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"Would the three of you please kick my ass?"
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November 01 2007

Whedon speaks re: 'Goners', WGA strike. Nestled within today's abundant press coverage of the "Dollhouse" announcement - an update from Joss on the status of Goners ("nothing's happening") and his take on the looming WGA strike ("I support it"). [Complete quotes after the jump...]

Joss on Goners (to Entertainment Weekly's Hollywood Insider blog):

The latest rewrite of his supernatural thriller 'Goners' for Universal "was not incredibly well-received," he says. "Nothing's happening with it right now. It's not good news, but one door closes, and then there's a draft, and another one opens."

Joss on the possible WGA strike (to The Hollywood Reporter):

"I'll hit the ground running [on "Dollhouse"], and I'll work until I'm supposed to, then I'll stop dead in my tracks and will pick up my picket signs," he said.

Although it interferes with his work on "Dollhouse," Whedon is in favor of a strike.

"I think the issues are extremely serious, and I think the studios are extremely entrenched," he said. "No one wants a strike, but it has to happen because (the studios) would not listen. I support it and will do anything to fight for the creative rights that the people deserve."

[ edited by Robogeek on 2007-11-01 16:38 ]

Well, there goes me redesign of the Goners site.
Strike rules say a writer cannot do any writing on any project under contract to a studio, even at home. But I cannot imagine Joss, no matter how committed to the action (deservedly so IMHO) would be able to stop thinking about these seven episodes during a strike. If he turns up the day after the strike ends with all seven episodes completed then he's screwed. But I imagine he'll have some great ideas ready to go...

And just how many actresses can say that a showrunner like Joss has created a show just for them? How cool is that? Like Tarrentino writing Kill Bill especially for Uma.
I guess if he supports the strike he'll abide by the spirit of it rather than the letter but what's the deal with, for instance, making note of ideas or even dictating into a tape-recorder ? Does that count as writing ?

Cos i'd hate Joss to have a whizz-bang idea (e.g. "Hmm, note to self: call all non-Eliza characters 'Saje'") and then forget it.
zz9: Well, of course he'll have "great ideas ready to go", silly - he's Joss! ;-) And it seems clear from the various "Dollhouse" articles/interviews that he already has abundant ideas for the show worked out (which is a big part of the reason he got a seven-episode order based just on a pitch).
The strike sucks but Whedon is right, it kind of has to happen. Writers are at the bottom of the food chain when compared to directors, actors & producers. The last contract is based on 1985 videotape sales and we all know the home video market has had several major changes to it in the past 22 almost 23 years. The writers deserve a larger piece of that pie.
The only question I have regards Ripper. Would Whedon be allowed to work on a BBC show, where I have to assume the arrangements are different and could that be a possibilty if the strike drags on for as long as industry people seem to think?
On FOX.....??!!

the network that canceled drive & firefly
I'm just seeing heartache all over this project
Saje: First off, I think it's quite insulting to suggest that Joss would "abide by the spirit of it [the strike] rather than the letter" when he could not have been any more clear: "I'll stop dead in my tracks". As I read your comment, you're both questioning his integrity and then also his ability to remember any great ideas he might happen to have during the strike. Wow.

I think we can (and should) give Joss a little more credit than that, don't you?

NOLA64: No, sadly. My read on the situation is that if there's a strike, Ripper is also off the table in the interim, because even if it were to be principally produced and financed by the BBC, Fox TV owns the character, and would have to be involved - which would make any work on the project a strike violation. (The only way I could conceive of it working would be if Fox sold the character outright to the BBC, which they of course would never do.)

adapa: As Joss has repeatedly stated in the various articles/interviews, there's a new regime over there, and Joss has apparently received sufficiently persuasive assurances. So that should be cause for some comfort.
Well then you're reading my comment entirely incorrectly and mis-understanding the distinction between "spirit of" and "letter of" RoboGeek.

Someone with less integrity would obey only the letter of an agreement i.e. they would find a way around it by pedantically obeying only the actual wording of the contract. Someone with real integrity would also stick to the spirit of the agreement which is specifically why I said I thought Joss would stick to the spirit of the strike (meaning, because he agrees with the principles, he won't try to find a way around its limitations by logic-chopping).

Bit of friendly advice: "Measure twice, cut once" when it comes to insulting people i.e. maybe extend the benefit of the doubt and pay careful attention to people's posts before throwing baseless accusations around.
As nerve-wracking as the thought of watching a show on FOX is...My household will certainly follow Joss wherever he goes. I'm thrilled to hear this announcement and am just overjoyed at the thought of Joss returning to TV (with both Dollhouse and Ripper). As for the strike, I love my fandoms and writers enough to sit patiently and wait until they get what they need and deserve.
True. I had not considered the ownership of the character aspect to it. I would like to think if it were a wholly BBC funded & produced series there would still be a chance but you are probably right.

Speaking as someone who clearly remembers the last writers strike from the mid-80s...get ready folks. This isn't going to be any fun for anyone. The issues are much larger this time and the stakes are much higher. If the studios are digging in their heels as much as it appears, this one could go on for a really long time and that isn't good.
Saje: Your first comment specifically asserted your belief that "he'll abide by the spirit of it rather than the letter" - not "also", which is what your second comment now asserts was your intended meaning, in which case that's what you should have written...

...though you further contradict yourself by now saying "he won't try to find a way around its limitations" even after you suggested that he should be "making note of ideas or even dictating into a tape-recorder" in your original comment.

Which is it?

Bit of friendly advice: Maybe you should "measure twice, cut once" and pay more "careful attention" to your own comments before posting them. ;-)

You owe me an apology for accusing me of reading your comment "entirely incorrectly and mis-understanding the distinction". Clearly I did no such thing.
Poor Goners. Mia, we hardly knew ye. But I live in hope that Joss will suddenly get a whole new, even better idea for Mia that will please everyone enormously.
I'm sure Joss will be able to keep busy. Writing isn't his only job, he has business conenctions with other comapnies besides the studios, and he probably (if he's like most writers) has any number of properties he hasn't sold to anybody that he can work on.
As for "ripper" well it depends on who is contracting with whom for exactly what that'll deteremine that.

But yeah, as also recalling the '89 strike, this could get hairy. With the networks beign forced to fall abck on relaity shows just as that trend appears to have peaked, should cause all kinds of ripples.
Quite possibly the studios will fall abck (like they did then) on reviving old properties they own outright and recasting them, which is how Mission Impossible came back.

Of course the studios and networks only own a finite number of revivable shows. We don't have to worry about any Bogus Buffy because Fox shares the rights with ME, Kuzui, and Sandollar. Not sure about the ex Mr & Mrs Kuzui, one way or the other, but I think Dolly Parton would take the same view as Joss on such r ecycling :-).
In light of the (inevitable) strike, I'm up for more reality tv. Let's put all the old Buffy/Angel casts together in a house for a month and see what happens! Or on a desert island. That could work too.
Yes, reality tv can work.
Saje and Robogeek, I doubt either of you wanted to start a 'thing' here so why not just give each other a break and enjoy some good news today?
They may need to augment the no-writing rule with a no-peeing rule.
Writing is a creative endeavor. As such, exactly how one abides by the terms of a strike is a bit nuanced, Robogeek. You can cease productive activity on a project (pencils down!), but you can't switch your brain off entirely. And given Joss's description of his process in interviews, and his recent comment here, I expect his brain runneth over at the moment. I took Saje's comment to express that complexity, along with a expectation that Joss will follow the strike but take whatever measures are needed to ensure that he can act on the ideas running around in his brain in the interim after the strike is over. In summary, I think you both agree more than disagree.

I'm sure professional writers here can chime in on how such a situation can be handled ethically. I believe QuoterGal may have made a comment on this topic in a recent thread, too.

Eliza Duskhu is a producer on the show, zz9. So it's more like Uma Thurman and Quentin Tarantino collaborating on a show in which Uma will star. Which to my mind is even more eventful than a Whedon show made to star a talented actress (which is also rather exciting in my book, too).
Knowing what a huge Whedon fan Saje is, Robogeek, why would you even intimate that he was trying to impugn Joss's moral character? I don't see anything in his remark that might be interpreted that way, and though I can't speak for Saje, I'm certain that would be the last thing to ever even cross his mind. :/
Rogue Slayer, if you include the firefly cast into that mix, you can bet that I would be glued to that show.

