The Strike Goes On – Producers Finally Talk Publicly

It was all looking so hopeful. Negotiations between the Writer’s Guild and the Producers Association looked like they were moving forward… but it’s all gone now, and the strike goes on with no end in sight.

The Producer’s Guild made this announcement regarding the breakdown of the talks, and why they’ve walked away:

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“We’re disappointed to report that talks between the AMPTP and WGA have broken down yet again. Quite frankly, we’re puzzled and disheartened by an ongoing WGA negotiating strategy that seems designed to delay or derail talks rather than facilitate an end to this strike. Union negotiators in our industry have successfully concluded 306 major agreements with the AMPTP since its inception in 1982. The WGA organizers sitting across the table from us have never concluded even one industry accord.
We believe our New Economic Partnership proposal, which would increase the average working writer’s salary to more than $230,000 a year, makes it possible to find common ground. And we have proved over the last five months that we want writers to participate in producers’ revenues, including in theatrical and television streaming, as well as other areas of new media. However, under no circumstances will we knowingly participate in the destruction of this business.

While the WGA’s organizers can clearly stage rallies, concerts and mock exorcisms, we have serious concerns about whether they’re capable of reaching reasonable compromises that are in the best interests of our entire industry. It is now absolutely clear that the WGA’s organizers are determined to advance their own political ideologies and personal agendas at the expense of working writers and every other working person who depends on our industry for their livelihoods.

Instead of negotiating, the WGA organizers have made unreasonable demands that are roadblocks to real progress:

– They demand full control over reality television and animation. In other words, they want us to make membership in their union mandatory to work in this industry – even though thousands of people in reality and animation have already chosen not to join the WGA.

– They demand restrictions designed to prevent networks from airing any reality programs unless they are produced under terms in keeping with the WGA agreement. This would apply even to producers who are not associated with the Guild. Their proposal artificially limits competition and most likely would not withstand legal challenge.

– The WGA organizers are demanding the right to ignore their bargained “no strike” provision, allowing them to join in strikes of other labor organizations.

– Their proposal for Internet compensation could actually cost producers more than they receive in revenues, thereby dooming the Internet media business before it ever gets started.

– They insist that writers receive a piece of advertising revenue – even though the producers that pay them don’t receive any of this revenue in the first place.

– They want a third party to set an artificial value on transactions, rather that allowing the market to determine the worth of each transaction. This would result in producers having to pay residuals on money that the producers never even received.

These are the terms the WGA organizers demand for ending the strike – money that doesn’t exist, restrictions that are legally dubious, and control over people who have refused to join their union.

Besides betraying a fundamental misunderstanding of the economics of new media, such as a streaming proposal that would require us to give them more money than we make ourselves, the WGA organizers are on an ideological mission far removed from the interests of their members.

Their Quixotic pursuit of radical demands led them to begin this strike, and now has caused this breakdown in negotiations. We hope that the WGA will come back to this table with a rational plan that can lead us to a fair and equitable resolution to a strike that is causing so much distress for so many people in our industry and community.”

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The WGA propaganda machine that has been trying to make this strike a PUBLIC fight, would have you and I believe that this strike is just about the big evil Producer (aka “THE MAN”) not being wililng to loosen up the purse strings. But clearly it’s about far more than that.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. It is a crime that actors make $10 million a film while a writer makes $200,000. This disparity is insane. A new, non-residual economic system is desperately needed, and unfortunately it’s not what the WGA is fighting for.

This strike is not the WGA’s fault, nor is it the Producer’s fault. This is both their faults, and clearly (however blindly others may want to see nothing but righteousness in the WGA and evil in the Producers) both sides are asking for some completely unreasonable things… and as long as both sides dig their heals in… other people, with other jobs are going to suffer.

But the WGA will keep pumping out funny little videos, so the majority of people will keep eating it up and siding with them. Not that it matters.

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11 thoughts on “The Strike Goes On – Producers Finally Talk Publicly

  1. Wow! $230,000? God, I am in the wrong business!

    Hollywood like the Sports industry is just out of control. Who needs that much money just to live a decent normal life?!

  2. I truly respect the writers and believe they should get a little more…but those demands look like they were written by Hans Gruber from Die Hard.

  3. Not really fair to base your judgement of the WGA proposal based solely on the AMPTP’s press release description. We have the internet now, you could probably find a more unbiased source. (Possibly the original proposal.) And it’s spelled “publicly.”

  4. Nice spin doctoring by the producers especially in the areas of the internet.

    Wouldn’t a third party base their decisions on market value? Seems like a good way to have ongoing process in place to monitor the situation rather than to have to strike and renegotiate the payout of revenue streams everytime there is a major shift in such markets.

    I’m willing to bet the writers will bend on their reality show demands if the producers bend on the internet ones.

  5. Upon thinking about it, is the WGA, actually a really bad guy in the film industry? Print authors can command huge sums of money and name recognition, but screenwriters don’t. Has this “Writer”‘s guild ever stuck up for authors and kept screenplays from being mass manufactured by dozens of members, only to have the WGA decide which names go on it in the end. You only have to watch the features on the Gladiator DVD to know John Logan DIDN’T write the movie the WGA gave him credit, and then he won an Oscar for…

    So If writers aren’t celebrities whose work is kept in tact, commanding star salaries; is this guild there just to protect the mass scriptufacturing bullpens?

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