November 2007 Archives
We wrapped principal photography on Tuesday.
For those directors out there who shoot these gargantuan, 100 day and more schedules, all I can say is…I’m in awe. Because after 48 days, I was ready to collapse.
The last moments were a bit of a blur, but I know a lot of our crew reads the blog, so I wanted to use this post to say THANK YOU.
Thank you Dave and Tom and Kim and Alan and Dave and Linda and Mychael and Doug and Rupert and Jessie and Mike and Michael and Scott and Jimmy and Leo and Charlie and Billy and Mikey and Carol and Ellen and Joyce and Steve and Michelle and Janeen and Lori and Mark and Keith and Lloyd and Chodo and Chris and Joe and Bob and Jim and Jill and Wilma and Jacq and Adam and Mary and Andrew and Audrey and Ozzie and Lilly and Randy and Tommy and Rob and Alan…
Those are just the names off the top of my head (one of the challenges of directing is that you have to learn a lot of names, and quickly). I thank everyone who worked on the film. Everyone.
Now, a little about the possessory credit.
Before I shot this movie, I hated the “film by” credit. I haaaaaated it. Some director friends told me that actually doing the job would make me change my mind.
They were right.
I now hate that credit even more.
I also want to acknowledge my wonderful cast, who all went above and beyond for me, and showed me great patience while they did it. Drake, Sara, Christopher, Leslie, Marion, Ryan, Kevin, Brent, Jeffrey, Kurt, Dan, John, Rod, Steve and everyone else, from background to star…you were all wonderful to me, and I’m in your debt.
Now the editing begins. Life returns somewhat to normal.
I say “somewhat,” because I spent my first post-shoot day picketing in front of Warner Brothers, but it’s more normal than shooting, at least.
Thanks for bearing with me during my distracted months. I simply didn’t have the ability to monitor the comment discussions the way I like, and things got progressively uglier in there, particularly after the strike. I don’t intend to let that continue. Let’s debate without being personal or cruel (and for my part in the tit-for-tat wars, I genuinely apologize).
It’s a new day.
And new software is coming, I swear.
With a new template!
Reminds me…gotta go bug my web genius…
Hope you had a pleasant Thanksgiving.
I really really really hope that the Verrones and the Counters and the Youngs and the Chernins and the Bowmans and the Meyers had a pleasant Thanksgiving.
They’re all back in the room tomorrow.
And there are rumors.
Hollywood rumors occasionally come on like seizures, grabbing everyone’s attention and shaking them around. More frequently, they emerge like one of Kant’s synthetic a priori judgments—supposedly unquestionably true, and yet not by way of reason or analysis. People suddenly just know stuff, and they don’t know why, but they sure as hell believe it.
Gotta love this town.
There’s a rumor out there now that Monday’s meeting is almost pro forma. The rumor says that the basic deal structure has been agreed upon, the next few days are about hammering out the devillish details, but whatever that magic number is…it’s been found.
Tempting to believe.
So tempting…that I believe it.
But first, some baseball news.
I was reading about Johan Santana today (for those of you who don’t follow the sport, he’s pretty much the best pitcher in the game…and a lefty to boot). The Twins have him under a cheap contract for one more year.
If they keep him for that year, he becomes a free agent…and leaves them, because they can’t afford to pay him what he’s worth on the open market.
If they trade him now, they lose him for one year but stand to gain some tremendous players in return.
Easy choice. They have to trade him.
Here’s where the game theory kicks in. They can’t trade him for scrubs. They need great players. So it would seem they have all the leverage. On the other hand, the teams they’re dealing with know all too well that the Twins have to trade him, or they end up with nothing…and those teams would then still have a shot at Santana on the open market.
So the Twins need to be strong but reasonable, and the opposing teams need to be strong but reasonable.
Right now, our situation makes the Santana trade look like child’s play, but still…we have some balance, and that’s what matters. Neither side can crush the other (despite infantile proclamations to the contrary from both the union and the companies). The companies know that their current offer is a non-starter in a general sense. By now, they’ve heard as much, I presume, from the DGA.
Either they dared us to strike to see if we had the balls (dumb, because their deal was so ridiculous, who would possibly agree to take it?), or they forced us to strike in order to….
…well, hell, Nick Counter, buy me a drink one day and explain that to me if it’s the case. It certainly seemed like the AMPTP forced a strike, but to what end?
