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November 10 2007

Mom, He's Doing It Again... Reading! Rallying! Writing!

THE PURPLE PROSE OF CAIRO

Two very different experiences today that I’d like to share with y’all. Last one first: Entertainment Weekly joins the New York Times in fair and balanced writer-bashing. Their cover story on the strike kind of stunned me. They’ve always been really sweet about my shows and I’ve read a lot of interesting stuff in there but holy boy are they missing the point. Their reporter has fallen into every cliched journalistic trap the congloms have ever set. I realize his magazine is owned by one of them, but I expected better. Let’s go in for a closer look.

(By the way, I’m fully aware that I have turned into Dustin Hoffman as Lenny Bruce at the end of the movie when he’s all strung out and not funny and just reading legal briefs during his stand-up, but further down I make this really awesome joke you’re gonna wanna tell all your friends, just wait.)

“Labor disputes in Hollywood may not inspire the sort of tingly feelings of fraternal solidarity with the common man associated with, say, an uprising of mill workers. Some of the writer’s demands – keeping their names on movie posters, for instance – wouldn’t lure Norma Rae to a picket line. But make no mistake: when the Writers Guild of America announced that its members would be folding up their laptops until further notice, they picked a fight with producers, studios, and TV networks that could turn this town inside out over the next several months. And perhaps even alter the balance of power of the entire entertainment industry.
“As always, the argument is over money. The writers want more.”

You’re probably way ahead of me. We don’t do real work. We demand frivolous things. We picked a fight. We’re greedy. The article goes on to present both sides but that’s like letting a fight go four more rounds while one of the fighters is lying on the canvas. The damage is done.

Does anyone believe we picked a fight? That the AMPTP didn’t have months (or, truthfully, 19 years) to make an equitable deal with us? And does anyone believe it has anything to do with poster credits? (Which, by the way, is a serious issue in a town where name recognition is directly related to job offers and salaries. But we didn’t walk out on our jobs over it.) As for more money, has anyone not done the math on the massive downloading of ‘The Office’, wherein there is NO money? Hey, that reminds of a fun thing: theft! (Editor’s note: theft is not a fun thing, unless Catwoman or Cary Grant is doing it. Then it is legally sexy.)

At this point I uttered “Grrr”. “Arrgh” came on the next page. Let’s go to the videotype:

“…so far nobody in Hollywood has figured out how to get really rich on the internet. If the writers and producers agree on one thing, however, it’s that someday somebody WILL – and they both want to be there with their wallets open.”

Putting writers on a par with multibillion dollar companies is certainly an odd perspective. Their wallets are, shall we say, bigger. Than your house. (“Producers” is a misnomer in this case; most producers in television are writers. All television production is run through the studios now.) The sum total of the residuals being asked for in a year wouldn’t equal one of these moguls’ salaries – it wouldn’t even scratch the actual yearly profit of their company. The paragraph continues with the famous argument Nick Counter presents against giving us a decent fixed percentage: There’s no “business model” for the internet, so we don’t know how much money there is. Okay, class, all together: two and a half percent is two and half percent NO MATTER WHAT. It is never more. However much money there is, or isn’t, it still almost all goes to them.

Bored? I’d be, if I wasn’t so amazed. But I’ll move on the first event of the day – the rally at Fox plaza. Yeah, I schlepped out of bed to share my cold with some 4,000 writerly types and God I’m glad I did. I saw so many friends and comrades (plus two brothers and a sister-in-law), and got such a rush of genuine purpose and solidarity. How many events are gonna feature Rage Against the Machine, the Reverend Jesse Jackson AND Norman Lear? Twelve, tops. Much inspirational speechifying. (And a mom holding her little girl, who had sign that just said "Share.") Felt like hell going in, felt like hell-on-somewhat-wobbly-wheels coming out. (The only downside was that the rally was at the base of the Fox building, more commonly known as Nakatomi Plaza, and the overload of “Die Hard” jokes may have blown the grid for a few blocks. I’m as much at fault as anyone.)

I guess being at the heart of something and then seeing an outsider’s gross misapprehensions about it was too much of a rollercoaster for this sick boy (not to be confused with Sick Boy from “Trainspotting”, who is less phlegmy and more confusingly hot). So I rant, and you have to suffer for it. And I totally lied about that great joke. I got nothin’. But I can’t let this shoddy journalism go unanswered. They have turned me into a blogger. And that I do not forgive.

Let’s end with a list. Here are the films I WAS gonna write but now I’m on strike so America (and foreign territories) will never get to see them:

1) The Man With The Golden Thing
2) Seven Brides For Seven Draculas
3) Avenging Benji
4) Don’t Pick At It – Oh God, What’d I Just Say?
5) The Cars That Could Turn Into Robots But No, It’s Different
6) Wonder Woman
7) Cheese For Frieda

That’s right. I had ‘em all outlined. It was gonna be my mature period. Damn shame.

Thanks for logging on. I’ll behave from now on, I swear.

All the bestiness, your own Mr Sexy Brain of 2007.

[ edited by joss on 2007-11-10 05:32 ]

[ edited by joss on 2007-11-10 05:33 ]

[ edited by joss on 2007-11-10 05:35 ]

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2007-11-10 07:17 ]

[ edited by joss on 2007-11-10 07:27 ]

If you can vent anywhere, please, please vent here.

Dunno how I missed you at the rally, but I'm glad you made it! But maybe take a break this weekend, rest man, rest!

I did see some of your Mutant Enemy Alumns, all of whom were very pleasant, picts to come soon.

And crap, the luck. I was looking forward to Avenging Benji! That's been too long delayed!
Joss, please don't behave.
Blast! Now Benji will never be avenged...

You had me until you said 'Wonder Woman.' Studios are plenty foolish but even they know that such an idea would never work.

Chin up, sir.
Please, never shut up. I waved from the 8th floor. I wish I could have come down and brought you all cookies.
Please, never shut up.

Too bad that magazine writer wasn't feeling the camaraderie. He's obviously bitter no one's picked up his manuscript yet.

"6) Wonder Woman" See, now you're just breaking my heart.

Get better, O Phlegmy one,

[ edited by kazzmere on 2007-11-10 06:06 ]
No! You DID have a joke! That 'Grrr' 'Arrgh' one was perfect!

It's great to get to hear your perspective on this whole thing. I'm thoroughly enjoying reading your posts, and I hope you will continue to post in the future!
Joss, I know I'm not the first or last, but I do lurve you. (And lobe, always lobe.)

I actually brought up the strike in class with my students yesterday. Which, you know, wasn't really RELEVANT to class, but sometimes current events are more important. And I just want to share with the world that I was so impressed at how very well informed some of them were about the whole thing. Better than I was, some of them. Others, of course, knew nothing about it, but were eager to learn (or at least eager to avoid learning what I had planned for them). And there was one girl who rather than playing Devil's Advocate actually WAS Devil's Advocate and felt the need to express the plight of writers who perhaps wanted to break the strike but are scared to. Which, you know, it's always good to have different perspectives.

Anyway: you writers are out there where it counts, in the minds and hearts of the teenagers. And at least where I work, those people make the purchasing decisions.
Don't even think about shutting up on us, now.

If we have no chance of getting any of the magic seven movies (all of which I *would* actually pay to watch or download) OR the fabled wonder of 'Dollhouse', 'Goners' or 'Ripper', the silver lining is that at least we are getting some infinite wisdom from yourself here on whedonesque.

Any idiot who can see the figures can tell the writers are being ripped off. I only hope that the so-called media (that's YOU, NYT) who are frantically licking the bums of the networks get their comeuppance when might, and sense, prevails.

And have their right to wear scarves taken away.
Thanks for the update.
And to be fair, though it's certainly no cover story, ew.com does have a balanced article that comes down in the writers' favor. In fact, it's called
"Why the Writers Are Right"
.

One thing that I've heard that confuses me is people's tendency to say things like, "Why are the writers being so greedy? There are children starving in Africa!"
Well, that would only be a valid point if the AMPTP were giving their share of the profits to starving children in Africa. It wouldn't matter if the writers were all millionaires; fair is fair.

Edit: links confuse me

[ edited by sorethumb on 2007-11-10 05:51 ]

[ edited by sorethumb on 2007-11-10 05:57 ]
I had an interesting conversation with a co-worker today. She was on her lunchbreak and was about to watch "The Office" online. I asked her please not to do it because of the Writer's strike. She said that she heard something about it and that the writers wanted more money. I told her that well, yes that's true, but did she know how much money "The Office" writers and actors were getting for the episode she was about to watch online. "How much" she asked trying not to bored at yet another of my bleeding heart diatribes. (I gass on about two things- Joss Whedon related media and politics...God help the people who have to listen to me during the strike) "Nothing" "Nothing?" "Yes, so they are asking for more money than that, more than nothing" "Well that actually seems reasonable- I would want more than nothing too." So I promised to bring her my tape of the episode to watch at home and she agreed to join me in not watching online until the writers get paid for online "promotions"
Keep it up! I wish I could be there, but unfortunately, I am stuck in Boston listening to drunken versions of the backstreet boys. Sigh, and mom always says that College Students don't party...

Anyways, we are all behind you! Keep stickin' it to the man!

Grin!
Sania D.

Ps. Cheese For Frieda??? If you wrote ANYTHING on the topic I would be more than estatic. Cheese=my favorite food EVER. Frieda=Favorite female artist EVER!!!
um, i think it went more like "i aim to MISbehave" didn't it?
My hastily uploaded Rally picts

http://www.flickr.com/photos/19691938@N02/

That'll have to do for now, tried to include a decent variety of specific peoples, awe-inspiring wide shots filled with a thousand writers, and fun signs.

I'd have put more but silly me shot at full rez, I'm almost at my account limit as it is! that's okay, All the best ones are here.

Oh, and that's Jeff Garlin in the red shirt talking to the Reno 911 actors, apparently I didn't take a picture of him from the front. (side note: Mr. Garlin was on a local morning show that I listened to on my way to the rally. They gave him a large box full of porn DVDs that he left for the writers to take, which they did.)

Enjoy!
There's been a train of thought running through my head the past couple of days (my head has no actual rails, so it's a bit of a problematic thing), and not to come back once again to Buffy, but it involves that earlier discussion of power.

What I realized was this: The studios don't have the power, they only have control.

The power, of course, starts with whoever puts words to paper, and ends with whoever reads, watches, or listens to what becomes of those words. Or, rather, the power in creation is in that space between those two sides.

In the age of the Internet (that thing the studios claim is so new they don't know how to give writers money from it), more than ever before that shared space between writers on the one hand and readers/viewers/listeners on the other is shrinking from a canyon to a room.

So easy (relatively speaking) is it now for writers and readers to hear from each other that it's more and more clear to both sides that all the power lies in that space between them.

The studios, meanwhile, are suddenly being revealed as having only control, but no real power. In fact, their control relied upon the assumption that they had the power, and depended upon the writers and the readers never actually being able to get together and notice this was BS.

I don't mean the above to mean the usual "Internet kills off studios!" crap-hype. What I mean by the above is that even when some things still require the studios as a distribution channel, we're still at a moment when it's becoming increasingly obvious that it isn't the writers and viewers who depends on the power of the studios, it's the studios who depend upon the power of the writers and viewers.
That was the most amazing moment of my day. I love you Joss. I aspire to be you some day. not in a stalker way.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/19691938@N02/

Add them to the pool!
But the Internet is such an unknown! What if the studios make nothing on the Internet? If ALL the writers get 2 1/2 percent of nothing, that's going be really a lot, right? Math isn't my strong point, but I think the studios might go broke with percentages like that.

btw: No late-term Lenny Bruce vibe yet. Still funny.
No worries Joss, I hear keeping that stuff inside is unhealthy.

Hm. But I also hear it makes you all mysterious and damaged and sexy.

Catch-fucking-22.

Ah, but you have the sexy brains all the zombies slobber for. Letting it out it is. Damn healthy, sexy people.

And after reading bix's post, I have Video Killed the Radio Star stuck in my head.
Never shut up Joss. You can rant you're sexy little brain off and we'll keep reading about it :)
Damn, now I'm torn. Do I work to add more pressure from the fans and maybe help end the strike sooner, but lose Joss' more-frequent postings, or do I sit back and risk losing more Joss TV shows and movies?

This is gonna be a three-pipe one, I can tell...
Power to the people!! Instead of criticizing the writers workers of America should look to them as an example and demand their own fair share.
P. S. Carry over comment from Joss's last post:

RAGS! RAGS! You mentioned RAGS, Joss!

I was in RAGS once. (I played Rosa.) And I stage managed it this summer. (I played the stage manager, that time.)

Ooh. I just had an idea. But it requires I find my RAGS shirt. I'll have to do that later. I will post a picture!
Never shut up! Never surrender!
Hehe, I liked Wonder Woman being on the list the most. And brings back the memory of seeing playdough Joss playing with his little Grr-Argh monster on Robot Chicken. "Ah, come on, Joss. That's what got you kicked off of Wonder Woman."

I also want to slip in a new term my friend Beth made, not even realizing someone as crazy as me would like it so much. Joss isn't God, because some people have no religious beliefs. He's the Jod.

I'm with FaithsTruCalling. Love ya Jo(ss/d). And if they say its in a stalker way then they're just covering up their own petty crimes. No, seriously, no stalking from seven states over.
Dang it, wrong coast. I was at the NYC sites Thursday and Friday. No Joss, no Rage, no "yippie kay yay, motherfrakker". Just lots of love for the cause. And I think I saw Danny Strong!

[ edited by evolutiongirl on 2007-11-10 06:19 ]
keep on keepin on mr sexy brain 2007 ;)
Grr argh! Stupid connection failed as I was trying to post!

Take two:

Joss, our one true master -

You best aim to misbehave, bubba. And keep on misbehavin' 'til y'all get what you want. To quote a lovely young woman named Helen Slater in a movie some years ago: "Fair is fair! We didn't start this! We didn't mean for this to happen! But we're not giving up until you pay! FAIR IS FAIR!" (Thank you Lawrence Konner & Mark Rosenthal)

As our beloved Jayne Cobb said, "10% of nuthin' is...lemme do the math..."

We're keeping the Bronze:Beta updated, and one poster has already said she won't buy any new DVDs until this is over, and she'll figure how much she would have spent on them & donate it to the WGA.

