Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Strike over. What now?

My favorite song about the strike:

What ought to become of this blog now? Should it be dedicated to a mindset of sticking it to the man, or simply shut down? Your thought in the comments.

Brett Ratner has already weighed in: HALLE-FREAKIN’-LUJAH!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Bionic Woman Saves Hollywood

How the NY Times didn't come up with the headline "Bionic Woman Saves Hollywood" for this story is beyond us.
Over the last two weeks, Laeta Kalogridis, a movie and TV writer and a founder of United Hollywood, a pro-union Web site, emerged as an unlikely peacemaker.

Working the phones and e-mail during her forced hiatus, she operated as a conduit between David J. Young, a militant leader of the guild, and Peter A. Chernin, the News Corporation president, who was similarly protective of company interests.

As Ms. Kalogridis joined those trying to resolve the dispute, players on both sides finally shifted ground, most importantly on the issue of new-media compensation. That cleared the way to a deal that will be reviewed by writers in meetings here and in New York on Saturday...

Even as Mr. Bowman became more vocal, Mr. Young was listening closely to Ms. Kalogridis, who had become a guild confidante. Described by associates as vibrant and impassioned, Ms. Kalogridis — whose credits include the “Bionic Woman” television series — had joined with a half dozen associates to make their United Hollywood site ( a rallying spot for striking writers. As recently as last week, the Web site shook the continuing talks by posting a strong critique of the directors’ deal by Phil Alden Robinson, the writer and director of “Field of Dreams” and a board member.

Ms. Kalogridis and her friends, in fact, had become a pipeline to the guild members holding out for sizable gains, whose support would be needed if any deal was to be reached. And she, like Mr. Bowman, had become convinced that the current round of talks must not be allowed to fail...

Mr. Young put together the ultimate compromise — a flat fee for part of the contract’s life, a percentage during the rest. Ms. Kalogridis, late last week, then found herself in the thick of a bargaining process that eventually won a handshake on the point. She stressed to Mr. Rosen and others that guild members would never approve a deal that did not have a percentage payment for Web streams. Mr. Rosen became an advocate with Mr. Chernin. Mr. Chernin, at one point, invited Ms. Kalogridis to communicate with him directly. And shortly afterward, he signed off.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Writers strike "economic catastrophe" (press request)

Here's a press request from our friends at Money Magazine. Please contact them if you're interested:
Here at Money we have a monthly feature called One Family’s Finances in which we look at the finances of a family going through some kind of relate-able economic catastrophe. I’d say that living for 3+ months without salary fits the bill! I’d love to do a story with a writer or other union member for whom the strike has taken a huge toll. The story would get across the points of the strike, but it would also personally help the family that volunteers in that we will be setting them up with a financial planner who will create a comprehensive financial plan for them.

I’m looking for someone who...
-->is comfortable with full financial disclosure
-->normally has an income of $100K or more
-->is aged between 30 to 60
-->married, possibly with kids
-->having some kind of financial trauma/anxiety as a result of the strike (maybe they’re realizing the didn’t have an emergency fund, maybe dipping into retirement savings, maybe building significant credit card debt, maybe afraid of not being able to pay the mortgage)

If you fit the bill and are interested, please email me a brief work history and financial story, with your age, location and contact info. And include a photo if you have one! Thanks much,
Margaret Magnarelli

Monday, February 4, 2008

After the strike: Will writers still get screwed?

Word's spreading that the strike's coming to an end. Newscorp chief Peter Chernin apparently told buddies at the Super Bowl that a settlement has been reached.

But life goes on, even after victory. And writers will still need studio execs, producers and directors to share creative vision to make great entertainment. The NY Times thinks the studios will screw writers harder than ever before. Brett Ratner (as imagined by sick but funny minds) explains that WGA stands for “Whiny Girl Assfaces”.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Recession talk to be used to screw writers?