Regardless, the balance in the equation may be forcing a compromise. We’re costing them money. We’re costing ourselves money. They have the DGA they can bargain with…but they still have to bargain with them.
If the rumors are correct, there’s enough impetus to get the AMPTP back to finding the magic number.
So let’s start defining “victory.”
To me, victory doesn’t have to include any DVD increase (and given that we already gave that one up before ungiving it up, don’t expect it folks…and yes, I’ve spoken with a number of writers who honestly believe that we’ll get one). It doesn’t have to include any jurisdictional gains, nor does it have to include anything at all regarding product integration.
Victory requires the following.
- Maintenance, at very least, of status quo for separated rights
- A better-than-DVD rate for electronic sell-through on the internet
- A reasonable formula for streaming reuse
Pretty muddy, I grant you. For instance, what if the companies promise a good residual rate, but insist on that rollback for separated stage dramatization rights? I’ll let other people chew on those. Similarly, what’s reasonable for #3? And how much better than is truly better than? .31% ain’t enough. 2.5% won’t happen either.
Perhaps, if the rumors are correct, those are the things left to discuss. They’re big things.
But if we’ve gotten past some of the major stumbling blocks and boiled it down to the serious stuff at hand…and more importantly, if the AMPTP is ready to acknowledge certain basic realities…then we might be back to work soon.
Before I go, there are two other matters to discuss.
First, attorney Jonathan Handel has written a fantastic primer on our residuals rates and the true numbers involved. Surprise, surprise…the whole “four more cents!” thing is reductive sloganeering with little bearing on the actual economic issues here…and yet…as Handel argues convincingly, we deserve more nonetheless.
I strongly recommend you read his essay. You can’t fit it on a picket sign, but it’s a whole lot more convincing than anything beginning with “Hey hey, ho ho!”
Secondly, I’ve received a number of emails all posing variants of the following question.
“I’m not a member of the WGA yet, and I’m wondering how the strike affects me. Can I sell material to or work for signatory companies? Is there any rule preventing me from doing that?”
Here’s my answer to all of you who’ve asked.
I’m not telling you.
I’m not telling you because I’m basically here to try and help writers and empower writers, and while I love truth and accuracy, I’m not obligated to write down how-to manuals for scabbing.
So here’s the answer I’ll give instead.
Regardless of the rules, regulations, laws, court decisions and anything else prevailing either for or against you, if you sell material to or make writing deals with signatory companies while the WGA is on strike, then you’re an asshole.
You’re an asshole because you’re undercutting, you’re an asshole because you’re exploiting opportunities made possible by people who are trying to better everyone’s circumstances, and you’re an asshole because…well…
…I’ll go back to a synthetic a priori judgment. You just are.
Good enough for Kant, good enough for me.
Aggh, one more thing (“Our three weapons are…!”).
Totally redoing it. I’ve decided that MovableType 4, while better than 3, is still inferior to WordPress. So I’m switching over to WordPress, and I’m redesiging the look of the whole thing while I’m at it.
Hopefully it will be done before the end of the year.
Some good news…commenting will be much more user-friendly. Specifically, you’ll be able to live preview your comments as you type them, and you’ll also be able to EDIT them (cue the angelic chorus) for 15 minutes following the initial submission.
I’m going to try and make the whole site feel cleaner and simpler, with a few Web 2.0 perks thrown in (like super-easy icons to refer articles to social bookmarking sites like Digg and Reddit).
Alas, I think the quill is going bye-bye. I liked it, it served us well, but progress demands that we pave that sucker over and build something new. Hopefully you’ll enjoy it.
Then I’m sorry…and thank you.
I’ve been deluged lately, and with the last few days of production still left to go, I just haven’t had a chance to respond to everyone the way I normally do.
I’ve gotten a ton of email in the past week or so, all of it very kind and supportive, and I thank each of you for taking the time. I feel like a jerk for not responding individually, and once I get my life back, I promise to get better about that.
If you sent me a link to a blog article, MSM article or YouTube video, I also thank you. I’m trying to read and watch everything when I get a chance.
More to come in a few days. I’m trying to get the Guild to clarify their position on location striking, which is a hot topic among my writer friends (and the source of some confusion and disparate understandings). No answer yet. Hope to hear back soon.
