Editorial: Stop the Madness!
Writers, Producers Get Back to the Table
To the writers and producers we say: “Above all else, get back to the table. Cut out the spin, the posturing and the grandstanding and solve the problem!”
We are echoing here the words of Bob Dowling, who directed them at the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers in an editorial he wrote in 2001 as the editor-in-chief and publisher of the Hollywood Reporter.
They are just as fitting today. Barring the prevailing of the proverbial wiser heads, a potentially crippling strike will begin here in Hollywood first thing Monday morning.
But there is indeed time for wiser heads to prevail, and they should.
If you think a strike is inevitable, it’s not. Inevitable is death and taxes, and if you’ve got John Malone on your side, perhaps not taxes.
In fact, not too long after Mr. Dowling editorialized for the WGA and AMPTP to settle their differences—a position this publication also editorialized in favor of at the time—a contract was indeed agreed upon without a strike.
Noting that a strike would affect the livelihoods of thousands of people, with billions of dollars at stake, Mr. Dowling wrote, “Leadership takes vision and courage. It is time to display to all of us that the leadership at the bargaining table has both.”
To paraphrase Bogart in “Casablanca,” we see the point of view of both the fox and the hound.
Producers need to recognize that, with so much of the business shifting to new media, writers have a right to expect payment based on future profits earned from that venue, and that it is different from DVD residuals.
Writers need to recognize the financial crunch networks and studios are getting into with dropping ratings and rising production costs and adjust their overall expectations accordingly, rather than making demands that bump show costs to an unreasonable degree.
At some point an agreement will be reached. We urge both sides to get back to the bargaining table immediately, and bring their smartest A game. Back off the rhetoric and get serious.
The last thing this town needs is a repeat of the 1988 strike, which hurt everyone involved.