:

    I’ve got to agree with goodvibe^^^ regarding the Golden Globes. Isn’t a strike by definition about inflicting as much economic pain as possible on struck companies? I don’t understand how letting the Globes go on (or the Oscars)would benefit the WGA. That said, I do think it’s incredibly stupid to be granting waivers.

  3. ASD says:

    Right but why shut down the Globes and not the Indie Spirits or the SAG Awards? This whole thing smacks of playing favorites; accommodating the shows that kiss the union’s ass while leaving the rest out in the cold. How’s that showing a unified front? One telecast makes money for their network and another doesn’t. That’ll show ’em!
    CBS gets its writers back because Letterman’s one of the “good guys” but NBC/Universal doesn’t because Leno isn’t? A bunch of writers pulling down six figures a year (Poland’s estimate) get to go back to work and this is helping the “little guys” (you remember, the ones whom this whole strike is supposedly about) how exactly? How long before the lack of parity between Leno and Letterman forces another such compromise? Or worse still, what if it doesn’t and Dave simply gets to go on like nothing’s changed, booking the big name guests who won’t cross a picket-line, creating even more revenue for a network that’s at the center of the issue. Way to undermine the cause guys.

  4. frank delsa says:

    I don’t want to talk for David Poland, butI think his point is not “shame on WGA for wanting to shut down the Globes”; it’s “why the hell are you granting waivers to some and deny them to others?”.
    And there is no rational explanation for that. Hell, I can’t understand why the SAG Awards get a go, and the Oscars don’t, when the majority of the Academy members are SAG members (and the most prominent SAG members I might add), and both ceremonies are televised. What makes one “the good guy” and the other “the villain”?
    On the subject of union solidarity brought up by Goodvibe…I actually don’t think it really exists in this town, and I don’t think it can exist either to tell you the truth, which is one of the big issues the labor movements always had to face here.

  5. IOIOIOI says:

    The WGA are just being pithy. They need to get a deal done as soon as possible, or their pithiness may cause their cause some serious damage.

  6. Roman says:

    If there’s one thing I disagree with David about, it’s that union could be lost. I don’t think it’s going anywhere, even if WGA were to “lose” this strike. It’s too much a part of the whole fabric of Hollywood (an institution if you will) to even consider this without some major (and I do mean major) shift vertically affecting the entire industry. And not even the Producers strike could do that. Power shifts may (and will happen) and people will lose jobs but much as studios would love that too happen, the system will stay in place.
    And to the person who asked why shutdown the Golden Globes and not the Indie Spirits or the SAG Awards, well I have a different take on this entirely. Of course, its about loyalties. Punishing actors would now would be a huge mistake. Not only are they like cousins to the writers and not showing solidarity with them would be unwise. Why piss off those who like you more than anyone else.
    Indie Spirits by definition are independent and therefore are not the target. And yes, there is a difference between SAGs and Oscars. And the fact that actors make up the largest group in AMPAS doesn’t change it. Any industry award show that honors producers and is used primarily to make money for producers will be targeted.
    Too sum all this up, the longer the strike will continue the more loopholes will be found. That’s the lesson of the day. The question that remains is how this is going to affect the enternal support because once they lose that, it will be all over.
    P.S. That 60% is pitiful. The poll taken by general public wasn’t it? I refuse to believe that it was limited to the industry people only (and if it was then they deserve what’s coming to them).

  7. Sunday Silence says:

    >>>And don

  8. Josh Massey says:

    A question for the legal minds: Could Leno now sue the WGA and have a case?

  9. Aww, I still want the Globes to go ahead. I mean, they’re helluva lot more entertaining than the freakin SAG awards. Yeesh. I’m Glenn Dunks and I’m a blogger.

  10. On the TV vs Film front, I bet the writers of the nominated movies would like all these awards shows to go ahead. I mean, they’re nothing but free publicity to all the nominated films.

  11. Roman says:

    “I bet the writers of the nominated movies would like all these awards shows to go ahead. I mean, they’re nothing but free publicity to all the nominated films.”
    Which means even more money for the producers. Writers have a lot less to gain from these awards.
    “A question for the legal minds: Could Leno now sue the WGA and have a case?”
    I don’t think so. It’s not a question of discrimination. The guilds have a legal right to make contracts with whoever they want to. And what if WP offered them a really great deal?

