MCN Blogs
David Poland

By David Poland

Strikingly Wrongheaded

Without the real threat of SAG and or DGA refusing to cross WGA picket lines, there is no chance of WGA

Be Sociable, Share!

33 Responses to “Strikingly Wrongheaded”

  1. IOIOIOI says:

    Heat; let me make it real easy for you. FOX… DISNEY… CBS… WARNERS (to an extent but they produce most of the quality shows on TV) and NBC/UNIVERSAL OWN TV NETWORKS. You are missing the whole point of the WGA STRIKE. IT’S NOT ABOUT MOVIES. IT’S ABOUT TV! In this day and age; where TV networks are own and operated by many of the movie studios. Your myopic view on this strike continues to be rather FILM-CENTRED. When movies do not propel writers to walk at the the start of Sweeps.

  2. jeffmcm says:

    IOI, I’m no expert in any of this, but I do know that every scripted show that will be airing in November has already been written.

  3. anghus says:

    I have taken my new position on the strike from noted German Philosopher Hans Schultz.
    someone wake me up when it’s over.

  4. IOIOIOI says:

    anghus; nice position that your brother must truly appreciate ;). Jeff; you are either responding like a dick or responding honestly. I simply do not know. So I will clarify for my special hombre out there in the L of A. If the writers strike in November. They have the potential of screwing up the second-half of the TV season. A TV season that produces TV boxsets that represent a tidy profit for the studios, and would be lacking in material that would lead to be costing 40 bucks DOR.

  5. T. Holly says:

    I support the writers and believe in strength in numbers with actors and directors. Be realistic, if the DGA contract were the first of the 3 to be expiring, it would probably be settled right now. The proverbial knife in the back is not far from the invisible hand that guides large masses. IOIOIOI, the studios can proportionately save much more money than the writers can lose while the strikes merge and force majeure may be a last resort.

  6. T. Holly says:

    I meant the invisible hand that guides market forces, but masses works too.

  7. MASON says:

    Nikki F is so… well, usable. Her latest posting is just hilarious. Here’s my favorite part —
    — I understand the studio and network bigwigs thought their renouncement of residual rollbacks was a “really big deal” concession that would get the writers in a positive frame of mind. I’m told the moguls were genuinely shocked at the WGA spin to members that it wasn’t much of a concession since it never should have been on the table in the first place — and there are dozens and dozens of other AMPTP-proposed rollbacks for the guild to still worry about. “Right now, the attitude is that we made a major move, and they’re kicking sand in our face,” a mogul told me. —
    LMAO. I mean, say what you want about the WGA, but the AMPTP can’t be surprised about this. Come on, it would be like someone stealing your wallet, then you thanking them and agreeing to be best buds when they gave it back a month later.
    I look forward to her next ridiculously positive WGA article after her call with Patric Verrone and company. Nikki writes what you tell her too.

  8. hendhogan says:

    Shockingly simplistic and full of holes, David. I really expected better.
    The ’88 writer’s strike which ended in August started in March. It couldn’t effect the television season, as it was already written for that season. They could push back production on fall television season. The AMPTP had 3 months worth of hiatus to really make writer’s hurt. To strike in November, means half the scripts of the current season will be incomplete. Contrary to Jeff’s assertion, Novembers scripts are not written. The “Heroes” script that starts shooting in two days, isn’t written. Most sitcom scripts are actually written after the table read.
    SAG & DGA are not refusing to cross picket lines. They are forbidden from honoring other unions strikes. It’s in their deals with the AMPTP.
    Before making these blanket statements, look at the DGA & SAG. SAG is rife with infighting and going to war with AFTRA. The DGA is not just directors. It’s majority is ADs, members that don’t get residuals for their work. They make sweetheart deals because they don’t have anything to gain. Maybe the DGA makes a deal in November, maybe it refuses to in solidarity. In either case, it’s foolish to compare ’88 to now, when what you are proposing more fits the schedule of the ’88 strike.

  9. Joe Leydon says:

    I vaguely recall that during the last WGA strike, ABC “remade” episodes of Mission: Impossible using old scripts from the original CBS series. (The segments were shot in Australia, I believe.) I wonder — seriously — if something like that could happen again.

  10. hendhogan says:

    Yes, they did, Joe. Did you watch those episodes though? Horrible!
    The second thing to keep in mind, is that the latest trend is reinventing old shows like “Battlestar Galactica” and “The Bionic Woman.” It would deeply hurt future development of those types of shows if the audience got dated scripts on old concepts.

