facebook_pixel Press "Enter" to skip to content

Looking to start your TV writing journey?

Search Results for “strike.tv”

2017 WGA Strike Vote Primer

When I started TV Calling nine years ago, we were at the end of the great writers’ strike of 2007-2008.

Hulu had barely started, The WB’s post-CW dedicated online presence was about to launch alongside the now-defunct Strike.TV. Plus Childrens Hospital was but a twinkle in Rob Corddry’s Brazilian eyes.

(For you young whippersnappers who barely remember it, or if you’re just masochistically nostalgic, check out this documentary about the writers’ strike called “Pencils Down! The 100 Days of the Writers Guild Strike“)

Time is a flat circle, which means the WGA is deep in renegotiations with the AMPTP, which means the AMPTP isn’t very forthcoming, which means a strike authorization vote is looming.

What’s all this, then?

First, let’s talk about the demands.

There’s been a lot of misinformation (especially in the trades) these past few weeks, specifically regarding the WGA’s goodwill. Here’s the gist of the writing issues:

TV writers are getting paid less due to fewer episodes, shorter seasons, exclusivity clauses, and longer amortization; all while healthcare plans are potentially about to be rolled back.

But on the plus side, Peak TV!

In a contract bulletin, the WGA went over the five critical reasons why the average TV writer is seeing their income go down:

1) The number of episodes, and therefore, episode fees are half the traditional number on many series.

2) These fewer episode fees are being amortized across more than two weeks per episode.

3) Writers are held exclusive and under option even when not working on these short season series.

4) Residuals are too low in the emerging rerun markets.

5) Script fees remain unequal to the network rates for the growing areas of the industry.

Despite the huge increase in TV content, median earnings from 2013-2014 to 2015-2016 have dropped 25% for co-producers and above.

And the even more painful rub is the aforementioned exclusivity option, which forces writers to forgo other work until their current show returns (spoiler alert: it may not be renewed or picked up).
Less money + shorter periods of work = unhappy campers

Oh, and that’s not even bringing up the health plan issues.

Health costs are expected to grow 10% per year overall while contributions based on writer earnings are only expected to grow 3% per year. If nothing changes, the plan could end up broke by 2021 (!).

And since deficits have been funded by reserves (themselves funded by employer contributions — which have also been lower for writers than directors), the potential rollbacks by the AMPTP aren’t looking so nice.

The Guild is clear:

In this negotiation, we don’t seek a better health plan, only a solvent one.

To put it in piggy-bank terms, the total WGA ask for these issues is one-third of one percent of last year’s gross profits from the AMPTP’s top dogs. Profits, not revenues. That’s 33¢ to their net $100.
The WGA’s ask from the big six multi-billion dollar media corporations is estimated around $117 million a year. Their CEOs alone made $308+ million in 2016.
For more perspective on this drop in the ocean, follow the aptly-named WGA Perspective on Twitter.

So, those are the broad WGA asks.
But what about the negotiations themselves?

A few informative (as opposed to misinformative) resources have covered them:

– The WGA’s 3rd/Fairfax podcast did an extremely useful podcast regarding the 2017 contract negotiations, featuring a conversation between co-chairs of the WGA Negotiating Committee, Billy Ray, Chip Johannessen, Chris Keyser, and Negotiating Committee member Kate Erickson.

– John August/Craig Mazin’s Scriptnotes also delved into “WGA negotiations 101” with an episode last month, as well as a special mini-episode posted yesterday.

– For an even more basic intro to the situation, Amy Berg posted on Medium a FAQ about the WGA contract talks. It’s been a couple of weeks so it’s not breaking-news-updated but it covers a lot of the important talking points.

Where we stand today:
The WGA and the AMPTP have agreed to a brief recess in the negotiations until April 25. (The guilds’ current contract expire at midnight May 1.)

Which brings us to what’s going to be happening between now and then.

This week is the strike authorization vote.
It’s a leverage tool. It doesn’t meant there’s a strike. But voting YES is crucial.

