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November 23 2008

Political blogosphere talks Dollhouse. Steve Benen and John Cole , popular political bloggers, express their hopes and concerns about Fox's treatment of Joss and Dollhouse.

Well, maybe now that the actors have approved a strike referendum, the network will be less likely to cause more production delays. If the plan is still to finish production in January, the incentive to do so has increased. Ok, I'm really fishing for positives.
Is Eliza's contract with Fox exclusive? I.e, if Fox chooses not to renew Dollhouse for a 2nd season, can Joss shop the show over to a new network (e.g., Showtime) and keep Eliza as the star? (*remembering similar move for Buffy season 6*)
dreamlogic, the actors are nowhere near approving a strike referendum. Leadership has just decided to seek one which will be next to impossible to get since it needs 75% approval.
dreamlogic, if production finishes on schedule it will mean it's cancelled before it airs, to be blunt. Shows which close up shop before a full 'back 9' order basically don't come back, they end up on permanent hiatus. (See also, Firefly - status, on hiatus. Also, Pushing Daises). So hopefully we see at least 3 more episodes of Dollhouse ordered before it airs, more script orders before that date to keep the writing staff in work, no actors strike and a major marketing push for Dollhouse in January and February by FOX.

Although if the actors need to strike, strike they should. Hilariously "CABIN IN THE WOODS" has been positioned in March for production partly due to the potential actors strike (Variety ran an article about it a few weeks ago), so if SAG do strike... well, we could end up with Doctor Horrible part 2, I suppose.

[ edited by gossi on 2008-11-24 00:48 ]
You said March before and then didn't answer my query as to where you're seeing March. I keep seeing February. I can't find any Variety piece. Help, pls?

Meanwhile, SAG is screwed if they strike. They might be right on the issues, especially with the new leverage that of WGA announcing that AMPTP is not paying the new media residuals negotiated in the writers strike, but the AMPTP is going to have the industry already out of whack due to the economy collapsing. No one's going to be in the mood for suffering another strike.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2008-11-24 01:29 ]
gossi, i'm not so sure.

13 is enough to take it through to off-season considering it begins half way through February... and if they order any more, that would leave Dollhouse by itself without T:SCC

I don't see why Fox would bother ordering any more episodes if they liked the direction of the first 13... they will wait to see how it rates. As they said, they'll like the 13 episodes run it's course and see how it fares, then they'll make a decision.

and we all know Buffy went into a second season long, long, long after the first season episodes were completed without any extra episodes ordered.
aapac, "Buffy" was a small mid-season show, deliberately designed to be 13 episodes long - Dollhouse wasn't pitched as that, it was a season long, potentially many years series, so shutting down after 13 eps would be pretty bad. I think it's very likely FOX will order a handful more episodes in January to keep everybody in work and get some good publicity for the show ('sign of faith' yadada). If they don't order the back episodes and production shuts down before it even airs, everybody will know and it'll look very bad for FOX.
dreamlogic, the actors are nowhere near approving a strike referendum.

They haven't approved a strike, they have approved a strike referendum. Read more carefully before you incorrectly correct, please.

I don't expect anything good from the strike itself it if happens. I just thought it might get them off Joss's back a little for the final episodes of the order.
gossi,

a. Buffy was not designed to be 13 episodes long... it was 12 episodes.
b. And it was designed as a continuing series, what series isn't? However, it got rejected in many places, including the WB placing it in it's Fall lineup before it finally got a chance as a mid-season replacement.
and c. Which is exactly what Dollhouse is, a mid-season replacement. I cannot think of any mid-season show in the recent history of American television which has had extra episodes ordered - I can however think of many that went on to second seasons without them - see T:TSSC, The Practice, Buffy, The Office, Grey's Anatomy, Medium, The Unit, etc. etc.
d. And as I said in the first post I really don't believe that Fox would ask for, and pay for, more episodes of a show where the original order would already take them through to the end of the season in May.

I really wouldn't want people panicking come January, thinking that the show is doomed already before it's aired when Fox don't want anymore episodes... because I really truly believe it's not going to work that way.
The actors haven't approved anything. They need to vote on giving the negotiation team the authority to call a strike. They need 75% approval from membership to have that authority. That is the only vote that occurs. What makes you think that vote has already happened? SAG leadership has only started talking about a strike authorization yesterday. And really, why the nasty attitude?
They need to vote on giving the negotiation team the authority to call a strike.

Or, they could just go on strike.
Unions don't "just go on strike". They decide to do so, which has a process. The only thing on the table right now is taking a vote of membership authorizing the leadership to strike if it deems it necessary. And even with that, no time table has been set for taking that vote.
One more poli-blogger on Dollhouse.
A 22 ep season would go into July, and, as aapac noted, the season ends in May. So not likely. It's marginally possible they could order three or four more, as some sort of signal, though I haven't heard of 16 or 17 episode seasons.

