The 2007-2008 SeasonWriters Strike Announcement On Friday; Actors Agree To Join WGA Picket Lines; AMPTP Says 'No Progress Can Be Made'
By Nikki Finke of LA Weekly
in her deadlinehollywood.com blog - Nov. 1, 2007
LIVE-BLOGGING: I just heard from a source attending tonight's Writers Guild Of America general membership meeting that the timing of the writers strike will be decided tomorrow morning, then announced in the afternoon. Insider says the Screen Actors Guild will be joining the WGA picket lines, and that SAG has been in the backroom with the writers guild in all the negotiations. The WGA leadership said they waited until the writers contract expired at midnight on October 31st to see if the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers prez Nick Counter came up with a last-minute (and expected low-ball) offer -- but he didn't. Tomorrow, the WGA West & East negotiations board decides when is the opportune moment for the walkout. They are explaining their strategy now.
Earlier Tonight: Not even Writers Guild Of America bigwigs are sure exactly when the writers walkout will begin. But all will be explained at tonight's general meeting at 7 pm inside the Los Angeles Convention Center. (Could they have chosen a more lousy location?) One top WGA source speculates to me that picketing will start as soon as a strike is called, and that could be as early as tomorrow. (But wouldn't they want to wait until Monday when writers can turn out en masse for the TV cameras?) Stay tuned.
Just now, the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers President Nick Counter issued this very negative end-of-day statement (continuing to refer to DVD residuals when what he really means is electronic sell-through residuals): "Due to overriding business reasons, no further progress can be made because of the WGA’s continuing efforts to substantially increase the DVD formula. We are ready to meet at any time and remain committed to reaching a fair and reasonable deal that keeps the industry working, but the DVD issue is a roadblock to these negotiations."
Tonight, the WGA's new Communications Committee blog clarifies where the guild stands on the issues:''What's the biggest issue?
Internet and New MediaWhat are we asking for in Internet and New Media?
Two things: 1. Residuals for reuse of content (like replaying tv shows) on the internet. We're asking for residuals of 2.5% of revenue -- that means for every dollar they get paid, we'd get 2 and a half cents. It's a flat percentage, so if they're right and they're never ever going to make a penny, well then, we won't either. No harm, no foul. Since 2.5% is our starting point, in any normal negotiation we'd end up somewhere between what they want to pay (.3%) and what we're asking for (2.5%). I'd guess 1 to 1.5 %. 2. Coverage and protections for original content (new stuff we create for the internet.) We're asking for basic protections so that when we write original stuff for the internet, we have rights -- health and pension, minimum amounts, credits and separated rights (so if we make some amazing character or show, we get the right to share in its success.) We're just asking for the same protections we already have for writing in TV or film. Nothing new or weird. Just the basics.What are the other issues?
DVDs: Currently we get .3% per dvd, we're asking for .6%. Translation: now we get 4 cents per dvd. We are asking for 8 cents per dvd. Since most DVD's cost at least 10 bucks, that doesn't exactly seem like a bank-breaker. Whatever. Enforcement of Coverage: There are lots of shows, like game shows, documentaries and talk shows, where writing is supposed to be covered under our contract. The companies sometimes just ignore the contract -- which means folks don't get health and pension, and if they ask for it, they get fired. We want them to stop that, and honor the contract they signed. Expansion of Coverage: We want to cover stuff where writers are working without coverage, which means without health and pension and other protections. The two big areas are animation and reality. We think those writers should be covered.You don't actually think you'll get all that, do you?
Personally? I think in a perfect world, negotiation involves, well, negotiating. That's give-and-take, where we get some of what we want and they get some of what they want. So far, they just keep showing up at the table with more and more things they're saying they're going to take away -- rollbacks on health and pension, gutting of separated rights, that kind of thing.But they gave back those resid-whatever-thingums, right?
Sort of. They took that one rollback off the table -- but since they're not moving on "digital delivery", and since pretty much all content is going to be digitally delivered in the coming years, well... we'll lose those residuals as soon as that happens. So without internet coverage, it doesn't mean much.''http://www.deadlinehollywooddaily.com/