As Amy Berg put it:

I received an email from the Guild about a strike authorization vote. What does that mean? Are we going on strike?

No. An authorization vote does not mean there’s going to be a strike nor does it lend itself to one. […] All a “yes” vote does is empower our leadership at the negotiating table with the threat of a strike. Voting “yes” does not mean you want a strike. No one wants a strike. Strikes suck.

If you’re curious why voting YES is vital, the Guild sent out this nice video with writers explaining the importance of saying yes to the strike authorization vote.
It features Eric Wallace, Matthew Weiner, Luvh Rakhe, Kate Erickson, Zoanne Clack, Glen Mazzara, Aaron Mendelsohn, Meredith Stiehm, and Carleton Eastlake.

Still thinking of voting “no” because strikes suck?
David Slack came to Twitter to explain how a “no” vote could actually lead to a strike.

TL;DR: Vote YES.

Current active WGAW/WGAE members who have earned at least $33,701.25 under the MBA during the last six years and/or have at least 15 qualified pension years are eligible to vote.
The member meetings are happening on Tuesday and Wednesday in LA and NY. More info on them at the WGA’s strike authorization page.

The strike authorization vote begins in person today (Tuesday, April 18), and online at 8:30PM tomorrow (Wednesday, April 19). Vote ends Monday, April 24 at 12:00PM (all times PDT).

And if you’re wondering about my thoughts in all of this, they’re straightforward:

I stand with the WGA.

Or to put it in profile picture terms…

I Stand With the WGA

Write on.

One Year of (various) Posts

First post of the birthday week.
This might feel to some like one of those sitcom epis with clip shows of the best moments because writers have become lazy.
Don’t worry though, this is just a blog taking a look back at a year’s worth of random posts, because I’m lazy.

Like J.D. said:

I know I’d love to forget all the [things] that have happened to me. But unfortunately I keep replaying them in my head like some clip show from a bad sitcom too lazy to come up with a fresh story.

So much incredible stuff happened in the past year…

Let’s get started with TV.
This year has been marked by crazy actions on this side of the biz.
From CBS to FOX or HBO, we’ve seen some pretty incredible stuff.
Most of all, there was some serious NBC talk thanks to Dumb and Dumber‘s stupid moves, especially moving Leno to the 10PM slot, Mondays thru Fridays.
You can bet I’ll be talking about this more in Wednesday’s post.

Equally as mind-boggling was SciFi‘s atrocious name-change planned for July (SyFy? Really?):

Let me get this straight.
You want to change everything from your logo to your slogan, and from the brand to your core audience (you know, the one that made you what you are now). And do all that for absolutely no reason at all (given the channel’s top-10 network status)?

Syfyllis is still a serious condition and just plain dumb.
One very recent Twitter justification was equally as spastic (is that what the cool kids are calling it these days?):

If it’s such a good time for sci fi, why change your network name to SyFy?
To differentiate our brand in an increasingly competitive category where we’re competing in more countries and on a growing number of platforms. For instance, type “scifi” into Hulu search and you won’t get any results from our shows on the first page. Just one example of many.

Continuing on the TV side of things, we’ve seen our fair share of TV Shows throughout the year, including an interview I did with Lost‘s Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse.
Some shows were unfortunately cancelled, like The Middleman (my favorite from last summer), others surprisingly not, like Dollhouse. Others meanwhile were fortunately renewed, such as Leverage.
There was also an introduction to this new little ABC show called Flash Forward (now renamed FlashForward, following the author’s original wish).

We talked a bit as well about the Arrested Development movie that shouldn’t come out for another year or two.
In the meantime, you should check out the awesome Arrested Developement documentary (yes there is one) when it comes out (2009?).