I’ll leave you with this. Got sent the link by Ask A Ninja, which is one of the few actual, honest-to-goodness funny websites out there.
I want to be part of the Dragon Claw Fire Horde.
As you can see, we’re still working on getting our formatting back, but in the meantime, I thought I’d catch up with all of you.
It used to be that folks would come here to catch up, I suppose, but you’re all ahead of me now. I go off and work a few 15 hour days in a row, and before I know it, everyone’s on top of everything.
You’ve read all the letters from Verrone, you know the WGA and AMPTP are back at the table on Monday, you followed the tit-for-tat wars between Tommy Short and Verrone (and between Ellen, AFTRA and couldn’t-get-anything-right-if-her-life-depended-on-it Mona Mangan), you know that Carlton Cuse is returning to work on the very same day…
So, what’s it all mean?
There’s an enormous amount of noise out there, literally and figuratively. Picking through it to get the signal is the tricky part.
For instance, the AMPTP runs an ad proclaiming that they are, in fact, paying us for internet downloads.
Signal? They’re paying us at a rate we don’t accept and have explicitly rejected as insufficient, and there’s an entire category of internet exhibition (advertising-supporting streaming) they don’t want to pay us for at all.
Meanwhile, Patric Verrone tells a crowd that we’re “kicking corporate ass” while David Young muses openly to the press about “all the havoc” he’s wreaked.
Signal? The Big Five congloms’ asses are still quite unkicked, and David Young needs to start talking publicly like the responsible, pragmatic guy into whom a lot of insiders are telling me he’s blossomed.
Tommy Short, the autocratic head of IATSE, complains that Patric is strike-happy and needs to grow the hell up before more IA members lose their jobs.
Signal? Yes, when writers strike, bad things happen. Duh. Production slowing down is obviously one of them. I’m pretty sure that if IATSE ever struck (which will happen in, oh, about a month after never), then writers would suffer too, as development would slow, production payments would cease, and showrunners would go dark. Putting aside whether or not Patrick is strike-happy, it’s absurdly unfair of Tommy to insist that the WGA shouldn’t strike for fear of hurting IA members. This is the guy who hung a rollback around the necks of the Teamsters. It’s his favorite move. He’s a blame shifter.
Speaking of the Teamsters, their decision to encourage their members to individually decide not to cross the picket lines has given our strike a major boost.
Signal? I’ve been talking to some captains, a lot of picketers, a bunch of guys in Local 399 and some people on the inside at the WGA. The Teamsters have been crossing, and I haven’t heard about any shows, lots or production companies negatively impacted in any serious way by Teamster support. I can’t blame the Teamsters here. They’re working men and women under contract, and while the announcement of support from 399’s leadership was a great PR coup (I sure fell for it), PR doesn’t put food on the table. The drivers keep on driving.
Then there’s the issue of the showrunners. They banded together and most of them walked off their writing jobs and their producing jobs (which generally pay them the bulk of their income). Their resistance would lead to a short strike.
Signal? They have to go back to work. They have to. The fact that they did what they did was individually brave and commendable, but collectively, it was a high risk/low gain strategy. Shutting down post earlier than normal maybe stole back a few more weeks of episodes than a simple cessation of writing would have, but ultimately, they can’t all end up in breach. Furthermore, whenever we can mitigate collateral damage to other working people (particularly unionized ones like crew), we ought to. I’m happy that Cuse is going back to work, and I’ve spoken with a showrunner who believes quite a few more will return now that negotiations seem to be percolating again.
Speaking of which…
Let’s see. Depending on which strain of rabies you have, this next round of negotiations is either:
a) evidence that our strike has dealt a terrible blow to the companies
b) a trap in which the all-powerful AMPTP crushes the rebellion and blows the bejeezus out of Yavin IV.
But you know me…
…I’ll go with neither.
There’s a decent probability that some vague structure of a deal already exists. It may be emerging from back-channels between WGA moderates and AMPTP moderates, or it may be forming out of discussions between the DGA and the AMPTP.
But is it a good structure?
Can either side afford a compromise at this point?
Sure. Both sides have to be aware of the truth of their leverage. Ignore the chanting and the ranting from the rabid extremes on both sides, focus on the inevitable compromises both sides must make, and we could have a deal in hand before Christmas.
Okay. The custom templates aren’t back yet, but they’re on their way. Meanwhile, the comment system appears to be working.
