Wednesday, November 7, 2007
I just wanted to post a little something that shows our support for the WGA. Andrea and I are HUGE fans of tv and we especially adore the writer’s of our favorite show, The Office. Now don’t get me wrong, we are heartbroken that our little show (and all of our other shows) will most likely not be finishing off this season but we have to support the writers during this time. The studios are being greedy mo-fo’s by not allowing the writer’s (or actor’s) to get a piece of the profit of “new media” (shows that are downloaded or streamed on the internet). You all have been reading a lot of what the media is putting out there but none of them have put the whole story out there. I think James Gunn said it best so I am going to post excerpts from his blog here for you all to get an idea of what is going on:
Jenna Fischer also added some insight:
The only reason for the strike – and don't believe anything to the contrary – is that the studios have refused to pay writers (and screen actors, and directors) residuals on new media. When you download a movie from Amazon or a TV show on iTunes, the people who created that content, who devised it, wrote it, acted in it, and directed it, get exactly 0% of the profits. And the studios want it to stay that way.
The WGA was asking for an increase in the residuals made on DVD sales (unlike new media, creators make a small percentage off of DVD and VHS sales, pay-per-view showings, TV sales, etc). For months now the studios have said that this was the reason the contract couldn't be closed. However, at the 11th hour – last night – the WGA took that off the table. It came down to new media and only new media. And the studios refused to budge.
This strike is absolutely not a matter of the rich getting richer. We're not striking because of guys like me who have made numerous feature films, or guys like Greg Daniels who have created popular TV shows. This is for middle-class writers –your regular TV staff writers and people who may have done one or two small feature films. Residuals are a way they can make perhaps a few thousand dollars a year between gigs. This is a way they can put food on the table and pay the rent during downtime – and downtime is something almost all writers (and actors and directors) have.
And the writers guild are striking not only for themselves – they're striking for the actors and directors as well. Most likely, whatever deal we agree to is the same deal the actors and directors will get when their contracts are up later this year.
None of the TV shows or movies you watch would exist without us, the people who created them, who poured our hearts and souls into the making of them. And yet, again, the studios think that only they should be making the money off of them. And new media is exceptionally important – in just a few years that may be the way most of us experience most of our entertainment.
The big issue in this negotiation involves the internet. If you go to NBC.com right now, you can watch an episode The Office for free. The network runs advertisements while you're watching it, which gives them an extra source of revenue. The actors, writers, producers and director, the people who created the content you are watching, are not compensated in any way for this.
The Writer's Guild has taken the position that the writers should receive residuals if the show re-airs on the internet just like they receive residuals if it re-airs on television since in both cases the studios are making money. The issue is a huge
deal, because the internet is clearly where the future of entertainment lies.
Right now, a number of successful shows (like Lost for one) have stopped showing repeat episodes on TV at all, and have replaced them with ad-supported streaming video on their websites. If you're a Lost writer, or actor, or director, or a teamster that's no residuals at all for that show, and that's a big pay cut. We all count on the extra income that residuals provide as it can help us through a slump in our career when we aren't working as regularly. It is our safety net. In 10 years I may need those residual checks to cover my electric bill. You never know. Hollywood is a fickle town. If in 10 years, everything is rerun on the internet, the current union contracts say the studios don't have to pay us a dime. And, I'll be sitting in the dark.
So, what can I, the American Viewer, do to support this cause? As stated in Officetally, here is thing we can do:
Don’t watch reruns, or any alternative programming. Turn off your television and spread the word.
Now, we are not asking you guys to not watch the new episodes of The Office or whatever show you love but eventually, the networks will run out of new shows (that were filmed prior to the strike) to air and they will be forced to air reruns or a slew of reality tv shows. All we ask is that you don’t tune into whatever reality crap networks decide to pull out. Say no to “Milf Island” or “Meal or no Meal” or whatever other crap they might come up with. Also, something I will be doing is not buying any of the shows off of iTunes, which I do a lot, or watching an of the tv shows that are being streamed online. The sooner the networks feel it in their pocketbooks, the sooner they will give in to the WGA.
If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.
A simplified explanation of what the writer's are asking for: