Wednesday, October 03, 2007

WGA – Will they, won’t they? And where’s my damn money?

Fall – the weather is beautiful as is to be expected in Southern California. For the moment, I'm listening to Bach, sitting under the pergola with the laptop. A picture perfect moment.

While that sounds like a nice respite, it is in fact, incredibly inconvenient; a moment created because the internet is not working. I'm on a silly deadline to write something (a favor for a friend) that is due within a few days and has not yet been started. I'm expecting to do a few interviews for which information may or may not be awaiting; won't know till the internet comes back. Can't make a phone call on my landline cause it's voip. It's frightening how much I've come to rely on that umbilical cord. I suppose I could go to a local coffee shop with my cell phone and computer -- but that's simply uncivilized.

Onto Real issues that might actually interest someone:

The WGA has just re-elected the same board as before. A couple changes, but not many. I don't really have much thought on that, so I'll keep quiet. However, shortly after the elections, the WGA put a vote to its members – a permission to strike vote. That takes this town one step closer to the mess that always arises from strikes. The arguments for and against the vote are all with merit. Those that want a "YES" say that giving the board the power to initiate a strike will give them leverage; that a NO would show weakness in the face of negotiations with the thugs that are the AMPTP (studios). Those in favor of "NO" argue that the board is a bunch of trigger happy non-writers, not overly concerned with general rank and file. Both sides are right. And in this era of stupid wars wrought by stupid presidents, we don't have to look far to see the consequences of giving people power to wage battle.

At this point in time, everybody – the studios, the Guild – are making crazy demands of each other. Where it ends is anyone's guess at this point. My gut tells me there will not be a strike. How much more than that, I don't know. My feeling is that, given the success of the last strike (not very) and the way television has moved toward 'unscripted' shows, a strike would be a real tough nut for the writers. It's not made any easier by the fact that the studios are entities within multi-conglomerates. A strike against Sony or Warner or the like is not going to kill them. Sony makes computers and a bazillion other things. Warner basically owns the world (my non-working internet is via Time-Warner). Unfortunately, I fear that these days, the studios can weather a strike much more ably than the writers. If it were up to me, I'd try to convince writers, directors and actors to give the finger to the studios and start their own damn studios. Okay, so I'm still a bit of a dreamer.

In other Guild-related news … I got another foreign levies check from the DGA. This surprised me greatly as I expected the first one to be a one-off. It's not as if they are still playing my first feature on German television… are they? More interesting is the fact that that thus far, the WGA has not come close to equaling the amount the DGA has written. The amount apportioned both guilds is supposedly the same – so somewhere, someone isn't doing their job properly. Doing the job properly of course is assuming that one agrees that it is their job in the first place.

Which really, it's not. They just 'volunteered' for the job.

And along the lines of that thought – a director friend of mine, alerted by yours truly to the whole concept of foreign levies, discovered that he is owed "under fifty dollars" in foreign levies by the DGA. However, he was told that they are holding on to this levies money because it's their policy not to write checks to people for amounts of less than fifty bucks.
How very nice.

I love it when someone says "it's our policy…" This guild is holding on to money that doesn't belong to them because they have "a policy?" I wonder how many 'less than fifty dollar amounts' they are holding onto? Actually, I don't wonder – I know. MILLIONS… by their very admisson!
Earning interest.
Which they keep.

Keep in mind, the guild was never authorized by my friend to collect his money. The guild is not responsible for having 'created' his money. It's money that was collected by overseas entities. The guild just took, I mean, collected it. Now they have a policy not to give it to him? What if (and this is more likely than not) his movie never makes another dime? Do they keep the fifty indefinitely?

Hmmm. I could have a policy to beat up people that happen to pass by my house. Doesn't make it legal.

That's show biz, folks.

Oh, and with that, my internet seems to have come back.

I'll try to get a few more blog entries written before I go to Russia. Oh yeah – I'm going to Russia!

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