Hollywood writers strike ends

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by Principessa, Feb 12, 2008.

  1. Principessa

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    Hollywood writers strike ends

    After 100 days, WGA members vote overwhelmingly to go back to work.
    By Claudia Eller and Richard Verrier
    Los Angeles Times Staff Writers

    8:04 PM PST, February 12, 2008

    The strike is over.

    Hollywood's costly 100-day walkout came to a widely welcomed end Tuesday after members of the Writers Guild of America voted overwhelmingly to go back to work.

    More than 90% of the 3,775 writers who cast ballots in Los Angeles and New York voted to end the work stoppage, capping the entertainment industry's most contentious labor dispute in recent history.

    "Rather than being shut out of the future of content creation and delivery, writers will lead the way as TV migrates to the Internet and platforms for new media are developed," said Patric M. Verrone, president of the WGA, West.

    On Feb. 25, writers are expected to ratify a new three-year contract that ensures them a stake in the revenue generated when their films, TV shows and other creative works are distributed on the Internet. Whether the benefits from the new contract will be enough to offset the income writers and others lost because of the strike is a matter of debate.

    Steven Beer, an entertainment attorney at Greenberg Traurig, Some predicted that working writers may have fewer opportunities as studios used the strike as a means to cut programming budgets, greenlight fewer pilots, reduce fees and limit the number of production deals on their lots.

    "Writers got hard-fought and well earned improvements but it could be tougher sledding for the rank and file in the future," he said.

    Other experts believe the writers won a victory that transcends any financial gains.

    "It was a defining moment," said economist Harley Shaiken, a professor at UC Berkeley who specializes in labor issues. "It showed that a very disparate group of individuals could act with real solidarity -- and that packed real economic power."

    The walkout, which began Nov. 5, proved to be far more economically damaging than the studios had expected, shutting down more than 60 TV shows, hampering ratings and depriving the networks of tens of millions in advertising dollars.

    Labor experts said the crippling effect of the strike helped writers achieve gains they might not have otherwise attained.

    The new contract gives them residual payments for shows streamed over the Internet and secures the union's jurisdiction for programming created for the Web.

    "They successfully faced down six multinational media conglomerates and established a beachhead on the Internet," said Jonathan Handel, former associate counsel for the Writers Guild of America, West and an attorney at TroyGould. "When you consider what they were initially offered and the enormous odds they faced, that's quite an achievement."

    Handel noted that studios had originally balked at writers' demands for new media residuals, proposing a multiyear study instead.

    Yet the new contract falls short of what writers were initially seeking.

    "It's a good deal, but not a great one," said Handel, adding that both sides made key compromises.

    For example, writers received guarantees that any guild member hired to create original shows for the Web would be covered under a union contract. But the tentative contract enables studios to hire nonunion writers to work on low-budget Internet shows, giving them the flexibility they sought to compete in the burgeoning world of Web entertainment.

    The writers agreement was largely patterned after a recent deal studios made with directors. Writers, however, got some important improvements, especially in pay for shows that are streamed on advertising-supported websites.

    Writers were unsuccessful, however, in their efforts to shorten the 17- to 24-day window that studios have to stream their shows for promotional purposes without paying residuals. Many writers complained that most viewers watch repeats online within days after the initial broadcast.

    Entertainment attorney Alan Wertheimer, who was hired by the guild in January to help break the logjam in its negotiations, had extracted a handshake agreement from studio chief executives for a "favored nations" provision related to new media, assuring writers that they would also receive any improvements actors may get in their upcoming contract negotiations.(Directors got a similar verbal promise.) The actors' contract expires June 31.

    But last Friday, when lawyers on both sides were hurriedly drafting the final writers contract, Wertheimer heard from WGA insiders that the studios forgot what they had verbally promised a week earlier. When confronted, the CEOs relented and agreed to honor it.

    With the strike now over, economists are tallying up the cost to the industry and the Los Angeles region. Measuring the financial losses is inherently difficult and estimates vary widely.

    Jack Kyser, chief economist for the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp., estimates the walkout cost the local economy more than $3 billion. Of that total, an estimated $772 million came from lost wages by writers and production workers, $981 million by various businesses that service the industry, including caterers to equipment rental houses, and $1.3 billion from the ripple effect of consumers not spending as much at retail shops, restaurants and car dealers.

    Still, the total is relatively small considering that the L.A. economy generates $1.3 billion a day.

    The entertainment industry employs about 250,000 in the Los Angeles region, including the thousands who are self-employed.

    claudia.eller@latimes.com

    richard.verrier@latimes.com


    All I can say is it's about damn time! If they had pre-empted the Oscars I'd have been ready to kick their greedy little asses.
     
  2. prince_will

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    YES! now i can get some shows back.....in a few months. ugh.
     
  3. VeeP

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    About damn time! Crappy TV is even worse when warmed over two and three times. Here's hoping they've had ample time to recharge their creative little brains.
     
  4. rob_just_rob

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    I have to admit that I wouldn't have known they were on strike, were it not for the hysterical attention given to the strike by the media.
     
  5. _avg_

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    I couldn't fucking care less. Haven't had cable TV in almost a decade, haven't watched much more than NFL on network....fuck it all. "Hollywood" must die.
     
  6. D_Prudence_Admonition_Drightits

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    NJ you mean the strike is over?
    Now that I have found my Showtime channels I did not even notice. :tongue:
     
  7. Principessa

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    Agreed! I am so sick of reality tv/contests/bunch of freaks thrown together in a house to live dreck I could scream. To me the Bigget Loser is the biggest loser! What does it say about us as a society that we will sit on our sofas eating chips and dip whilst watching morbidly obese people exercis? :confused::mad:
     
  8. IntoxicatingToxin

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    I'm glad the strike is over. I was beginning to miss my Private Practice and Grey's Anatomy.
     
  9. hotbtminla

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    I agree it's about damn time, though I hope the greedy little asses you're referring to are the producers, NJ :smile:. We gave them plenty of time well before the strike became a necessity to work out a reasonable and equitable solution. The guys with the money were always, through every stage of discussions, the ones who refused to negotiate (and acted like total assholes I might add). Obviously I'm biased because I'm WGA, but I also think I'm an objective and reasonable person. Trust me, what the writers were asking for from day one was nothing more than fair, and in many ways was significantly less than fair.

    LOL - thankfully I don't write for a crappy TV show. I do have to agree though, warmed over shit is the worst kind. Rest assured all the writers I know are recharged and very excited to get back to work.

    The strike had an economic impact of well over $3 billion just in Los Angeles. Maybe that's not a significant amount to you Rob, but I hardly think that the media's reaction to it could be considered "hysterical."

    We'll take this under advisement. Thanks.
     
  10. rob_just_rob

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    In economic terms, $3 billion isn't a lot of money. In a city the size of L.A., that's less than one day's economic output. If you're NOT in L.A. or another film/TV industry hotbed, it's considerably less significant economically. So for the actual economic effect, this got way more press than it deserved (I am not in Los Angeles, and saw plenty of articles on the subject).
     
  11. Northland

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    I was eating ice cream last night-apparently the spycam is off right now:smile:.


    But before you get too happy about the writers returning to work, keep in mind the negotiations are about to begin for the actors and there is some tension currently between SAG and AFTRA. The SAG contract is due up on June 30 of this year. What it comes down to is this-the scripts will be written; but, they will sit on the side as the unions wrangle over the deals they should now be getting in light of agreements made with the WGA. After months of actors without scripts we will now have scripts without actors.

    Next season we may get to see Runway Super Nanny Survivor Idols...brrrr..
     
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