While it's common knowledge among economists that you don't know if you're in a recession until afterwards, Jeff Zucker has managed to figure out with 100% certainty that we're in one according to the NY Times (contradicting his boss at GE):
The decision to eliminate most pilots was made as the company looked for ways to cut costs in response to the Hollywood writers’ strike and the slowdown in the economy, Mr. Zucker said. “It’s clear we are in a recession in the United States, and we’re going to have to manage our business accordingly,” he said.
Will the media moguls hype up recession fears to scare writers into capitulation?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Is WGA Director David J. Young the right man for the job?

The New York Times article Writers’ Strike Tests the Mettle of 2 Outsiders gives some interesting not-much-talked-about background on WGA West Executive Director David J. Young that leaves us asking Guess? what happen to the Union of Needle Trades?
Mr. Young, who declined to be interviewed for this article, was best known as a principal player behind a hard-fought attempt in the mid-1990s by the Union of Needle Trades, Industrial and Textile Employees to organize workers who were making clothes for Guess? Inc. That drive failed when Guess? simply moved most of its work out of the country.
WTF? Scary stuff.

There are two ways this could go:
  1. Young's Russian roulette clicking background will get the AMPTP to give the WGA a good deal, maybe better than those wimpy directors (writers are harder to source from the third world than needle workers, right?)
  2. In a "Who has a bigger dick?"-style competition, the media moguls let the strike continue while finding other ways to make money, and all the while Young will be collecting his WGA paycheck and declining interviews
Your thoughts?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Auteur theory in action: Directors try to steal the spotlight

Quoting Wikipedia, the "auteur theory holds that a director's films reflect that director's personal creative vision, as if they were the primary 'auteur' (the French word for 'author')."

By using rumors that the Director's Guild of America is near a deal with the AMPTP, the directors have managed to steal the spotlight from the real authors (a.k.a. writers) again.

To get inside their heads, try to answer Rush Hour 2-director Brett Ratner's question: Tell me again why we need writers?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Read what's not being written

Jonathan Green & Gabe Miller tipped us off to a very cool site they started called What Aren't You Writing? with pitches for pilots that aren't being written due to the strike.

Here are some gems:

"Women's Accounting Club"

Four very different female accountants work together to solve accounting mysteries, and in the process boost their emotional bottom lines.

...not written by Sheryl Zohn
"Jeff Did It"

A crime show about Jeff, Meg, and Lt. Spizer: a rag-tag team of NY detectives who are in charge of solving the city's most gruesome murders. The kicker is, Jeff did it. Jeff always does it. But since he's good looking, funny, and the gang has so much fun together at lunches no one ever figures it out.

...not written by Ali Waller
"Writers' Block"

An entire neighborhood is filled with writers who learn to overcome their writer's block by writing about each other and their struggles to write.

...not written by Sheryl Zohn

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Help from the Couch Potato Guild -- e-mail network heads

Sheryl, a TV fan, writes in with the message below to propose that viewers e-mail network heads with their thoughts on the strike. But she needs a list of e-mails.

Let's help her by guessing their e-mails. For example, e-mails at NBC work like this:

So NBC president Jeff Zucker is probably at:

Any other good guesses? Post them in the comments or e-mail me and I'll compile the list.

We are so tired of this strike and my husband and I went to tonight and saw that you can now download the 4th season of the office for free ( if you have Windows). I can't believe this is still going on. Don't you think if there was a way that the consumers (we) could contact the networks ourselves, we could get some response. After all, aren't we the ones who watch the programs and drive their ratings through the roof. We may not be able to change whether or not people watch re-runs on the networks, but, if we can get enough people to actually CONTACT the networks, which seems to be impossible, we might have a chance at helping you end this strike.

I think that if we start forwarding emails and ask everyone who receives the email to forward it to 10 friends and have each person send it to a VP or Pres. of the network, maybe they'd get annoyed enough to listen.

What do you think, because we all want you to get what is rightfully yours and long overdue.

Please let us know how we can help in this situation, it has gone on far too long. All I need is an email address for each network.