And I second that thought Marthatheimmortalwaitress , its a good day, lets enjoy it please.
Pointy: "They may need to augment the no-writing rule with a no-peeing rule."

We may need to pass this rule at work, too, 'cause laughing at this made me wet 'em, Pointy.

"Blank signs" is so simple and perfect it's genius - gods, I wish they would.

I hafta say, our recent huge discussion about writing during the strike really made me think long and hard about this topic, and I have shifted to the extent that I think: jotting down ideas and notes and bits and scraps and snippets of dialogue in a notebook or tape recorder = good; actual nitty-gritty "taming the beast" writing on scripts = bad. I've done a lot of reading and thinking over the past few days and can see the necessity of the distinction and the cessation.

And I loved what Joss said about his timing - it is *sigh* ironically impeccable.

BTW, nice support letter from Alec Baldwin.

I'd love to stay and talk about this more, 'cause it not just a whedonesque topic, but the lifeblood of my city, but *sigh* big honkin' deadlines in my face today...

And as me sainted Mum usedta say, "Fight nice."
Nice comments from Alec, though I keep seeing "Alec Baldwin F.A.G." from Team America in my head as I read the article.
However, the SAG have their own agenda here, they have the same wish list concerning residuals, new media etc as the WGA and their contract is up next year. If the WGA cave in and settle then the actors will be in a poor position come their talks. If the writers get a good deal it will be difficult for the studios to turn the actors down.
This, unfortunately, means the studios will be even more determined to resist the writers demands.

I was actually thinking something like Survivor there too...The Browncoat Tribe vs the Slayer Tribe?

Saje: Your first comment specifically asserted your belief that "he'll abide by the spirit of it rather than the letter" - not "also", which is what your second comment now asserts was your intended meaning, in which case that's what you should have written...

Hmm...funnily enough, I read what Saje had to say and understood it perfectly. The spirit of an agreement is larger than the letter, no? As in, you understand that what is written might be interpreted in a different way than what was meant, and you agree to abide by the meaning instead of violating the meaning using the text as a basis for your actions. Yes, Saje could have phrased himself more clearly, but I think what he meant was pretty obvious.

...though you further contradict yourself by now saying "he won't try to find a way around its limitations" even after you suggested that he should be "making note of ideas or even dictating into a tape-recorder" in your original comment.

In light of what I wrote above, I think it's clear that Saje understood Joss wouldn't try to find a way around the contract so he can work on Dollhouse. Instead, I read his comment as being directed more toward regret that a new Joss project--which we've all been wanting--might have to be shelved just as it's been given a form and is starting to take shape, and a seriously cool shape at that. Saje, as a fan, is looking for a loophole from our perspective, not Joss's perspective. This is a perfectly natural feeling under the circumstances...I have it myself, and I'm sure you do too. Plus, I think the example he used of a Joss "idea" clearly indicates there's some tongue-in-cheek at work here too.

I don't really think Saje owes you an apology for being a fan, wanting this project to get underway as fast as possible, and rending garments over the upcoming writer's strike getting in the way of that. Are you in fact sure that you weren't a tad too harsh in your double-barreled rebuttal?

I guess I just invented a new word: funnily. Heh.

Trying to invent the art of peacemaking-through-textual-analysis,
I don't remember Saje or Willowy being in on the long, heated thread about the strike and what it means that QG's referring to (I'm sure to be corrected if I'm wrong ;)). Sometimes people are coming in at different stages of a discussion, and misunderstandings occur.
I doubt that I was in on that discussion, dreamlogic, but I don't think that should preclude me from taking exception to robogeek's accusation that Saje insulted Joss. I just don't see him ever trying to do that, knowing how much he respects The Man.
I would hate to see a situation developing over what saje and robogeek said to each other and me having to step in and delete posts etc.

So I think it would be best if we draw a veil over what was said between those two posters and go back to the original discussion.
Nope, missed that one dreamlogic, I was "enjoying" the great outdoors (60 mph gusts with torrential rain, hence the quotes ;).

The spirit of an agreement is larger than the letter, no? As in, you understand that what is written might be interpreted in a different way than what was meant, and you agree to abide by the meaning instead of violating the meaning using the text as a basis for your actions.

Thank-you BAFfler, that's pretty much exactly what I meant glad to see I wasn't as opaque as all that ;). Fair point, I could've saved a lot of trouble by putting "just" before "the letter".