When you go to sign in, if you’ve registered your ID with TypeKey, then make sure you select TypePad as your method of login (I made that mistake for a while…didn’t realize I couldn’t just put my name and password in and hit return…I had to hit the TypeKey thingy on the right side of the login entry area). If you haven’t yet registered your ID with TypeKey, please do so.
Use this thread as a place to test your name and start commenting. As always, you can still be as anonymous as you choose, and I do not moderate comments before they are published.
Thanks for your patience.
Sometimes running a blog is SO MUCH FUN!
As you all know, comments are down. We’re working on it. When the changes are done, you’ll have to register with a handle of your choosing (so Anonymous or Anonymous 2 or anthing you want is fine…you just can’t pretend to be someone else, etc.).
Meanwhile, until we fix all this, if you try and comment right now you’re going to get an error message about comment approval, etc.
Here’s a lovely note I received today.
It’s your site. Which means it isn’t censorship.
But you set up a forum that encouraged debate and comment.
And now you have to approve those comments?
Go fuck yourself.
And shove that piece of shit script for Scary Movie 3 up your ass, if it’ll fit with your head in there.
Aw, what a lovely human being!
Glad you’re enjoying the site!
For the rest of you, just to be clear, the new system will NOT involve me or anyone else approving comments prior to publication. Nothing will be different except the handle registration (which isn’t through my site, but through Movable Type’s site), so that fake Priyas and fifteen different people with the name “Anonymous” aren’t confusing the discussions.
Once we fix it, everyone will be able to tell me to shove my scripts up my ass again. Hooray!
This video was apparently made by a striking writer.
Perfectly done. The WGA should get this up on their site immediately.
I was planning on a rebuttal to Michael Eisner’s comments about how this strike is “stupid” because it’s about revenue that isn’t real, but this video pretty much blows that argument out of the water—and the brilliant part is that it does it with the CEO’s own words.
Anonymous creator of this video, great job. If you’re out there reading, email me so I can congratulate you.
Ed. Note: Still working on implementing this. Comments will be back soon. Bear with me.
New Note: Should be working now. If you registered for TypeKey but were having trouble, clear your cache, log out and back in, and it should work now. I hope.
You can still comment anonymously.
However, with the amount of comments we’ve been getting, two problems have emerged.
First, there are many different people all calling themselves “anonymous” or “anon,” and it’s confusing.
Second, people are starting to spoof each other’s names.
Happily, there’s a simple answer.
In order to comment now, you must “sign in.” The prompt to sign in is down where the comment box used to be (if you still see the comment text box, then reload your page until it goes away…you might have to empty your browser cache as well).
Follow the sign in link, which will take to a TypeKey login page.
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It’s quite likely that a union can successfully wage a strike and still not convince a single damned person that what they’re doing makes sense. It’s not like these things are decided by popular vote.
On the other hand, the companies we’re fighting are notoriously sensitive to bad press. Sure, they are the press, but if we can do a good job of convincing people that our cause is just, it can only help.
Since the union struck, I’ve seen some explanations about why we’re fighting.
Some are good (nice job, WGA).
Some are super duper bad (ironically, you have to sit through a commercial to get to this streaming video…but gee, no one makes money off the internet!)
What’s missing, however, is a compelling reason for residuals that anyone, including your deaf aunt, can understand.
John August has a piece running on this tomorrow, and it’s a good one. He stresses why residuals are good things…citing what I call the “Marc Cherry” rule, i.e. residuals can keep writers afloat during the lean times, allowing them to stay in the business, support their families, and stick around long enough to create a huge hit that sends boatloads of profit to the companies.
But even if no one needed residuals, we should still get them.
I hear this complaint quite a bit these days: “I don’t have to pay the architect every time I walk into a building” or “I don’t have to pay my plumber every time I use the sink he fixed.”
But authors of movies (and I consider the authors to be the screenwriters and directors) create something quite different than “blueprints for a single building” or “fixed sink.”
Imagine two guys. One guy writes terrific recipes. The other guy is a fantastic baker. Together, they create a magic cake.
Bear with me.
What’s special about the cake is that you can cut a slice from it, and a new slice will just grow back in its place.
You keep cutting it and serving it, and you never run out of that cake.
Wal-Mart decides to start selling slices of this cake.
They pay the two guys a good amount for the cake, as far as that sort of thing goes. Maybe a hundred bucks.