  12. ASD says:

    Roman:
    Do you honestly believe that disturbing the Academy Awards wouldn’t punish actors infinitely more than whatever perceived benefit of allowing the SAG Awards to go on as planned? No one in history has seen their asking price go up because they were a SAG Award winner. Hell, no one outside of the Awards Daily/Envelope/MCN sphere of influence even really cares about the SAG Awards. Hurting the Globes while promoting the SAG Awards and Indie Spirit has absolutely nothing to do with loyalty to another union or celebrating the “independent spirit” of the ISA’s (I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be rude, but I find this sentiment sort of laughable). It’s about sending a message to the Oscars. There’s no reason Dick Clark Productions couldn’t sign a Letterman-like waiver in time for the show to go on, but how does that help the union? They’re after bigger fish and are looking to fire a shot across the bow of the Oscars: look what we did to them, and you’re next. The SAGs and ISAs are nothing more than counterpoints. “See, we can be compromised with.” Work stoppage or no, I have no doubt in my mind the Oscars will go on as planned, but the “darkening” of the Globes will be pointed to as the reason a waiver was tendered if that is indeed what happens.

  13. Roman says:

    ASD:
    I think you are missing the point. The fact that Oscars can “raise the asking price” for a couple of actors doesn’t do much for actors as the whole. However, I do think the producers and the industry that they represent have more to gain from that ceremony anyway. Whether or not SAG has as much of a material effect is irrelivant.
    “The SAGs and ISAs are nothing more than counterpoints. “See, we can be compromised with””.
    I disagree with you here. That’s not why they did it WGA has no reason to take on yet another guild, especially not SGA. Boycotting them wouldn’t make any sense and would make them look downright unreasonable. It’s not quite a counterpoint you make it out to be.
    However, if you think that loyalty has absolutely no place in their thinking (even if it’s a small part), then I would disagree with you here as well.
    And you find what sentiment laughable? I said nothing “about celebrating the independent spirit”. That’s not my sentiment. I just said that Spirits are not the target.
    As for Dick Clark Productions we don’t for a fact if they were willing to agree to all of the WGA demands (or do we)? It is about sending a message (I agree), and the message so far, among other things, has been no compromises. Don’t worry tough, the precedent has been set and “Dick Clark” will get his deal too.
    Oscars will go on no matter what I agree. Whether or not it will be as planned is another story ;).

  14. goodvibe61 says:

    Yeah, not having the Oscar telecast will hurt about 4 actors. How many actors are there in SAG? Come on man!
    Also, do you honestly believe that Daniel Day Lewis would mind compared to what the writers are going through? Same with Javier Bardem, both of whom have a keen eye for the written word, and both who understand how the writer is perceived within the industry. Is John Depp anti writer? I just don’t buy it.
    The apparent inconsistancy is confusing but not unwarranted. Why hurt the SAG when they are your brothers on the front line down the road? Why hurt indie spirit, which is supposed to represent people creating something outside the normal system, it’s the normal system that should be protested against, not indie spirit.
    The WGA has to pick its battles, and I don’t think they’re doing that bad a job of it so far.

  15. Roman says:

    Well said, goodvibe61 :).

  16. Working AD says:

    I agree that the Academy Awards will go on, no matter what, but the ceremony will be quite different from what we’ve seen over the last 20 years. Instead, it will look quite similar to the 1980 Emmy Awards, and you may see the host having to present most of the awards himself and accept them on behalf of the Academy, since there will be a picket line outside. (Even with the security precautions, there will still be a visible picket line – it’s a matter of free speech and the WGA is entitled to it.)
    The Golden Globes are on the verge of not being broadcast. I have read that if they are not broadcast or webcast, they will not be picketed. However, this doesn’t address the possibility that they might TAPE the ceremony and then broadcast it a week later. If the WGA is truly serious about not wanting that to happen, they will need to picket that ceremony no matter what, to make sure a broadcast doesn’t suddenly spring up after the fact.
    But there will be consequences to the shutdown of the awards shows, and we don’t know what those will be yet. We do know that the AMPTP would prefer not to see the Oscars ruined, and the act of doing so will likely cause more bad blood than what we’ve already seen.
    And none of this addresses the simple fact that the only solution to this problem is that both sides need to negotiate a new contract. And for the foreseeable future it appears that the AMPTP has no interest in talking to the WGA, and the WGA has no interest in acceding to the AMPTP’s ultimatums. The only question now is whether this will change in March, when the DGA contract should be finished and there will be a pattern contract for internet on the table. Will the AMPTP turn to the WGA then?