Hmm...I just had a thought. I'll sell my Serenity merchandise (Flyers, postcards, keychains) and donate that money. Hey, mods? Is there a site for folks to list stuff for sale to raise funds? 'cause...I'm of the broke variety but I still want to help.
If this strike lasts longer than a couple weeks, I foresee a book deal: Strike Essays by Joss Whedon. Even after reading them here, I would buy that book. :) Preferably after I went and saw Seven Brides for Seven Draculas, and especially if you got the Tamblyns for it. (But not for each other, of course! *shudders delicately*)
Joss has lost his mind...Hannah like.

Oh and for those pesky phlegm and post-nasal drip problems try Sinucleanse. Trust me, it's AMAZING. You just have to get over the whole "I put this where,and it does what?!" thing.
Take care of yourself, Joss. When you all get your contracts, we'll need you in tip-top shape to continue saving the world with your writing.
Your blogs really have been the highlight of my life as of late, so please please don't stop sharing your thoughts with the Whedonesque-folk :)
Keep on keeping on and I'll keep cheering for you from Ohio!
I wonder if the producers have thought this through. When all is said and done, they'll have to deal with newly empowered writers who are now buff and trim. A super race of creative geniuses!

I welcome our new athletic writer overlords, and look forward to the forced breeding program.
"Does anyone believe we picked a fight?"

The writers haven't picked a fight. The studios picked a fight the day they started disrespecting writers.
The way the strike is being portrayed is so messed up. I had to set two people straight about the facts today. and one of them is in a union. I think if people hear 'hollywood' they assume everyone is a millionaire.

and I really do want to know more about this 'The Cars That Could Turn Into Robots' movie. that is an idea that intrigues me.
would they be able to talk?
There's absolutely no reason you should behave here. If anything we support your right to misbehave. ;)
Sorethumb -- Just read the Mark Harris link. Ah, the warm glow of reason. Thanks.

Kiba -- never saw RAGS, just love the score.

Bix -- you pretty much nailed it. Reminds me how gratified I was that someone added "Checkpoint" to the Strike Flick list. That scene at the end was totally personal (thanks, pain!), but it absolutely applies politcally as well. Which is as it should be.

People with real power never fear of losing it. People with control think of little else.

[ edited by joss on 2007-11-10 07:04 ]
The disinformation about this situation is rising to the level of out and out lies, it reminds me of the Administration feeding stories about the WMDs to the conservative press, who would believe anything without question. It is infuriating, and worse: frustrating.

But b!x is right, not only don't the studios have all the power, they also don't have the only voice (no matter how much EW and Variety and LA Times try to 'spin' the strike). The fans support the writers and we are not going to get tired of repeating the truth.
You’re probably way ahead of me. We don’t do real work. We demand frivolous things.

Let me get this straight...the guy whose whole career revolves around writing about entertainment for a magazine is criticizing as frivolous the very people who create that entertainment? Wow, I know somebody who had better not show his face at a Serenity screening anytime soon. ;)
It's hard not to love that you are coming here to hang out with us so much, Joss. Here's a pretty picture of you and your "Dollhouse (not coming soon)" sign from the Disney picket line the other day on the Variety website. You should also check out the MySpace profile pics of lots of us, all supporting the strike and the writers and all. It's just so gorram rockin', yo! :-D

Also, I think your films 3 through 5 prove you're a dad. Esp. the picking at it thing. Now you are staying in bed for a few days until you get better, young man. No staying up past midnight reading comics under the covers with a flashlight, either. And I mean it! ;-)
I love that the Reno 911 guys have been showing up, in costume (and I presume in character). It's also so heartwarming to see Aly, Morena, Summer, David and other actors.

In other news, the WGA East is not happy with Ellen DeGeneres.
I haven't read all the comments, I really have to run, but I NEED to chime in.

Joss, the media seems not to be behind you. Well... everybody else is. You guys have the support of the fans, and we may not have the easy access to the masses that media does, but we'll make ourselves heard. The reporting is exactly what you called it: shoddy journalism.

Also, a HUGE thank you from this wannabe writer. I'm in film school right now, learning how to structure everything, right down to this sentence (which I'm sure I screwed up... there's no act two at all.) I wish I could be out there on the picket line with you, but I can't right now. Every time I hear that this strike is about the "future generations" of writers, I just want to hug everybody out there.

I may not make it. I know it's tough. But if (big if) I do, I'll be reaping the benefits of this strike, and words cannot explain how deeply I appreciate that.

Seriously.
Let me get this straight...the guy whose whole career revolves around writing about entertainment for a magazine is criticizing as frivolous the very people who create that entertainment? Wow, I know somebody who had better not show his face at a Serenity screening anytime soon. ;)

Hehehe.
"People with real power never fear of losing it. People with control think of little else."

See? See why it's a bad idea to enrage brilliant writers? They'll go and write words that cut to the heart of the matter, and shine a big spotlight on what the bullies are doing.

People who create are the rare and valuable, an irreplaceable resource. Distribution is a mechanism which can be accomplished in more than one way, and the methods are changing. The time is coming when the studios will need the writers more than the other way around. These conglomerates would be wise to recognize that this is the juncture to make things better, not worse, for the people who create their media.

Joss... please keep posting. We're all kinda fans of that thing you do with the words...
Jayne: Can’t get paid if ya crawl away like a bitty little bug, neither. I got a share of this job. Ten percent of nothing is, let me do the math here, nothing into nothing…carry the nothing…

Joss, were you waxing prescient about internet profits? I'll take the percentage; knowing it's being figured out. Mal will find a way.

I want to jump up and down, scream until I’m horse, then kick the shit out of something with my powerful hind legs. I just…don’t…get…it. When I am this fully flummoxed I want to turn green, grow big, and go all Hulk smashy. It’s not my usual approach. Usually I can come up with a simpler way of explaining a complex idea.

But how much damn simpler does it get? Writers are the idea people. They think up the frick’n-frack’n stories. Pluck the story from the ether, like a magician pulling a bunny from a top hat. Only, when this bunny is slaughtered to provide nourishment the bunny handlers feel compelled to diminish the magician’s input into the enterprise? Bizarre. Totally and completely bizarre.

Lets try it this way. Writers are grape farmers. They till their fertile (or desolate) imaginations and bring forth crops. The crops get processed (studios). The wine makers (directors, DPs, and all the others) do their thing. The masses get drunk.

The concept is so startling simple. The creation of this art begins with the writers. How are they not some of the most celebrated individuals in the pipeline?

Is it because anybody can try their hand at growing a grape vine (writing) but only those with expensive machinery are able to turn the grapes into wine? The wine makers know they need the best grapes to make the best wine. And the grape growers know that making a great wine takes skill, nobody’s arguing that.

…is it because the label on the bottle promotes the wine makers and not the grape growers? The label on the bottle is important. It ought to have the writer’s on it. Prominent like. So when I get drunk on a good story I can look for other labels featuring the same writer.

Oh, sour frack’n grapes and holy water! This analogy blows. Jesus created wine, and I guess he did it without grapes. Well, the studios ain’t Jesus. They need the grapes. Done.

It’s too damned simple to argue. How do the studios do it? I guess when they have a lot of people banging on their door at all hours trying to get them to buy grapes to make the next bottle of wine, they can be pretty selective. Frick’n friars! Frick’n gluttonous friars! Got the fancy machinery and are playing god.

We need the studio equivalent of a farmers CO-OP.

..and that’s enough of the obvious for me. I’m more of a Rogue Mocha Porter man, myself.
I wish I could have made it down to the rally to show some support and revel in the solidarity. Unfortunately, it wouldn't have been fair to my non-industry related boss and clients.

I don't understand why anyone would even buy the "untested technology" argument. Why would the AMPTP fight so hard and dirty to prevent the writers from getting a percentage of nothing? I know Studio Math is a strange and mysterious creature, but there's absolutely no way to make that make sense on this or any other planet that I know of.
I've edited this post -- not for typos this time, but because I finally found the link I was looking for -- an essential piece in the L.A. times by the esteemed Marshall Herskovitz. Sheds more light and historical perspective on this whole thing. Check it out, yo.

Time for sleeping. In my sleeping cap, clutching my teddy Spike, I drift into the nether world, where unicorns drink from a river of happy songs, and my eigth grade science teacher is naked AGAIN. Yeesh. ZZZZZZ, -j.
Damn, I really wanted to see Seven Brides for Seven Draculas. One of the brides is a Love Bot, I'm sure of it. But now the world will never know.

BTW, Joss: If Mutant Enemy Day happens, give us enough notice so the PDX Browncoats can send down our representatives and you won't have to beat up any more False b!X's. Thanks.

[ edited by ElectricSpaceGirl on 2007-11-10 07:42 ]
noooooo, i need a subscription to read the linky!
Hmmm, Joss. I was at the Fox rally today... and I don’t remember seeing you anywhere.

Ahhh, satire. There were 4000 people there. It was awesome.
Xander: "To read makes our speaking English good."

Buffy: "Fire bad. Tree pretty."

Giles: "Oh...bloody hell."

Joss - my muse just went on strike. I was right in the middle of a life-or-death fight between Giles &...the Big Bad of my current fic and...poof! No more thoughts. Hate when that happens.

So, if you happen to stumble across a small, kind of shy, brown-haired, visually-challenged muse holding a picket sign, please be gentle to her.
Actually, cymerin, try this one. For whatever reason, if I take the cruft off the end of the link, it works for me.
Silver lining of this strike: more Joss posts.

I was at the rally today. What a sight, what sounds, what a feeling (Flashdance!). The CAA agents bearing pastries on platters was just surreal. And jam2, the Reno 911 guys were giving interviews to all the peeps with cameras, and they were definitely in character. Just... so completely awesome.

My heart swelled with love when I saw the whedonesque table. This fandom rocks.
*headdesk* i keep getting redirected/intercepted. i think, perhaps, ancient-laptop and i both need to go to bed (but not together, cuz i'm not a cylon). really, bed....i will read as the purple one wishes tommorrow.
I dreamed someone was futzing with my tags and I woke up screaming! Thnaks god it was only a dream.
I wish I could be at the strike to support you guys, but I'm in Australia.

All I can really say is that I am behind you guys 110% in this - it is not fair that writers only get like 5c per DVD, which I heard is less than what the companies who make the DVD packaging get. That's absurd. These corporations are multi-billion dollar organisations, yet they can't afford to give the writers what they are rightfully entitled to?

Watching the videos of the various showrunners and writers - and then of course the actors, et al out in support of these guys - picketing made me wanna be there because it's such a vital issue. And like some have already said, if it's not dealt with now, then writers won't get a chance to get what they deserve if they don't speak up.

I'm also loving the fact that the entire Grey's Anatomy cast is behind this strike. Hee. :)

But picket as long as you must, Joss and fellow writers, you have a lot of support behind you - and some of that support comes from halfway around the globe! :)
Big, big, big broad smile after reading the LA Times article. I felt a tiny joule of energy flip on its pole. That's either physics humor or something I got from the last bachelor party I went to. Nevertheless, all smiles here. 'Cause that's what I'm talk'n 'bout!
Wow. I knew many of the production companies were partly owned by the networks but I didn't realize it had gone so far. I have to assume that the best new shows on TV this season would be even better if they didn't have to worry about their corporate owners jerking the leash every so once in a while. All season I have seen the results of this on Bionic Woman with its revolving door on the writers room.

But then I see a show like Life which for me is the best new show of the season. How do they do it? Does someone or some entity run interference for them so they can get the job well done? Or is it perhaps a nefarious plot to get us addicted? and then BAM! like Heroes the second season turns to poo. Boring poo at that. Although I don't know of any interesting poo except maybe... O.O Time to go back to work.
Beagles! Oh happy day!
Thanks for the link and the thoughtful thoughts (see why we need writers?!) Joss.

I am very excited about Marshall Herskovitz's upcoming series on the Internet. I'd taken notice of "Quarterlife" when he produced it back in 2005, and was devastated when the networks refused to pick up the pilot. He and Ed Zwick are amazing creative minds, much like Joss. I hope that it will be as much a success and a "fuck you" to the MPAA as Radiohead's release of "In Rainbows" was to the RIAA.

I always knew intuitively that there was something wrong with the television industry, but this article makes things very clear. It is very demoralising and I can't help but wonder if the writers/show runners/actors could band together to move away from the obsolete business models that tv studios currently use.
When are these namby-pamby writer types gonna loosen their scarves, let oxygen to their brains and realise that there's simply no money to be made from the internet ? Just ask the porn guys, they know how impossible it is. Or Ebay. Or Amazon. Jeff Bezos actually said he'd make more money digging ditches. Fact.

Those poor schlebbs, toiling away for e.g. $78 million in profits a year, it'd bring tears to a glass eye.

So please, just be quiet and above all, be grateful. You could be digging ditches for peanuts. Cancer curing ditches ! Filled with terrorists ! ... Won't somebody think about the children ?

(personally I really feel for the multi-billion dollar studios which, though obligated to their shareholders to make money, are willing to just throw it all away by promoting YOUR shows on the money pit internet. It's virtually a public service. And how does the writers section of the public repay them ? Well, with multiple billions of dollars. But where's the love, hmm ?)
I dreamed someone was futzing with my tags and I woke up screaming! Thnaks god it was only a dream.

I don't get it. What tags?
Um...huggle? Sorry I couldn't make it down, I had this "school" thing that couldn't be helped. Don't get me wrong, I'd LOVE my first arrest to be connected to this strike, but truancy just seems like a lame offense...not nearly as cool as, say, chaining myself to a producer.

I, did, however, try to explain the impacts of the rally to my second period English class. They snored as if they understood.

Surrender to the blog side! Before ya know it, you'll have an LJ with a personalized Hello Kitty layout!
I don't get it. What tags?

Look at the bottom of Joss' post.
I don't get it. What tags?

The ones at the end of Big J's post Buffysmglover. Tickled that folk looking for "Avenging Benji" will end up here ;).

And just what was the "missing joke" ? Let the speculation begin.
That's the most frustrating part, the average Joe American doesn't even know the facts behind the strike. And, judging from several news articles I've read on the event, neither does several media outlets which I find rather strange. You would think accurate reporting on a subject so close at hand? Here's a statement I recently read in an article from a major publication covering the strike:

"The average annual salary of a Hollywood writer is well in the six figures, often to exceed $200,000."