But Wal-Mart sells each slice for three bucks, and they keep selling them and selling them.
Over and over.
Millions of slices of the same damned single cake.
Shouldn’t the two guys get some small amount of money back on each sale? Maybe four cents?
But definitely something?
Movies are a special class of intellectual property. Like music or novels, they can be endlessly reproduced and sold in millions of multiples. One movie can be sold and resold and repackaged and redistributed and rebroadcast and redownloaded and reprojected over and over and over…
If the seller can endlessly exploit this single, unique product, shouldn’t the true authors of that work share in each endless exploitation?
A plumber can only fix your sink once.
An architect’s building is built once.
But not a movie. Not a television show.
So if someone asks you why we deserve to get paid each time someone buys a copy of a movie, tell them about the magic cake.
If they slap you because your analogies are tortured and weird, I apologize in advance.
It appeared in Variety yesterday.
If you’re a WGAw screenwriter, you can still add your name to the online version.
When I was asked to sign this, I did offer a full disclosure that I could theoretically provide A-H exceptions over the course of the next two weeks (although so far, we’ve been bang on script).
This did not deter them from including my name, which makes me happy, because I will, in fact, be entirely “not a word” in two weeks no matter what.
The WGAE also ran an ad that you can see here.
Cuz it ain’t Patric Verrone.
Sorry, Patric, but I just think you’re a little out there.
No, my guild hero is a guy named Howard Michael Gould.
Howard and I are friends, we’re political allies (for Guild stuff, at least), and he’s one of the most decent guys I know in this business.
Watch this video.
The only standing ovation of the night, they say, and it’s easy to see why.
Calm, rational, moderate, clear, non-religious, bottom line, and cogent as hell.
Take a look.
I’d vote for this guy any day of the week.
C’mon, love each otherWell, this caught me by surprise…although now that I think about it, it’s sort of obvious.
I expect a certain amount of strife and conflict in the comments section, but I was taken aback by the sudden emergence of an above-the-line vs. below-the-line war that started taking shape.
Below-the-line commenters started bitching about how the writers were soft-soled dandies who don’t know what real work is, and writers started yammering about how below-the-liners wouldn’t have a job, purpose or existence if the scripts went away.
But you know, guys…the farmer and the cowman should be friends.
We’ve got the big bad AMPTP out there as a common enemy. Let’s not turn on each other. Not right now.
Like I said, the reason for this conflict is pretty apparent in hindsight. A writers’ strike digs right into the livelihoods of our below-the-line brothers and sisters. They have it bad enough with runaway production. Now, the remaining jobs are getting pinched by the strike.
And when you damage people’s abilities to put food on the table, clothe their children and fill their tanks, things get emotional.
Let me try and add some perspective here.
I’m a writer. I’m very proud of the fact that first, before all else, comes my mind. If I and my fellow writers stop imagining, then that’s pretty much it. No more movie and television industry.
I’m also a director and producer. I’m there with the crew from sunup to sundown and long after. And I know that without them, it doesn’t matter what I’ve written or imagined. No them, no movie.
Pick your favorite dualism.
The point is that we’re dead without each other. Above and below the line are essential to the process. Yes, some skills are rarer than others. Screenwriting (at least, the kind done well enough to garner work year in and year out) is a rarer talent than, say, location scouting.
I’m not saying location scouting is easy. It’s not. And I’m not saying I’d be any good at it (I wouldn’t).
I’m saying that there are more location scouts working in any given year than writers, because screenwriting talent is just rarer.
And so, you know, supply and demand.
That doesn’t mean location scouts or dolly grips or camera operators or riggers labor any less than writers do.
They sure as hell don’t.
My call time is one of the earlier ones, but it’s not the earliest. I’m due at work tomorrow at 6 AM. People will be working for me and the production at 5 AM or earlier.
When we’re talking about labor unions and labor action, it’s important to remember that we’re all the same in the companies’ eyes.
We’re laborers. Fingers on a hand, okay?
And as a filmmaker, I have to say…I have an enormous love and respect for the work a good crew does. I judge people for their competence at their job and their commitment to doing it well.
I expect the same in return.
When it all comes together, it’s incredibly gratifying and humbling.
So below-the-liners…remember, writers are often intimidated by you and the set, because we’re so often excluded from that world. Don’t confuse unfamiliarity with disinterest or arrogance. Welcome us, and teach us. Don’t laugh when we don’t know the lingo.