  11. T. Holly says:

    Mason, Hendhogan, who will help the directors do on-set rewrites? Wouldn’t changing the shooting script constitute crossing a picket line?
    There may be validity to what Nikki was told about pilot season being caput right now, because it’s development season for scripts that would normally be picked up in January.
    Who cares if the WGA rides into renegotiation on the coattails of the DGA? Labor is labor, let the big dogs loose.

  12. hendhogan says:

    T. Holly,
    Depends on who does it. Obviously, a writer can’t. But I haven’t met a producer who didn’t think he couldn’t make a script better on his own. And, in the case of “Mission Impossible,” they used scab writers around the fourth month of the strike to make changes to the old scripts.
    And yes, a strike in November would dampen pilot season. If the strike is short, the season can be saved.
    Labor is not labor. A major contention for the WGA is that residuals are threatened by broadcast over the internet. The majority of members in the DGA are not directors. 1st & 2nd ADs outnumber them, and they don’t (for the most part) get residuals. The DGA doesn’t have as much to lose if the AMPTP gets its way.

  13. T. Holly says:

    Don’t shooting scripts get filed with the WGA? Isn’t the WGA going to fine productions if they alter scripts during a strike? Call me unrealistic, but can’t the WGA monitor script pages that are used on-set? If not, the NLRB should hear about it.
    It wouldn’t surprise me if there’s a defacto strike impacting pilot scripts right now.
    It doesn’t weaken the WGA to let the DGA get their licks in. The more cards face up, the better. March to August is the dumbest time to strike, but any other time will be plenty bloody.

  14. T. Holly says:
    Oh, just see the 10/20 entry.

  15. hendhogan says:

    After October 31st, there will be no deal between AMPTP and WGA unless both sides agree to extend the current deal. If WGA decides to strike, the AMPTP is not beholden to the WGA. NLRB has no stake in this. All the WGA can do is fine their own members who cross the line and deny entry to guild after strike to those non-members that crossed the line.
    If the DGA negotiates a deal, that will become the template used for all other guilds. That the DGA isn’t as concerned about residuals is cause for concern.

  16. hendhogan says:

    Good blog. Been reading it.

  17. David Poland says:

    IO… I know! I get that. And what I am saying is that the deal will not be made based on that… because in the end, it is about EVERYTHING. Like I keep saying… it’s not micro, it’s macro.
    And Hendhogen… I remember the 88 strike… I lost my TV production job because of it. It’s not an abstraction to me. (My guess is that it isn’t for you either.)
    Do we both agree that SAG is not a non-issue? Do we both agree that SAG is a bigger problem for the producers? Do you think SAG isn’t willing to strike?
    If you think SAG is just going to wilt anyway, then you have a point and it doesn’t matter when WGA strikes in that regard. You are right. But SAG needs significant deal changes more so than WGA. (Agree or disagree?)
    And while a March start to the ’88 strike was kinda dumb, the last two months of the strike, writers and others would have been working, no?
    So what is you theory? That if the WGA goes out on Nov 1 that the studios cave by the new year?
    And that DGA will sell everyone else out and that WGA will have to abide by the DGA deal?
    Just trying to figure out what you think here…

  18. T. Holly says:

    Having no ability to enforce the integrity of a shooting script, during a writers’ strike, is quite a handicap.
    Is it crossing the picket line if a director makes script changes during a writers’ strike? How about if the director accepts changes to the script that the producer makes for the director –is that crossing the picket line? If the answers are no, even if the producer is also the writer, then that’s a problem, and the studios should be stockpiling finished scripts that productions can have directors and producers rewrite without penalty.
    If a DGA rep can walk into my editing room and order me not to touch a director’s cut, then the WGA can walk onto a set and protect a shooting script during a strike.
    The 1st and 2nd A.D.’s may not care about anything other than their payscale, but I can assure you that the DGA negotiating team does.

  19. T. Holly says:

    It doesn’t even have to be a shooting script, it can be the last script turned in by the writer.

