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February 10 2008

'Pencils up?' Jane Espenson weighs in after attending Saturday night's WGA membership meeting at the Shrine Auditorium: "I'll be checking in with friends, to make sure that I'm not missing anything, to make sure that this is the right deal at the right time, but as of this moment I'm feeling very hopeful that this is a deal I'm ready to take."

I'm feeling much more hopeful now. No matter what all the different news outlets and bloggers say, it's nice to hear it from someone you trust.
If the lovely Miss Espenson likes it, perhaps it is a worthwhile offer. I also want to hear Joss's opinion, as he seems to be of the "take no prisoners" mindset. Regardless of the outcome of this particular offer, I truly respect the writer's solidarity and courage. Having worked as an organizer and activist, I know it is not always easy.

Bix, thanks for the post.

[ edited by azhippieinoz on 2008-02-10 08:12 ]
Wooty-woot!

Ok, so far one of our trusted writers is cautiously optimistic. Can we get the Big Purple to weigh in on this, now?

And then can someone go whack the Big Bads over their collective heads with something very heavy so they don't ever do something this stupid again? It's been like summer all winter. But, without, you know, the warm. And the baseball. And much more snow.

I think I need sleep.
Yes, don't any of you people sleep? It's daytime for me, which means, almost assuredly, it is night where you are.
But, without, you know, the warm. And the baseball.

Ah, but Saturday was Truck Day. (Red Sox fans, you know what I'm talking about.)
This deal looked to have included what many have said for a long time were dealbreakers but for some reason it seems they are more tolerable now. It's looking an awful lot like Serenity Valley to me. I too am hoping to see some purple text to explain it to me in terms I can understand.

[ edited by IMMORTAL on 2008-02-10 09:31 ]
Thanks, b!X, that was heartening to read - our Jane's been so resolved throughout this whole strike that if it's looking good to her, I'm gonna get all hopeful.

Here's some more links to strike updates (UnitedHollywood is so far mum):

[LA Times] Writers Optimistic About Deal, But the Strike Isn’t Over Yet

[Variety] WGA to Hold 48-hour Vote

[Verheiden.blogspot.com] Writer Mark Verheiden (Jane's Co-exec at BSG): WGA Strike - Will It End on Day 100?

[The Hollywood Reporter] Optimism Common at West Coast Writers’ Meeting
I'm sending good vibes out into the universe that the strike will be over and more importantly, that the terms on the table are fair and equitable. And I will be so happy when my current TV love, 30 Rock, goes back into production and Dollhouse (deep, calming breath) actually happens.
This sounds very hopeful but I'm not breaking out the margueritas until we hear from Joss or at least until United Hollywood weighs in. It's very late in L.A., almost 1 AM.
We still don't know if the full membership in going to vote, do we?
Okay I've read what TV writer Jane Espenson has to say - and what screenwriter John August has to say. They are both positive that this deal is something they can get behind. I'd be interested in hearing Joss and Ron Moore talk about it - but they may not want to tip their hands before the vote.
Given the tenor of her posts and quality of her analyses at UnitedHollywood, Justine Bateman is my barometer for acceptance - if she can live with it I think most will be able to.

Joss also works in that way, he's been vocal about not just taking something because it's something so he's obviously gonna go over it with a fine-tooth comb and then not be backwards coming forwards if the deal isn't workable.

And a couple of other blogs also suggest that the writers were pretty positive at the meeting (Ken Levine says there was a standing ovation for the negotiators) and that the feeling was probably that they'd take it. Cross 'em if you got 'em ;).

(and yep, you can always rely on John August for a reasonable response, very sane fella)
More Jane strike comments from dear old Kristin.

