WGA strike news summary (and action!) Dec 11

This is more a clippings dump than a summary, but hey. It’s also up at dKos, where we’re chatting while watching The Daily Show/Colbert reruns. Or not, as the case may be.

Head over to consumers4wga for advertiser addresses — let them know that you support the writers. And would like to know that they do too, so you can continue to buy their products.  

So, let’s start with that negotiations summary. Nikki Finke, of course, has the details. Essentially, the AMPTP issued an ultimatum that sounds a lot like ‘we only talk about what we want to talk about, and we won’t ‘negotiate’ unlesss you concede first,’  the WGA said ‘um… no’, and the colluding corporations the AMPTP walked out, issuing a press release pretty damned quickly. One might think they’d had it all written up already…

Of all the other summaries, the one that includes this snippet is my favorite.  

Friday. Surely, the AMPTP would make its Tuesday proposal then. Unfortunately, by five PM, they hadn’t.

“That’s alright,” one can imagine the WGA negotiators thinking. “Maybe they’re OCD and feel like they should present their Tuesday proposal on a Tuesday or something.”

The NYTimes printed a piece yesterday which somehow bugs me, talking in general terms about the power struggle involved.  I guess one of the problems I have is that it seems to assume that the WGA’s efforts, including those to expand its jurisdiction to cover reality show writers, are entirely and exclusively a power ploy in a zero-sum battle against its perpetual enemy, the megacorporations handful of CEOs AMPTP.  About which:

Reality writers want to join the WGA. I challenge you to find one overworked, underpaid reality writer who wouldn’t want to join the guild right now and receive the same just and fair benefits given to other members of the entertainment unions like IATSE, SAG, WGA, and DGA.

I write this on behalf of all my friends and colleagues who are currently working seven days a week to get a show out for a big network — but are not getting paid for the weekends. Or the overtime. Who aren’t receiving health benefits. Or… you get the picture.

I can’t sign my name, because there is a very real threat my employers will fire me. But I can still call myself what I am: A writer.

Power doesn’t have to be just about being the alpha dog, having all the money, and beating back everyone else just because you can. That’s.. kind of a basic theme of human history, yes?

And now: When Blog Worlds Collide! The Lehane Saga part (whichever).

I think FiredogLake had the scoop that “Labor Unions Support WGA, Fire Union Busting Consultant Chris Lehane,” with Kos following up with  confirmation from a Change to Win spokesman. Nikki Finke summarizes, adding some analysis of what the ‘masters of disaster’ have accomplished:

I’ve learned that F&L was responsible for naming the studios’ and networks’ offer to the WGA that “New Economic Partnership”. They also offered the suggestion that the CEOs stop calling the writers’ side “negotiators” and start branding them “organizers” because it sounds more Commie. They wrote Friday’s strongly worded and downright menacing press release to satusfy the moguls apparent craving for combat not conciliation. But, so far, that’s it. An AMPTP insider insists F&L is only being paid a 1/3 of what anyone thinks they’re being paid “but it’s not necessarily money well spent.”

Enough thinking, more linking:

trekweb has coverage of the Star Trek Theme Picket…  the first pencils have been delivered… UH has this week’s events… KARE11 has coverage of the Minnesota WGA info-action… the WSJ has noticed fan interest in the strike… UH provides info on the AMPTP’s future plans: And Nikki Finke, who probably needs one by now, posts this martini recipe, credited to screenwriter Nian Aster:

The Striking Writer Martini

2 oz vodka “to fortify against the cold Strike Winter”

2 oz cranberry juice “as the writers are seeing red”

1 oz sweet and sour mix “they’re grateful for solidarity in this bitter struggle”

4 drops vanilla (or use vanilla vodka) “to symbolize the 4 cent raise they asked for”

“There’s no cherry in this drink, as writers aren’t getting a piece of the pie. Garnish with a half a redvine, as they hope to be back on the set soon.”

OK, Martini break over. In business news, something called the Television Critics Association Press Tour (it promotes mid-season shows) has been cancelled. Apparently, the networks didn’t like spending all that money on critics anyway.  Take what they give you, peons.

UH has a post titled “Links: NBC Under Siege Edition!” — some of the same stuff I had yesterday, about NBC quietly refunding advertiser money, but they also have a link to coverage of the picket of NBC in Second Life — and a mention of “the FCC nonsense going on,” which would be part two of tonight’s installment of When Blog Worlds Collide! (Action links there, follow… and, let’s see. There’s more on advertising interests at the Vanity Fair blog, this latimes story is interesting, and so is this:

Viacom “transforms” into a winner

Then there’s Viacom (VIAB). It is the only media conglomerate in the black this year. Shares have gained more than 6 percent. It’s a remarkable turnaround for the company, which was a poor performer in 2006, its first year since it split from former corporate sibling CBS.

Viacom, which owns cable networks Nickelodeon and MTV and the movie studios Paramount and DreamWorks SKG, has enjoyed a strong year both on the boob tube and at the box office. Ratings have improved at many of Viacom’s cable networks, helping the company to report a revenue increase of 10 percent from its networks division through the first three quarters of this year.

At the multiplex, Viacom has been the top dog….

Didn’t I just read yesterday that

Something’s rotten in the state of Viacom. Parent Company of the popular cable television networks MTV, VH1 and Nickelodeon, among others, informed their permanent freelance workers that their benefits will be drastically slashed, just in time for the holidays. Today, Dec. 10th at 3pm, MTV Networks freelancers plan to stage a walkout in response to these cutbacks, outside the MTV building on 1515 Broadway. The contractors have made T-shirts emblazoned with the logo: “Viacom Freelancers Get Cancer Too.”

Why, yes. Yes I did. Hmm. I wonder what the story with that is?

It’s entirely possible that this is an appropriate place to put this quote from Atrios:

 While there are certainly rational economic actor arguments for why companies oppose any labor concessions, I’m increasingly convinced they (and the “they” are not abstract profit maximizing entities, but people who run them) frequently do so simply because they’re assholes, and they’re competitive assholes, and they see it as a competition they need to win no matter what the cost.


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  1. I bet I could have made this more concise. Oh well. There’s always tomorrow.  

  2. ….Viacom in Manhattan Thursday, if anyone wants to come out.

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