  20. hendhogan says:

    Yes, the first one to deal sets the contract. I think the DGA’s position on negotiating a deal or not is crucial.
    No, the WGA needs the same changes as SAG. SAG is a little ahead in that they have had jurisdiction over animation and have done deals for internet content. SAG also doesn’t have to worry about unionizing reality performers.
    That said, it all boils down to new media. All unions need a good residual base for new media. In 1985, when the guilds agreed to small residuals while the AMPTP sees where videotape market was, the expectation was that the rate would be negotiated up. That did not happen. The rate has stayed the same for 20 years. To expect a different outcome from the same series of events is the definition of insanity.
    I think if the WGA has any chance of attaining its goals, they must strike now. Remember, conventional wisdom had them waiting to get closer to SAG negotiations. A strike only works when the other side isn’t prepared for it. They have stockpiled some material, but not enough. And certainly, not enough television scripts.
    I think SAG picking a fight with AFTRA is potentially disastrous, especially if AFTRA succeeds in becoming a part of the AFL-CIO. Then there will be duo negotiations going on with the AMPTP, which will allow the studios to play one off the other.
    As far as, the last two months of ’88, you are correct, but the three previous months just took the fight out of everybody. By that time, it was just a matter of figuring out how to get out and try to save face.
    This is already a long post, so I’ll save my thoughts of what happens should the strike hit til later, if you’re still curious to know.

  21. hendhogan says:

    T Holly:
    The only one crossing the picket line is a writer. DGA and SAG cannot strike Nov. 1. It is a part of the deals they struck in the past. They can only strike after June 30th. A director or actor can choose to honor the strike, but they leave themselves open to a law suit and they would lose.
    Again, the WGA has no control over production, just it’s own members. No guild does.
    The strike rules are posted on the WGA site if you want to know what can and cannot be done during a strike.

  22. T. Holly says:

    Hendhogan, I was just trying to say that the WGA should collect the last steps on scripts that are turned in before a strike, if there is a strike, and make sure no director or producer works on the scripts, even if that person is also the writer. I’m sorry, you’ve been very kind, but I just need to measure power that way.

  23. hendhogan says:

    Yes, but the guild has no standing in whether a director or producer writes, unless they are a member of WGA. A non-member director or producer writing is the same as a scab writing. Can’t stop it. Can just make life difficult for scab after it all settles out.

  24. T. Holly says:

    I contend it’s more than scab writing, I’m saying the SIGNATORIES would be treading and trading in worse things — illegal (anti-trust) activities, AFL-CIO (labor) violations, being cited and fined.
    If paralysis has already set in for pilot season, then striking now won’t make it worse. And if not, and the WGA strikes in January, who will hone the pilot scripts before they go *before camera* in February?
    If cameras are rolling now in large numbers, and the studios are rushing to get scripts *finished* (a false concept), let them, because there’s no way for the studio to prepare for a strike, even *finished scripts* won’t reach *go picture* status and some that do will use force majeure to shut and everything holds, waiting for rewrites.
    Hitting a tv season in progress can’t be enough, so bide your time.
    I’ll try to *ask* Craig Mazin later, and I’m sure *Dave* thinks I’m crazy!

  25. hendhogan says:

    T. Holly:
    I don’t think you’re getting it. The agreement that requires AMPTP members to use union writers is the agreement that expires October 31. If there is no deal in place to continue that agreement, you can’t accuse the AMPTP to be in violation of it.
    Paralysis has not set in on writing pilot scripts yet. Producers are pushing for all outstanding scripts to be turned in by Oct. 31 or writer won’t get paid. Tweaking on those scripts (if they choose to do so, would have to be done by scabs). And there will be scabs.
    Television is the writer’s medium. They have more control there than in films. Their only shot is to affect television shows. Several new shows will get cancelled as soon as that last script is shot.

  26. RDP says:

    Also, there’s no requirement in the agreement that AMPTP members hire only WGA writers. It’s not an illegal closed shop, it’s a union shop. Those employed by signatory companies are required to either join or become Financial Core non-members within 30 days after employment. FiCore non-members are not WGA members, but they can be hired by signatory companies at any time (even during a strike).
    There are also the so-called A-H exceptions which are supposed to be minor writing tweaks that are not covered by the MBA and are often performed by directors, producers or actors and others (our strike rules prohibit members of the WGA who are also directors or producers from making such A-H tweaks, but those who aren’t WGA members are free to do so).