... though you further contradict yourself by now saying "he won't try to find a way around its limitations" even after you suggested that he should be "making note of ideas or even dictating into a tape-recorder"

Err, where did I suggest that ? Was it when I said

... but what's the deal with, for instance, making note of ideas or even dictating into a tape-recorder ? Does that count as writing ?

because you might notice RoboGeek that that ends with a question mark i.e. I was asking whether that would contravene the strike rules (my implication being that I kind of think it'll contravene the spirit of them if not the letter and my hope then being that that won't cause Joss to forget any great ideas - even the merely facetiously "great", as per my example).

And no, I don't want to make a "thing" of this but i'll certainly be offering no apology to someone that mis-read (or at least read in the worst possible light) something I said and then, rather than acting with some grace when this was pointed out, compounded the issue by implying i'm a liar.

ETA: Oops, just read Simon's post above. Feel free to chop away if i'm/we're out of line ;).

And yep everyone, back to the happy, normal programming is resumed ;).

[ edited by Saje on 2007-11-01 20:22 ]
Certainly you can take exception, Willowy. Specifically, what I meant is that if you look at that thread you'll see that there's already a lot of analysis of what the rules mean. The majority opinion seemed to end up being that the writers have to follow the spirit and the letter of the rules for the strike to work. Robogeek may have thought that Saje was re-opening that debate. Still, the reaction was harsh. The downside of everybody being so excited is...everybody being so excitable.

ETA: Didn't see your post first, Simon. Edit away.

[ edited by dreamlogic on 2007-11-01 20:25 ]

Whether the Goners fans btw?
And for those of us for which the usual reaction to the news of a strike is only "well, one more, it must be tuesday" (i.e. for us french people :P), can we have a little insight on the causes of this strike? Something special, or just the writers no longer bearing their status and work conditions?

[ edited by Le Comité on 2007-11-01 20:26 ]
OK, I definitely don't want anyone else to start fighting on my account, thanks to everyone who saw what I was getting at and stuck up for me but the big man's right, best draw a veil, a shroud if you will and let the issue shuffle off ;).

Le Comité, best I can tell a big part of it's over DVD residuals which writers see very little of and would rather see more of - the studios just won't budge, hence strike action. They're not asking for a very big slice of quite a sizable pie so I don't think they're being unreasonable.
Le Comité, three of the biggest points are DVD royalties, new media and reality TV.

Many years ago, when Video cassettes were just taking off the WGA got a deal of about 4c per cassette because the studios said "It costs sooooo much to make them and we don't think they'll sell many anyway". Now DVDs can be made for pennies and sell in the milliosn and the writers still only get their 4c while the studios keep vast profits often for decades after a show has ended.

New media, such as the River Tam Sessions, the comics that Heroes tied in with the show etc is anothe rbig area that could be huge in the future. At the moment the writers get zip for this and they don't want to miss the boat the way they did with Video many years ago.

And reality TV writers are not covered by the WGA and so don't get the same recognition and pay. Yes, shock horror, reality shows have writers. They just call them "Researchers" or something and thus don't have to pay them writers fees.

The studios, not suprisingly, would rather keep as much money as they can and will do anything they can to keep it that way. A few months ago they came up with the idea that writers would only get their royalties after the show or movie has broken even. For those of you unfamiliar with studio accounting movies and shows never break even. I think that the studio that released Big Fat Greek Wedding (Budget $5m, box office and DVD takings of $800M) is still saying it hasn't broken even yet.
This proposal, clearly insane, was put on the table and then they agreed to withdraw it to show they were making "concessions" and demanding the writers do the same.

[ edited by zz9 on 2007-11-01 20:42 ]
Sorry, Simon. I think that what's happened to Goners is an absolute travesty, but I really can't discuss it right now, what with bouncing up and down on my chair over and over again about Dollhouse, and periodically letting out wild, high-pitched bursts of sweet manic laughter. I think my neighbors may have called the police by now and asked them to investigate a possible adult film production next door.
Le Comite,
In depth discussions on the strike can be found at Recommended, but only if you have lots of time to wade through it. There are many issues on the table but the biggest is that studios are trying to cut writers out of new media residuals. This has happened before with the arrival of other new media formats (such as the videotape and DVD), but this time, writers are fighting back. They want their fair share of the residuals. They currently make 4 cents for every DVD sold for a movie they have sole credit for writing. That's less than the cost of the box it comes in. Studios want to give them NOTHING for internet TV episodes (wave of the future). Since the business is largely feast or famine -- even for the best and hardest-working writers -- most writers depend on their residuals to pay their rent/mortgage when they can't get work.

