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#1 Walter Graff

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Posted 07 January 2008 - 03:17 PM

http://www.crainsnew...l...E&nocache=1
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#2 Tim O'Connor

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 12:09 AM

http://www.crainsnew...l...E&nocache=1


That's terrible.

However, since they have struck,do you think that cutting a separate deal for the 20 or
so writers to get Letterman back on the air, while good for all involved there, is not really
the best for union solidarity? If a union doesn't stand together...
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#3 Hal Smith

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 12:39 AM

That's terrible.

However, since they have struck,do you think that cutting a separate deal for the 20 or
so writers to get Letterman back on the air, while good for all involved there, is not really
the best for union solidarity? If a union doesn't stand together...

As I understand it, when the Producers quit meeting the WGA voted to negotiate individually with any production company that would negotiate with the union. Worldwide Pants chose to do so and there's a rumor around that United Artists and The Weinstein Company have been talking to WGA. Warner's apparently is having internal fits about all this but it's been their decision to play monolith. As long as all the other unions respect picket lines WGA is in good shape.

David Mamet in "Bambi Vs. Godzilla" mentions multiple times that the studios feel that all writers are crooks because, horror of horrors, the writers expect to get paid.
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#4 Tim O'Connor

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 12:53 AM

As I understand it, when the Producers quit meeting the WGA voted to negotiate individually with any production company that would negotiate with the union. Worldwide Pants chose to do so and there's a rumor around that Universal Artists and The Weinstein Company have been talking to WGA. Warner's apparently is having internal fits about all this but it's been their decision to play monolith. As long as all the other unions respect picket lines WGA is in good shape.

David Mamet in "Bambi Vs. Godzilla" mentions multiple times that the studios feel that all writers are crooks because, horror of horrors, the writers expect to get paid.



I guess then that the WGA vote changes what I was thinking but still it reminds me of Benjamin
Franklin's quote "Let us hang together gentleman, or surely we will all hang separately."
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#5 Walter Graff

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 07:20 AM

This strike is going to end up being a one step closer to the WGA loosing a piece of what they have in terms of reputation and their existence. They do not want to deal with the system (the alliance together) as it can hold out for a long time and really wants to see the WGA loose clout and credibility, unlike years past. They thought going to individual producers was a solution, but it it turning out to be a major embarrassment as they are not forging deals anywhere near what they would like to do. And they were struck with a huge embarrassment when Leno's show (no writers) garnished better ratings than Letterman's (made a deal and had writers). They even tried to fight Leno at that point saying he was a WGA member and could not write jokes even though there own amendment states that any on-air performer can write his own jokes as long as they are for himself and not given to others. This strike is seeing the alliance react differently to the WGA, and the system dealing with it unlike ever before. Nearly 300 pilots for non WGA type programs were made in the last two months and an entire schedule of network programming is ready to keep TV going. It's already been programmed around the strike. And the public is not minding as the recent Celebrity Apprentice garnished the highest ratings it has since 2001. This strike will see the WGA loose ground as a guild, and will warn them that after all is settled and they do it again sometime down the line, they will loose even more ground. While more and more workers fight for union rights (MTV for example), more and more producers, conglomerates, and alliances are holding fast and ready, willing to give up a lot to see the demise of union belts. In the production side of TV the unions were all but dismantled (ABC and NABET for example) and while they exist as union shops, the union has far less power and far less in the way of clout than they did in years past. At one network, they openly hire freelancers that are non union. And the recent Broadway strike of IA saw IA loose even more ground in the theaters as produces said take it or leave it, and IA seeing their membership need money for the holidays said, ok. That would have never happened years past. In 2006, 12 percent of all employed wage and salary workers in the US were union members, down from 12.5 percent a year earlier to 15.4 million. Overall union membership rate has steadily declined from 20.1 percent in 1983. I'm not saying unions will disappear, but I am saying that strangleholds on work that unions once garnished in our business is steadily disappearing and will erode more and more as more and more talent and a large pool of people willing and knowledgeable about work are ready to do the job too. In in a strange way the web and sites like this are part of creating that pool of talent that years past had no way of learning the formal training needed.
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#6 John Sprung

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 01:16 PM

And they were struck with a huge embarrassment when Leno's show (no writers) garnished better ratings than Letterman's (made a deal and had writers).

But how did their pre-strike ratings compare? Did the gap widen or narrow?



-- J.S.
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#7 Richard Boddington

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 01:31 PM

I have to say that Leno's writerless show has been quite hysterical. Even better than with the writers.

On his first night back Leno explained why he decided to come back sans writers, "19 people should not be able to keep 160 people out of work." And of course he's 100% correct.