  17. frank delsa says:

    Excuse me, but we’re not talking about 4 actors (actually 20, if we’re talking about nomin

  18. Roman says:

    “Excuse me, but we’re not talking about 4 actors (actually 20, if we’re talking about nomin

  19. frank delsa says:

    “I don’t even understand what the whole argument is about anymore. There is a clear difference between SAG Awards and Oscars and if you can’t see it I can’t help you.”
    Well, if you can’t see that they might not be the same thing, but they’re as sure as hell blood relatives, it’s me who can’t help you.
    It’s as if the WGA decided not to punch his brother in the face, and then go ahead and punches his uncle. It will still create problems within the family, especially since said uncle is loved and admired by all the members.
    “Wait, what does it even mean? A blow, in what sense? Let’s not over exaggerate this. Writers or no writers, AMPAS will be just fine. The only one in trouble is Jon Stewart since he’ll have to host a ceremony at a tricky time and without any writers.”
    With no telecast, they would lose a great deal of money, money that would be used to fund the AMPAS itself and its projects.
    It would also be a blow to the image of the Academy, and since perception is VERY important in this business, they won’t take it lightly.
    Hell, just read Gil Cates (A DGA member by the way) statements about the whole thing.
    “I don’t see the point here.”
    You don’t see the point?
    Well, I don’t see how pissing off the most prominent members of those same Guilds the WGA is asking the support of, can in any way help their cause, but hey that’s just me…

  20. David Poland says:

    First, I thank Roman for being a civil and thoughtful sounding board for a lot of this. My biggest angst in this whole thing is how rageful many of the conversations are and that disagreement is not allowed… a lot of “all or nothing” people out there. That usually comes from fear, which The Evil Ones can smell from a mile away (or over a hill). I don’t know you, Roman, but you seem to be fair and open-minded.
    Second… the biggest issue with AMPAS is the $50 million fee and $30 million in net income that The Academy derives from the Oscars. It is not just an awards show. This is big money that could seriously damage the Academy if removed… 2/3rd of their annual budget. (This is similarly true of FIND with the Indie Spirits… not so much HFPA, as there is no real infrastructure, though some charities would lose $50,000 and $100,000 donations.)
    I don’t think “not letting them have their party” is what makes an Oscar attack dangerous. It’s 6000 members of great power whose “club” will be short $30 million. That’s ten times what WGA was hoping to damage Paramount with by trying to shut down work days on Star Trek, for instance. But there is no insurance for The Academy being force majeured by ABC.
    This would surely be the biggest single financial blow made by the WGA in this strike… but to what end and with what victims?

  21. Working AD says:

    Roman, please correct me if I’m wrong. I read in the New York Times that Jeff Hermanson of the WGA had said that the Golden Globes would be picketed if they were telecast or webcast, but not if they weren’t. You can look up the same article to check it for yourself. (It was written by Michael Cieply and published Fri 12-28) So if this is nonsense, it’s nothing I’ve created. It sounds like you agree with my point here – that the WGA will need to picket the ceremony no matter what to make sure that it isn’t taped and broadcast at a later date, and to make sure that as few people attend as possible.
    As for the possible cancellation of the broadcast of the Golden Globes, we’ll have to see next week. The fact is, the Globes depend completely on the presence of celebrities, since the awards themselves have very little validity. No stars means no audience. And the idea of doing red carpet events for either the Globes or the Oscars during a time when most of Hollywood is unemployed and facing harder and harder times goes beyond bad taste.
    As I said, the Oscars will still go on, with Gil Cates at the helm. But when they are picketed, we’ll be looking at a replay of the 1980 Emmy Awards, with very few performers or artists showing up. This means many fewer presenters, much less in the way of production numbers, and most of the awards being accepted on behalf of the Academy since the recipients are honoring the picket line. This does not mean that there won’t be the usual clips. The non-granting of a waiver doesn’t mean that they can’t run the clips – it just means that they couldn’t get a waiver for that. Overall, I anticipate a shorter Oscar telecast than normal, due to the absence of the usual banter, production numbers and acceptance speeches. I think they could actually get the whole thing done in 2 to 2 1/2 hours, with commercials. I also think there will be a lot of discussion of who actually crosses the picket lines to appear, in the same way that it swirled around Powers Boothe in 1980. And there will be ramifications, which will go on for a long time after this strike finally ends.

  22. Working AD says:

    One other thing – I’ve seen no indication that Dick Clark Productions has any intention of making an interim deal with the WGA, whether that be to help the Golden Globes or any of their other shows. Nor do I see any indication that AMPAS would make one for the Oscars. But I could be wrong on that – and I’d love to know if anyone has actually read anything that shows a deal in the offing. If not, then we can expect to see picketing in full force at both awards ceremonies.

  23. Working AD says:

    Sorry, one final thing. Roman is right that Jay Leno would not have any basis to sue the WGA for making an interim deal with Worldwide Pants. Leno does have a choice, though. He isn’t being forced to return to the air without his writers, no matter what NBC says about it. As I understand it, he could continue to stay out and tell NBC to get someone else to host the Tonight Show until the strike is resolved. His return is a choice, in all fairness.
    Now, while Leno is not in a position to take action against the WGA, the reverse could come into play. If Leno or any other WGA member actually does writing work for their shows, or participates in such work (by writing or performing new monologues, taping or performing new scripted routines, even by writing jokes on the fly and improvising them into quips on the show), they can and should be subject to discipline within the WGA. At the DGA, we have an Administrative Committee that handles this stuff. I believe the WGA has their own such committee and it may be getting a lot of new material to chew on starting next week.

  24. Roman says:

    David, thank you for your words. I learn from the best ;).
    Working AD,
    “It sounds like you agree with my point here – that the WGA will need to picket the ceremony no matter what to make sure that it isn’t taped and broadcast at a later date, and to make sure that as few people attend as possible.”
    I agree with you in a sense that there needs to be a WGA presence outside the ceremony, but I disagree that it’s needed only because there is a risk that the ceremony could be broadcast on a later date. By that time no one would care anyway (and any reference to the strike could be edited out). It’s the fact that they were there AT THAT time and impact that it would have AT THAT time that matters the most.
    About what Jeff Hermanson said. Here’s a quote you are referring to:
    “If the Globes is telecast and it is produced by Dick Clark Productions, which is a struck company, we will picket the show,

  25. Working AD says:

    Roman, thank you for your response. We’re in agreement on most of our points to each other.
    I should note that I was quoting a different part of the Cieply NY Times article: “Mr. Hermanson said the show would be picketed if Dick Clark produced it for the Internet, but not if it were a live event with no broadcast or Webcast. (Continuing attempts to devise a show that would not draw pickets

  26. BTLine says:

    I’m sorry, but isn’t an Interim deal just temporary?
    I’m assuming the WGA knows that when the deal between them and the AMPTP will be inked then Letterman will reverse it to that. So… what’s the message? What is the WGA saying?
    Also, why is nobody commenting on the 147 showrunners with pilots pending sending a begging letter to the AMPTP just before Christmas?
    Are these the people that are scared once the strike is over there will be a change? Are these the people afraid the development well is going to dry up?
    I find it shortsighted fighting for a bigger piece of the pie at the end, when the end is going to be shrinking. The money will be taken from the front. And from Production too, dear Working AD, so I wouldn

  27. Roman says:

    Working AD, I would like you thank you for your response as well. I’m sorry to hear about your employment troubles and sincerely hope that you and your fellow writers will be able to return to work as soon as possible.
    You raise some good points. I guess my skepticism stems not from the fact that WGA won’t be satified with sabotaging the broadcast (I think they mean what they say) but because I don’t think NBC and HFPA will let them do it. I think there will be a lot of pressure, on NBC’s shoulders in particular, not to let that happen. This is not to say that it can’t happen and it would be interesting to see if it does.
    I will probably adress BTLine’s response separately later.

  28. Roman says:

    Nevermind, I decided I’ll let someone else have it if they want it. Way too easy a target. Instead, I’d sum up his attitude by something he posted in another talkback:
    “Writers are overpaid.”
    Umm, No.
    “And yes, you can call me Cassandra.”
    No, not falling for this one.

  29. Working AD says:

    Roman, I just want to make sure I’m clear here. I’m not a member of the WGA. I’m a member of the DGA. I’m an Assistant Director, normally working in episodic television. And while the writers of my current show (I don’t see it as past, since we’ll go back to it when this all ends) are people I am quite friendly with, I’m not part of their staff. I’m sympathetic to the WGA’s need for a fair contract. And I’m a below the line crew member. (Some btl people will say that I’m not, as I’m in management, but I’m nobody’s tool and I work WITH my crew, not over them.)
    Just wanted to make sure I wasn’t coming across as pretending to be someone I am not. I am aware there are people who do that, and I’m not one of them.
    I also just read something strange on Hollywood Daily. They were commenting that Leno and Jon Stewart and the others are going to have a tough time keeping up with Letterman as they would have to always write their own monologues without any help since they don’t have any writers now. And I’ve seen similar stuff posted in the comments at Nikki Finke’s thing. I don’t understand. I thought that Leno and the others can return as personalities under their non-WGA contracts (even though they’ll be crossing the picket lines to do so), but that they must not do any writing or participate in any new written material without a new WGA contract. If Leno writes his own new monologues, doesn’t that immediately violate the strike rules? And if he does it and doesn’t get in trouble, can the WGA say anything to the others who will be doing it?

