Thursday, November 01, 2007

Abt Natural Because I Have A Gub...

Watching with fascinated trepidation the WGA/AMPTP negotiations go down to and then past the wire...primarily reading Artful Writer and Deadline Hollywood Daily. The comments are going up as fast as you can read and refresh.

The key stumbling block seems to be DVD and now New Media/Internet reuse compensation formulas (aka residuals) for writers. Scribes got a crummy deal way back when for home video, and it hasn't increased since. They want a minuscule bump in percentage for DVD's, and, anticipating the future, at least the same for downloads.

But AMPTP leader Nick Counter dashed any hopes of a quick resolution with this statement at the end of today:
"…no further movement is possible to close the gap between us so long as your DVD proposal remains on the table. In referring to DVDs, we include not only traditional DVDs, but also electronic sell-through — i.e., permanent downloads. As you know, we believe that electronic sell-through is synonymous with DVD."

Um...yeah. Didn't go over too good with the writers/WGA, as you can well imagine.

So kudo's to Ken Levine for telling it like it is, with lots of his usual vim, wit, and vigor. And he points to the very problem at the root of all this...writers have been generally taken for granted, stepped on, and bullied, getting little or no respect. And as anyone who's been picked on at school knows, once word gets around you're a pushover, it's real hard to make anyone to believe otherwise.

The other problem he notes is the biz tends to only slow down when writers strike, whereas directors and actors striking makes more of an immediate impact. So if the WGA hits the picket lines, expect it to be a long least until some of the other unions and guilds join rank.

What does it mean for us writers up in Canada? Not a whole lot. We signed our IPA deal quickly and quietly last year...and we're a different know, take our production advances and run. But I do know what it doesn't mean - this Canadian Press 'crock o' shit' article - trying to spin the strike into having a positive effect on the Canadian TV industry.

The spin:

But others suggest a lengthy strike could present golden opportunities for all sorts of players in Canada, from the private broadcasters to CBC and homegrown production companies. Both Global and CTV have long been criticized for a dearth of homemade programming on their airwaves, and some suggest a long strike could provide them with a captive audience for made-in-Canada shows.
"Gosh, do you think they might actually have to start creating some Canadian product?" Ken Ferguson, head of Toronto Film Studios, a film and television production company, said of Global and CTV. "This should be an opportunity - it should be the opportunity for Canadians to produce product that would probably find a ready market in the United States as well.

The reality:

While Global said it had no plans to trot out any Canadian programming in the event of a prolonged strike, Cosentino said CTV had plenty of Canadian shows that were slated to air in the months to come - from "Degrassi: The Next Generation" to "Robson Arms." He added that the network was committed to producing Canadian programming regardless of the strike.

"Is it our intention to run Canadian programming to replace American content? Not exactly. Our strategy with Canadian programming is to run it in the best possible slot we can to deliver it to the right audience," he said.

Not exactly? Try never. There's some other offensiveness in there, but I'll let you find it for yourselves.

Anyway, however it shakes out let's stand by our writing brothers and sisters to the south...and for fun, I present a reason why we (and the studios, and the networks) need to keep scribes happy and pay them what's fair:

Go HERE (if embed is funky)

A producer, director, or actor might have forgotten to hit spellcheck and ended up with the above scene by mistake...but only a good writer can turn misspelling on purpose into comedy gold. That's a talent worth paying for, because it all starts with the words on the page.

Nevertheless, as long as a writer's talent and the value of that talent isn't recognized and respected, negotiating better terms will be a long, uphill battle.

Right now it's like the WGA has a gub...but looks like they might need a gun.


Callaghan said...

Gotta love Take The Money and Run.

Paul and Val Mann said...

Good luck with your dispute. Seems obvious that without writers the whole system would collapse, but hey you are arty farty people with no business sense so the business guys get the cash. That's the way of the world all over isn't it?