Give the Writers a Piece of the PIE!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Writers strike has officially entered its third day and Americans are forced to watch terrible reruns. These shows depend on writers to give them fresh content every day, and without them, TV land dries up.

There still have been no new negotiations scheduled on the main sticking point between writers and producers: payments from DVDs and shows offered on the internet. And why shouldn't writers get a piece of the pie? If the big guys are getting paid, shouldn't writers get a fair share for their work?

Writers are the fuel that keeps the multi-billion dollar motion picture and television industry driving, and without the content that the Writer's Guild of America ( provides the industry comes to a grinding halt.

Former Walt Disney Co. chairman and CEO Michael Eisner dismissed the Hollywood writers strike as "insanity" and "too stupid," warning writers that they were sacrificing real income for a hope of revenue that studios did not yet have. "For a writer to give up today's money for a nonexistent piece of the future — they should do it in three years, shouldn't be doing it now — they are misguided they should not have gone on the strike. I've seen stupid strikes, I've seen less stupid strikes, and this strike is just a stupid strike."


It's been almost 20 years since the last strike, and the truth is that almost everyone in show business is overpaid... except for writers (According to a quote from Alec Baldwin). He also said, "I have always been pretty clear about the fact that we are nowhere without the writers in our industry."

What are the writers asking for?

The contract between the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers expired on Oct. 31 thus propelling the strike.

The WGA is gunning more than ever to secure a bump in compensation for members’ work on DVD (4 cents per DVD) and in new media, following its failure to do so when the two sides last renegotiated the Guild’s contract with AMPTP in 2001 and 2004.

WGA West assistant executive director Charles Slocum believes producers can stand to be more generous with DVD. “We’ve been unhappy with the home video formula since 1985, which was in its early, early days,” said Slocum. “As we look back, it has been 25 years of revenue at this low, low rate. Writers pay their mortgage out of this. And it looks like we will have a very healthy DVD market for the next five to 10 years.”

Celebrities Rally to Support Writers:

From AP:

Jay Leno rolled up to a picket line on his motorcycle with doughnuts for striking writers at NBC.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus marched with pickets at Warner Bros. in the shadow of a giant billboard advertising her CBS show, "The New Adventures of Old Christine."

Even Democratic presidential candidates weighed in Monday, as writers got a little help from their famous friends during the first day of their strike against movie studios and TV networks.

Barack Obama said he stands with the writers and urged producers to work with them to end the strike.

Hillary Rodham Clinton called for a contract that recognizes the contributions writers make to the entertainment industry.

Each candidate has received more than $2 million in campaign contributions from the entertainment industry.

In Burbank, Louis-Dreyfus wore a cap, sunglasses and Screen Actors Guild T-shirt as she joined strikers chanting, "Hey, hey, pencils down. Hollywood's a union town." "How this is resolved will directly affect our union, too," she said, referring to the actors union contract that expires next year.

In New York, Tina Fey of "30 Rock" joined strikers outside Rockefeller Center, the headquarters of NBC.

Ellen DeGeneres wasn't spotted on the picket lines, but her publicist Kelly Bush said she took the day off in support of the writers on her daytime talk show.

Noise and other disruptions caused by a picket line interfered with filming at a location being used for the CBS show "Cane."

About 20 writers chanted, screamed and used a bullhorn outside a cafe near the CBS lot in Studio City, causing the production to move back onto the nearby CBS lot.

Tom Hogan, a location manager for the show, said filming began hours before the pickets arrived and involved a script that was finished several weeks ago.

"But you know what? I support them," said Hogan, a member of Teamsters Local 399, which represents truck drivers, casting directors and location managers.

Strikers near Universal Studios marched across a freeway bridge and waved signs at passing motorists.

Outside the landmark gate of Paramount Pictures on Melrose Avenue, drivers honked their horns in solidarity with strikers.

Despite the support, the financial reality of a work stoppage loomed large for many striking writers.

Michelle Mulroney, 40, and her husband both write feature films. "I'm fortunate. I can strike for a while," she said. "But most people I know will feel the crunch today."

Zoe Green, 26, certainly will. She sold her first pilot, but the strike is preventing her from writing the script. "This will be very tough for me personally, but I 100 percent support our cause," said Green, who was on the picket line. "I'm going to be struggling on $6,000 until this ends."

Now I'm interested to know:

What are your thoughts on the strike?

If you were a part of WGA would you go on strike even if that meant struggling for a while?


Annette said...

From his throne up on Mount Mickey, Mr. Eisner can't possibly see the position writers have been in for years. I remember the writer's strike in 1988. I lived in Hollywood, just walking distance from Paramount. The strike was necessary then and it's necessary now.

Writers have always been undervalued and underpaid in the entertainment industry. Can the average person name ANY of the top writers in the industry? Probably not, but I'm sure they can name the stars and the directors.

The writers never get enough credit or compensation. When it comes down to it, without the words, there is no story. Without the story there is nothing to film. (Unless you consider movies like "Playmate of the Apes" where story comes secondary to half-naked women cavorting with men in monkey suits) Hmmm...that sounds like business as usual in Hollywood...

But I digress. I absolutely support the strike. I'll be up in L.A. on Sunday and Monday, and if the strike is still going on, I'll put in some time on the line. Or at least show up with some support brownies!

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