Barring disastrous ratings, Fox will probably make their decision some time late in the run. I'm not hopeful in general, but I don't think a lack of new episodes on order is, by itself, a sign of automatic doom.

[ edited by shambleau on 2008-11-24 05:32 ]
The only thing on the table right now is taking a vote of membership authorizing the leadership to strike if it deems it necessary. And even with that, no time table has been set for taking that vote.

No, it's a three-step process. First, the leadership is approved to call a referendum, if it decides that the talks have become hopelessly unproductive (though they haven't been called that yet, so the referendum hasn't been called). That's what's just been done. So the referendum can now be called, without further vote. Then the whole membership decides if the strike will happen.

And my tone is nasty, TamaraC. Do you ever read yourself?
Unions don't "just go on strike".

Unions don't go on strike. Individuals do (though often to support the cause of a group).
I don't know quite why this particular topic often results in unpleasantness, but enough already, please. There's no need for on-board bickering. Thanks.
Dreamlogic, I think you are in error about the steps and the process, but I don't wish to argue with you about it. It will all play out the way it will.
Unions don't go on strike. Individuals do (though often to support the cause of a group).

The individual members of the union cannot simply "go on strike", is the point. A bunch of SAG members could not just decide to "go on strike" tomorrow. That's not how the rules of the union work.

As for the process, back in October the SAG Board authorized "a referendum and accompanying educational information be sent to the members requesting their authorization for the National Board to call a strike in the Theatrical and TV Contract, at such time as the Negotiating Committee determines in its sole discretion that the mediation process has failed".

That latter point -- determining that the mediation process has failed -- is what just happened, and SAG has announced that the educational effort will begin. Under that same last point, the vote can be called as they see fit.

(I've lost track of who is saying what about the process, so it seemed simplest to just paste SAG's own words.)

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2008-11-24 06:43 ]
Yeah, got to agree with TamaraC on the hope of having any points of order recognized on this board, especially by her, and with SNT about any hope of civility or reasoned arguments. Done now.
if it decides that the talks have become hopelessly unproductive (though they haven't been called that yet, so the referendum hasn't been called)

This, in fact, is not what SAG itself says. The very title of their release contains "AMPTP Mediation Fails" and "SAG Seeks Strike Authorization".

In other words, authorization is being sought, it's just that they are engaging in the educational effort before calling for ballots.

The release ends by saying that "[n]o timeline has been set for the mailing or return of the strike authorization ballots" -- which only means what it says: They're seeking the authorization but the actual voting timeline has not yet been set, while they engage in education first.

Under the authority referenced in the October member alert linked previously, where we are now is: Mediation has failed and the strike authorization is being sought, beginning first with education and then a vote. (They could, of course, always cancel plans to call the vote if the AMPTP decides to start getting serious.)

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2008-11-24 07:33 ]
Dreamlogic and TamaraC, your tone and conduct is out of line. It often is. I'm not going to tolerate it much longer. Consider this a final warning.
Understood, Caroline.

But I think I might have some understanding now of the fact-disconnect that's been going on. I read the LA Times this morning, and I'd swear on my life that it said that SAG's committee had voted for a strike referendum. But now LA Times online doesn't say that, just says they're considering it. If I still had the physical paper, and a scanner, I could prove it. Did anybody else happen to see the actual paper? It wasn't very subtle. It had line at the top of the front page leading to the story in the California section.
dreamlogic, is this it? "Impasse: The Screen Actors Guild will seek a strike vote from members."
Yes, thanks, B!x, for helping me. But I can't be happy that my darkest suspicions about the Times are getting pretty obviously true.
As part of the fan liaison group on LiveJournal for the WGA Strike, we've been talking with SAG representatives about gearing up again. From what we've been told the vote could take at the earliest late January or at the latest until March depending on how long the vote lasts. I guess it takes awhile for the votes to come in.
The actors, of course, are going to have an even larger PR hurdle than the writers did. The writers did a pretty good job demonstrating to people that WGA members aren't rich. But that's going to be a harder task with actors, even though most SAG members aren't rich either.
Yes, that's been a huge discussion with SAG since ComicCon (which is when our head person first talked to the SAG representatives about what the heck was going on).