Sheryl Leyott

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Daily Show and Colbert Report return, funny because of the Wrtiters Strike

So the Daily Show and Colbert Report return to answer the big question:

Can you be funny without writers?

The answer (if you don't count the WGA member hosts as writers) is a resounding yes. But, of course, most of the jokes (and all of the best) were about the strike:

Steven Colbert has an even harder job. While Jon Steward essentially acts as himself on the Daily Show, Colbert portrays a fictional (and largely written character) on his show.

On the first night, Colbert was even funnier, using a 5-minute long laugh track to fill a good portion of his show.

I'd post the Colbert video, but it's non-embeddable (WTF?).

Two big questions left on the table:

How sustainable are jokes along those lines?

While Stewart/Colbert were ripping on the studios for not paying writers for iTunes downloads, Comedy Central/Viacom were pimping iTunes downloads at every commercial break and in all the credits. Was this done for irony or out of cluelessness?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Entrepreneurs join writers strike

Long after other unions like the Teamsters have shown their support for the WGA, the Entrepreneurs Guild of America has finally joined the strike.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Freelance workers write clever picket signs, get what they want in no time

So a few freelancers at MTV got pissed at a benefits cut, wrote some clever picket sign, and got Sumner Redstone to cave in about 5 minutes.

Why did MTV give in to their demands? Obviously after seeing those witty picket signs, Redstone figured we could replace the WGA writers with freelances.

Clever bastard.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Bloggers strike too

A nice sign of solidarity:

Sunday, December 9, 2007

WSJ: Everyone's fucked, Who'll save us?

The Wall Street Journal isn't optimistic about this, saying the strike could last well into '08 "Barring the emergence of a new mediator who can rescue the situation".

Ideas for who could do such a historic act? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Photo by OkayCity.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The pen is mightier than the picket: Fulfill Alec Baldwin's wildest fantasy

The sick minds at News Groper who brought us Katie Couric's and Osama bin Laden's views on the writers strike are now allowing anyone to submit a fake blog entry.

Is this an answer to Alec Baldwin's calling for a revolutionary new system by which writers can get their work on the Internet, defaming the rich and powerful? Only time will tell.

If you do write a fake blog post, let us know so we can link to it.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

A Producers Carol

Writers Ken Levine is just handing the scripts out for free on his blog, most recently an adaptation of The Christmas Carol titled St. Nick Counter. Enjoy.

Alec Baldwin attempts writing a second time

Alec Baldwin, having recently discovered and wrote about revolutionary MP3 technology, now sets his aim on user generated content suggesting:
I want the WGA to set up a website and on that website we can all post stories about every no-talent, idiotic, amoral producer and executive we have ever dealt with.
Our friends at Fishbowl LA chime in:
This would be a really great idea, had it not come from the producer of The Devil and Daniel Webster, one of the biggest train wrecks of all time.

Friday, November 30, 2007

What's a $120 million between friends?

The Financial Times reports that the TV studios are "in line to generate $120,000,000 of revenues in 2007 from free web streaming of their content":
The networks have been reluctant to acknowledge the size of their streaming businesses, partly because online video advertising has become a sticking point in pay negotiations with the writers, who have been on strike for almost a month.

However, advertisers are flocking to web streaming. “Based on what we’re paying for spots across the four networks, we estimate this market to be worth more than $120m,” said Tracey Scheppach, senior vice-president and video innovation director for Starcom, a leading media buying agency.
Disclaimer: The attached image has little to do with this story.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Katie Couric complains about the writers strike

It was only a matter of time until the talent turned on the strikers. Katie Couric just penned an article on the "ungrateful" writers:
First they came for Ellen DeGeneres, and I said nothing. Then they came for the non-writing staff of The Office, and I said nothing. Now, they’ve come for me, and no one is left to stand up for my rights as a journalist.

Because of my lousy writer staff, which hasn’t turned in a good script since I moved to CBS (I mean, honestly, how many times must our show resort to the old “The President says we’ve turned a corner in Iraq” plot twist?), the DNC chose to cancel a televised debate I was to moderate on December 10th.