Category Archives: Writers

A Rock And A Hard Place

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Craig Mazin waxes philosophical on tomorrow’s likely strike in his blog, The Artful Writer. Mazin wrote “I love the idea of [a] 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.” Craig must be reading my blog posts. More likely, we both understand the foreseeable consequences. Like Craig, I still hold out the possibility for more talk of a deal and less of a strike. My bet against a strike is still good – for now.

An informal poll of my colleagues and clients supports the conclusion that a strike is a lose-lose outcome for everyone in the business; the writers in particular, regardless of any gains for the Guild at the negotiating table. Mazin writes:

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.

Always.

. . . If we strike, it’s about proving to the companies that we’re still a union that can do something.

And for many writers here, that may be reason enough.

The Waiting Game

Good morning! It’s November 1st, the sun is still shining and the world is still spinning. As of this writing, hell has yet to break loose from a writers strike. As noted in earlier posts, Nikki Finke seems to have the most up to date (and inside) information on where things are going. You can also find a “pro-WGA” blog here. I’m not aware of any pro-AMPTP blogs. Please let me know if there are any. In the meantime, like many reps in town, I will continue to work on deals that have yet to close.

Apparently, talks fell apart early last night when the studios/nets refused to consider modifying the current residual formula for DVD sell-through. The 1985 formula, under which DVD and video residuals are paid on the basis of 20% of wholesale revenues (i.e, the writers will receive four cents for each DVD or video “unit” sold). The WGA wants to double that rate, arguing that the Guild only agreed to a discounted deal to kick start the video business. The studios/nets oppose any increase, maintaining that the current formula is a crucial element to recouping their skyrocketing production costs.The WGA also wants to increase the residual calculation on electronic sell-through revenue from 1.2% of the licensing fee for each downloaded picture to 2.5%.

I really don’t have skin in the game here. Unlike some agents, my clients will continue to pay my legal fees; strike or no strike. Nevertheless, I agree with the Guild on this issue. There’s enough money in electronic DVD sales for everybody. The studios/nets’ response to this issue is draconian and overly aggressive. Rep translation: they’re being chazers.

On the other hand, if the WGA calls a strike just days after the parties engaged a Federal mediator to help resolve this dispute, the Guild risks appearing to have acted in bad faith without regard to progress in union negotiations.

Both sides hopefully appreciate that their actions are being closely watched by their respective constituencies who expect their representatives to act in their best interests. Whether each side will conduct itself accordingly remains an open question.

Writers Want (And Should Take) More Time To Call Strike

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Writers wanting more time? What a surprise. Glad to hear there’s probably a delay (though I’m still predicting that they will close a deal without a strike). In any event, I have a number of deals that won’t close by tonight but might close next week if I had more time. Then again, nothing closes like a ticking clock with minutes to go. Check out Nikki Finke’s update here as well.

Now, back to work.