Variety, Hollywood Reporter, and Deadline Hollywood Daily also have extensive coverage of the strike.
hah, Rogueslayer that would be a cool concept, it would be awesome if it was a 3 way team competition, angel cast vs buffy cast vs firefly cast, and you can have elements of betrayal and switching teams and team alliances.. *sigh*, seriously I could just watch the casts hang out and chew the fact for hours man. Why isn't anyone on this???

And goners man, I really want to see that. I want to see joss successful on tv and in movies! And he would then become a powerhouse and usher in anew era of quality entertainment in film and in television. Firefly/Serenity will be back, so will Angel, and there will be a faith spin off series, and all will be right with the world. Yeah I am delusional, what of it?

And in terms of the strike... I think a really good case on the side of the writers has been made by J Michael Strazynski, the guy behind Babylon 5, and he made a whole slew of posts about it. Check it out ehre if people want to:

Here would be the first post on the matter


Here you can see more posts about it

[ edited by kurya on 2007-11-01 21:03 ]

[ edited by kurya on 2007-11-01 21:03 ]
The Dollhouse opportunity will lead to a Goners opportunity. The phenomenon is called Joss-specific heat.
Simon says...
Whether the Goners fans btw?

*raises hand* ..."Here."
And me. (hi Erastus) It is just hard to express sadness over Goners being put on hold over Joss back on tv. I want Goners to happen more than anything, except...Joss back on tv. so... *happy/sad happy/sad/happy!*
interesting posts by the Babylon 5 fellow (thanks for that post kurya =) much as i would hate to see the strike happen, i can understand why it would, as someone who wants to be a writer for a living (i am merely a humble grad student at the moment)and knowing full well i will probably not become rich from such a job, i can understand the WGA strike reasoning a bit more...but it still doesn't make me "happy" cause i <3 my primetime tv....oh well, c'est la vie.
Me three!!! *waves at mifeng and erastus*

All Joss-ness is good Joss-ness, so I don't think I'm losing out so much as building anticipation for Goners. Cause it's going to happen eventually...
Goners the movie may be stuck, but Goners the fans still have their own boards. ;)
And we may be Goners but we're not forgotten! (Oh dear, oh dear.)
I think Joss should get the eff away from Universal... the 'versal.
Re. Rogue Slayer's Buffy/Angel reality show idea and subsequent comments: NoNoNo to "competition and factions", I want there to be oil of some kind! And Yesyesyes to adding the cast of Firefly/Serenity. *Faints dead away*

Seriously, I will not watch reality shows, no matter what. All eps of BSG are ready to go, Torchwood is on BBC America *faints again*, in anticipation of James Marsters' upcoming appearance on my already new favorite show. And I can just now afford a couple of DVD sets I'm missing. Plus the long delayed borrowing of a friend's Babylon5 DVD set.

I want to see the ratings for reality shows actually go down during the strike. Now that would be showing real support for the writers. Easy for me to say since I hate reality shows with a vengeance, but valid point anyhow :)
That was very White Rabbit of you, sil.

Gonerses is assembled, and staying Gonerses, come what may. I know in my (aging) boneses it's coming eventually, and I'm happy with Joss-heat building while we get the Joss+Eliza+Tim et al. coolness that will be Dollhouse.

And then Goners. We can wait. We've learned how.

The Writers are assembling downtown as we speak...
I'm wondering if a writers strike would result in more comics from Joss, as the WGA obviously doesn't include the comic book industry. With the extra free time from not writing movie or tv scripts, I wonder if Joss will do some more Buffy scripts that he wasn't planning on before. Or perhaps some more Sugar Shock comics from Dark Horse Presents.