Why should the writers have the right to punish the camera operators, lighting techs, talent bookers, etc etc etc. All of these people have bills to pay and they earn a hell of a lot LESS than the writers do. Plus they get zero residuals from the show whether the WGA has a contract they are happy with or not.

The writers do a have a valid argument re: money earned from the web. Other wise I can start offering paid downloads of Warner Bros TV shows. Obviously Warner Bros would object and try to sue me, why sue me if the web offers no revenue possibilities. Viacom wanted to take YouTube for a billion dollars.

But the price being paid by non-writers is simply too high, the show must go on. It's one of the hazards working for an industry with 20 or so unions, who can keep track of them all??????

R,
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#8 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 02:25 PM

Why should the writers have the right to punish the camera operators, lighting techs, talent bookers, etc etc etc.


And why doesn't the AMPTP share any blame here for the situation? They could easily end this strike. Why should the burden, the guilt, of out-of-work people fall only on the writers?

If strikes were painless, they'd be ineffective and go on forever.

If other unions don't support the writers' reasonable request for a share of internet revenue that they helped create, then what happens when our union wants something reasonable from the producers?

It would cost them such a small portion of overall profits for the studios, yet they are willing to allow this strike to go on rather than do something that they have always done in the past for other mediums. So I think it's silly to blame the writers for this impasse, especially when it was the AMPTP that walked out on the last negotiations.

Basically, like the grocery store strike here a few years ago, it's big companies with deep pockets willing to lose millions to save on thousands of dollars, all for the sake of breaking the power of workers who want to bargain collectively for a fair deal. It's very hard to be sympathetic to the studios in this case.

Sure, I'm losing money, my savings are drying up, but it could have long-term negative ramifications for us if the studios further expand their power at the expense of the people that work for them. In the long term, the loss in earnings could add up for all of us, more than what we are currently losing.

We could take a short-term view and say "I want a job at any costs" and let the studios break the unions, but years from now when we're struggling to make $30,000 a year instead of $60,000 a year as a regularly working professional in this industry, we'll wish we had stood up against this union-busting a little earlier.
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#9 Richard Boddington

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 02:45 PM

I wasn't blaming the writers per se, after all they can stay out on strike in the case of Jay Leno, and Leno can continue to do his show. Which means those members of the Leno staff not in the WGA can keep working until the strike is settled. I think asking non WGA members on a show like Leno to stay home in support of the WGA is asking a lot. If you have children and risk losing your home, that's a pretty big sacrifice to be asked to make.

Of course this would be a little harder in the case of a show like Law and Order that obviously can't function without writers.

The position of the AMPTP is some what perplexing? I mean they could easily bring in "scab" writers if they wanted to. There are plenty of talented writers not in the WGA who would take the work. And there are writers in Canada and the UK that could also possibly fill in. A long shot I know but it is possible.

I'm assuming the main reason the AMPTP does not use scab writers is because other unions won't cross a WGA picket line if the show goes back into production. This appears to be the reason why the Golden Globes got the axe today.

I think the WGA has already lost this battle by cutting separate deals with shows like David Letterman. They are taking a piece meal approach to getting their members back to work, while others stay on strike. If "solidarity" is the basis for union success, then the WGA should have taken an all or nothing approach.

I certainly don't think the WGA is some sort of boogey man that wants to see tech people lose their homes, and obviously their members are losing a lot of money as well. Hopefully every one can get back to work ASAP.

R,
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#10 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 03:54 PM

I think the WGA has already lost this battle by cutting separate deals with shows like David Letterman. They are taking a piece meal approach to getting their members back to work, while others stay on strike. If "solidarity" is the basis for union success, then the WGA should have taken an all or nothing approach.

R,



Your analysis may prove to be right... but the argument for this approach is that if enough production companies sign deals under the new WGA guidelines, then it gets harder for the studios to argue that the WGA demands are unreasonable, plus their own studio producers may start arguing with the studio heads that so-and-so on the lot (like Tom Cruise's production company) is now back in production thanks to signing a separate deal, then why can't they do the same thing? Then it starts to look like those who sign the WGA deal are moneymakers and those who don't are money-losers.

Ultimately, Wall St. has a lot to blame -- I think one reason why the grocery worker strike went on as long as it did was that despite store profits going down, stock prices were going up because Wall St. rewards anyone who acts tough against the unions. I suspect that it is a similar thing with the major studios, they are weighing production losses against shareholder stock prices to see which way to bend.

It's a little like this argument that DP's should be paid for doing the D.I. work. I mentioned to the union that it really was a union issue... and the union said it would be better for individual DP's to negotiate the right because if it happens often enough, it's easier for the union to say that it is a reasonable demand in a future contract negotiation, because there is a precedent set.
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#11 Richard Boddington

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 04:11 PM

Your analysis may prove to be right... but the argument for this approach is that if enough production companies sign deals under the new WGA guidelines, then it gets harder for the studios to argue that the WGA demands are unreasonable, plus their own studio producers may start arguing with the studio heads that so-and-so on the lot (like Tom Cruise's production company) is now back in production thanks to signing a separate deal, then why can't they do the same thing? Then it starts to look like those who sign the WGA deal are moneymakers and those who don't are money-losers.


You have a point, the WGA may be trying a "reverse union busting" approach. Get the "owners" to start fighting amongst themselves, break their united front and turn the tables on them. Break down the solidarity of the studios, it could work. I agree it does make it harder for the hold outs to manage their PR on this issue.

The only thing I can liken this situation to off the top off my head is the strikes in the pro-sports world. You have a collection of players that unite under one banner, and a collection of club owners that do the same. Of course it would be tough for a players union to make a deal with the owners of 2-3 sports franchises and have those teams play each other while a general strike is on.

During the NHL players strike the players settled for LESS than what they where offered the day before the strike started. And this after the fuss and performance of a strike!! So in that case it was a clear victory for the owners, the NHL players union came out looking quite stupid, the head of the players union had to resign shortly after the strike was settled. Gary Bettman was happy I'm sure.

In the case of the WGA many industry analysts are warning that the WGA may come out of this strike, weaker, not stronger. Again, I am not advocating for either side per se, just outsider commentary.

R,
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#12 John Sprung

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 08:52 PM

And there are writers in Canada and the UK that could also possibly fill in. A long shot I know but it is possible.


Why not actors, directors, and the whole crew, too? If that were the case, there would already be a business model for making shows entirely overseas for export to the U.S. market. But that hasn't happened.

There have been successful British shows that have generated American clones, but written and produced here. PBS picks up some British shows ( I like "Rumpole of the Bailey" and "Yes, Minister" ). "Eastenders" was so successful on PBS that commercial cable has it for re-runs. Those are some exceptions, but the general rule has been that foreign shows haven't been a hit with the U.S. mass audience.

(Of course we all know about U.S. shows shot in Canada and elsewhere, but with U.S. writers.)




-- J.S.
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#13 Richard Boddington

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 09:19 PM

Why not actors, directors, and the whole crew, too? If that were the case, there would already be a business model for making shows entirely overseas for export to the U.S. market. But that hasn't happened.
-- J.S.


Well....there are literally tens of thousands of Canadians working in the US industry in LA. One black commentator once wrote that there where more Canadians on US prime time sit-coms, than there where black Americans, hispanic Americans, or Asian Americans.

Americans just don't know who they are, they "blend" in :D

In the feature film world there are lots of examples where the USA provides the money, but the production is done 100% over seas. Look at Lord Of The Rings, I'll bet Americans made up less than 50% of the cast and crew. The director, writers, DOP, and composer, where all "feriners." The cast was probably more than 50% non-US as well when you add up all the Brits, Auzzies, and Kiwis.

Canada has a secret plot a foot to destroy Hollywood. They are builing a thing called Film Port in Toronto. Then we'll use nuclear missles fired into the fault line to cause LA to fall into the sea.

R,
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#14 A. Whitehouse

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Posted 09 January 2008 - 02:54 AM

Leno might be able to keep the show going in the short term but I think overtime its going to be difficult for him to maintain a watchable show without writers. The fear is that he'll start to repeat himself or worse. Are SAG boycotting all the late night shows? Can Letterman attract guests that wont cross the picket lines, so to speak, on other shows?
I watched the Daily show and the Colbert report, wow, they were really flat.
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#15 Will Earl

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Posted 09 January 2008 - 04:45 AM

...Plus they get zero residuals from the show whether the WGA has a contract they are happy with or not.


I was under the impression that IATSE members do receive residuals. The residuals however are used to pay for their health plan.

http://www.mpiphp.or..._us/theplan.htm
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#16 Francesco Bonomo

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Posted 09 January 2008 - 06:07 AM

I think the WGA has already lost this battle by cutting separate deals with shows like David Letterman. They are taking a piece meal approach to getting their members back to work, while others stay on strike. If "solidarity" is the basis for union success, then the WGA should have taken an all or nothing approach.


I agree with you on this, Richard. I live in a country where we have strikes every single day of the year, and it's become a joke. A strike, by definition, must be a radical, "all or nothing", kind of action. By cutting separate deals, the WGA has shown a weakness that might hurt a lot of people in the long run.

If other unions don't support the writers' reasonable request for a share of internet revenue that they helped create, then what happens when our union wants something reasonable from the producers?


