Sunday, November 11, 2007

WGA Strike, For Whom The Blogs Boil

I don’t spend my time online reading every blog that’s out there. No one could do that, even if they had never-tiring eyeballs and didn’t need sleep. So, there will be those who are going to find fault with what I write here. Good for you. You’re entitled to your opinion, even if it’s tainted by ego, greed, lust, money or fame. You could also be one of the TV/screenwriters who is now on the picket lines. I would like to hear what you think.

It’s almost fun, reading the blogs of the Hollywood writers. They go on and on about their travails and how they are perceived by those of us in the hinterlands. Writers who live in the fly over states can’t be too smart, can they? If the state of TV and movie entertainment is any comment on intelligence, then it doesn’t take much to be a writer in LA, except, of course, the right connections.

We, of course, are too ignorant to ‘get it’. IF we did, we would all move to LA, NYC or ….Wait a minute. Let’s not get into another round of ‘beat up our fellow writers’. Let’s look at what is NOT being done to make this situation better.

DVDs: You’re kidding me, right? IF I understand this correctly, you get about 3% on a DVD? Who the hell sold you down the river on this deal? Hell, you’re agent gets 10-15%, why should you get less for your writing?

Rewrites: Work done over, if done at the request of some clown in a suit, should be paid for, per page, period. Who the hell let this get out of control?

Residuals: Get paid for every play, no matter the venue, media or method. Other companies call this 'profit sharing'. The only place where a person can see things for free is in a library. They are there for the common good.

Pension: I burnt up my body to make you money, so I deserve to retire and enjoy my old age.

Health Care: See 'Pension' above, but it’s now about day to day maintenance. You take care of your car, don’t you? Tell me that the studios and producers don’t have health care. Hey, these guys remind me of Congress! You should see their benefits.

Yes, that’s the short list. I didn’t touch contract specifics or any of the other nuance stuff that’s out there. Here’s another list, it might get you thinking…

Negotiations: Once they tell you they won’t pay your price, raise it, every day. They’ll laugh at first. Just explain to them that it costs you money every day and them also. If they threaten to replace you, which they can legally do, then you up the ante. Tell them you know where they live. You outnumber them. Smile wickedly when you say it.

Promotion: Get the public on your side. Very little is being done about this, from what I can see of it. What I do see is not very flattering for writers.

Band together: It amazes me to read some of these blogs and see how people are more interested in urinating on each other than trying to make this a cohesive effort. You’re coming across like squabbling school kids.

Show some Class: This means acting like you’re responsible adults. College prank antics and comments are great, if you’re still a freshman, Michael Eisner or G. Bush.

Be Cool: Nothing shows power like being cool. Don’t get mad, just smile, better yet, work on that evil grin. It drives them nuts. Think Steve McQueen.

So, you’re reading this, thinking; "What the hell makes you think you know anything about this stuff?" Simple, my fellow writers. Not only have I been a Teamster, I helped organize the union in a shop I worked in up in Ohio. I have walked the picket lines. I have been in negotiations with management. To relate my experiences would take at least a chapter or two.

Later, I had to deal with a company that I worked for on an employment contract in Europe. This stuff is all covered in my book; "Going Dutch, Trials of a Wage Slave".

Please DON’T buy this book! It’s a minor thing about how I’m getting ready to rewrite and update it. Believe it or not, you can have a contract and still get screwed by the company. Even after getting a court judgment.

You have to go at this situation with a willingness to lose. Someone has to in this deal. This time though, it better not be the writers. IF the WGA loses this, then all Americans lose.


Because you are the last hopes of those of us who have seen our jobs and work outsourced across the world. Read my previous posts on this topic. Don’t think that it can’t be done to you!

I read some of the other blogs and they accept the idea that Vancouver is now a TV and movie center. It wasn’t the last time the WGA went on strike and it’s indicative of how things have changed in the world.

I have no problem with people doing work, anywhere in the world. My problem is with the people who claim that they are making life better for everyone, while stuffing their pockets and then ripping the bread out of the mouths that provide them with services.

The claims that they are ‘risking it all’ to build the business or studio. So what? Life is about risk. No one is insulated from it, nor can you plan for every event or contingency.

Working for little or no money is the new slavery. It crosses all lines, economic, racial, cultural and all borders. Don’t empower those who advocate it.

A day’s wage for a day’s work, with residuals, pension and healthcare for all!

Get back to work, you’ve got something to write.

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