As for Goners, I'm really disappointed, and hope it's just a matter of time before it goes into production. As much as I think Joss-verse tv is some of the best tv that around, I was really blown away by what he did with Serenity and was really looking forward to what he was going to do next with Goners. I just hope that with Joss focus returning to tv, that his various movies he had planned don't get lost in the shuffle, as I think he could create some absolutely classic films.
The strike will probably start Monday, according to Variety.
I was just reading somewhere that cartoons are not covered by the WGA. 8) I could totally see an animated SereniFly of Buffyverse series if the strike drags on. And just like with the Buffy comics, there are so many more things you can do in animation.
More power to them.

Also, from the Wall Street Journal online:

"Television and movie screen writers said Thursday they will go on strike for the first time in nearly 20 years in a dispute over royalties.

Four writers told The Associated Press that Writers Guild of America President Patric Verrone made the announcement in a closed-door session, causing loud cheers from the crowd.

'There was a unified feeling in the room. I don't think anyone wants the strike, but people are behind the negotiation committee,' writer Dave Garrett said."

I was just reading somewhere that cartoons are not covered by the WGA.

I'm not sure, I'm sure that's changing. Matt Groening signed the Pencils Down means Pencils Down ad in Variety. And the head of the WGA is Patric Verone - whose credits are mostly Futurama.

There's no good reason why animated series writers aren't covered by the WGA. Another thing Hollywood studios have been getting away with for years!
Thanks all for the infos on the strike.
[sigh] Does the writers' strike mean no writing by Mr. Joss on Just wondering.

Meantime, go WGA!
[sigh] Does the writers' strike mean no writing by Mr. Joss on Just wondering.

No, it means he'll have more time to post here and tease us about "Dollhouse".

But also, maybe he'll write more comics? You know, between picketing struck companies...
... with his blank sign ;).

And yep, wouldn't hate more comics work, especially something brand new (I know, I know he and DH - not to mention the fab Fabio Moon - just gave us 'Sugarshock', i'm greedy s'all). Or what about a novel ? I get that it's not really his preferred medium because it's not collaborative and maybe cos it's structurally a bit less flexible but i'd love to see what he could do in prose.

C'mon Joss, if Ellis can do it ... ;).
Or what about a novel ?

It is NaNoWriMo after all...
I share the optimism that having Joss back on tv will open doors for him, possibly including Goners, and maybe even Buffy character one-shots. Studios and stations follow success. If Dollhouse gets a good reception, there will be more people wanting meetings with him.
cabri: "I was just reading somewhere that cartoons are not covered by the WGA."

I dunno - I just read this in today's L.A. Times in a Q & A sidebar about the strike:

What about writers for animated productions?

This is a gray area. Although the Writers Guild has contracts for prime-time animated TV shows including "The Simpsons," most animated features are covered under Animation Guild Local 839, which is part of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE). Some writers for these animated shows belong to both unions.

A dual member who chooses to work under the Animation Guild agreement would be crossing the picket line in the eyes of the Writers Guild, risking fines and loss of membership. The IATSE says it is prepared to take legal action if the Writers Guild prohibits its members from working on animated features.

So there's another little wrinkle to this whole union thingamabob...
The strike is fine with me, at least for a good long while. I hardly adhere to traditional TV viewing anymore, so why should writers continue to be paid as if their work were received as such? I consume:
online TV shows, and
online video clips (like River Tam Sessions and BSG webisodes),
and on-demand movies as well as TV shows, like what CBS offers through Comcast. That's how I catch the CSIs on occasion.

I also consume TV on DVD, and I definitely prefer viewing TV on DVD. No ads, no popups. No logos in the corner. Did I mention no deafening ads, with volume 2x that of the show? I can dig into a show for 45 minutes, or all day if I have the time. So it really, really sucks that those who suffered and slaved to help create my beloved DVDs, whether movies or TV, only received $0.04 (if that!) per my $7.99-$54.00 purchase.

I'm still stewing on this. More to come later.

In the meantime, strike away! I'm thinking what lots of others are probably thinking -- it's about damn time writers are taking a stand and making some noise.

So Joss, about that novel...
Popups could signal the dying throes of broadcast TV. The one for "Phenomenon" takes up a quarter of the frikkin' screen FFS !

Does some suit in his ivory tower actually think they're not really annoying and an almost perfect way to ruin immersion ? Boggles the mind (maybe they want us to watch on DVD instead ?).

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