Yes, that statement was placed in general terms. I nearly fell out of my chair. That kinda' of salary only covers a tiny fraction of the writers, most are struggling just to make ends meet. Ironically, the same article included an interview from a writer who was worried about the length of the strike. A pilot she had wrote was accepted, but was now on hold due to the strike and she only had $6000 to live on until the end. Hmmm, what's wrong with that picture?

And here's the hogwash that really cracks me up. The studios need time to study the market value of the internet. Pleeasse! They pulled this same trick back in '88 with the marketing of home videos and the writers finally gave in to reach a group agreement. Result? Writers only receive $0.03 per sale per copy. I want to say that again. That $19.95 dvd you're buying, the writers get 3 cents. The studio makes 50%-to-60% profit on the typical dvd sale.

Back to the current internet issue, here's some points to ponder. Any of you recall when Ron Moore (of Battlestar Galactica) got hissy with Universal-NBC studios about his websoids about a year ago? Case in point. Viewership of the SCIFI site increased by five times when Moore offered these. Now, do they really expect us to believe this had no effect on their advertising rates? Need time to explore this new market my ass!
Avenging Benji?
Would've just been a cheap knock off of Slightly Irked Lassie anyway.
Look at the bottom of Joss' post.

Oh, wow! Everyone pick your favorite tag, and maybe more can appear later to give us a larger variety. I choose SOCK MONKEYS.
Both sides are making decisions.

This strike is putting a lot of people in the industry out of work - taking rent checks and health insurance with it.

This strike is taking scripted TV off the air and replacing it with *shudder* reality TV.

This strike will kill the stride of certain shows and put entire staffs out of work - ending careers and murdering beloved characters.

I like to be amongst the first on the bandwagon, so let me say that I'm already tired of the strike and I want it to go away. Others will, of course, jump on as well - although I'm betting that sentiments won't really start to swing until people start to miss their scripted shows. Regardless, as long as both sides make decisions that prolong this thing, I'm not going to be thinking that either side deserves to wear white hats.
hehe... the tags, the tags! Joss' brain is doin' the wacky thang and it's stream of consciousness hi-larity... *snarf*

Hey don't Bogart that cold medicine dude, pass it over... and keep on keepin' on... postin'. The Man can't keep you down!!!

I am seriously on my own sleep deprivation inspired wackiness myownself. No one's gonna read this, right?

[ edited by 11thHour on 2007-11-10 09:27 ]
From the "Why the Writers Are Right" article sorethumb mentions above:

"Studio chiefs who are smart enough to know better even hauled out a tired old maxim attributed to the late MCA titan Lew Wasserman — 'My plumber doesn't charge me every time I flush the toilet' — and repeated it in perfect Karl Rove everybody-stay-on-message lockstep.

Ugh. Lines like that give you a taste of what the entertainment world will be like if management ends up doing its own writing. Not to belabor an already disgusting analogy, but writers — and directors and actors, who have their own renegotiations coming up — aren't the plumber: They're the water. Without them, nothing goes anywhere, and you end up with a toilet full of...well, let's just say 'reruns.'
"

To belabor the analogy even more, the water company does charge you every time you flush the toilet. Sure it may be a minuscule amount but it adds up over time, and if the water company supplies 20,000 toilets with water, it makes a pretty decent profit. So if a writer gets half a penny every time a show he's written is streamed online, over time that may just pay his water bill.
Regardless, as long as both sides make decisions that prolong this thing...

For the sake of context here, everyone remember that the studios were crowing about the DVD residuals being the sticking point to getting anything done. So when the two sides were pulled back for a meeting last Sunday, the WGA took the DVD issue off the table.

The studios continued to say screw you.

So before we go and get self-righteous and pretend that the two sides are somehow both making decisions to prolong this strike, please keep in mind that given the studios BS in the above situation, why should the WGA believe for a moment that the studios would negotiate in good faith without first having to endure the growing pressure of a strike?

The studios said the DVD issue was preventing a deal. The writers took it off the table. The studios still wouldn't deal.

For me, that places the WGA squarely on the side of right.

[ edited by theonetruebix on 2007-11-10 09:32 ]
And not only that, the studios then spun events so that it was the writers that were to blame for negotiations breaking down, just about as far from the truth as can be. Hard not to be cynical when the studios' owners also own large chunks of the media reporting on the strike (and probably play golf with the rest). Rupert Murdoch for one is known to take an interest in the slant of stories that are run in his papers.

At the end of the day the writers aren't striking for world peace, they're striking for a fair piece, in that sense they're not saving the world but then, who is ? Nobody's hat's white in this life, you just try to keep your grey one sparkly ;).

"The average annual salary of a Hollywood writer is well in the six figures, often to exceed $200,000."

Dunno MadHatter, that may not be complete bollocks. That's the problem with averages, they can be skewed very badly by very high (or low) outliers (in this case the 25% of screenwriters that earn 6 figures in a given year). S'why the median, as mentioned on fans4writers is a much better measure.

[ edited by Saje on 2007-11-10 09:42 ]
So, I took a look at my book contract. If Salon.com liked one of my essays enough to want to print it, they’d have to pay a bit of money to my publisher. I’d get a bit of money, as would my agent for so fabulously representing me. The same goes for things like anthologies as well.

Just because I sold my book to my publisher doesn’t mean that they can then sell pieces of my work off to anthologies, newspapers, or magazines, whether it’s a web publication or paper and ink, without giving me a cut of the profit.

Internet was boilerplate in my contract.

Which is as it should be. Resale is part of the business model of publishing. If an excerpt from To Kill A Mockingbird shows up in an eighth grade textbook, Harper Lee makes a bit of money. Annie Proulx’s Brokeback Mountain is an example of the Holy Grail of publishing. A short story, sold in anthologies, reprinted again and again, film rights…it’s been repackaged and resold again and again and again. Who should profit? Annie Proulx, most definitely. She created something where there was nothing but a blank sheet of paper, and that creation made a lot of people a lot of money, from the typesetter of the first printing, to Ang Lee. Okay, the typesetter made a lot less than Ang Lee. But you get the point.

And it's the same when Joss sells a show to a studio, isn't it? a flurry of jobs are created: Carpenters, wardrobe, casting agents, actors, painters, editors, caterers, drivers...it's like its own small business, generating millions in paychecks going to people, because a writer created something where there was once nothing.

So it's a puzzling thing to me that other writers don't feel a sense of brotherhood, of understanding.

The NYT writer who sneered about "so-called new media"...I mean, I read that hit piece on NYT online - which is the new media. Did the journalist get paid for his article appearing in two different mediums, with two different sets of advertising? Or just once?

If my publisher decided to toss my book up on the net, with an assload of advertising, without giving me a percentage, my agent would go berserk.

If the Times writer just got the same paycheck he would have gotten before the Times was available online, does he not wonder why, if the Times is now getting revenue in bth print and electronic versions, he isn't being paid for more, since his work is being repackaged and resold? Or is he okay with giving away his work on the net for free?

Maybe the Times online is only a promo of the paper version.

Maybe the Sudafed I took just kicked in.
Thank you for the update, Joss.

Blogging is a perfectly natural and normal outlet for a mature gentleman such as yourself. The risks of blindness have been exaggerated and the rash only lasts a few days if you keep it dry and let the air circulate.

Regarding EW and the NYT, is it simply print media bosses setting the tone or is there some sort of long-standing rivalry/resentment between writers and journalists which comes to the fore at times like these? Whichever, some allies would be handy.

Keep strong. Get healthy. Remember. Air. Circulate.
The studios said the DVD issue was preventing a deal. The writers took it off the table. The studios still wouldn't deal.

For me, that places the WGA squarely on the side of right.


That's what proves it for me, too. :-)

BTW, do we have a Cheese for Frieda fansite yet? Or a postcard campaign to Save Avenging Benji? It saves time, is all I'm sayin'.
Also, didn't Metallica prove the point like, TEN YEARS AGO with Napster?

Sudafed. It's Sudafed. Madness.
Something I've been wondering... about the 4 cents per DVD residual. Now I understand that, for example, if I buy a DVD copy of Tim Burton's "Big Fish", screenwriter John August receives 4 cents.

When I buy, for example, the fifth season of Buffy on DVD... how does the residual payment work? Is the four cents split between all the writers who worked on that season? Or does each writer get four cents? Or (less likely) do they get four cents for each episode they penned?

I'd like to think they each got four cents per set, but it wouldn't surprise me if the studios wanted the writers to split four cents into eight (or ten or however many people wrote for season five Buffy).

Joss?
Saje, you're speed reading again, please read the post in full;)

11thHour, we haven't forgotten.
I did read it in full 'Hatter, my point being what you say afterwards about it only covering a fraction of writers doesn't preclude it also being the average earnings for the reasons I mentioned relating to average and median figures.

I.e. the journalists assertion may be true (albeit not the "whole truth" so to speak).
Again, sorry I'm late. I had to talk a newbie through saving post-game interviews from last night's Kings game.
Anywho, it's too bad we'll never see Seven Brides for Seven Draculas, although that sounds like a remake of a Hammer Studios vampire flick. I'm not surprised Entertainment Weekly is not taking the side of labor in this dispute, because it's part of the Warner Brothers empire. Would management own a magazine that tells them they've been jerks in this dispute? I think not. It's better to have a magazine that makes them look good.
Meanwhile, news outlets think the general public care more about Paris or Britney and what they are or aren't wearing than what is a fair wage. Strikes against "real "industries like cars or mining just mean more to people. People are responding to the writers strike as they did when baseball or hockey players went on strike, mostly with apathy.
The public may not care until they wake up one morning, and see ultimate fighting on CBS (this is actually being discussed), American Idol seven days a week, and sitcoms taken from MySpace and YouTube. This is a poor substitute for Ugly Betty, Gregory House and Jack Bauer.
But maybe that feeling may come sooner if NBC really dares to bring back the Tonight Show without Jay Leno. Who would want to guest host, and what A-list star would want to appear?

Anyway, just keep the faith, and hold those pickets high.

[ edited by impalergeneral on 2007-11-10 10:16 ]

[ edited by impalergeneral on 2007-11-10 10:19 ]
Ahh, sorry, bad wording on my part. Thanks for the catch!
Reading your thoughts about the strike really refreshes me for going back out into that scary interweb fandom and agitating for support. Thank you for posting. Now, rest and warm fluids. And keep posting occasionally. But don't let it interfere with getting well.
People with real power never fear of losing it. People with control think of little else.

Is this original Joss? If not, whose is it? I plan on using it, I really hope it's Joss.
I understand that in 1988 the networks dragged out the writers' strike for five long months, and in the end the writers won, and the networks had lost 10% of their viewers. Personally I wasn't paying close attention to that strike back then, but it was during the time I finally got cable and my viewing habits changed dramatically. I don't see how the networks seriously expect a different result, do they think they will be better off in losing even more of their audience share (because from my understanding they never got that 10% back)? It seems mystifying to me that they seriously expect a better result.
crossoverman, I'm pretty sure the residuals are set and would get split among the writers (on a feature too). That part seems fair to me. If I build a car, I wanna pay a set price for the engine, regardless of how many people put it together (it's still 1 engine).

BTW, I believe the DVD residual formula is actually based on percentage of revenue, and the "4 cents" is just a typical value for a $30 DVD. (i.e. A $60 DVD set would produce 8 cents for the writers, and so on.)
It seems mystifying to me that they seriously expect a better result.

To go back to power and control: Those with control frequently overestimate the power they possess, most especially when they have less than they want other parties to believe.

When the parties got called back in last Sunday, no doubt the studios saw this as power in their favor. "Hah, see? They talk a good strike game, but here they come crawling into talks again. We've got them now!"

Unfortunately for them, the writers knew that the strike threat was real, and then also proceeded to call the studios' bluff re: DVDs. (Blow number one to the studios' sense of power, and their overconfidence.) Then, once the strike began, most of the showrunners stopped working. (Blow number two to the studios' sense of power, and their overconfidence.)

Point being: They expect a better result because they're still acting as if the writers (and their allies) haven't noticed who actually has the power.
Joss! You and (and your phlegm, which acccompanies you everywhere) have to keep stopping by this often! Even though it comes at not the best of times, it helps. And I enjoy it.

I didn't read any of the above posts, but I'm sure there's an interesting discussion happening. For now: sleep.
RAGS has the loveliest of strike music. "Sisters we stand, brothers hand in hand, all for bread and freedom, one union we stand..."

I, did, however, try to explain the impacts of the rally to my second period English class. They snored as if they understood.


Come be one of my students, BrightShiner! They care!
Point being: They expect a better result because they're still acting as if the writers (and their allies) haven't noticed who actually has the power.

This is from the show runner of TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES (yeah, it's okay to post):

------------
I was asssigned to Gate 4A at Warner's--a very small gate only frequented by executives. I thought this was sort of the generic toothpaste of gates until a few fat white dudes rolled past us into the executive lot driving eighty thousand dollar cars and giving us the finger.

And while I have had many suits in many forms over the years tell me to figuratively fuck off as they mangled my screenplays, it is not til you see that actual finger from an actual person do you realize how few times in your adult life someone has actually told you, to quote the great Arnold Schwartzenegger in Terminator: FUCK YOU, ASSHOLE.
------------

[ edited by gossi on 2007-11-10 11:32 ]
So tired I almost didn't log on tonight, so glad I did.

"They have turned me into a blogger. And that I do not forgive."
Joss, that is the only goodness they have done so far. Please blog on. Here (and elsewhere as well if you so desire, but .... here, really. Please. But lots of rest and lots of fluids. Your mantra for the duration should be "hydrate, hydrate, hydrate".

"CAA agents bearing pastries on platters". Please, someone tell me there are photos.

P.S. I want a teddy Spike ;)
The Man really has to keep writing in some form, don't you, Joss? Thank goodness this is a place where you can do that and we can enjoy your purple prose, so to speak. ;-)

Don't forget about us completely when you do go back to work, but in the meantime, keep posting (we'd love you to visit Goners!) - and get better soon. We look forward to phlegm-free scripts for Dollhouse - and Goners (pretty please) - when the strike is over.
Yeah, we remain true to ourselves.