Writers, don’t think that the crew owes you their jobs. They don’t. We don’t hire them, and they earn every damn nickel they make. That much I know. Don’t look down on them, respect their working space and honor their labor.
Sure, one man likes to push a dolly, the other likes to write a script…but that’s no reason why they can’t be brothers.
So hug it out, people.
We’ll get through this, but it will be a whole lot easier if we do it together.
First, I was absolutely wrong when I said the WGA would only be picketing one gate at Warner Brothers. I apologize for getting the facts wrong.
Second, some of you may have noticed your comments getting eaten by the system. This appears to be the result of an overaggressive spam filter, which was junking any comment that included the word “loan” in it (much of the comment spam out there is from companies promising you low interest loans, yadda yadda).
I’ve changed the settings, so the word “loan” won’t kill your comment.
As always, I do not screen comments at all, and I welcome all criticism. Please keep your comments civil. I simply don’t have the time to moderate the comments after the fact the way I normally do, so you’re all on the honor system for a while.
Okay, then strike.The strike is on.
From what I’m hearing, it’s the usual he-said, she-said, but the bottom line is this: both sides finally got all of their stupid crap off the table (and for those of you who honestly though the WGA really really really meant that DVD increase demand, all I can say is…listen more closely to Uncle Craig next time, okay?)…and still…
…the AMPTP wouldn’t step up on The One Issue.
This strike is mostly the fault of the AMPTP, in my humble opinion. They had a choice here. Once the other demands were gone, they were in a perfectly good position to finally start talking in a real way about internet residuals, and they chose instead to insist on the DVD rate for electronic sell-through…and their ridiculous “promotional” position on streaming.
On the other hand, the Guild bears some fault as well. They played their strike threat hand well, but I think they seriously believed their own hype. They convinced themselves that the AMPTP would wobble in the face of a strike.
Any of you see that South Park where sanctimonious intellectuals stand around smelling their own farts?
Anyway, here we are. I’m not sure we wouldn’t be here if, say, I had been running the Guild. No way I’d ever take the DVD rate for internet sales.
Still, the backchannels will continue. And in a weird way, both sides have accomplished something very positive.
We’ve finally broomed the crap off the table. It’s down to the real issue.
One last thing.
I have to amend my “praise the leadership!” post from a few days ago.
The one about The Teamsters.
I praise the leadership for convincing everyone that the Teamsters were going to support us. In reality, the WGA is picketing studios between 9 AM and 5 PM.
Trucks come in before 9 AM, and they leave after 5 PM, so this isn’t really conducive to getting Teamster support…
Furthermore, I know that writers will be picketing Warner Brothers today…but at one gate.
Warner Brothers has…I think 9 gates…maybe 8. But more than one.
So I wouldn’t be counting on anything valuable from this alliance of the unions’ leaderships, although I still believe that the rank and file of the Teamster Brotherhood are behind us, and I know I’m behind them.
Lastly, if you see writers out on the line today…do more than honk your horn. Talk to them. Shake their hands. Tell them that you’re behind their fight to ensure their rights as authors…and to secure those rights for the writers who are yet to come.
I hate this strike, I hate the circumstances that led to it, I hate the missteps that occurred along the way, and I really hate to say “I told you so” to all the people who said “Patric Verrone will keep us out of a strike!!!”….
…but the strike is here.
Back it all the way.
And if the companies are serious about eliminating residuals (which is what much of their proposal would achieve), then back it to the death.
I’ve got a 6:30 AM call time tomorrow, so it’s off to bed with me.
The kind of negotiating I have hoped for all along…the intense kind, with the key decision-makers huddled together in a room…news blackout…etc….is still underway.
When I wake up, I guess I’ll know.
If it’s a strike, then it failed.
If there’s a deal (unlikely), then it succeeded.
More likely…if the WGA agrees to postpone the strike for a limited amount of time—say a week or something like that—then it means there’s a deal in the making.
I hope I rise to good news, but I’m ready for bad.
[Five minutes after Craig posted this, the word came in: No deal was reached. - Ted]
My love…Sometimes the Yankees drive me crazy.
They let Andy Pettite go when they desperately needed to retain left-handed starting pitching, then a few years later they overspend to get Roger Clemens back. They blow a ton of dough on Carl “DL” Pavano after one good season, when they should have just invested the money in a better first baseman.
