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.
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November 10 2007
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