I think this is an extremely important point, and it shows how, no matter what your job is, where you are, or how little this strike is affecting you, it should be supported by the biggest number of people on this side of the world, too. Unfortunately, here in Italy there's the tendency to adore Americans when they come here with lots of money for big productions, and ignore everything else that happens in the industry, only to blame the WGA if an American production to be shot here has been postponed...
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#17 robert duke

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Posted 09 January 2008 - 10:05 AM

I was under the impression that IATSE members do receive residuals. The residuals however are used to pay for their health plan.

http://www.mpiphp.or..._us/theplan.htm


Sorry Will but we dont receive residuals. Our heath care is paid as we work, and deposited to a sort of savings account for us. Once that well runs dry, you have to pay it yourself or risk losing your health insurance. Once you lose it, it is harder to get it back. The Iatse benifits board created a new lower grade health plan as an umbrella for those at risk. It is a crappy plan but better than none.

I have a lot of friends who receive "mailbox money". The IATSE contract does not allow for that.
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#18 Richard Boddington

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Posted 09 January 2008 - 11:04 AM

Leno might be able to keep the show going in the short term but I think overtime its going to be difficult for him to maintain a watchable show without writers. The fear is that he'll start to repeat himself or worse. Are SAG boycotting all the late night shows? Can Letterman attract guests that wont cross the picket lines, so to speak, on other shows?
I watched the Daily show and the Colbert report, wow, they were really flat.


Leno is far from dead on the guest front he had Pamela Anderson on last night. Now I ask you, who is better than that? She even wore short shorts, SAG be damned obviously :)


Sorry Will but we dont receive residuals. Our heath care is paid as we work, and deposited to a sort of savings account for us. Once that well runs dry, you have to pay it yourself or risk losing your health insurance. Once you lose it, it is harder to get it back. The Iatse benifits board created a new lower grade health plan as an umbrella for those at risk. It is a crappy plan but better than none.

I have a lot of friends who receive "mailbox money". The IATSE contract does not allow for that.


This mess just gets worse and worse, especially in light of the USA finishing dead last among the industrialized nations for health care:

http://news.yahoo.co...ty_080108191353

And yet Mc Cain and Giuliani had the audacity to make fun of Canada's health care during the Republican debate. Gee I wonder if those two have health insurance?

National health care would be a HUGE benefit to a pool of mostly free lance workers like film and TV professionals. You could be out of work for six months and not have to worry about health insurance for you and your family.

R,
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#19 robert duke

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Posted 09 January 2008 - 02:19 PM

Leno is far from dead on the guest front he had Pamela Anderson on last night. Now I ask you, who is better than that? She even wore short shorts, SAG be damned obviously :)




This mess just gets worse and worse, especially in light of the USA finishing dead last among the industrialized nations for health care:

http://news.yahoo.co...ty_080108191353

And yet Mc Cain and Giuliani had the audacity to make fun of Canada's health care during the Republican debate. Gee I wonder if those two have health insurance?

National health care would be a HUGE benefit to a pool of mostly free lance workers like film and TV professionals. You could be out of work for six months and not have to worry about health insurance for you and your family.

R,

Yes I agree National health care would be HUGE. I would love it. But how would we pay for it. Social security is on the verge of bankruptcy. I saw last night that the USA Comptroller is saying that by 2012 we will need $58trillion to just pay for the social security programs as is. That it makes every household $400,000 a year in debt. That doesnt include all that pesky military spending and other social programs.

Mccain and Guilani are set for health care. Serving one sentence as a senator/Representative gains you lifelong healthcare. Mccain has one of the best health care programs offered, the USGA healthcare program. second only to that is the healthcare for the NBA. After that it is the IATSE healthcare program.

The Baby boomers start retiring this year. and it only gets worse. Our government needs a major overhaul. It is voting season.
\
Sorry off topic.

I agree richard. we all deserve a government that cares for its people. So far our government shows us that the rich are protected, the middle class carry the weight and the poor only get more disenfrachised from the rest.
There are No right answers. there is No candidate that speaks to solve all these issues. heck there are few that even have a printed plan as to fix any of these issues.
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#20 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 09 January 2008 - 02:30 PM

Well, the side issue to national healthcare is why is it so expensive in this country? We talk about how much money it would cost us to have a national healthcare system, but that's based on the insane costs of care in this country, which is why providing healthcare is financially breaking many big companies like General Motors.

Toyota may have just become the second best-selling auto company in the U.S. but for years, it has been the most profitable auto company in the U.S. because they aren't burdened financially to the same level in providing healthcare and pension benefits to their workers and retirees. And unfortunately, the easier solution in the U.S. has simply been to let companies shirk their responsibilities to the workers without a replacement system to pick-up the people who lose their coverage.

The truth is that the healthcare industry has been very profitable for some people and they don't want to change that.
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