The Writer’s Guild started their strike this week, bringing all new television production out of Hollywood to a screeching halt. For those who haven’t followed it too closely, the Guild have put together a video covering the main points.
Another member of the guild involved in the negotiation wrote Why We Want Our Words’ Worth by Michael Winship (Common Dreams), which noted that much of what is breathlessly reported by the media is vastly distorted or flat-out incorrect—pretty much par for the course for the new channels, in other words.
“But money is being made. They simply don’t wish to share it any more than they wished to share revenues from VHS tapes or DVDs. They told us then there was no business model, too. … What we’re down to is a package that will cost the studios and networks around $150-160 million, spread over the three years of the contract. That’s about twice what Viacom paid Tom Freston to buy him out as its CEO. A little less than what Merrill Lynch is paying Stan O’Neal to retire as its chairman and chief executive. Less than what Citigroup was paying incoming chairman Robert Rubin. As a consultant.”
Despite these vast disparities in power and earnings, the nationally acknowledged anti-union bent that colors almost everything in modern American discourse will still have most people nodding vigorously as they agree that those damned Hollywood types are so greedy and that they TOOK AWAY MY GRAY’S. In reality, it seems that the studio heads—much like their brethren at the recording studios—have no idea what it’s like to actually create something.
“At one point during negotiations, it was seriously propositioned to us that writers who base their scripts on history or contemporary real life events should be paid less than those who create an original story because they don’t have to use their imaginations as much. I am not making this up.”
People who have no idea how much effort goes into writing or how much talent, concentration, intuition and perseverence it takes to come with something even halfway decent (even cliché scripts has to be written) are putting dollar values on these jobs. It’s the same with any job, where the manager just sees you clicking away at a keyboard or mopping a floor or directing traffic and thinks “how hard can that be?”. Any monkey could do that and they should be happy to have a job instead of screaming for more money. Managers with no actual talent other than for managing see the world differently.
“I was reminded of the old joke about the logic of civil engineers: if it takes a woman nine months to have a baby, they’re convinced that gathering nine women together will produce a baby in a month.”