Link:
TRUCK DAY!! I didnt get to go this year

My boss is hoping to go to Japan for the games!! better be bringing us back some swag---

and news that the strike may be ending

can good times --like new episodes-new series be and warm weather with LESS snow be far behind
I'll admit that I had hoped for a more dramatic win, more in keeping with when Health Insurance was first funded. So many people have sacrificed so much, and this seems like such a compromise. But on the other hand I do think that the WGA has been represented by very able negotiators, and if they feel that this is the best deal they can make I guess it is good to credit them as knowing what they are talking about. I would like to hear Joss' comments, feelings, and/or thoughts on the subject (but that is kinda true of any subject!).
I have mixed feelings, too. But I think it's very important that they didn't let the studios get away with "we'll pay you after we figure out the business model" on new media the way they did with home video/DVDs. And this isn't the last contract. And I think the moguls have been made at least vaguely aware that they're not actually holding all the cards.
I've got mixed feelings in that there's some sections of the tentative deal which clearly screw over the writers - the 17 day initial window, for one. That said, there's a lot of sweet in there, which would never have been possible without going on strike.
The "promotional" window and the 100K units before payment are still there. Since the studios argument for these is "There's no money!" and since this is only a three year deal then I assume in three years time the net income will be clearer and the WGA will be able to argue their case. The DVD deal twenty years ago had no such way to review that deal, hence screwage.
Jane Espenson told me, "It was great. I learned tons. There was a lot of math, but I was always kind of good at math, and it was inspiring and interesting. I think the deal on a scale of 1 to 10 is like an 8, but my 'hopeful meter' is all the way up at 10."

Why does it not surprise me that Jane is probably very good at math? If she is hopeful, so am I.
I'm not breaking out the margueritas until we hear from Joss or at least until United Hollywood weighs in.

I can't bring you Joss, but I can bring you the first UH post. I sort of assume there might be several.
Variety:

For the first time in more than three months, TV showrunners are heading back to the office on Monday.

Scribes who also have producing responsibilities on their shows will be allowed to return to work on Monday while the WGA conducts a membership vote...

...

Industry sources also report that the WGA contract reached with the majors is expected to include a provision that will allow scribes who were force majeuered from ongoing series to return to their old jobs.

UH on how the first vote (to end the strike) will work. No picketing on Monday and Tuesday. Vote on Tuesday evening. A "yes" vote means to end the strike immediately, and a "no" vote means to continue the strike during the vote to ratify the contract itself.
Interesting to see the DVD residuals back in the mix when that was the very first thing the studios demanded be withdrawn back in September or October. Usually in a union negotiation what gets taken off the table stays off the table.
My personal opinion doesn't matter to be honest since I'm not a Guild member, but if I were, and I were going to go on strike and cause an industry-wide shutdown and make everyone scramble for the rent, much less dinner, I'd have to commit to seeing it through to the end, which would mean getting what was demanded - or a reasonable facsimile thereof - before agreeing to go back to work. What the writers are getting resembles what the writers initially demanded only vaguely. But hey, if the Guild's happy...
Ed R, I don't know what you're reading, but there's no change to DVD residuals, and without a "favored nations" clause, the WGA doesn't automatically get any better DVD deal SAG might get.
Argh. Even at this point, LA Time reports things like "Writers walked off the job Nov. 5, seeking higher payment from the studios when their work is distributed over the Internet."

I guess it's true any payment is higher than nothing.

Here's hoping the outcome is good for the WGA.
Here is the new agreement, b!x. It's written in such a way as to present its best face forward but the bottom line isn't a whole lot better than it used to be.
(1) Yes, that's the summary, not the agreement, and I've read it. (2) That has nothing about DVDs being back on the table, which is your assertion, and what I was responding to in the first place, heh.
Today's press conference on YouTube. Or, rather, the first part. The Q&A isn't included.

[ edited by theonetruebix on 2008-02-11 02:23 ]
OK, you win.
Wasn't trying to "win", I was just trying to make sure readers here didn't leave this thread with incorrect information.
Everything I've read about the deal from members places them in either one of two opinions 1) it's a bad deal and they are voting "no" and 2) it's a bad deal but they can live with it and are reluctantly voting "yes." I have yet to read a positive opinion that uses the word "fair." And what are we to infer from Joss' silence? I think it speaks volumes.
The member comments I've read here and there seem optimistic but not exactly satisfied with the deal.

And what are we to infer from Joss' silence? I think it speaks volumes.

But volumes of what? That he's busy reading everything over and discussing it with other writers? That he has Strike Flu II (I really hope not)? That he's left Hollywood on an ancient quest to find a six-fingered gentleman with a sword? That he won't be posting until he has something certain and well thought out to say? That his fingers are busy typing a massive manifesto on the topic?

You could very well be right, but all we really know is that he hasn't written anything yet that's appeared on the internet.
And what are we to infer from Joss' silence? I think it speaks volumes.