So they've been considering the concept for awhile now, hopefully they take some good PR steps to explain the situation (should it come to a strike).
I think the actual PR problem might be that they're so much prettier, rather than richer. The WGA didn't have that problem. Doesn't SAG have a retirement home? Couldn't you do the promos there?
Perception is everything. I suspect many people will think of Brad Pitt and George Clooney striking for more money rather than the guys waiting tables and parking cars to pay the rent.
The big stars won't benefit from a better SAG deal since they can already negotiate better deals than SAG minimums anyway. Just as with the writers it's the guys who maybe do one or two jobs a year that should see the impact. Unfortunately they're also the guys who can least afford to go on strike...
Perception is everything.

Aye, there's the rub. True BTW but please tell me i'm not the only one that finds that horribly depressing ? 95% of the time rhetoric will out, truth be damned.

Course, being pretty has its advantages too (or so i've heard anyway ;). No offence to the writers but they had to generate coverage by being all witty and stuff whereas people already want to look at actors so coverage may be less of a problem (how many writers brought their own flock of paparazzi to the strike ? Actually what is the collective noun for paps ? A murder maybe ?). They just have to temper it with some sympathetic imagery and a PR campaign that, again, stresses the median wage (avoiding the average is probably even more important when you have guys getting paid $20 million a picture) and rates of employment.
That's not how the rules of the union work.

But it is how people work. The rules of the union aren't going to mean anything if it's something they really want.
I could swear this thread started with an article about Dollhouse and its schedule, not about a possible actor's strike. As to that, won't happen, not in this economy. Anyway.

I came across further readings, which to be honest, I cannot find right now, that indicates the Friday night switch can in no way be good. I know that in the many posts on this topic, hope has been springing eternal, that the combo of TSSC and DH will be a SF catch-all that may increase the normal Friday night audience, but I still think the parallels to Firefly are simply too large to ignore.
Okay, I owe aapac an apology - Buffy was indeed 12 episodes.

Going back to the Variety announcement of Dollhouse, it says: "Barring a strike, Fox hopes to have the show in production by spring, giving the net an opportunity to be so far ahead of schedule by fall that it could potentially air a full season uninterrupted by breaks."

It's difficult to believe FOX was counting on 13 episodes as a full series, especially considering they originally wanted a fall launch. Obviously, a lot of factors have lead to series slipping behind (not least of all: strike), but let's put it another way - Lost launches at the same time (roughly) as Dollhouse, for a 22 episode series, and as it stands Dollhouse will have a 13 episode series which FOX won't even commit to fully airing, which production shut down before it's even aired, which is never a good sign. FOX need to put their money where their mouth is and produce a few more episodes. It'd be great PR, and recently they've sucked at that.

In unrelated news, people may remember I've been looking at launching Dollhouse as a web-event type thing, with fully legal streaming of episodes to try to boast profile and move people away from non-legit sites so people can watch in a way visible (and profitable) to the network. Which would be great. Except during this process it turns out there's already a double digit number of 'dodgy' Dollhouse streaming websites either up and running or being prepared for launch. This shoots holes in the idea.

[ edited by gossi on 2008-11-24 14:18 ]

[ edited by gossi on 2008-11-24 14:18 ]
Sounds like a great idea gossi, you just have to be a little ruthless. Get your site up and running all legal like, then let the Fox legal dept. out of their cages and stand aside, when the smoke clears you will be the only one left standing.

Unless of course you can't get clearance for international web distribution in which case ignore my earlier comment.

In regards to Dollhouse and potential strike this quote from Kelly Heroes still applies,
Oddball: Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves? Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here? Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?
Moriarty: Crap!


[ edited by jpr on 2008-11-24 14:41 ]
Saje,
Paparazzi is plural. The singular would be paparazzo. Just as one panini is panino.

And since this thread did start by talking about Steve Benen's political blog (which I read religiously, so of course the one time he has a Whedonverse post is when I'm out of town and away from the computer), that would make this the appropriate time to ask if the Zeitgeist who occasionally posts over there is our own Whedonesque Zeitgeist?
Aha, ta barboo, did not know that (seems i've been asking for the wrong bread all these years too ;).


ETA: Or the 'bread wrong' depending on how you look at it.

[ edited by Saje on 2008-11-24 17:41 ]
That's not how the rules of the union work.

But it is how people work. The rules of the union aren't going to mean anything if it's something they really want.

But the rules of the union are going to mean a whole heckuvalot if said people really want to ever work in a union industry again. If an actor wants the benefits and legal protections that go along with SAG membership, they've got to live by the SAG rules rules about when *the union* goes on strike. Individuals going off an launching their own personal wildcat strikes are technically breaking the law and in contrast to people who go on strike per union rules and applicable labor law, can be legally be fired by their employers.
Paparazzi is plural.

That doesn't give us the collective noun though, so I think "a murder" is good. Certainly not "a bevy." :)

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