  30. Working AD says:

    Sorry, I goofed on the website. I meant to say Hollywood Today.

  31. Roman says:

    Working AD,
    Thank you for the correction. It doesn’t affect my sentiments but it’s encouraging to hear that you are willing to support WGA’s cause even when their strike affected you personally. Especially, in the light of Michael Apted’s letter (http://www.dga.org/superset.php3/news/pr_expand.php3?531). By the way, what’s your take on it?
    As for the Hollywood Today’s article, good point!
    I know Carson Daly is not a WGA member so he had no choice but to return to his show or face getting fired. But…
    As for Leno, Stewart, etc – here’s a quote from LA Times that might help you:
    “Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien to return to the air Jan. 2
    Because they are members of the Writers Guild of America, the move is seen as a blow to the union. Both say that by resuming their shows, they won’t have to fire non-writing staff members.” (http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-strike18dec18,0,34482.story)
    Maybe they can get away with calling it improv? Or maybe they feel safe becase they are doing it together? In all seriousness, we’ll have to wait and see how WGA reacts.
    Good Luck!

  32. Roman says:

    Looks like my comment was delayed because it contained URL’s so I’m reposting it again without them:
    Working AD,
    Thank you for the correction. It doesn’t affect my sentiments but it’s encouraging to hear that you are willing to support WGA’s cause even when their strike affected you personally. Especially, in the light of Michael Apted’s letter (it’s on the DGA site). By the way, what’s your take on it?
    As for the Hollywood Today’s article, good point!
    I know Carson Daly is not a WGA member so he had no choice but to return to his show or face getting fired. But…
    As for Leno, Stewart, etc – here’s a quote from LA Times that might help you:
    “Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien to return to the air Jan. 2
    Because they are members of the Writers Guild of America, the move is seen as a blow to the union. Both say that by resuming their shows, they won’t have to fire non-writing staff members.”
    Maybe they can get away with calling it improv? Or maybe they feel safe becase they are doing it together? In all seriousness, we’ll have to wait and see how WGA reacts.
    Good luck!

  33. David Poland says:

    The big question, to me, is what they do with Jon Stewart. What exactly CAN he do without writing? What is writing? Is improvising a form of writing? It seems to me to be. How far ahead of the shoot does he think of something to say making him a “writer.” And will the WGA attack someone who has been aggressively on his side? Well, the call for intense picketing, monotoring, and boycotting has already been made.

  34. Working AD says:

    I support the WGA’s right to a fair contract, just as I support the right of all of us to that goal. I do not agree with all of their positions and actions, but I understand why they are taking them. I only hope that when the strike is finally settled and we all go back to work that the damage to the people who work here is minimal. The longer the strike goes on, the more damage is done.
    Roman, I appreciate your open-mindedness in listening. I got pilloried on another board for sticking up for the btl crew, specifically relating to the “Strike a Deal” rally. There were and are people who thought that my wish for the crew to have a voice somehow meant I was a “concern troll”. I say this here to make clear that I’m an independent thinker. And I post anonymously because it’s not a good idea as an assistant director to be making independent public statements. While it’s expected from the above-the-line talent, it causes the below-the-line guys who speak up to be termed “difficult”. (Which can also be more honestly called “uppity”.) And since I like the idea of continuing my career, anonymity allows me the ability to speak my mind.
    Regarding the DGA position, I think Michael Apted’s letter was well-thought out. (And that letter was mailed and e-mailed to us, so we all got it at the same time.) He points out that the DGA would have begun negotiations last month, but waited out of respect for the WGA and the hope that somehow the current strike could be settled. Apted makes clear that DGA negotiations will begin after New Year’s Day. (I have heard from several sources that it’s looking like next Monday, but the official announcement won’t happen until Wednesday or later this week.)
    My take on DGA starting its talks is that it seems to be the only forward step possible now. But it won’t be a cakewalk – I think we’re looking at around 2 months before a contract is finalized, which will then provide a pattern for SAG and the WGA. And by that point, the strike will already be in its fifth month. I also think that the WGA wanted to be the ones to set the new pattern, and this step by both the DGA and the AMPTP effectively scotches that. But Apted’s letter makes clear that this issue is not DGA vs. WGA, and people who try to turn it into that are missing their true adversaries.

  35. Working AD says:

    Looks like Jay Leno wrote his own monologue last night and is now being talked to by the WGA about it. Not sure what’s going to be happening to Conan and Jimmy Kimmell. Let’s see what happens after tonight.

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