They send Chien-Ming Wang out to pitch on short rest in the post-season.
Hell, they’ve done a million things that piss me off.
But I only get angry because I love them. I’m a Yankees fan. I’ve been a Yankees fan since I started watching baseball on television in 1978, right there in my den in Staten Island, with my dad and my grandfather.
I became a fan during an incredible season.
I stayed a fan during a horrendous decade. The 1980’s were pretty much a wasteland of failure for the Yankees, and while those miserable Mets fans (some of whom were traitorous ex-Yankees fans) enjoyed their stupid 1986, I had to suffer through teams with Hall of Fame names like Bobby Meacham and Mike Pagliarulo and Butch Wyneger.
But I stood by them.
Not without question. Not without criticism. But with them always.
I criticize the WGA because I love it. I criticize my union because I care about it. I criticize my union because I believe that holding leadership accountable is a good thing, and I believe that union democracy, free speech, public questions and transparent leadership are all absolute goods.
Even if we strike.
I believe that we’re at a crossroads here.
If the WGA’s build-up to a strike precipitates a good deal today, or tomorrow, or in three days, then I will acknowledge that leadership did one hell of a job.
If the WGA’s build-up to a strike is merely the prerequisite movement for an actual strike, then I will criticize leadership for lighting this Guild on fire in protest, when I think there was another way to have arrived at a more productive, positive result.
But either way, no matter what happens, I stand by my union.
I will not scab. I will not argue that the AMPTP’s outrageous positions on internet residuals are somehow viable or reasonable.
The Los Angeles Times has me on hold, ready to debate anyone from the studio side on this…and I’m loaded for bear.
Do I think we can “win” a strike?
I don’t think we can “win” any strike.
But if we’re at a place where the choice is “shit sandwich, or strike,” then I’m perfectly happy to soak myself in gasoline and go out in a blaze of glory with the rest of the Kool-Aid drinkers. The AMPTP should be ashamed for quite a bit, but getting guys like me to agree that a strike is the only choice left…well, that ought to be at the top of their list of “stuff we screwed up on.”
The WGA will always suffer more than the companies in a strike.
And, I think given the realties of the industry today, I think the WGA will always lose a strike.
So forgive me if I don’t sound as chipper as some of my fellow union members, who seem to view this labor action as a chance to Get Back At The Man…you know, the Man who gives bad notes, asks for more drafts when you’re ready to deliver, the Man who lets directors walk all over your script, the Man who can barely remember to toss you a ticket to your own frickin’ premiere, the Man who dangles work in front of you and then snatches it away at the last second…
…you know, that guy.
Striking isn’t going to change any of that, and when the strike is over, the Man will get right back to being the Man, and writers with low self-esteem and hearts full of bitterness will go right back to chewing the insides of their mouths as they toss and turn at night, worrying about their careers and their talent and their families and their sense of value as human beings and artists.
No, writers who want to stick it to the Man are just thinking like children, although they will definitely be useful.
If we strike, it’s about proving to the companies that we’re still a union that can do something. Sad, I know. In many ways, it’s akin to a prison riot. We’ll kill a guard or two, light some mattresses on fire, a few snitches will get lynched (I’m sure I’m at the top of the disloyalty list), but after the smoke settles and the SWAT team is done, we’ll be back in our cells, and the Warden will still be in charge.
…the dirty screws might think twice before abusing us as a group. A riot has a way of forcing everyone to look a little more closely at themselves and the way they treat the people they control.
That’s the best we can hope for.
Nevertheless, come what may, I’m with my union. Even though we rich guys get pilloried (while our dues fund this entire operation), I’m with my union. Even though we public dissenters get accused of shilling, selling-out, undermining and Disloyalty To The State, I’m with my union.
I don’t care if my loyalty to the Guild is rational or not. I’m not really interested in examining it too carefully. It is what it is.
We lost Joe Torre and Donny Baseball to the frickin’ Dodgers last week.
I’m still a Yankees fan.
They could dig up Stalin and hire him to manage the Yankees…and I’d still be a Yankees fan.
I’m a WGA fan.
I’ll be here long after Verrone is out of office. We’ll have new leaders, new contracts, new strikes, new problems…
…I’ll never stop bitching…
…but I’ll never stop being a fan.