I must ask, Shey, a teddy Spike?
Madhatter, thanks for the thoughts upthread.

On the subject of the perception of this issue to the general public, I really hope the average peep on the street finally does the math and sees:

• If new media is really only "promotion" and doesn't generate any money, then why deny writers their percentage of zero?

• If new media is actually a money generating source, then it's only logical that the creative folks who made it possilbe should be paid a fair percentage. The result still will be that the studios will still make a much greater profit than the creative folk are paid. This is certainly not a precedent, it's called residuals, or perhaps a better term is profit sharing.

So when the studios refuse to agree to pay a percentage of the money made from new media, they are as good as admitting that it will be a significant source of revenue... otherwise, they wouldn't care.

This is a pivotal time in how much say creative people have over the content they create. For too long the keys to the kingdom have been held by those who would be happy to keep the creative community virutally powerless and beholden. The Internet is a sea change in how content is distributed, and that means the keys to the kingdom are becoming irrelevant... the doors of distribution won't have locks on them anymore.
I believe 'Seven Brides for Seven Draculas' is on Tarantino's slate at the moment. Joss would make it better, but it is promised to be 'the most disgusting film since... Tarantino's last film... but with singing!' so that's a plus...
Don't you dare behave, Joss. You're rants here help keep our spirits up as much as fan support encourages the writers!
11thHour, I fear your second option is true.
"The Cat: You mean, why did I take up stealing? Oh, to live better, to own things I couldn't afford. To acquire this good taste which you now enjoy, and which I should be very reluctant to give up.

Mr Hughson: Oh, you mean you were frankly dishonest?

The Cat: I tried to be."
11thHour, I've been following the perceptions of the average peep at various forums around the internet and I hate to say it but the general public has a very hard time seeing beyond the fact they they aren't being spoonfed all the episodes of their favorite television series this season. 90% of the opinions that I'm reading don't venture much further than complaining that 24 has been delayed or that Lost will not have a full run this next coming year. For every informed opinion about why this is really happening I'm seeing five comments that still think this is just about US writers wanting more money.

The problem lies in that to many people television really is just a way to kill a little time. They don't follow the behind the scenes stuff and so when something like this happens they just don't get it. Most people probably wouldn't be able to name a single writer of their favourite series. Desperate Housewives is absolutely massive but how many of those people watching could care less about reading the names of the people that created it, other than the faces they see on screen?

We are definitely in the minority here at Whedonesque and the various other online fandoms of television series like Supernatural, Lost and Battlestar Galactica. How we follow a show goes way beyond just the story we watch or the actors involved. We actually take notice of the people that created that story and gave those actors words to speak. Because of that we know that the writers are doing the right thing by striking. We know they have no choice and are trying to make certain that their pay in the future is secured and fair as the medium in which they are working is changing. I'm just really hoping that the general public's ignorance in these matters doesn't create a backlash against the writers that will only favour the suits. Maybe the most important thing we can be doing to aid the writers is to get the truth out to those that may not be hearing it.
RokkRage just said everything I wanted to, but better, and saved me the time. So, thanks for that.

Ultimately, yeah, as soon as these shows start dropping off the air -- and they will, very shortly -- people will piss and moan online. I saw a post online yesterday on one of my sites, which read "Fuck the writers". Because BSG wasn't getting it's full 20 episodes. I was like, yeah, I think you've missed a thing about who actually makes a show happen.

[ edited by gossi on 2007-11-10 13:51 ]
Dear Mr. Whedon:

You am awesomes. That are all. Official!
Madhatter, Joss said, somewhere way up,

"Time for sleeping. In my sleeping cap, clutching my teddy Spike."

Now that's an image I wont be forgetting anytime soon. ;)
Yeah, guess we're rattling our jaws a bit too much.

Joss, your voice will always be welcomed here, no matter what.
PS: Shey, you still didn't explain the teddy Spike.
Wait! Just caught the last. Nevermind.
It was me, Joss; I messed with your tags. Really!

I write, in part, as well. It is never easy, no matter how easy it is. It gets taken for granted. But as I look around at some of the writers on strike, like Joss and others, there are NO shows without them- these are the people who bring people alive.

Keep ranting, oh royal purpely one.
In regards to the Networks losing 10% of their viewing audience last time and not learning from the past, may my cynical side intrude and point out that they may very well have learned from the past? Let's suppose for a moment that the networks have already accepted the eventual demise of television in favor of the internet. Wouldn't it make sense for them to throw away part of the TV audience in favor of protecting their profits from the media they anticipate will be making them their money in the future? It makes their intractability that much more logical.

Just a thought.

Feel better Joss. Oh, and you don't have to bring the funny for us to be interested in what you have to say. We are not like those guys we women encounter who are only interested in pretending to listen to what a woman has to say if there might be sex involved afterward. Right folks?

Hello?

Anybody there?

It's OK, they'll all rally around in a minute.

;-)
Keep on blogging, Joss. Man's gotta write.

The hocus-pocus of the studios, "We may have nothing, so we must deny you a percentage of nothing or we will not survive," is such a perfect miniature model of the nonsense we are fed, and most of us buy, every day.

It's right there with the smoke and mirrors approach of-"We can't pay our employees more, and we have to lay people off, so we can afford to pay some CEO, with some mystical nonspecific CEO qualification, gazillions of dollars to run this company into the ground (and then pay him extra to get rid of him.)"

For some reason, much of the public is not only willing, but eager, to buy this kind crazed illogic. Is it, like, identifying with the bullies in the hope that maybe they won't beat you up? That's how the bullies keep control, when they fool us into thinking they have the power.

Interesting how pro-business types are so eager to "trust the market" when it's all about acting cutthroat in their favor, and then think it's unfair when essential workers use their economic power. It's the old Emperor's New Clothes story. Except I think folks really manage to convince themselves that the guy's wearing a great new outfit. Mystifies me.

[ edited by toast on 2007-11-10 15:15 ]
I'm coming late to this party, but I wanted to respond partly to Allyson's post above. Allyson is very fortunate in her contract with her publisher. But, such contracts are not extended to all writers. Academic writers in my field are now being asked to surrender any claims to copyright, or their work won't get published. The reason? So the publishers don't have to go to the authors if an article might be included in an anthology or reader, and so they don't have to go to the authors for internet publications. Most academic authors in my field get no payment at all for published articles, and the sum total of the royalties on my first book was well under $100 (despite reasonably healthy sales, compared with other academic books, and my having arranged for payment for all illustrations, thus cutting the publisher's costs). The publishers know that the academic authors must publish to keep their jobs, so they can get away with such tactics.

I gave copies of Joss's long post earlier this week to students in one of my classes, along with copies of listserv messages concerning this woeful state of academic publishing today, and I spelled out the similarities for the students.

There may be ways in which the writers' strike--particularly with respect to internet returns--might have an effect on other writers' lives, and I wanted my students to understand this. I also wanted my students to understand that, even though they write non-fiction, they contribute to our culture in analogous ways to creative writers, for their work is the product of their own brains and creativity. By the end of this discussion, I think my students saw how this strike might have an impact on their lives apart from interrupting their TV viewing habits.
I dreamed someone was futzing with my tags and I woke up screaming! Thnaks god it was only a dream.


Oh, you know it wasn't a dream, and waking up screaming is so therapeutic :) Someday I will be recognized as the tag futzing graffito genius that I am! Alternately, "Please don't hurt me! It was very late and I was very silly.".

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2007-11-10 16:47 ]
This quote has been bothering me -- "Studio chiefs who are smart enough to know better even hauled out a tired old maxim attributed to the late MCA titan Lew Wasserman — 'My plumber doesn't charge me every time I flush the toilet'...Not to belabor an already disgusting analogy, but writers — and directors and actors, who have their own renegotiations coming up — aren't the plumber: They're the water." Not only was cabri right by saying "To belabor the analogy even more, the water company does charge you every time you flush the toilet. Sure it may be a minuscule amount but it adds up over time...", but it goes one step further (more analogy stretching) -- Your plumber charges you a one-time fee for that toilet because you own it and are not making a profit from it. If you charged people who used your bathroom, maybe the plumber would want a share of your fees (and also you would be really weird and lose all your friends, but that's another story altogether). So there was no way in which the analogy applied, ever, except for the studios wanting you to hear it and not think about it and accept it. (Yes, this does smell of Karl Roveitude.)

The studios/networks are claiming they don't know how much they can earn from the interwebs and need time to study it before they can think about residuals. Then why did Fox and Universal team up to start Hulu? They even pulled eps of The Office from iTunes to put them on Hulu b/c they claimed they weren't getting high enough payments from Apple, IIRC. And if they don't know how to make money from new media, why did they shut down Buffy Sing-Alongs, which I think is some kind of new media, too (I mean, playing a DVD of a cancelled TV show in a movie theatre has to be new, right?), for not having the right license (meaning, not paying for the correct form of rights)? And, as many people have pointed out, if they agree to a percentage instead of a flat fee, then they don't have to know the exact amount, they will just pay out a, you know, percentage, which is something even the esteemed Mr. J. Cobb is able to figure out.

Untruthful lies told by lying liars. It's the search for WMDs all over again. ;-)
er, I mean :-(
no, I really mean >-( <- angry eyes emoticon

Speaking of percentages, IIRC from one of the 10 billion articles I've read online this week, the $.04 per DVD now is a percentage, not a flat fee. I think the percentage is something unbelievably low, like .3%, which the writers want to increase to .6%. Those decimal points are for real; they aren't even talking about an entire percent here, but 2/3 of one. Un-frakkin'-believable that the studios are having such a hissy fit over such small figures, no matter how much that adds up over the course of 200,000 flushes, er, I mean, copies of a DVD sold. ;-)
Joss--it might be time to command your troops. We're aware and we're everywhere.

Now, two things: First, is it possible that the studios are being run by a dark lord of the sith? I haven't seen one Star Wars actor or related person in the fray.

Second, what this strike needs is a good old fashioned hoax. What kind of hoax? I'm torn, I really dont know the best option with the most positive outcome. I was thinking maybe float a story about how WGA will be opening the doors of their television studio in the next 6 months and they are bringing all the on-screen talent with them.

Or...

If this gets ugly, a viral story about how the studios are distributing blankets infected with real viruses to get the writers sick. (Nah, who would ever believe someone could be so blood thirsty and heartless to do that to another human being.)
I am certain that all sensible citizens of the US recognize the truthiness of the studios' position as promoted via their partially or wholly-owned news organs... um, wait a minute... where did I see that WMD (an american expat in Toronto)
Joss-
Really we love it when you post. I can't imagine how disheartening it is to read all the negative media, but if it helps we are all trying to get the word out (the real word, not the negative conglomerate stuff) and we're all 100% behind you.
Thanks for the update,

It's really a goram shame that you have to strike in respect to that it's had to go this far.

You would think that people would understand without writers like yourself there is no media and no media causes no advertising for people that like to advertise stuff :P
Yes i realise that is a major look on things but hey no advertising no business?

Also it sounds like a line of of firefly regarding the 2.5% as i'm sure you would be aware being the produce/writer/genius of it all "7% of nothing is, carry the zero, nothing!" or something along those lines please correct me if i'm wrong.


But keep up the good fight! behind you 110% even if i am on the otherside of the globe :P
I'm deeoly disappointed that "The Man with the Golden Thing" will never see the light of day.

Seriously, I'm behind you and all the writers 100%.
I've been too away to even read, much less post, but am back temporarily to express pride in (1) Big Purple Dudes and (2) their multi-hued, multi-sized, multi-gendered (yes, you too) but equally supportive supporters.

[ edited by Pointy on 2007-11-11 01:54 ]
The residual deal for reruns and such was for 2.5% of the profit.

The deal for videos (and later DVDs) was for writers to take an 80% cut in their residual rate, since videos were a new experiment and this would, according to the companies, help keep prices down. Also according to the companies, that rate could be adjusted later. So the writers allowed their residual rate for videos and DVDs to be .3%

22 years later and that rate has never changed, even though DVDs are cheaper to produce, ship and store. Writers are asking for that rate to be increased to .6%, which is still nowhere near the original residual rate they got for reruns. The companies flatly refused, originally saying this was the dealbreaker. When the WGA pulled that demand at the last minute, the companies still refused to negotiate and walked away, telling the writers to keep the results quiet and then going out and blasting their skewed version on all the news media.

What the companies are really holding fast on is new media, i,e, the Internet and phone streaming and whatever. If they can hold out and not pay the writers anything for those, when the audience moves towards online entertainment as their main source the writers will be completely shut out. Writers are already feeling the pinch as networks show fewer reruns, opting instead to just put the episodes online.

The part to remember is that residuals are not bonuses or extra money. Residuals are the second half of the money originally promised. The companies are trying to weasel out of them, and doing everything they can to keep the viewing public confused about it.
"CAA agents bearing pastries on platters". Please, someone tell me there are photos.

There's one here, and I know I saw another one but I can't find it right now.
I did not see Mr. Whedon yesterday at the Fox rally, but encountered Mike Boretz (Mr. Whedon's assistant), Morena Baccarin and Dennis Christopher (Cyvus Vail from "Angel"), plus Whedonverse-by-association Emily Deschanel. SAG members are being very supportive. Also saw the Whedonesque table with mini-muffins. I heard writers further down in the crowd talking about how it was so great that there was a support table of "Fans 4 Writers," so even writers who have no idea what Whedonesque is were appreciative and touched -- yay, dreamlogic, et al!

It should be noted that, besides the CAA churros, the William Morris Agency had a table staffed by assistants offering coffee and bagels. There were also donuts of unknown (to me) provenance. I saw a chocolate-covered buttermilk, got all Homer Simpson and went, "Mmm, donut!," ate it and then wondered if someone anti-strike had spiked the donuts with something nasty. Haven't become any more mutated than I already am, so I guess not. Several people were sporting picket signs with the image of Montgomery Burns and the simple acronym AMPTP.
The rhetoric level on these issues is getting ridiculous. While I
have a great deal of sympathy for the writers I am very unclear
as to the justness of their cause. To this point I haven't seen
anything that adequately explains their position on how the
internet impacts them.

I have seen one person saying that internet downloading will
replace residuals from reruns. That certainly is not the
situation at present and if there is a case for making it so, it
has yet to be made. That doesn't mean that a case can't be made.

