In Depth

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.”

Hear! Hear!

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.

Click here for complete coverage of the strike.

Leave a comment

Comments 15

Peter Lee

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Scab...Tool...Studio talking head...

Fool us once shame on you, fool us twice....Not going to happen!

M. Rayne

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This is such a ridiculous article...as though asking for a cut of the profits from web downloads and DVD sales is going to increase television production costs to 'unmanageable' levels. As though leadership and Morally Right Decision-Making involves giving into demands that financially cripple the real creative force behind these shows.

SuzE

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While I appreciate the writers wanting to be compensated fairly (don't we all), this strike has ramifications for many others. In LA alone, this strike will send over 250,000 other industry folks out of work. And at the end of the strike, some of these individuals will have not only suffered lost wages - they aren't going to get any additional raises either.

Because of that, I believe the strike should be settled ASAP. There is a fine line between being compensated fairly and being greedy. Hundreds of thousands of additional people unemployed (in my opinion) really walks that line.

Mark Miller (WGA West member)

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If you compare what the writers are asking for with what the corporations that own the production entities make off the writers' products, the former amounts to a decimal fraction of a penny per revenue dollar. Meanwhile the so-called "studios" (mere corporate subdivisions today) abysmally mismanage the huge revenue stream generated by writers (stockholders have no clue), and are so bereft of new ideas and so averse to new business models that they are attempting the crudest short-term business solution possible: cutting costs by exploiting their most essential workers. Writers subsidized the producers' entry into DVDs in 1988, letting the producers find their way cheaply, but the producers never returned the favor. Hence this angry strike of 2007, the inevitable result of management ineptitude and arrogance. The Writers Guild has not spun anything. Meanwhile, the companies' claims, like their fabled accounting chicanery, are so without merit -- indeed often plain falsehoods -- that the writers see no reliable negotiating partners across the table.

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