The Writer’s Strike… an Insider’s Thoughts

One of the pastors at my church has a relative who is a TV writer. I was fortunate enough to read a copy of an email he sent out to many of his friends and family. I have posted some of the text of that email below. I must say, I agree wholeheartedly with the writer’s guild on this one. Whether you are an avid TV fan or not; whether you are pro-union or not; this is an important thing and the writer’s deserve our support.

SDG,
Matty

Friends and Family –

Thank you for your recent calls and emails regarding the news you’ve
been hearing out of Hollywood the last couple days. Indeed, I am on
strike with the rest of the television and film writers, spending
about five hours a day on the picket lines outside Warner Bros., the
studio I worked for until Monday morning at 12:01 a.m. I want to
write to everyone because there’s been a lot of misinformation about
why we’ve decided to strike.

The bottom line is, the Studios have refused to fairly compensate
writers for the use of their work on DVD and even more importantly,
the Internet. The proposals our guild has on the table are
reasonable. We currently receive about 4 cents for every DVD sold,
and we’re asking for 8 cents. As far as the Internet is concerned,
most of you know that you can download an episode of almost any TV
show on iTunes for $1.99. Some of you have probably watched full
episodes of One Tree Hill on the CW website for free and seen the
incessant shampoo commercials that go along with it. Despite such
obvious streams of revenue, the Studios claim that they don’t make
money off the Internet. They want us to believe that “this Internet
thing” is too new to regulate with any kind of certainty, but we all
know that the day is coming when your TV screen and your computer
screen will be one and the same. This is why we feel we have to
fight for coverage of the Internet now.

Much has been said in the media (which is controlled by the very
conglomerates we’re fighting against) about greedy, overpaid writers
demanding more money. The fact is, the money we’re losing by being
on strike will likely never be recouped by us, even if we’re able to
win all of our proposals at the bargaining table. Like the
generation of writers before us, who went on strike to secure health
and pension benefits and residuals, we’re fighting largely for the
next generation of writers who will no doubt see the Internet become
the primary source of distribution for their work.

After three months of negotiation, during which the Studios never
seriously responded to any of our proposals, we voted to walk out.
Currently, the Studios and the Writers Guild are in standoff mode,
with both sides refusing to even meet to negotiate. You’ll already
see the effects of the strike in late-night programming, and soon
they’ll be very few new episodes of scripted television in prime-
time. The One Tree Hill episodes I’ve been working on for the last
few months will begin airing in January, but the show will soon go
into repeats (or off the schedule entirely) like everything else.
Unless this whole thing gets settled soon.

The good news is many local Teamsters in L.A. and N.Y. are refusing
to cross our picket lines, which I know will make the Coli family
very proud. Also, our brothers and sisters in the Screen Actors’
Guild are walking the line with us. Their contract is up soon too,
and they know that they’ll get whatever deal we get. And, oh yeah,
Jay Leno brought us Krispy Kreme donuts yesterday. That was pretty
cool.

Thanks again for your concern, and please feel free to forward this
on to anyone you’d like. Also, please check out this website,
unitedhollywood.com, a website created by the writers. It explains
our side of the story much better than I ever could.

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2 Responses

  1. I can’t say that I know anything about the writers’ strike – what they do or do not deserve. But what I can say is that I think it’s beyond ridiculous what actors and athletes get paid these days. Not that I don’t appreciate the entertainment they provide but I’d rather see the millions of dollars go into public service providers (firefighters, teachers, humanitarian workers etc…). You hear about actors and athletes arguing for more pay (a million dollars an episode?! Really?!) but where is going to end? I’m afraid of the day when the hair stylist to the stars is going to demand a million dollars an episode too. Sorry to go off on a tangent 🙂

  2. Andi,

    Thanks for the comment! While I do agree that the salaries paid to actors and athletes are astronomical, they get them because we, as consumers, pay. If the ratings on CSI go in the toilet, the advertisers won’t pay as much for ad time and the show will get canceled. If you don’t go to watch your local sports team, ticket sales and concessions drop, and the team leaves town.

    I, for one, don’t like to see anyone’s work exploited by their boss or the company they work for. If a company makes money off of my work, I should be compensated.

    My two cents!

    Love you all,
    Matty

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