The producers have been saying that at present the internet usage
currently in dispute is promotional in nature and there are no
revenues associated with it. Some of the writers claim that there
ARE revenues, the general ad revenues of the site. That is a lame
argument so there must be something more at play.

My internet usage of TV shows has been to catch up with missed
episodes of certain shows. When a show is highly scripted
anything that helps you catch up is a godsend and that is imho
promotional in nature. Also watching a show on a computer monitor
will never relplace watching on the average TV.

So would someone puhlease explain the internet impact a little
better? Thx.

The most damaging thing I have read was the article by Marshall
Herskovitz. Quite frankly I was appalled. I thought that the 1995
FCC rule change had only allowed a severely limited amount of
network ownership. If the article is correct this needs to be
changed immediately.
So would someone puhlease explain the internet impact a little
better? Thx.


When you "catch up" on a show -- ie watching the work the writers and exec producers have done -- they get paid nothing, as the networks currently refer to it as promotional. You might think that is fine. The writers do not.
"The producers have been saying that at present the internet usage currently in dispute is promotional in nature and there are no revenues associated with it. Some of the writers claim that there ARE revenues, the general ad revenues of the site. That is a lame argument so there must be something more at play."

Why?

Streaming episodes online have ads in them. Presumably the companies are being paid for that advertising. Why shouldn't the writers get a cut of that revenue?

And while watching on a TV is now the norm, more and more people are hooking their computers up to flatscreen TVs to watch downloaded material, and there is every sign this will become more common. As stated in my previous post, the last time the WGA and the companies made a contract the writers were lied to and stiffed. I don't see why they ahve any reason to expect anything different now.
And those are not the "general ad revenues" of the site. They are spcifically placed on the streaming episodes, right where the the commercials would go if the show were broadcast on television.

By your own admission, your usage of streaming videos has been to catch up on missed shows. Why don't you just wait until they get rerun on TV? That's when the writers get the residuals -- agreed-upon deferred payment for the script, money they were promised.

But instead it is more convenient for you to go online the next day and catch it there, and this is fine. Except the writers get nothing for that, and it's a trend that is clearly growing. They want to settle this now, before it becomes the norm.

[ edited by C. A. Bridges on 2007-11-10 18:03 ]
Chris, advertising in stream is actually premium advertising space, as people can't skip the adverts. They have to watch them.
For anyone who still can't get into the LATimes article, it may be because you are out of the country. Using something like hidemyass.com should help.
Well, gossi, they don't HAVE to watch them, they can turn the sound off on their computer and wait until they are done... like I do.
But the whole point, JDL, is that broadband and internet are merging technologies and before long it will ALL be the same thing. If the writers allow themselves to be shut out of the new technologies then they will be shut out of all residuals for the future.
Historically and traditionally it has been seen as good for society to protect the rights of the creative talents, and to control the greed of the corporations. This is a righteous fight.
Chris, advertising in stream is actually premium advertising space, as people can't skip the adverts. They have to watch them.

Exactly gossi which means it'll only grow in the future since the networks are currently crapping themselves about DVRs and skippable advertising.

The inclusion of ads is key as far as i'm concerned. Frankly, there's no way to tell how many people view online that have already viewed by broadcast, to those people the streaming shows basically are promotional tools BUT as long as the network is being paid for the advertising i.e. is making money from the streamed shows then why shouldn't the writers get their share ?

It's been said ad nauseam but a mere percentage costs the studios nothing if the shows make no money so why not just accept it ? The only reason that suggests itself is the studios know that streamed shows will be huge and want to keep as much (or all) of the pie for themselves. That's not on.
C.A.Bridges, I don't even own a television. True. Everything I watch passes through my computer, to the flatscreen, and pumped to surroundsound. One very comfy office chair later and I have the best "television" viewing experience I've ever had. I'd expect many more to figure this out in the coming months. (I typed "years" but then felt foolish, feels like months).
"Time for sleeping. In my sleeping cap, clutching my teddy Spike"

Haha, I love that! Probably the least important thing Joss said, but still classic Joss.

Pertinent quote of the day:

"You call this a script? Give me a couple of $5,000-a-week writers and I'll write it myself."

--Joe Pasternak, producer

Kinda captures the true hubris of the Hollywood machine, and the way it has always dismissed its writers as instantly replaceable, doesn't it?

What I find most interesting is the way the average TV viewer seems to be supporting the writers in all of this. Sure, there are a few grouses in the pack, but for the most part everything I've heard has been positive feedback for the strike.

What must be freaking out the corporations at the moment, however, is the unexpected realization that in the years since 1988 (and with the advent of the internet) that the WRITERS THEMSELVES HAVE BECOME CELEBRITIES.

Joss is a perfect example. This website, Whedonesque, is proof of it. While they don't court celebrity status, the plain truth is that the general public has become aware of the quality of work being done by specific names in the business.

Whereas in 1988, a bunch of relatively unknown people (unknown outside the industry, that is) walked picket lines in an anonymous gathering known simply as "the writers," today, in 2007, there are some very big and very well known names out there. Names that matter, and are well known to the public fan-base.

The IMDB was part of that. So was Ain't it Cool News. So was the popularization of DVDs with their much-maligned commentary tracks among the special features. "Ha, ha... how many geeks actually LISTEN to these?" say the participants, cracking wise.

Apparently: a LOT. The name Joss Whedon is almost a household name these days. So is J.J. Abrams and Jhonen Vasquez and Bryan Singer and Seth MacFarlane and Robert Rodriguez and Jane Espensen and Marti Noxon and Drew Goddard and Kevin Smith and countless others.

Apparently, when a large enough portion of the consumer public falls into the "geek" category, that category loses it's "geek" stigma and suddenly (almost magically!) gains serious pop culture cred.

So for the first time ever "the writers" are more than nameless faces behind typewriters and word processors and computer keyboards. They are CELEBRITIES, because they are publicly celebrated-- and that makes them powerful.

Pretty darn cool, I must say.

Meanwhile, I hope the unfortunatel timing of the new Broadway stagehands strike doesn't cause backlash against the striking WGA in the eyes of the public... ala, "Now EVERYONE'S doing it!"

I have friends and colleagues in both strikes now. So I cannot help but be concerned.

We also serve, who only stand and watch.

As to Joss's dreams about unicorns and rainbows-- if a pair of unicorns try to lure you to accompany them to a place they call magic mountain... don't go. It's a corporate trick.

-XS
"I drift into the nether world, where unicorns drink from a river of happy songs, and my eigth grade science teacher is naked AGAIN"

Do you see what the strike is doing to this man???? My god, think of the children! The strike must end and this man must go back to do(ing) do(ing) that thing that he does... ya'know, the one all us academics write tomes about... that thing with the words that doesn't involve unicorns or happy songs... just damn good lyrics if singing is involved...

Ah, strike song:
"Every single night
the same arrangement
I go out and fight the fight (against networks).
Still I always feel
this strange estrangement:
[everything] here is real
nothing here is right."

Oooh, I can hear the Joss musical now....
(And yeah for the Joss posts here! And yeah for the writers!)

[ edited by whedongeek on 2007-11-10 18:43 ]

[ edited by whedongeek on 2007-11-10 18:47 ]
"CAA agents bearing pastries on platters". Please, someone tell me there are photos.

in addition to the one Bix mentioned:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/19691938@N02/1941130163/

In regards to the comments about this affecting other peoples lives, such as camera and grip departments who will start losing their jobs...

The film and television industry business model blows. It always has. Among other reasons every position in it is dependent on there being something to do, which there may not be. If you go in to drive the trucks, you go in knowing you are only driving a truck for as long as that job lasts. If you're on a commercial, you're lucky to be employed for more than three days. If you're a producer, you produce only so long as there is something to produce (and not all producers work at the conglomerates and don't always have something to produce). Thems the risks. Even as a writer, you may have something written, but you know there may not be someone willing to do anything with it.

But yes, there is generally a consistent availability of work for the majority of the industry.

Then there's unions, because so much of the industry is freelance, there has to be someone to protect them. Now everyone's unionized, but still dependent on availability of work. You may not work for weeks easily sometimes. It's an unstable industry, you know that when you get into it.

So when one union reasonably requests to protect their members (which is what they're for) and is completely shut down, what other choice do they have? And then everyone says, screw them, I'm losing money because of them! No, you're losing money because you work for an unstable industry. AND you knew the strike was coming months ahead of time. Sure it wasn't a garaunteed to happen, but with that knowledge and the insane amount of work that was available beforehand (as studios buffeted their available scripts and shot as much as possible before the strike) wouldn't it have been a good idea to prepare ahead of time?

Does it suck? Yes! No one ever argued differently. In fact, that's the whole point. But it's an unstable industry. If it wasn't, the writers wouldn't be forced into something like this. So be prepared for unstable income when you join. I work for a company that supports the industry. I have a steady job. But that job depends on gear being rented by an unstable industry. The amount of gear being rented is about to dimish drastically and eventually I could lose my job.

Them's the breaks. Sucks.

Go Writers!

(BTW, those unionized truck drivers make a whole lot for driving. Though most teamsters I've met have been very friendly, despite stereotypes, they still won't usually lift anything)

[ edited by bobw1o on 2007-11-10 18:49 ]
"Also watching a show on a computer monitor
will never relplace watching on the average TV." - JDL

Eventually the computer monitor and the average TV will be the exact same thing, so ya...it will replace it. The writers are very smart. While the studios are all "What is this internet thing?" and "We need to research the internet" the writers know exactly where we're heading. That's why this strike is so important!
JDL, there are those ads put right into the programs where you can't skip over them (no fast forward, only averting your eyes as embers does), and there is also a big graphic at the top of the page (at least on ABC.com shows) that says "Sponsored by {product logo}" the whole time you're watching. Plus, Jenna Fischer blogged and it IS true, some series are not rerun on television at all -- Lost and 24 are the two that I watch that don't get rerun, so if you want to catch an ep you missed or that you liked and you didn't tape it, you HAVE to watch the streaming version on the network's website, or buy it from iTunes or Amazon Unbox or somewhere -- and writers don't get any payment from either of these sources. Or you can buy the DVD, and the writer will get a whopping $.04 of your money (well, the $.04 will be split among the group of writers for a series, it looks like). So there are already shows where Internet downloading has replaced reruns.

BTW, I saw a picture of a guy serving churros on a silver tray at the Variety strike blog (same blog that had two big posts of Jossy goodness). That must have been one of the agents you're talking about, Shapenew and others. :-)

C. A., what a great history of how that .3% came to be, and why it is such a gorram travesty! I still go even further, that it's not just that it's the second-half of the payment, but that it is a new payment for a new way to sell the product. The studio is selling your product over and over again, and profiting each time (even though they say they don't -- I just read that they claim that My Big Fat Greek Wedding never made a profit -- er, wtf???). You as a writer get paid your initial (large) payment for writing a script for television (which the studio gets an initial large payment for), and then you get paid (a little) for the DVD version (which the studio also gets a large, probably even much, much larger payment for), and then you get paid for the iPhone version (and the studio gets paid too), and so on. The studio gets new income each time, why not the people who made it possible, esp. since they are not asking for 50% or a flat fee, they are asking for less than 1%, which I kind of can't stop thinking about since it is such a little percentage and that makes me so mad. And in new media, they are asking for an amount greater than zero, which is what they currently make. Not even any payment at all there, zero. In the words of the Purple One, grrr arrgh! >-(

And I will make the same argument when the directors and actors have to negotiate their contracts. We don't want to see Dollhouse starring sock puppets (although, at this rate, that version will probably come out before the Joss-Eliza version), we want to see Dollhouse starring Eliza Dushku. Mmmmmm, Eliza. Sorry, drifted off for a second there. I think the fact that actors also are entitled to (and depend upon) residuals is one of the reasons why the actors are being so supportive of the writers; Jenna Fischer stated that in her latest blog. Excuse me, I'm going to go make an Eliza sock puppet now. It won't be as rockin' as that incredibly scary/cool doll poster on the Dollverse website, but, I'll do my best. ;-)
Just finished listening to an NPR story on the writers' strike and the soap opera writers. Since the soaps don't rerun, they are in a very tight spot. However, many of the writers are picketing, since their product is also being seen online.

That was a too brief synopsis of the story, which may be found at http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=16182643

Will someone fix my tag to link? I can't tell you how many times I've tried to figure it out. I keep following the directions and I'm not a stupid person, but I just can't seem to get it to work.
Blog away, Purple One, blog away. If you can't write for work purposes you can always write here. Your posts make every day brighter.

People with real power never fear of losing it. People with control think of little else. -- Joss Whedon

*thinking like crazy where I can use this quotation*

I keep talking with friends, some of whom passionately love their favorite weekly dramas yet know nothing of the strike except it's happening. Doing my damnedest to explain the situation as it comes up.

Currently am hating the thought of upcoming holidays with family members and hearing moans and groans and whines about how this silly strike is futzing with their viewing habits. If my mother, herelf a former journalist, is aware of the purpose behind the strike and supportive, I'll be, well, dumbstruck. She's a great representative of the general public and their collective viewing habits. She won't know what's really going on because all her input comes from mainstream media news only. And she tends to believe it. Even if explained, she still might not get it, because she's part of a generation that still overwhelmingly finds the Internet both mysterious and not so important. *sigh*

I don't care if the strike lasts a year. Like everyone in the industry, I've watched it develop and knew it was coming. If it's going on a year from now, I'll still be donating to the pizza 'n donuts fund. Hold the line! HOOOOOOOOLD!!!

ETA: I feel almost giddy. I just made my first donation to fans4writers.com, and vow to continue them on a regular basis.

[ edited by April on 2007-11-10 19:57 ]
joss ; I thought you were only not allowed to write on thinsg you'd already sold..dummy me :-(.

Everyone; percentages and wholes don't always tell the complete story. Someone with $100.00 can usually spare $2.50, but someone with $10.00 has to be careful of a quarter, even if they're using it to call someone who cares.

That having been said we know this stuff is going to make Something so let's be realistic here. A(s if large corporations are capable of realism.)

Sorry if this is already posted but Eva Longoria is in on the act now http://tv.msn.com/tv/gallery.aspx?gallery=16300&photo=859882>1=7703 .
I hope you get better soon, Joss. Stay strong! We are all behind you- even if our behinds are in the Midwest.
Cheese for Frieda FTW!