  27. T. Holly says:

    Hyphenates have more power. I guess those A-H exceptions were in play when Josh Harnett and the director rewrote his 30 Days part and Sidney Lumet never met his Before the Devil screenwriter, Kelly Masterson, mistaking him for a woman, in an interview.
    Shooting scripts don’t get sent to the WGA until after principle photography, when the signatory files the tentative writing credits. And scripts can’t be turned in by the writer because they are signatory property and, writer beware, confidential material.
    hendhogan, I’ve been looking *non-stop* for unfair labor violations vis-a-vis a simple contract expiration vs. a labor strike and, pathetically, the best I can find is, from a message board no less, “WGA signatories aren’t doing business during a WGA strike”… the rest:
    Understand — non-WGA writers are actually free to sell projects to non-signatory companies. Even during a strike. The world of moviemaking that takes place outside of the WGA goes on during a strike.
    Be clear: That’s non-WGA members, selling to non-WGA signatory parties.
    WGA members can’t sell to those companies, with or without a strike.
    Another thing: During a strike, the WGA signatory companies aren’t out there looking to buy from non-WGA writers.
    WGA strikes aren’t like supermarket strikes. The studios that are WGA signatories don’t try to keep buying from scabs. They shut down that side of their business. Executives get laid off, agents get laid off.
    So, the notion that you’ll get your big break from a WGA company during a strike is illusory.
    The ONLY writers working during a WGA strike are non-WGA members involved in non-WGA indie films and other non-WGA stuff.
    And yet, when the strike is over, if they sell to a WGA signatory, they can join the WGA and reap the benefits gained by people who had to fight for them, and in the case of a strike risk their careers for them.
    What a non-WGA member cannot do is work for a WGA signatory during a strike, and then later join the WGA.
    But like I said, that almost never comes up. Since the WGA signatories aren’t doing business during a WGA strike.
    And one last thing: To join the WGA, all you need to be is employed by a WGA signatory.
    You don’t have to already be in the WGA in order to get a job with a WGA company. If that were the case, you could argue that the WGA “keeps people out.” But it doesn’t. Get hired, and you’re in.

  28. RDP says:

    “What a non-WGA member cannot do is work for a WGA signatory during a strike, and then later join the WGA.”
    This is always the threat, but I can’t imagine the Guild ever following through with it as it wouldn’t prevent the writer from working for signatory companies after a strike but would prevent the WGA from collecting dues on that writer’s future employment.
    But, like you said, there’s probably not going to be large-scale writing and rewriting going on by non-member writers during a strike anyway (directors and producers might give it a shot, but probably not the ones who are also WGA member writers).
    But your earlier posting seemed to be of the notion that the studios would shut down feature film production come November 1st rather than just go with what they have and let the directors/producers/actors/whoever do on-set tweaks. That’s not going to be the case.
    They’re not going to be commissioning new writing, but they’ve got enough already on the feature film side to keep production going through the end of the DGA and SAG contracts and have plenty of product for 2009. They’re not going to shut them down and hold.
    Some projects, obviously, aren’t going to make it and get put on hold or otherwise delayed or canceled, but there’s enough that’s ready enough to fill the pipeline for 2009.
    TV is a different animal, of course, but the networks aren’t going to go dark or anything like that. They’ll put something up there. A bunch of new reality shows, reruns, foreign stuff, news programs (though there’s potentially some issues there, too). We’re not going to tune in and see a test pattern.
    “I’ve been looking *non-stop* for unfair labor violations”
    I wouldn’t bother looking. If there are any, the Guild’s lawyers know about them, just as the AMPTP is already talking about part of our strike rules potentially being in violation of labor laws.

  29. T. Holly says:

    hendhogan, before you tell me WGA signatories aren’t doing business during a WGA strike because the guild forbids them to work, I know. The arguments for and against a strike sooner than later, have not changed. Just another day of caucuses and round the clock sweatshop writing for union represented laborers at U.S. companies.

  30. T. Holly says:

    hendhogan, I thought you’d appreciate this comment:
    I understand the bargaining strength of a combined WGA-SAG strike threat, and of the mutual and overlapping interests both union have regarding some issues. But what I haven

  31. hendhogan says:

    i do. i actually have craig’s site up on a separate tab (like this one). i refresh throughout the day to see what people are saying.

  32. T. Holly says:

    Me too. Someone tossed around force majeure in there. I’ll have to straighten them out later.

  33. hendhogan says:

    i read that too. but straighten out in what way? the force majeure clause in contracts includes work stoppages.

The Hot Blog

Quote Unquotesee all »

It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon