As the first week of WGA Strike 2007 comes to a close following the magnificent rally at Fox/NewsCorp on both coasts today, I finally have a chance to sit down and read up on things.
Governor Schwarzenegger is pissed. Mayor Villaraigosa is pissed. You can’t blame them. I don’t know the effect on the massively diverse economy here in New York City, but this is potentially catastrophic stuff in Los Angeles. Crew members, actors, drivers… as well as dry cleaners, shop owners, restaurant employees, day care workers… anything and everything flows from the tit of the entertainment industry. Very, very bad things will happen for a whole lot of people if the AMPTP doesn’t get back to the table and end this thing fairly and soon.
But this quote from Gov. Schwarzenegger in today’s AP piece just made my head spasm at the end of my aching neck:
Schwarzenegger said he had urged both sides to reach a deal so thousands of behind-the-scenes workers already idled by stalled TV production could return to their jobs.
“I think that’s the sad story, because the studio executives are not going to suffer, the union leaders are not going to suffer, the writers that are striking, they are not going to suffer. Those are all people that have money,” the actor-turned-governor said.
He said he had not been invited to participate in negotiations.
Is this man serious?
As a working screenwriter (which essentially means an oft-unemployed one with intermittent flashes of employment and sales success to make it just worthwhile enough during the long fingernail climb up the mountainside), I can tell you that I’ve lived off the same residual payments we’re striking over while chasing my next gig, pounding out my new spec, etc.
I’ve, like, scarcely avoided eviction on more than one occasion in my young life due to the quarterly check the Writer’s Guild corrals for me from the studio. I’ve had “success” in the movie business sense which, I can tell you, can often go hand and hand with being broke between successes.
I’m lucky in that I also have comics. But most writers are in the same boat. We’re often un or under-employed. We usually make the absolute minimum amount of money a company can get away with paying us for officially contracted work we do (let alone the extra writing they always try to squeeze out of you before paying). It’s what we love to do, what we’ve aspired to and dreamt about doing our entire lives… but it often doesn’t pay very well at all when you consider the time and sacrifice involved.
Not up front, anyway. But, hey, that’s show business.
And Arnold is right to point out how devastating this is to the “little guys” (that’s said with affection and respect). This work stoppage is potentially tragic for a lot of people. But he’s offering up a straw man as he paints anyone who works above the line in Hollywood as some pampered excess-sucking stereotype.
Shit, if I’ve got all the money we must be fucked.
This is what I marched in today here in New York City, by the way:
Front lines, baby. Three hours ahead and taking the point position as we wade into the jungle on dawn’s patrol. The few. The proud. The WGAE.