(This post brought to you by my dog, whose name is Frieda and would insist that I write it, if she could read and had the good sense to be a fan of Joss.)
Also watching a show on a computer monitor
will never replace watching on the average TV.
-JDL

I know Harmalicious already quoted that, but I have to chime in. Never say never. My mother hates the idea of using a computer to watch a show, but I dropped my TV cable service because I do most of my viewing on DVDs and the rest on the Internet or with itunes downloads. (Sometimes connected to my TV.) And my daughter thinks the ipod is just dandy for watching TV. Maybe no one knows where this is going, but it's clearly going somewhere. Of course writers should get a cut of new media profits.

And the streaming shows seem to get more ads every day.

ETA: But I'm not watching them now. :-)

[ edited by jcs on 2007-11-10 20:01 ]
I believe Joss was referring to JOHN Frieda, the anti-frizzy hair guru. Joss clearly recognized his need for cheese.

I think this because my favorite female artist is named Frida, and from what I know, she always had plenty of cheese. I think she favored cheddar jack.
Here's my favorite picture of the CAA agents bearing churros. Mostly because it looks like the coming of an apocalypse. They did a really nice thing, though, I'm definitely not cutting on them. I'm just giggling... it was surreal to see them there at the picket lines with those winsome smiles and expensive suits.
Ack! They look like the Gentlemen! Or that freaky Matrix multiple guy!

Still, that was a nice thing they did.
General cheer of support.

Also, the computer monitor is the TV in this household.
Joss, Joss, come in to our virtual arms. You are safe here and you are loved. Think of it as virtual chicken soup,and believe me if I could I would bring you a big bowl. Your so called rants are intelligent and lucid coming from someone who has a head full of phlegm. As far as the strike goes, the studios are nothing without you. It is as if the writers are the scorned lovers, and the studio cannot see their broken heart through their pride just yet. Get well my friend. Much love to you.
And I totally lied about that great joke. I got nothin’

I dunno, Joss. The 27 lines of "edited by" seemed pretty funny to me.

;-)

Fluids, dear. Lots and lots of healthful, non-dehydrating fluids (no caffein or alcohol).

And keep warm.

Have some nice chicken soup.
"Also watching a show on a computer monitor will never relplace watching on the average TV."

I watch my shows on my PC, my laptop and my tiny Archos pvp. This morning I watched MTV on my mobile phone while I was on the tram into town.

Welcome to this century. :-)
I watch my shows on my PC, my laptop and my tiny Archos pvp. This morning I watched MTV on my mobile phone while I was on the tram into town.

Caroline's a nerd! Caroline's a nerd!
"Also watching a show on a computer monitor will never replace watching on the average TV."

Of course it won't, sweetie -- because those derned computers will never catch on.

*rolls eyes so much they almost popped out*
Fantastic picture! Thanks, orphea!
CAA?

Civil Aviation Authority?

Contemporary Applied Arts?

Comprehensive Area Assessment?

Computer Applications in Archaeology?

Canolfan Astudiaethau Addysg?

Canadian Automobile Association?

Nah. I give up. Nice gesture though, guys.
Also watching a show on a computer monitor will never relplace watching on the average TV.


Don't use your actual computer to watch computer-derived TV. Use your TV! There are many DVD players that make this a breeze -- the kind like this DVD player that come with a USB interface.

Every file format I've thrown at this DVD player, it will play. It's a little miracle. And it's nearly instantaneous. You don't have to wait hours for a DVD burn, you only have a wait a minute or two for your file to copy from your HD to the external USB drive.
Is purple our offical protest color? So going to clash with my eyes....I'll be the walking eggplant, thank you.

Oh well, anything for our writers:)

Streaming episodes online have ads in them. Presumably the
companies are being paid for that advertising. Why shouldn't the
writers get a cut of that revenue?


Aha. None of the streaming I had seen had ANY ads. This clears up
that up. I wonder what the percentage is of shows that have ads
versus those that don't. So name me a few shows that have ads in
them so I can see what being done.

By your own admission, your usage of streaming videos has been to
catch up on missed shows. Why don't you just wait until they get
rerun on TV? That's when the writers get the residuals- agreed-
-upon deferred payment for the script, money they were promised.

But instead it is more convenient for you to go online the next
day and catch it there, and this is fine. Except the writers get
nothing for that, and it's a trend that is clearly growing. They
want to settle this now, before it becomes the norm.


You missed my point. A highly scripted show with lots of
backstory, story arcs, etc. simply can not afford to wait for
the reruns. If I can't understand this weeks show without seeing
last weeks then waiting is not an option. And as I said above
there were NO ads in what little I've seen.

I am glad that some of you enjoy watching shows on your
computers but I don't and nobody I know does either. Must
be a generation thing. :)

The traditional formula for residuals has a decreasing payment
until 12 or 13 repeats. The idea being that the more a show is
repeated there will be fewer viewers and therefore the ad rate
must be lowered. That won't work with streaming video. Every
viewing will have to be treated as a first viewing. Yet the
ad rate will decline over time so any flat fee is not going
to work (imo). A percentage of the revenue is the only thing
that makes sense to me. If the guild is demanding a flat fee
or a minimum that is too high that might be a sticking point.

And of course there are 2 more guilds whose contracts are ending
soon and who get residuals. If I were negotiating for the
studio's I would like to have something that I could be sure the
other 2 would sign on to. SAG especially could try and hold
the producers up for ransom.
Oh man, Lovers of Stinky Cheese mourn the world over. *sob*

Jossman, you vent righteously and in the perfect place. Stress not. And lemme know where to send the homemade chicken soup. (I'm an excellent cook and Big Damned Chef.)

jam2: In other news, the WGA East is not happy with Ellen DeGeneres.
http://www.wgaeast.org/index.php/articles/1050?wgra=1#wga1050

Hmmph. And now I'm unhappy with her, too. Since I'm a big fan of hers, that's... well, I'm unhappy. :( Sounds like we need to start sending her some comments.

Click here to send Ellen some email.
I think that the way we're heading is that you'll be able to line up all of your television viewing On Demand through your cable box via internet. Shows get uploaded, you set up your schedule, and watch when its convenient for you. Networks would upload on say, Sunday at 2am, all their stuff for the next two weeks. You can either watch *free* according to their schedules, or make your own schedule for premium. We sort of do that with DVRs, already.

That's new media. Embedded commericals, product placement, ads running at the bottom of your screen, as a cheaper tier, no ads at a more expensive one.

So you come home from work on Monday night to settle in and relax, choose Pushing Daisies, Dollhouse, and the latest installment of Shark Week, regardless of what days the lineup airs on regular television.

Am I mental? If not, spoilerphobes are gonna have to avoid the entire internet.

As for watching television on your computer, have you SEEN the mac cinema screens? I'd toss my television out for one of those.

This occured to me one night on a red eye back to Boston, a dad was curled up with his two kids watching Moulan (sp?) on a laptop, all giggly and content, in their own little family world, despite the crappy movie playing on the crappy televisions on the plane.
I, too, have a cold, Joss. I feel somehow that this has caused me to become empathetic towards (toward?) you. Which is probably an illusion. I am, at least, sympathetic. And that must count for something.

That said, thank you for writing. On the ol' blog, yes, but mostly just for writing in general.
"Must be a generation thing".

I'm 44. It's called early adopter.

Or, as theonetruebix said, a nerd. Not quite as nerdy as some, but. And there's plenty of us around.
CAA?

LOL, it's Creative Artists Agency, the biggest talent agency. I like most of yours better, Gil.
JDL, one of the primary reasons the WGA is so up in arms about new media was that, at the dawn of rented/for sale DVDs, the studios said, "Who knows if this will catch on, you can't expect us to agree to pay residual money for this." The WGA is still underwhelmed about the residuals deal that resulted after the fact on DVDs. So there's a precedent not only for the model of which way Internet viewing is likely to go (see DVDs), but of what will happen if the writers don't negotiate for Internet percentage-based residuals now. And why *right* now? It's because this is when the previous contract expired. The choices were to come up with a new contract -- which the two sides could not agree on -- work without a contract, or stop work.
JDL -- Watch any show on ABC, CBS, NBC or Fox's website and you'll find ads that you have to watch before and during the show.

For example:
How I met your mother
Desperate Housewives
Las Vegas
CSI

Or any other show you pick on those sites.
Where to find shows with ads -- Let's see abc.com, cw.com, nbc.com, cbs.com, (not sure about fox.com because they wouldn't run last time I tried)... Pretty much all the major networks online.

"The following episode is brought to you, with limited commercial inturruptions, by [insert monopolizing advertiser who will run the same commercial at every break]"

Where are you getting your online shows?
Must be a generation thing. :)

My mother (56) and grandmother (81), both of whom use iTunes and stream shows online, would probably disagree with you there... =)
A lot of people were getting their streaming TV from tv-links.co.uk, which was a debatably illegal site (they didn't own the content they were listing). It got shut down and the owner was arrested.

FOX.com also has embedded ads. 5 per show, placed in the same places as on TV airing, albeit with one before the shows start.

All the major networks place adverts during streaming content, with most having advert banners appearing during programs also. The cross network website - hulu.com - also features streaming adverts. That site streams all the latest shows, and has just been established. Again, the writers get nothing.

[ edited by gossi on 2007-11-10 23:40 ]
"I am glad that some of you enjoy watching shows on your
computers but I don't and nobody I know does either. Must
be a generation thing. :)"


Might be. But this is the generation the advertisers most want to reach. This is the generation that will grow up expecting to watch TV shows on the web; as stated, mostly likely on a TV but fed by the Internet. So, like it or not, this is when the writers have to make their stand or lose out on income for the next 22 years.

Personally, I think they've been ripped off for the last two decades and damn well deserve to get something back. It is infuriating how the same executives will say they don't want to pay the writers because they don't know how this internet bisiness model will work and then turn around and boast to their stockholders about the millions of dollars and the bright future that the Internet will bring. Every time I see another announcement that Disney or Viacom had record Internet incomes I want the writers to jack up their demands another percentage point.
The traditional formula for residuals has a decreasing payment
until 12 or 13 repeats. The idea being that the more a show is
repeated there will be fewer viewers and therefore the ad rate
must be lowered. That won't work with streaming video. Every
viewing will have to be treated as a first viewing. Yet the
ad rate will decline over time so any flat fee is not going
to work (imo). A percentage of the revenue is the only thing
that makes sense to me. If the guild is demanding a flat fee
or a minimum that is too high that might be a sticking point.


The WGA is asking for a percentage. They want 2.5% - what they should have been getting for DVDs. As online viewership goes up, actual network reruns go down. So writers are losing their traditional residual revnue stream - and not getting anything from the technology that is slowly replacing that. A show like LOST, well, I'm under the impression episodes of that are never - or rarely - repeated on network television. Already a writer is losing half of what they would normally make on a prime time hour of scripted drama.

Streaming of television from the internet is free, but the networks are putting ads in the streams - making money for themselves that way. The writers get nothing. Some day in the not too distant future - as many people here have said - your television will be hooked into the internet and you'll be able to watch everything on demand. What's to stop the networks classifying that as streaming (which it likely will be) and paying the writer nothing for the exact same televisual experience?

And at some point, networks will begin charging people for on demand streaming downloads and that market will increase - and if people can watching these streaming shows on their televisions whenever they want, there will be no complaints from the market. But the writers will continue to get screwed if they don't make a stand now.
Hey, I'm still discovering these internet trites of the moment, patience please. I remember when paper and pen ruled the world, now this. Okay, the 'enter' button does what?
Also watching a show on a computer monitor will never relplace watching on the average TV.

I'm part of the computer monitor generation as well, since May 21, 2003 (yes, I actually remember the date b/c it was the day after the Buffy series finale, where I decided to honor the show by never sitting in front of TV at a predetermined time every week again). It's actually much more convenient than TV because I can watch the episode on MY time rather than the network's time... and, I can also multitask (check email, play WoW, look up pop culture references in Wikipedia, etc) while watching.

It's sad because I was willing to go back to setting time aside weekly to sit in front of the tube again for Dollhouse, but apparently, the networks don't want my eyeballs...
As for watching television on your computer, have you SEEN the mac cinema screens? I'd toss my television out for one of those.


My mom is with Allyson on this. She bought one of those big ole Dell XPS monitors "for graphic design work" and I think she prefers to watch her teevee with that.
Okay, the 'enter' button does what?

Well, did you ever see Tron?
Ekk! Thinking 2001.

"Open the pod bay doors, Hal."
Great line, bix. (i.e. I was gonna say that! =)
I'd be interested in knowing how much online advertising on a show like Heroes (Which I watch at around 4 AM every tuesday morning on my computer before bed, since I am at work while it's on TV) goes towards maintaining the website and the assumedly massive amounts of bandwidth that the website must take up.
Superrodan, you make a good point - but this is another point about Hollywood Studios, they aren't transparent about these kinds of things. They don't want anyone to know where the money goes. Accounting practices in Hollywood are devious - ie. Warner Bros continues to tell Babylon 5 creator J Michael Straczynski that his show never made any money, even though the DVD sales alone have paid for the production cost of the series - probably twice over. New Line paid a fine rather than show Peter Jackson how much money Lord of the Rings made in profit, when he sued them for not paying him properly.

The sticking point probably isn't the fact the studio would have to pay writers a percentage, it's that they would have to be more honest about the amount of money they are earning online - which they are currently being circumspect about.

Maybe those costs mean they aren't making a lot from streaming television shows, but that's irrelevant - the writers are all saying they want a percentage, if the studios make nothing then the writers will be entitled to a percentage of nothing. But if they are making money, the creators deserve that.

The same is true for Directors and Actors and they will face the same thing come June 08 - or earlier when they begin negotiations themselves. This isn't the writers crying poor or being dealt with badly because that seems to be their traditional role in Hollywood, The Companies are trying to get away without paying residuals to anyone from these new revenue streams.
So if the fans and writers are Serenity, the studios are the alliance, and the media are the Reavers - how do we transform this ship to infiltrate the media and get them going after the studios for the real truth of the negotiation conflict?

Thank you, Joss. Keep posting.

hee - sock monkeys
I think strikers are the reavers, the media is Serenity, and the corporations are the alliance.

The media/Serenity needs to discover that the strikers/Reavers are acting the way they are due to the alliance/corporations attempt at controlling them in shady ways. The media is going to be key in making sure that others know the truth.
Now, just let me begin by saying, how can some people be so blind.
And the general media, as expected, isn't helping at all, by being mostly mis-informative and very much manipulative to the level, that's not hard to understand that they still need to benefit the big conglomerates which owns them.

"Does anyone believe we picked a fight?"

Only if demanding something that shoulda've been given to you guys way before-hand and voluntarily can be considered "picked a fight", because as far as I'm concerned the studios picked the fight by not making action by the before-hand and voluntary thing.

I'm glad Joss the boss posted again, and once again I'd like to express my support for the cause of the writers (loved the sign badge, on whedonesque front page, whoever made it, congrats - great work). I wish I could be there picketing with you guys, but living in Brazil, and actually being out of he country now, does make it quite difficult.

I'm not able to follow this as closely as I'd like, but just before I saw this new posting from Joss, I got an email from one of my main email accounts, that just made me so kind of worried. It does show that we're not alone on the support of the writers.

What does make me worried, is how they are approaching this said campaign thing they are rising, using words like destructive to define the WGA strike. I expected something more, for a website connected to the fans4writers.

From: "The Fan Union"
To: myemail
Subject: Fans - You Can Help STOP the WGA Strike!
Date: Sat, 10 Nov 2007 00:27:07 -0500

The WGA strike has already proven destructive. 24 will not air until 2009 (how the hell did they bring Tony back?),
Lost is scheduled to have an anti-climatic 8 episode run leaving fans to wait another 10 months, Heroes has been
scheduled to end early and it's spinoff series Heroes: Origins has been cancelled. Can this be reversed?

The good news is, it can. Not long ago, Jericho fans brought CBS to their knees with a campaign designed
to impose their collective will on CBS. Lost fans have been able to convince ABC to do away with reruns, and
Heroes creator Tim Kring recently apologized for what the fans have identified as short comings in the second
season.

See something in common with this issues? When fans unite their voices, the studios and creators pay attention.
For that reason, it is now time for TV fans to unite behind a single message and bring the strike to an end
while there is still hope to salvage the TV season.

For more information on what we can do to bring this strike to an end, visit:

http://www.thefanunion.com

And learn about our fan protests aimed at forming a loud, powerful, and irrestible voice.

Thank you,

The Fan Union


it's slightly less worrisome, by visiting their website, you do see some informative people in there, who actually understand and support the writers stand at this strike.

They are trying to build an unified stand for fans in this matter, but I'm afraid that they might actually mix their legs and arms, for approaching their efforts towards the desire to have complete seasons, rather than actually really supporting the writers cause. Maybe my thought logic, works differently, but I think the approach should be quite different. Especially because we might be dealing with fans who are still having trouble by all the anti-strike frenzy from general media, and how frustrated they are with the fact they won't get new episodes from their favorite shows.
I watch shows on my PC all of the time. The one hooked up to my TV and the ones not hooked up to my TV and the the ones who get things streamed from my DVR over the 'net and... etc. Just to clarify I confess to futzing with Joss' tags - the original tags were: "when, will, he, shut, up". All of the tags except beagles and sock monkeys were actually in the post though :) It was late and I am silly.
I have no problem with waiting it out and going back to shows or watching new shows when they eventually air. I went nearly 20 years with little to no television, and I can do it again. Of course, I would prefer not to, but as long as the strike goes on and beyond (or to infinity and beyond!) I'll support the writers in this struggle.
Well I don't like that Fan Union email one bit. I can understand their being upset that some of their favourite shows aren't coming back in the forseeable future, but that's beside the point. The effort shouldn't be focused on getting shows back on the air - it should be getting a fair deal for writers... and the shows will follow.

Their examples of getting shows renewed bares no resemblance to this work stoppage at all. Getting reruns dispensed with is kind of anti-WGA anyway. And having Tim Kring apologise for the crappiness of Heroes... that's like a year to late, IMHO.

I am already bracing for the worst - that the TV season is basically over and things won't be back to normal until the 2008-09 season. Only in a couple of instances does this fill me with despair - shows that are ending that might not be able to end properly (Scrubs), shows that are new that don't have a chance for renewal now (Journeyman). All the big stuff will be back eventually. This issue is too important for it not to be resolved properly now. A campaign to salvage this season merely for the sake of viewer's pleasure - not exactly conducive to writers getting what they deserve.
I expected something more, for a website connected to the fans4writers.

They aren't connected to us. For a time we were in discussions both with them and another forum site that had been set up. But we weren't finding what we were looking for in either case, and so are in the process of putting up our own forums.

There was never any official "okay let's work together" agreement between F4W and The Fan Union.

If you don't see something expressly promoted as an activity on fans4writers.com, you can't assume it's endorsed by us.
with the exception of 'scrubs' (which is in its last season)all of the other shows can continue from where they left off whenever they start back up. so I'm not worried about myself so much as the people who won't be getting paychecks. but thats how a strike goes.

I don't channel surf or watch reality shows. so without new episodes of my shows I just don't watch cable. the strike actually stopped me from upgrading to HD cable this week, so its the studios loss i guess.
Great note to know that b!x, It took another 10 minutes until I realized that the fans4writers were the one you guys were starting, because, the starting thread has already disappeared from the front page, and it wasn't until about half hour ago, that I got to check the great work you guys accomplished in only a few hour ago.

Maybe stating that not every-fan campaign incentive is connected or supported by fans4writers, should be pointed somewhere in the site, so people won't be confused, if some other independent fan campaigns start to pop in, linking it to fans4writers with a link or banner.

As I said before, i'd like to help wherever I can, just let me know.

Just had a weird idea just now, right before finishing this post, will post it on .org.
Ssick I hope you told your cable company, because I think they have a vested interested in putting pressure on the AMPTP to agree to a fair contract sooner rather than later. I have already informed Comcast cable that I will be canceling cable if this drags on, and actually I'm starting to think I should down-grade from expanded to basic cable immediately since I can't watch Jon Stewart any more anyway.
Oh, good idea! I'm canceling my ComCrap internet this Wednesday because of high prices and crappy connections, but now I'll just tell them it's because of the strike. Might as well get some good out of it.
Thats a great idea. I bet they haven't spent too much time thinking about what damage is being done to the advancement of HD technology.

I think as soon as the new shows run dry all I'll need is the cooking channel and a few other specialty channels. I cold totally do without the lower tier channels.
I would gladly watch most of my tv on my computer if not for the fact that many sites (cbs, nbc) will not allow us Canadians to do so (jerks). It would so uncomplicate my life if I could chose when I wanted to watch shows (since I can't afford a PVR, and my DVD recorder does not mesh with my digital cable - what a gynormous waste of money that purchase was). Of course, I will not do so, even on those sites on which I can, until the issue of proper and just payment has been solved!!! Yay writers!!! And for Pete's sake Joss! Chicken soup and SLEEP!!!!
How about just turning OFF the tv until the writers get their just due? I'll miss Life, and I'm pissed as hell about Dollhouse, but really, what else is there?

And I for one do not care one whit if there's no good tv for a while. It IS important, and I would MUCH rather have it, but not at the expense of what's happening to the writers, our Joss being one. What they are shouting for is just too important.

Speaking of, Big Purple, as others have decried (decreed?), get some sleep! Just as long as it doesn't interfere with your posting here. I mean, we ARE talking about what's important, right? ;)
It occurs to me, semi-randomly, that as much as many of us were amused by the pictures of CAA people bearing food, I'm really not sure the public image the writers need is one of being served by good-looking men and women in suits and dresses serving from giant platters a type of pastry that most of America has never heard of before.

It's the sort of thing that might lead to, say, yet another dismissive article by the NY Times.
TNT has no ads afaik. Just checked out an episode of Heroes. No
real ads other than a "Stayfree" logo. It was all promo's. So
little if any revenue there. ABC on the other hand had a Charles
Scwab ad after every break of the Pushing Daisies episode I am
watching. They definitely need to pay residuals for that.
Jericho also has a LOT of ads -- or did when I was watching it two months ago. It was more annoying than on tv, as someone suggested -- although one can multitask at a computer and, as someone said, turn off the volume.
(I've been absent from this fascinatingly-purple thread, but not from lack of interest - I've been writing and InterWebbing for the fans4writers thingy...)

Oh, Fanlings all, I need your help. I'm re-writing the Strike FAQ, and I have a Big Old Question of Fact. I'll just re-post the question I put up on the Org., hoping that someone with Actual Knowledge can help me - I can't find it, with all my Researchyness. Sorry this is so long...

Does anyone know if WGA writers currently get anything from 1) their existing content being sold online as digital temporary or permanent downloads? 2) Do writers get any residuals at all from the online streaming of existing content (not new) - like shows?

I - maybe wrongly - thought not, but the Producers are saying at their AMPTP site:

"As the WGA knows and its own records will attest, writers are paid residuals on permanent digital downloads.

As the WGA knows and its own records will attest, writers are paid residuals on pay-per-view digital downloads.

This additional compensation was part of the more than $260,000,000 in record-breaking residuals paid to WGAW members in 2006.

When the WGA went on strike, an offer to pay writers for Internet streaming was on the table."


WGA, West says in a Q & A on their site about new media:

"Residuals in this area will be groundbreaking.

Not so. In 2001, the Companies negotiated the first new technology residual, agreeing to pay 1.2% of the distributor's gross receipts for Internet rentals. Now that other forms of distribution have arrived, such as the sale of downloads or advertising-supported streaming, it is time to negotiate fair residuals to cover these new uses."


I know there was a section of the new contract proposed by the AMPTP that would have, in future, given them the right to declare that showing content on the internet was "promotional" even if they showed a whole movie or TV season, and even if revenue was generated, but 1) I'm confused about if writers are currently getting 1.2% for perm or temp downloads, and 2) I want to make certain sure they weren't getting any residuals at all for streaming old (created for films or TV) content.

(I do know that writers are asking that NEW content they create for new media - web, phone, video games - be subject to WGA protections, including residuals, while they currently are not, so I know this means they are not now getting residuals for new content - such as wepisodes, etc.)

I've been all over whichaways looking, and I just can't find information either that contradicts or supports the AMPTP's assertion about the writers' current residual formula for downloads - dunno if they are WGA's afore-mentioned "Internet rentals."

Anyone know?

(And Znachki, if you wanna see how to code a link, go to "View Source" on your browser and scroll down to somebody's else's successful link and snag the code...)

ET: fix that demned italic thingamabob.

[ edited by QuoterGal on 2007-11-11 06:54 ]
I have a question. Many shows have used product placement before, where companies pay to have their brand of products in a character's refrigerator or garage or whatever. But lately the advertisers, desperate at the public's embrace of TiVo and its commercial-skipping abilitis, have been demanding that their products not only appear in an episode but must become a plot point in the show. On "Heroes" a Ford vehicle has been prominently displayed in several episodes of both the last season and this one, for example. On "Smallville" they've gotten sloppy and blatant about it: one episode that included a promo to win a new car also just happened to feature Lois using her nifty new car to distract a guard. Guess which model it was? Wow, what a coincidence. The Batgirl-kind-of character made a point of showing off her AcuView contact lenses box and mentioning how they helped her disguise her identity. In one really pathetic move Cloe and Jimmy Olsen were in a car as bait for an attack and they were actually listening to commercials as they waited...

How does this work on streaming videos? If Hiro jumps into a Ford Fiesta and that episode is streamed, does the studio make a few more bucks? I'm guessing yes.
QuoterGal quoted the following: "As the WGA knows and its own records will attest, writers are paid residuals on pay-per-view (and permanent) digital downloads"
QG: I'm remembering -- but don't have source, sorry -- that they don't get paid for the shows people watch on 'net: but these shows aren't necessarily pay per view or permanent digital downloads, i.e. people aren't purchasing them and can't save them to their computers. You also mentioned "Internet rentals." Look at the wording of what they're claiming carefully. When I've watched -- on a network site -- an episode of a show, it has functioned like youtube -- can watch it, but can't save it and haven't paid for it. So, my sense of this is be precise about what version you're discussing.

I hope this helps.
QG, this document might help. (I'm gonna read it and see if I can find your answer, but I'm a slow reader so I'm posting so you or someone else can find it first. =)
jam2, that document is awesome.

ETA:

Check page 16 (I can't seem to cut and paste from the thing) for an undermining of the idea that streaming TV episodes online is "promotional".

[ edited by theonetruebix on 2007-11-11 08:03 ]
QuoterGal, I've been reading both the Schedule of Minimums (PDF download) and the Minimum Basic Agreement (PDF download) at the WGA.org site to get this clear in my head also. Being a legal document, the wording isn't so straightforward, but here is my best translation:

- the Schedule of Minimums, which covers the minimum payment required for all services a member of the WGA might perform, does not cover writing for the internet at all, nor residuals for transmitting content over the internet, whether it is original for the internet or produced for television or theatrical distribution and later broadcast on the internet

- the Minimum Basic Agreement does cover the internet, briefly, in two sideletters/appendices to the MBA.

WRITING FOR THE INTERNET

1) Material Written for the Internet: The Company must make contributions to the Pension Plan and Health Fund. No minimum payment for the writer themselves is required, though an agreement can be made between writer, Guild and Company about payment.

2) Material Written for Television/Film Based on Material Written for the Internet: the Writer would get paid the same under the Agreement. ie. the writer is not penalised for writing a TV series based on something created for the internet, they are paid according to the Basic Minimum Schedule

TRANSMISSION ON THE INTERNET

1) License for Limited Period or Fixed Number of Exhibitions: The Company must pay the writer 1.2% of the license fee paid for the rights to distribute on the internet - if the subscriber (viewer) is paying for the download.

I'm not sure of a good example of this. But if viewers were paying NBC.com for the right to stream The Office, then this would apply. There were some downloading services that allowed viewers to watch a program once or for a limited period (either streamed or downloaded), but I'm not sure if those services really exist anymore.

NBC doesn't require payment for streaming shows, makes money from advertisers, but doesn't need to pay writers because no one is actually paying to watch the streaming video

2) Other exhibitions. (ie. streaming from websites, downloads from iTunes, etc - basically every legit form of downloading TV on the internet) Direct quote: "The parties acknowledge that the markets for such exhibitions are evolving and that the basis for payment of residuals shall be determined at a later time."

