At last, there is some light at the end of the WGA strike tunnel. Meetings are scheduled in New York and Los Angeles this Saturday, and the purpose is to convince Guild members that the contract WGA leaders have been hammering out with the AMPTP is worthy of bringing the now three month-old strike to a close. The WGA's 10,500 members will vote on the issue, and if they approve, WGA leadership could send its members back to work as soon as Monday. The strike won't officially be over until the decision has been ratified -- likely two weeks, but the Oscars would go on as planned, new television episodes could be scripted, and the TV pilot season might be salvaged.
Living in Los Angeles, all I hear is strike talk. I was told this weekend that the strike would absolutely end yesterday. Didn't happen. I was told several times that it will definitely be over by Friday. That's not going to happen. Now I'm hearing next week for sure, and this official Saturday meeting would seem to support that. But it's not a done deal by any means. Late Monday, WGA negotiating committee chief John Bowman sent an e-mail to Writers Guild members that read: "While we have made important progress since the companies re-engaged us in serious talks, negotiations continue. Regardless of what you hear or read, there are many significant points that have yet to be worked out."
In other words -- the finish line is in sight. But there's no guarantee they're gonna run through it.
The recent DGA deal seems to have triggered the recent breakthroughs, but some WGA members claim they will not support a deal that mimics the DGA's. Ad-supported Internet streaming is the major sticking point. Variety reports that in regard to Internet streaming, the DGA pact gets directors a fixed residual for the first year that one of their shows or movies is offered for streaming ("after a 17 - to 24 - day window of free usage for promotional purposes"). After that first year, the director's fee becomes 2% of the distributor's gross. You with me?
The proposed deal for the WGA is the same as the DGA terms for the first two years of the WGA contract. But starting in the third year, the formula would change to give writers "2% percentage of distributor's gross from the get-go after the promo window ends, rather than a fixed residual for the first year of streaming availability." Some WGA members are not happy with that 17 - to 24 - day free usage window, whether it's promotional or not. Many feel this is not a significant gain, what with the expected increase in digital media revenue. Naturally, the producers feel that "expected increase" is overstated, at least for the three-year term of the contract.
I personally believe that the vote this weekend will bring the strike to an end, and that by Monday we'll have some very happy news to report. But any number of factors -- from quibbles over contract language to last minute arguments -- could topple the whole works again. Fingers. Crossed.
Here are a couple WGA questions from last week's post:
From reading some of the responses, I have to ask, is the WGA run by a few, or ALL of the writers? If it's not the latter, isn't something wrong there?
The WGA is indeed run by a few, but all of the WGA members do vote on major issues. For example, they'll have the ultimate say on whether or not to ratify the proposed contract with the AMPTP.
I'm just interested to know if the writers have any concern at all for the 100s of thousands of people in the entertainment industry that are out of work.
Think about it- everyone from camera-operators, to sound editors, set crews, make-up artists, costumers, choreographers, dialect-coaches, and the lists goes on and on....what about the catering companies that specialize in catering during filming...
Anyone care about them?
I can't speak for the WGA, but every one of the writers I've spoken with most definitely care. It is extremely unfortunate that so many people who will ultimately not benefit from this strike are so deeply affected by it. But if the WGA simply accepts an unfair deal in the interest of wrapping things up quickly, then all of those people were out of work...for nothing. And isn't that worse?
Saturday night is the night, writers. Come away happy, but be level-headed. Be reasonable. Be responsible. Let's shut this bitch down.