Whispers of progress.
To all parties on both sides seeking to find common ground and make a deal…
…I’m rooting for you with all my might.
Spending the day with the family, but I wanted to just lob this in.
I love the idea of strong strike threat that leads to a deal. That’s my greatest hope (and it’s not dead yet). I hate the idea of a strike itself, which I think will hurt us. That’s my greatest fear.
But despite the fact that I’m in IATSE, SAG, the DGA and the WGA, I am and always will be a WGA man.
So until I get a chance to write about my feelings tonight, I did want to say one thing.
If we strike, then no matter how imperfect it is, I will support my union. And I look forward to (intellectually) bludgeoning anyone—on this blog, or anywhere—who tries to make the case that we don’t deserve a fair residual rate for internet downloads.
Carry on. I’ll be back tonight with a longer piece about all of this.
I know…strange time to be talking about anything other than a strike, but since I’m not going to write about the strike until Sunday, I thought I’d get this up here and publicize it a bit, not only because it’s for an absolutely good cause, but also because it’s in support of our Teamster brothers and sisters in Local 399, many of whom will be showing their support for us in the coming weeks and perhaps months.
During the holidays each year Blood Centers nationally, including UCLA Health Systems, struggle to meet the needs of their patients. UCLA uses approximately 100,000 units a year. Extended shortages during the November 21, 2007-January 22, 2008 season could result in blood rationing and the cancellation of surgeries.
Winter blood collections drop as several condition come into play at once. The holidays are busy and potential donors often find they just cannot find the hour to donate. Large institutions (colleges, high schools, and businesses) which often run blood drives are closed at this time. Also, often times flu season strikes, making donors ineligible to donate.
Who better to save the day then union members of Teamster Local 399? We can keep track of the number of Teamster Local 399 donors, if they will sign in on a sheet and add ‘Local 399’ and specify: casting directors, location scouts, or drivers. Perhaps we can challenge other unions to do the same and make a difference this holiday season, and, demonstrate the power of union unity.
This year UCLA blood center is offering an incentive to go and donate. Along with a beach bag, 1-3 movie passes ( depending on whether you donate platelets or whole blood), and another coupon ( Starbucks, Subway, In & Out, or Jamba Juice, depending on availability). They are also raffling off a hotel room for two on Fiji!
If you donate whole blood, it is a 1 hour process. For platelets allow 1.5-2.5 hours. Platelets are used for patients with cancer, leukemia, transplants or blood disorders. Newborns can also require blood. Also, UCLA is a Level-1 trauma center, so many patients also require platelets to stop their bleeding.
The UCLA blood center takes donors on a walk-in basis, but suggests that you make an appointment so you do not have to wait. To make an appointment to donate whole blood call: 310-825-0888 #2. Whole blood donation hours are: Monday, 10:00 a.m.-5:30 p.m. and Tuesday -Friday 8:00 a.m.- 3:30 p.m. Also every second Saturday 8:00 a.m.-1:30 p.m. To make an appointment to donate platelets call: 310-206-6187. Platelet donor hours: Monday - Friday 7:00 a.m.- 4:00 p.m. and every Saturday 7:00 a.m. -11:30 a.m.
The blood center address is: 1045 Gayley Av., 2nd floor, L.A 90024. It is 1 block west of Westwood Blvd. and 2 blocks north of Wilshire Blvd., on the west side of the street ( across from Whole Foods).
Parking is free, behind the center at Lot #32. You may obtain your parking permit via mail prior to the day of donation (this is the best way). If you need to obtain a guest parking permit on the day of your donation, park temporarily in the alley behind the center at 1045 Gayley Av. and go upstairs through the glass door.
Who can donate? Almost anyone over 110 pounds that is in good health and hasn’t had a recent tattoo, baby, transfusion, dental work (24 hours), hepatitis, or lived in certain foreign countries. For more details on how to donate: www.gotblood.ucla.edu, or just call them.
Use this thread for now to discuss the strike.
I’ll post my thoughts on this over the weekend, but I’ll give you a preview.
Given the circumstances, we have to strike. However, these circumstances didn’t have to be the circumstances, and we’re most definitely screwed.
I was on Larry Mantle’s program this morning. You can listen to it here.
My segment starts around the 9:45 mark. During it, Carol Leifer calls in, as does a veteran of the SAG commercial strike.