In Depth

Gelbart Says Long Writers Strike Is What AMPTP Wants

Larry Gelbart thinks it's going to be a long strike, "because it suits the Alliance [of Motion Picture & Television Producers]," he said Friday night at the Jack Oakie Celebration of Comedy in Film.

The veteran writer ("M*A*S*H") joined James L. Brooks and Judd Apatow at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences' Samuel Goldwyn Theater for an event billed as "Three of the funniest forces in filmmaking come together to crack the code of contemporary screen comedy." Inevitably, the topic of the Writers Guild of America strike bubbled up.

Mr. Brooks mentioned it first. After Mr. Apatow praised the episode of "Taxi" where Judd Hirsch's character has a gambling problem, Mr. Brooks said he had been discussing that very episode as he walked the picket line.

Mr. Apatow later drew healthy applause when he mentioned he'd been at Fox earlier in the day—a reference to the writers' show of force outside the studio, which by some estimates drew about 4,000 people.

But it was Mr. Gelbart who actually addressed the issue head-on. First, after talking about how creative control has been consolidated in the hands of the corporations rather than the creators, he said, "I think we struck just in time."

Then, asked directly by Mr. Apatow what he thought about the strike, Mr. Gelbart said, "It's the new technology but all the old tactics. I think we have a case. I think it will be a long strike [because] it suits the Alliance. They can clean up a lot of their losses, make a deal with the DGA, make us look greedy and grasping.

"This is probably the unfunniest thing we could talk about tonight," he concluded, before changing the subject.

His statement was greeted with applause from the audience, which included writer-director Curtis Hanson, writer-actor Garry Shandling, actor Jonah Hill and Mr. Apatow's actress wife, Leslie Mann.

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Comments 12

TCN

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Jake

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That's all very interesting, Mr. Gelbart, but this WGA member can't afford a long strike.

If this thing isn't resolved by Christmas 'll go financial core so fast it'll make your head spin.

A bunch of lardasses waving sticks in front of the studio gates isn't a tactic. It's exercise.

What was gained in the last strike? Nothing. What will be gained from this strike? Nothing. It's just going to throw a bunch of people out of work so rich fucks can pretend they're in "Norma Rae."

Evelyn

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Jake, your optimism is inspirational as well as your dedication to a Guild that protects your pension and your health plan. Perhaps you've spent too much time in the sun this week. I think you should lie down. Or have a drink. Or stop drinking. Do you understand that the AMPTP is proposing that you not be paid when they make a truckload of dough from the things you write? What do you think's going to happen when it all goes on-line, my friend? And do you believe, like some deluded battered woman, that if you take this hit this is the last time they're going to smack you around? You're not the only one who's going to be hurt in the short-run by this strike but I don't hear those folks calling the other people on the line making sacrifices "lardasses." There have been a lot of reports of AMPTP folks posting comments as WGA members. For the sake of your soul, I'm going to hope you're one of them. And judging from the writing, you might be.

Jack R

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Jake seems to be the only realistic person in that whole guild.

Evelyn makes it sound like being on "the line" is the same as being on a war front. All of those writers have made enough money that they can stand just walking around yelling.

There are plenty of talented writers out there who would love the jobs these people are ignoring.

Jake

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"There have been a lot of reports of AMPTP folks posting comments as WGA members."

And the proof of this would be... what, exactly? Evelyn's Magic 8-Ball?

Common Sense

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There's no reason to be obtuse. Be perfectly honest, do you think the AMPTP -wouldn't- post comments like that? And if so, why not?

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