It goes on to talk about SAG or the DGA reaching an agreement over these issues with the AMPTP and allows for the WGA to appropriate an equivalent adjustment for writers.

So the AMPTP is being disingenuous on its site because the model they are discussing is clearly outdated and no one is really getting paid for A) writing for the internet and B) transmission on the internet.

Hence, The Strike :-)

(Also, that document that jam2 linked to is very good at clarifying things also.)
QG, did you see this page? It says:
Current Provision/Practice: The WGA position is that the MBA residual formulas for pay TV and basic cable apply to content streamed or downloaded via the Internet and cellular technology. These formulas are 1.2% for features whether streamed or downloaded, 1.2% for TV product when the viewer pays, and 2.0% for post-1984 TV product or 2.5% for pre-1984 TV product when it is free to the viewer. The studios are refusing to pay anything for streaming that is free to the viewer (and ad-supported), and they are paying the 0.3% home video residual when the viewer pays. This dispute is the subject of claims filed against the studios by the WGA (and by SAG and DGA as well).

As far as I can tell, the other link (while less specific) is consistent with this.
jam2, that document is awesome.

Yeah, kudos and credit to Zev Foreman of Loyola Law School for seeing this coming back in April.

bix, use the Download PDF link on the left, then you should be able to copy/paste from there.

[ edited by jam2 on 2007-11-11 08:16 ]
"Just checked out an episode of Heroes. No
real ads other than a "Stayfree" logo. It was all promo's."
- JDL

Every time I watched 'Heroes' on NBC.com, I saw 4 or 5 commercial breaks that I couldn't fast-forward through and banner ads around the screen. Where are you watching It? Also, I think promos for other shows are paid ads, but someone can correct me if I am wrong.
The studios are refusing to pay anything for streaming that is free to the viewer (and ad-supported), and they are paying the 0.3% home video residual when the viewer pays.


If they are paying 0.3% for iTunes download, that is out of the "goodness of their hearts" (heh) because that isn't actually covered in the agreement. The agreement only covers limited-use downloads that a subscriber pays for. iTunes isn't limited-use, but it is the equivalent of purchasing on DVD. So yeah, they should be paying the 0.3% but they aren't actually required to - as far as I can tell.
The bit I love from page 16:

... the WGA Agreement allows for promotional use of WGA material. Unlike the AFTRA Agreement, the WGA Agreement defines promotional use as, "for the purpose of advertising or publicizing the specific program or serial or series from which the excerpt is taken." In this definition ... the exhibition of an entire show cannot be used for promotion. It is inherently not an excerpt and not used for publicity.


Emphasis added.
Yep, crossoverman, the Foreman Paper confirms that:
Without consulting the guilds, the producers of ABC’s Lost began to make payments to the guilds based on the home video residual rate (based on the 20% gross) for shows that were sold over the internet.

I don't know the whole history, but I imagine the producers did that preemptively to establish a precedent for the residuals at the lower home video rate, rather than the higher Pay TV rate which the writers want.

And bix, I also noticed that point about the "excerpt". Foreman wrote a very good paper, sticking to the facts and not editorializing, but at that point you can almost hear him saying "gimme a break!".
In one really pathetic move Cloe and Jimmy Olsen were in a car as bait for an attack and they were actually listening to commercials as they waited...

This made me laugh out loud.

Of course, by the way, internet streaming costs money. However, I'm willing to bet a very, very large sum that networks make money from it. Why? If they were loosing money from internet streaming, they wouldn't do it. They're a business.
So purple's okay. So love these straight forward questions.

Willowy, enough with those BIG letters. We hear you quite well and your messages are wonderful.

Did I mention Joss today? If not, sporting purple!
Argh. I can't cancel ComCrap just yet. College hoops just began. However, depending on the status of BSG come April, I'll be able to cancel it and tell them it's due to the strike.
Well, Joss. Let me tell you something. The Thursday before last, I got canned from my job. I was in commissioned sales, and my sales were too low, so I was jettisoned like so much waste. That's depressing as hell.

So, after once again slogging onto the "would you hire me" quest that seems to have taken up so much time in the last 3 years, I would come home and have suddenly tons of time with nothing to fill it. So, I had a choice of either finding something to kill that time, or someway to spend it fruitfully. I chose to pull my Buffy DVDs (I have seasons 1-6... haven't been able to afford 7 since it was released... which annoys me) and watch them all in a row. I consider this to be the latter of the two categories.

And you know what, I've got copies of the shooting scripts for the series, and I've been periodically comparing what happened on the screen to what was written on the page. And while I think your excellent team of actors certainly made these scenes so wonderful to see, I could tell that this all began on the page. It's all there, right there in print.

Reading the scripts has been educational to me... in contrasting them to what is seen in the production, it really does show how much of what becomes permanent starts with you and your team of writers.

If your work starts getting distributed in new ways that make these production companies cash, then it is only right that you make a slice of that. They wouldn't have the product to make their money without you. I get it. It's not about you getting rich off the internet. It's about equity. It's about you getting attribution for the work you did. And anybody who's ever tried to write fiction will know that it is indeed work.

I salute you, sir. Have some OJ.
whedongeek, jam2, b!Xy, crossoverman (and C.A.B. over at the .org) - my heartfelt thanks to you for the resources, and especially the extraction of pertinent bits and the analysis. jam2, that document was truly the bee's knees.

I think I'm good to go. Just wanted to say that your generosity is wonderful, but not surprising in this incredibly generous fandom.
IMForeman, sorry to here about the layoff. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you to find the right job soon.

Of course, by the way, internet streaming costs money. However, I'm willing to bet a very, very large sum that networks make money from it. Why? If they were loosing money from internet streaming, they wouldn't do it. They're a business.


Sorry you're wrong, people lose money in businesses all the
time, nothing new there. But in this case I think when there
are no ads the shows are seen really as promotions. They are
trying to boost viewage of the advertised versions.

It appears the guild does not want a level of usage where the
whole show is streamed as a promotion, i.e. little or no ad
revenue. I don't feel that their position is warranted in this
case. When there are ads I feel residuals are warranted. Not
sure what rate is fair.
But in this case I think when there are no ads the shows are seen really as promotions.

Except, as per the current WGA Agreement, they can't be seen as such because they aren't merely "excerpts", a term used in said Agreement when discussing what can be considered "promotional". In other words, the studios are BREAKING their agreement with the Guild when they do this.
JDL, you don't have to hit return in your posts.
When an entire episode is streamed online, that doesn't really sound like a promotion. A promotion is a excerpt or teaser that entices a viewer to see the entire episode.

If an entire episode is available online, then viewers do not need to watch the ep on TV... and this leads to viewers subsituting online viewing to TV viewing. As this substituion viewing increases with better technology, and more joining of online and broadcast TV, writers residual payments will drizzle down to nothing because the technology changed. Online distribution is still broadcasting, and should be treated that way.

Studios may be taking the position that online eps are only "promotional" in order to establish a precedent that this type of "broadcasting" doesn't owe any residuals to the writer. Then as the technology improves and viewers switch more and more to online, and they will, writers will be shut out.

JDL, you don't have to hit return in your posts.


I hit the return so much without thinking about it that I
have to edit for conformity or it looks sloppy.


But in this case I think when there are no ads the shows are seen really as promotions.
-----------------------------------------------------------------
Except, as per the current WGA Agreement, they can't be seen as such because they aren't merely "excerpts", a term used in said Agreement when discussing what can be considered "promotional". In other words, the studios are BREAKING their agreement with the Guild when they do this.


Not necessarily. They could shave off 5 seconds and lo ! its
less than your 100% and it now meets your criteria to be an
excerpt. Of course no one who watches it is likely to catch
the difference but so what!

The legal meaning of the term "excerpt" may well be quite
different from what we think it is. Further the contractual
meaning may be different again. I don't know myself, do any
of you with a law degree have a notion ?

Also remember that the writers as a general rule don't own
the intellectual property rights to their scripts, its "work
for hire". Residuals are simply added "work for hire"
compensation not royalties.

If as you say the producers broke the old agreement then
the WGA should have filed suit years ago when this practice
first started. If that ever happened its news to me.

Finally the nets and/or studio's have been giving away DVD's
of new shows for a couple of years. Does anyone know if the
writers, actors, or producers receive any residual compensation
for that ? It would be a telling fact.
"Excerpt", I'm quite sure, would be considered having its plain meaning, were it ever put to a test.

I'm just as sure that some studio lawyer somewhere decided that if they broke up an entire episode with ads every 15 minutes, that would mean they aren't showing the entire episode, but four sequential "excerpts" of it.

Bet me on it. That will come out somewhere, at some point.
If as you say the producers broke the old agreement then
the WGA should have filed suit years ago when this practice
first started. If that ever happened its news to me.


Actually, streaming a show in its entirety for free doesn't incur a residual payment as the current Basic Agreement stands. Doesn't mean the writers aren't getting screwed.

Also, when the Agreement was reached in 2004, there wasn't a lot of streaming full episodes of television - a lot can change in three years. Thus, the strike.

If as you say the producers broke the old agreement then
the WGA should have filed suit years ago when this practice
first started. If that ever happened its news to me.
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Actually, streaming a show in its entirety for free doesn't incur a residual payment as the current Basic Agreement stands. Doesn't mean the writers aren't getting screwed.

Also, when the Agreement was reached in 2004, there wasn't a lot of streaming full episodes of television - a lot can change in three years. Thus, the strike.


I was responding to Bix and he was certainly saying that the
studios WERE breaking the old contract. OTOH you seen to saying
otherwise.

In many contractual cases there are what I will call "other
rights*", These are the rights for things that the contract
did not cover in specific or in principle. If you are right
(and Bix is wrong) the old contract did not apply to streaming
video, ergo the studios online episode promo's are legit at
least at present.

If you believe that the writers are being screwed I would
think that you don't believe that the usage of streaming
video (the non-commercial version at least)is promotional
in nature. I think it is. YMMV.

Look something has to be done to save the scripted show.
I don't want to have to choose between Survivor: Nebraska
and Singing with the Stars (new product). Or perhaps we
can have lots of imported shows. Oooh that will be loads
of fun.

*the more proper would be residual rights but using that
term would just confuse things.
There may also need to be a clarification of terms too. Under the old contract, have residuals always been calculated on a percentage, or have some of them been paid based on fixed amounts? The structure where residuals are slowly phased out after multiple showings of an episode is still unfair to the creative side. After all, even if a rerun being shown on its 80th time is still bringing in profits, then the creative side should still receive some percentage. The writer's contribution hasn't diminished over repeated reruns, if anything, the value of the work is evident when the show is still popular after so many showings.

Seems that what things might be moving toward is a little more of a partnership, although it will be the case that the studios will receive the lion's share. But residuals based on percentages might also be termed "profit sharing". This acknowledges that the business side and creative side each take part in the profits realized from their partnership.
JDL, the Agreement actually says very little about broadcasting on the internet. It doesn't cover excerpts broadcast online, but it does cover excerpts shown through traditional media - television or broadcast theatrically. The Companies are only getting away with broadcasting more than an "excerpt" because the Agreement doesn't cover online broadcasting with regard to streaming.

How you can consider broadcasting an entire episode or film as merely promotional is beyond me.

b!x is right to the extent they are breaking the spirit of the contract - there's good reason why they can't and shouldn't broadcast an entire episode or film without paying residuals. But they are getting away with it because the Basic Agreement only covers limited-use downloads that have been paid for. Streaming isn't paid for and iTunes isn't limited use.

The Agreement made in 2004 gave the Companies more time to see what the market could bear. We now see that the market can bear streaming, selling episodes on iTunes and limited-use subscriber downloads. Writers should be paid for all of these.

ETA: a reader at JohnAugust.com made a great point about "promotional" product on the internet -

It just occurred to me that if the studios really believed that internet viewing was promotion for the aired/theatrical/DVD showings, then they wouldn’t pull such things off of YouTube with such prejudice. I mean, if it’s promotional, then TV shows put on YouTube would be even better than studios and networks putting them on their own websites, since they don’t have to pay to host and stream it if it’s on YouTube.


Because, of course, these streaming episodes aren't merely promotional - they are a revenue stream and the networks must be making money from them.

[ edited by crossoverman on 2007-11-12 06:40 ]
QG: Aw, shucks. ;-P
IMF: A lovely post -- I'm sorry about the layoff. I agree with you -- spending time watching all these episodes is time well spent. Really makes you appreciate the Master. Good luck with the hunt.
Do we really care about the opinion of a journalist who doesn't even know how to use an apostrophe?

Or have I missed the point? Joss, are you the only guy actually on strike? Cos if there's only one writer he's correct and I withdraw my earlier contention.

[ edited by ZodKneelsFirst on 2007-11-12 14:13 ]
JDL -- I still don't get your point. The writers aren't asking for a set $ amount, they're asking for a % of the revenue, so, if as you claim, the Networks are making nothing on the internet episodes, than they'd be getting 2% of nothing which is, let me do the math --- nothing into nothing, carry the 0, hmm.......
You know what I realized through reading all this? The writers didn't get anything from DVD sales? So taking comfort in my dvd collection will not help them either. Dang it! I wish I was in LA - I would go out and walk with them.
Writers did and do get a percentage of DVD sales, ruthless1 - it's just that it remains at the rate the WGA negotiated over 20 years ago when they accepted a cut from 2.5% of the receipts they got from re-runs to .03-ish % for the "new & risky & expensive" technology of "home video."

Now home video has shifted into DVD sales - which are ginormously profitable - and DVD production costs are greatly reduced and the AMPTP has basically refused to raise the writers' residual to the 1985 repeat use rate of 2.5% on a product that is replacing re-runs.

And that's not even going into the still-crappy percentage writers get when their product is sold as a download (1.2%) or the no-percentage-at-all they get when their product is streamed online, or when they write a webisode for the Internet.

It's patently unfair - but to set the record straight, it's not "nothing" on DVD sales - it's just damn little.
Avenging Benji just made my list of favorite movies on Facebook.

Here’s to wishing Joss et al. a successful resolution of the contract situation so he’s to busy writing Avenging Benji &c. to blog about it.

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