The Associated Motion Picture and Television Producers came back to the table this past week… the one they got up and left which pushed the WGA out on the picket lines after we didn’t receive anything close to a fair offer before this tragic strike started… but they still don’t seem to be getting the hint.
We had been optimistic. After a month of overwhelming fan and general public support and inspirational solidarity, I thought it was clear that we’re not coming back for less than we feel we’re worth and, most importantly, than we’re due.
You can read the entire joint letter from WGAE and WGAW Presidents Michael Winship and Patric Verrone here.
But here’s a sample of what we’re contending with:
Thursday morning, the first new proposal was finally presented to us. It dealt only with streaming and made-for-Internet jurisdiction, and it amounts to a massive rollback.
For streaming television episodes, the companies proposed a residual structure of a single fixed payment of less than $250 for a year’s reuse of an hour-long program (compared to over $20,000 payable for a network rerun). For theatrical product they are offering no residuals whatsoever for streaming.
For made-for-Internet material, they offered minimums that would allow a studio to produce up to a 15-minute episode of network-derived web content for a script fee of $1300. They continued to refuse to grant jurisdiction over original content for the Internet.
In their new proposal, they made absolutely no move on the download formula (which they propose to pay at the DVD rate), and continue to assert that they can deem any reuse “promotional,” and pay no residual (even if they replay the entire film or TV episode and even if they make money).
The AMPTP says it will have additional proposals to make but, as of Thursday evening, they have not been presented to us. We are scheduled to meet with them again on Tuesday.
Reading the letter I received last night from Guild leadership, I am reminded of the famous Ghandi quote re: resistance to power in the face of unfairness:
“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
Everyone wants this over with. That’s a certainty. But I can tell you one thing, being out there in the cold and rain of the New York WGAE picket lines with the late-night comedy writers and the rest of us non-LA people… we’re not caving. I would be STUNNED to learn there was any pressure by membership to settle for something less than the prize. The solidarity has been overwhelmingly positive and I get the sense we’re capable of holding out for a very, very long time. It doesn’t have to be this way but business, as we’ve learned, only responds to a cost-analysis when making decisions that impact profit. We need to cost them more by striking than we do by getting what we want from their greedy fucking pockets.
I say fine.
The perverse side of my brain looks forward to potentially shutting down shows like LOST for the 2008 season… for extending this strike deep into 2008 so that major movie sequels planned for 2009 (hello SPIDER-MAN and HARRY POTTER) are jeopardized. It doesn’t have to be this way but, truthfully, I hope it comes to that if these guys insist on keeping us out on the picket lines like they are. This isn’t going to be easy, but the truth is… most of us are struggling at this gig anyway. I say bring on the Oliphants, the Orcs and the Eye of Sauron.
Middle Earth was free once and shall be again.