Some people who know me might think I'm lying when I say this, the truth is, I really don't like conflict all that much (I guess that's why I ended up following my childhood dream of writing for a living, instead of the law school path I contemplated for a while -- whew, dodged a bullet there). I guess that's why this whole business with the ongoing battle between the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) and the Writers Guild of America (WGA) makes me tense. I really just want someone to handle the conflict the way I do when my kids fight with each other ... just sit them all down, listen to both sides, and then work out a resolution that everyone can live with. And if that doesn't work, duct-tape their hands together and make them stay fastened to each other until they work it out (Kidding about the duct-tape, heh -- I would never do that to my kids! Handcuffs are much less likely to cause permanent damage).

But before we delve into the heavier fare, just for fun and levity, let's take a look back at one of my all-time favorite short films, Jason Reitman's Consent -- only this time, as you're watching it, imagine that the girl is the WGA and the guy is the AMPTP. It makes the whole writer's strike thing much more palatable if you play this short in your head every time you read anything about it that starts to make your brain bleed.


Maybe they just need to fire all the lawyers and get a nice, granola-crunchy mediator in there ... perhaps the Center for Non-Violent Communication could jump into the fray and send Marshall Rosenberg to teach them all some positive communication skills and how to use consensus. That's not likely to happen, though, in a business where contracts have fine print for the fine print, so in the meantime, the rest of us (who pretty much just want to enjoy our movies and whatever television programs we've gotten hooked on this season) are left to ponder the meaning of residuals, and new media payouts, and keep up with the seemingly endless flow of gossip that's ever so much more interesting than the actual negotiations probably are.

If you, like me, are finding it a challenge to keep up with it all, you might find this round-up of news, gossip and opinions from people who know much more than I ever will about the business side of Hollywood helpful in getting up to speed on the whole AMPTP vs. WGA kerfuffle.

Lots o' links after the jump ... Over on The Hot Blog, David Poland offers his analysis of the whole sordid affair, which basically seems to be that the writers don't stand a snowball's chance in Los Angeles without the DGA and/or SAG ponying it up to help them out. As is usually the case on Poland's blog, his readers all have their own opinions on the subject at hand (some of them fairly relevant), so be sure to read the comments as well if you really want to be in the know.

One of Poland's commenters points the way to The Artful Writer, a blog I read on occasion, which has lots of information for "the professional film and television writer." The site is co-published by Scary Movie 3 writer Craig Mazin and Ted Elliot (writing partner of Terry Rossio, with whom he has written films including Shrek and Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl). Elliot and Rossio have another site called Wordplay, by the way, which is a great resource for you aspiring screenwriters out there. Anyhoo ... over on The Artful Writer, Mazin, who has been a vocal supporter of a "Yes" vote on the strike, published a post on October 20 about how secret balloting on the vote apparently wasn't so secret. Mazin has another post up outlining some possible scenarios ... as on Poland's blog, the comments are just as interesting as the posts themselves. In this case, since this is a blog read by a lot of actual writers, many of whom seem to also be WGA members, it gives an interesting perspective.

It can be a bit like rubber-necking a car wreck, but just for the fun of it, let's make a pit stop a Deadline Hollywood Daily for a gossip fix, shall we? Nikki Finke had a write-up last Friday on the WGA's 90% vote authorizing a strike, and she follows that up today with a piece on the moguls point of view, wherein she reveals that the moguls think this is actually a swell time for a strike, because the current network TV season sucks and a strike would give them a reboot. My favorite part of today's piece, though, is where Finke reports: "So some of the moguls want to come up with a way to get their unfiltered viewpoint across to the WGA. (Jeffrey) Katzenberg is the most vocal about this, floating the idea of 'putting a face out there to show we're human'." The ironic bit is just a little further up the page, Finke has this story about how Katzenberg's Malibu Canyon mansion is under threat by the wildfires. Maybe it's just me, but I'd expect that the average struggling-to-pay-the-rent-in-LA WGA member (the majority of whom, I understand, don't even qualify for health insurance) isn't going to ever see the "average Joe" in Katzenberg or any of the other moguls.

Moving on to Seriocity, the blog of writer Kay Reindl, we'll find a great post wherein Reindl responds eloquently and at length to a slew of commenters on her previous post on the strike issue. Reindl clarifies the apparent misconception by some of her readers that she was not in favor of a strike, when, as she asserts here, she absolutely is. Reindl responds to one commenter thusly:

Ha! My skint principles trump your, erm, non-skint principles! Ever since I joined the Guild, I've heard the grumbling about the non-working writers who always want to vote for a strike because, hell, they're not working anyway. What's interesting this go-round is that it's the vacation-home people who are all gung-ho about it. Maybe it's because everything I touch lately hasn't been turning to gold or any other semi-precious metal, but Josh aside, I'm not seeing a lot of sensitivity anywhere else in the WGA. People seem to think that if they're doing great, then you are, too. Which simply isn't true.


Pop on over the Seriocity to read more, Reindl has a lot of interesting things to say -- and so do her commenters.