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David Poland

By David Poland

Did You Hear The One About…

… the Hollywood union that screwed the foreign journalists?
By the time the AMPTP/WGA negotiations go official later this week or early next week, the deal will be very close to done. Only some form of insanity on one side or the other will keep that from happening.
Today, the WGA waiver for The Grammys was made official… though the decision not to picket last week made this a fate accompli.
I am happy the strike will soon be over and that the WGA’s deal will not be embarrassing. But someone should probably be willing, against political logic, to point out how grotesque some of the attitude that still comes from the WGA in deigning to allow the recording industry its awards show.
To wit, ” ‘Professional musicians face many of the same issues that we do concerning fair compensation for the use of their work in new media,’ WGA West president Patric Verrone said Monday. ‘In the interest of advancing our goal of achieving a fair contract, the WGAW board felt that this decision should be made on behalf our brothers and sisters in the American Federation of Musicians and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.’ ”
Yeah. Bull.
The AMPTP deal is around the corner and pissing off more people is not in WGA’s interest… period. The WGA is most aggressively trying to make sure that TV and film writers don’t get their guts ripped out in the new media era the way that songwriters have.
But more importantly, there is something so arrogant and petty about lording it over a bunch of frickin’ awards shows. How many millions of dollars did WGA take out of the pockets of union members by shutting down The Golden Globes? And not just union members, but union members – like hotel staff and tv production personnel – who aren’t the ones on camera… aka the ones who actually need the money.
Let me say it again… I support the WGA’s goals in this labor action. 100% But when this is all over, we ALL need to consider what happened. It’s all too easy to say, “Fuck HFPA,” which now appears to be the only awards show that will actually pay a price – a steep one – in this strike. Isn’t the basic idea of democracy and the core of morality the embrace of the freedom and respect of the least popular?
(And by the way… John Ridley isn’t any hero. I agree with some of his concerns, but cutting and running is not any better than a group of thoughtful people having their daily discourse devolve into a fascist disinterest in a wider range of ideas. A thinking adult fights the fight until the fighting is done. And then you fight for a better future so the next fight is less bloody.)
The awards season can be an endless bore. And for most people in the media and industry, this kink at The Golden Globes was more invigorating than the show going on as usual. Plenty of people would be just as happy to see all the awards shows go away. (Others are con artists who scream about how inconsequential awards shows are, but then announce their awards intentions months early in search of ads and then return from their alleged sick beds to “cover” nominations. But I digress…) But if we start basing our moral notions on what we like then most of the WGA members shouldn’t bother to go back to work after the strike ends. (And yes, that applies for all artists across the industry in all arenas.)
Let’s take the lessons that have been learned in this strike – especially the ability to mobilize the independent media – and work a lot harder next time to avoid having a strike at all. Let’s start discussing the real issues months before the deadlines and not weeks. Let’s see the kind of effort made by the creative community to make its points – like Speechless – before the money clock starts running on everyone who lives off of this industry.
Maybe shutting down The Globes and striking in November were key to the settlement to come. Maybe 100%. Maybe 70%. Maybe 40%. Maybe not at all. What we do know is that the men and women of the negotiating committee moved forward with the most honorable intentions and belief that action was absolutely needed in order to get a decent contract. What we also know is that AMPTP didn’t flinch, doing almost exactly what was expected from early on.
The water under the bridge should wash away much of the angst… and hopefully, create a reservoir of thoughtfulness about how to do it better next time. And I hope that when push comes to shove again that the first idea is not, “First, let’s kill all the awards shows.”

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8 Responses to “Did You Hear The One About…”

  1. BTLine says:

    question for everybody:
    what do you foresee happening between the writers and the crew when we all go back to work?

  2. IOIOIOI says:

    BT, what happens after every strike or anything devisive between two different groups who have to co-exist. You feel uneasy around one another for a week or two, then it slowly goes back to normal. Sure resent still lingers in the back of your mind in case anything sideways happens, but you simply go on as everything is normal.
    Of course the TV season may be called off after this deal is signed. Leaving the crews and the writers to wait for months to pick up things again, but that should not be a problem. Nah. Not working for almost 8 months should be great for some of these crews.
    Oh yeah Heat; a create a reservoir of thoughtfulness is a great phrase. It could either title a self-help book, or be used on a really innovative condom. Either benefitting Humanity. So it’s all good.

  3. Josh Massey says:

    If I’m the HFPA, I don’t give out a screenplay award next year.

  4. IOIOIOI says:

    If I am the HFPA. I move the awards to Monte Carlo and do not comp ANYBODY! “TAK’ES THAT VILE IMPERIALIST WRI’ERS!” The no writing award thing could work as well.

  5. waterbucket says:

    I’m so over the WGA strike. Their image at the beginning was that of an underdog fighting against the big machine. Now they’re seemingly elitists who pick and choose which show they want to ruin and which show they want to keep. Next!

  6. Skyblade says:

    If I’m the HFPA, I don’t give out a screenplay award next year
    They barely do anyways–they only have one category for screenplay while having two categories for movies. And they basically use it as an excuse to invite Aaron Sorkin. I don’t think they even have a writing category for television.

  7. grandcosmo says:

    If I’m the HFPA I keep my head down and go about business as usual. Anything to keep the whole scam going.

  8. jeffmcm says:

    How much interaction is there typically between the writers on a show, ensconced in their little rooms, and anyone else on a crew?

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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.

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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.”
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“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