Diary Of A Hollywood Refugee

Monday, November 12, 2007

Mourning Tv

John Noonan (OpFor) and I were chatting earlier about the Writers Guild Strike in Hollywood, when he mentioned that he truly didn't understand the "ins and outs of this whole strike".

I could have inarticulately explained the ins and outs to him, but thankfully, I didn't have to it. Instead, I found a very talented wordsmith who could!

Damon Lindelof, co creater and head writer of "Lost" penned an insightful, honest and heartfelt op-ed in the NY Times.

It is aptly titled: Mourning Tv

Television is dying.

I should have realized this four years ago when I first got my TiVo box, but denial is always the first stage of grief. I simply couldn’t acknowledge that this wonderful invention heralded the beginning of the end.


The Writers Guild of America (of which I am a proud member) has gone on strike. I have spent the past week on the picket line outside Walt Disney Studios, my employer, chanting slogans and trudging slowly across the crosswalk.

The motivation for this drastic action — and a strike is drastic, a fact I grow more aware of every passing day — is the guild’s desire for a portion of revenues derived from the Internet. This is nothing new: for more than 50 years, writers have been entitled to a small cut of the studios’ profits from the reuse of our shows or movies; whenever something we created ends up in syndication or is sold on DVD, we receive royalties. But the studios refuse to apply the same rules to the Internet.

My show, “Lost,” has been streamed hundreds of millions of times since it was made available on ABC’s Web site. The downloads require the viewer to first watch an advertisement, from which the network obviously generates some income. The writers of the episodes get nothing. We’re also a hit on iTunes (where shows are sold for $1.99 each). Again, we get nothing.

It should come as no surprise that actors have joined the picket lines in solidarity, and look for directors to do the same. They too, are asking for a share of the monies earned by studios off the net.

While the revenues are certainly not huge at this point, make no mistake about it, within 10 years, we will all be watching tv shows & films streamed onto media devices, be they handheld, or sitting on your desktop.

As Damien reminds us, WGA members are doing this for those future generations of writers "whose work will never “air,” but instead be streamed, beamed or zapped onto a tiny chip."

While I remain politically at odds with Hollywood, as a former Hollywood agent, who worked with and personally knows many writers, actors, and cinematographers now affected by this strike, I applaud the WGA for taking this tough and drastic measure.

As a fan of Lost, Heroes, Desperate Housewives, CSI, Law & Order, Numbers, Monk, Chuck, Gray's Anatomy, Brothers & Sisters, Men In Trees, NCIS, The Unit,Rescue Me, Bionic Woman, Smallville, and Shark, I am ANGRY that I won't be able to enjoy these shows much beyond December 2007 and then not again until January 2009!!

I am ANGRY because unreasonable greed, unfathomable selfishness and blatant dishonesty on the part of the Studio and Network Alliance motivates, and continues to motivate, their decision to refuse to table a deal that would provide *WGA, *DGA, and *SAG members with percentage based residuals from revenues derived off the Internet.

"How selfish can they get, they won't share the internet"

Politics and perceptions aside, the majority of those working in Hollywood are good decent hardworking people. They are NOT mega millionaires who will be able to sit poolside while they weather out this strike. I m talking about casting directors, hair and make up people, art directors, music composers, editors, grips, gaffers, locations managers, and other various crew members, assistants to all the above, graphic designers, illustrators, animators, those that work in post production, and of course, agents, actors, (working actor whose names you don't know but faces you see on your favorite shows) directors, and writers, will all suffer.

Many are being laid off now, and Hollywood - being an "industry town"- doesn't offer many other employment opportunities. You either work in the industry or servicing the industry.

Waiters, waitresses, cooks, bartenders, dry cleaners, restaurants, bars, retail, ----everyone suffers!!

All because Studios won't share residuals from the internet!




United Hollywood
- A blog created by WGA strike captains
Must See Video: Heartbreaking Voices of Uncertainty

Essays from the genius that is Peter Tolan:
Humor Gets Lost in Strikes Shuffle
How To Negotiate, Or Not

For the best insight on what's happening moment by moment during this strike:
Nikki Finke "Deadline Hollywood Daily"

*WGA - The Writers Guild of America
*DGA - The Directors Guild of America
*SAG - The Screen Actors Guild


  • At 9:46 PM, November 18, 2007, Blogger Incognito said…

    The producers have been trying to bust the unions for ages... directors are up next for contract negotiations then it's SAG. They probably want to make sure the rest of us realize it won't be easy. I'll never forget our eternally long last strike, which lasted even longer because of scabs. We have never fully recovered.

    Hopefully it won't happen with the writers (scabbing).

    And what about the shows produced specifically for the internet?

    Very sad that they aren't willing to give up the paltry piece of the pie that writers are asking for!

  • At 8:48 AM, November 22, 2007, Blogger Huntress said…

    Incognito, don't hide in the closet about being a Republican actress in Hollywood, you have no idea the great company you'll find yourself surrounded by!!.

    I started working as an agent in 1990 when Hollywood was still feeling the effects of the 88 WGA strike. I know that this strike is brutal, and that many of my friends are scared and depressed.
    I send them my love and support daily.

    As much as it saddens me that come January my fave shows won't have new eppy's to air,and I may not see them again until 2009, I support this strike, and I applaud the courage of each writer to take this stand.

    Its not about today, its about tomorrow, and i'ts about time that the Alliance shared the HUGE pie with those that don't get paid millions of dollars to |"open" films, or to write scripts.

    If it ain't on the page, it ain't on the stage!

    I support the WGA!

  • At 8:41 PM, November 24, 2007, Blogger Incognito said…

    Thank you huntress! Let's hope they reach some sort of agreement when they meet next week!!

    I'm sending out my prayers.


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