Things that silence could be saying:

1. He thinks the deal is crappy and he has been left too stupefied to type.
2. He thinks the deal is awesome and is too hungover from celebrating to type.
3. His computer is fried and even if he could type, no words would appear on the screen.
4. He decided to take a day off to hang with his family.

OR

5. He's taking time to read and digest the deal fully before weighing in. Period.

How 'bout we not start putting words into the man's mouth or opinions into his head? He's got plenty of his own.
BrewBunny Or...

6) He went off on that ancient quest mentioned above, but failed to find the 6-fingered man, and now is totally soused and complaining to his giant.

7) He's got the head Big Bad chained up in his basement and is reading bloody bad poetry to him in a terrible Cockney accent until he finally breaks down and agrees to give the writers everything they want.

8) He's composing a Jossian-sized post to let us know exactly where things stand, but every time he hits "preview" he gets the white screen of GRR ARGH and can't get his post through.
He thinks the deal is awesome and is too hungover from celebrating to type.

That image made me sad. Even if people decide to go with this deal, it doesn't sound like anyone will be quite so happy. And they deserve something to celebrate, after all this.

How 'bout we not start putting words into the man's mouth or opinions into his head? He's got plenty of his own.

Hear, hear!
How 'bout we not start putting words into the man's mouth or opinions into his head? He's got plenty of his own.

Totally agreed, but I do think we have a reasonable expectation of hearing something from him pretty soon on this since; a) He encouraged us to get interested in the strike, and kept us updated on his opinions so far, and b) He got us addicted to the product in the first place, so, c) He's our drug dealer and he needs to come through unless he's in jail.
LOL@dreamlogic's logic ;-)

[ edited by m'cookies on 2008-02-11 06:10 ]
A lot of good and bad in Variety's reporting on the strike, but I find this item helpful and interesting.
Yet another list of shows' statuses (?), again slightly different than the two from other sources which have preceded it.
bix, that list said "The Sarah Connor Chronicles": Fate to be determined.
I thought that was doing well? I've enjoyed the first four episodes, especially Summers Terminator.
zz9, I think "fate to be determined" simply means that the author of the article has no information on this relatively new series. I wouldn't read too much into it. The series has been doing well.
Thanks Tamara, I was getting worried.

And the big question, when will we get Dollhouse?
I'm seriously concerned about the points raised by the dissenting voices in the "comments". I certainly don't understand all the details, but the fact that a few voices are saying so passionately "vote no", doesn't exactly bode well for the strike actually being over.
Especially since so many seem to be taking it for granted that SAG will strike in June.
Still hoping for the best, though.
C'mon I'm not trying to put words in anyone's mouth. If I was I would have been the one to offer an interpretation for his silence.

A comment that has stuck with me the past day or so: "And I regret deeply not speaking up with my concerns at the meeting — a feeling I bet others share."

It's a really well written thought out post.
http://www.deadlinehollywooddaily.com/tick-tock-no-wga-deal-language-yet/#comment-34857
The comments make some valid points but I really think this may be a glass half-empty/half-full situation. It boils down to whether an individual writer believes that future contracts (starting in 3 years) will involve the take-backs and back-sliding that's been the case previously or whether they view this as a foundation to build on in the future.

As others have said, thanks to the disclosure clause in three years both sides will have three years worth of data about streaming revenues which makes it a natural time to revisit the deal. Where new media is concerned it makes sense to see this as almost a preliminary deal and 2011 as the "real" negotiation IMO.

(and another commenter makes the point that from the AMPTP's perspective, the 17 day window isn't about repeat viewings, it's about viewers that missed the show's initial broadcast and residuals - as I understand it - don't cover first use because the writers are paid upfront for that. Which might be valid - i'd speculate that a lot of people that want to watch a show again within two-ish weeks of first seeing it may have recorded it themselves anyway)
I really hope this is a deal the writers can feel genuinely good about. There's this nagging feeling that the studios finally conceded some points so that the strike can end, to salvage that big awards show thingy that's coming up. Guess the promotional value of that show was finally something the studios did care about.

Whatever deal is finally approved by WGA, it must be a bit better than "OK". So many have sacrificed so much and worked so hard (the writers I mean) to achieve a fair deal.

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