Perfect segue to the movie front of the year, which had a lot of…interesting happenings (besides Cannes).
Watchmen was probably the most talked-about film here, followed closely by Star Trek.
Speaking of, Warner Bros. just loved my posting of the epic Watchmen opening sequence and asked Blogger to delete my post with no warning.
Like I said at the time:

I’m not going to post the sequence again for the sake of it, but suffice to say that I’m quite disappointed by the behind-my-back actions taken.
I also find quite ridiculous that said actions were done in the name of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, let alone the crusade against people posting the opening Watchmen sequence.
Are they afraid people will find it is so awesome they decide not to go watch the rest of the movie?
Even yU+Co was forced to take it down, even though it’s their own company that made the titles.
Quite ridiculous indeed.

Another Watchmen scandal was with its ending.
Squid or no Squid? I asked back in November.
You should know by now the answer (spoiler alert: it’s not like in the graphic novel).
Let’s not forget as well the FOX versus WB case regarding the movie’s rights.
Ultimately, and unsurprisingly, they settled.
No harm done.

What is however a harm (to my brain) are phenomenons such as that Twilight thing.
Remakes of remakes were as well discussed.
And I almost forgot to talk about all the game adaptations, like Monopoly, and Clue.
Where is the originality?
Here it is:
The big talk of upcoming 2009 films must be James Cameron’s Avatar.
You know, the movie I’m saying will revolutionize 3-D.
This is like my own personal TOLDJA! moment regarding 3-D (and Avatar):

Sound was introduced in 1927.
Color was introduced in 1938.
3-D will be introduced in 2009.

I think I called it.

Continuing on the entertainment industry…
We’ve seen our fair share of (not-that-funny) award shows this year, from the Golden Globes to the Oscars.
This year might prove different with either Neil Patrick Harris or Craig Ferguson hosting the Emmys.
That’s epicness right here.

Moving on, there was a lot of talk about technology.
From the floppy disk to Twitter (who had even heard of Twitter a year ago?).
Some talk around the future of entertainment, especially television, has as well been present throughout the year.
Whether it is via Strike.TV in last August, or more re
cently Hulu, with its financial investments.
Yet again, we’ll talk more about this on Friday’s post thanks to a couple of new articles regarding rebranding (SyFy) and broadcast future (NBC and CBS specifically).

Finally, there were changes in the political landscape this year, with the arrival of a new President and the departure of another.
Shifts in the economy as well were felt. Both in the TV industry and elsewhere.
And to finish us off, we shall mention this Lego man, who didn’t after all go on I’m a “Celebrity” (sarcasm quotes not included in original title).

Incredible postings aside, this year was riveting.
More to come tomorrow.

Why TV is where you must be

Showrunners and TV writers have never been more talked about than this past year.
The writers’ strike showed the world how vital writers are to the entertainment industry, especially TV.

In TV, writers have control.
In a world were creator-owned content will soon become the norm, having control over one’s creation from beginning to end is important.

Showrunners have become an intricate part of the entertainment industry, multi-tasking in every direction.
Writers have now become prominent A-list figures.

Television is where everything happens.

Nothing is more symbolic of that than the other face of TV: actors.
How many big names have made the jump to TV?
How many no-names became A-listers by doing TV?
Is Jon Hamm on his way to become the next Clooney?

Sure, there isn’t that much money to be made on TV (unless your name is J.J. Abrams or Dick Wolf); especially now that everything is converging into the Internet.
But chances are you’re in this not for the money but for the passion.
You want to make groundbreaking stories.
You want to impact people.
You want to write your vision.

TV has never been as much on the forefront of our society as it is now.
Although total medium convergence is inevitable, for now original Internet content is either taken from TV or at least inspired by TV. And Strike.TV is no different.
The Internet is on its way to produce major content and, yes, 5-10 years from now most people will work in some form on the Internet. But for now, it just doesn’t have the professional clout that TV has.
The content is not yet creator-financed and creator-owned in TV, but it is a medium that uses all the new technology and expands on it: interactive convergence.
Write for the future, not for the past.
But don’t be like Tim Kring who described faithful Heroes TV viewers as “saps” and “dipshits”.
Embrace technology. Humbly.

TV is also the leading writer-based industry.
Don’t take my word for it.
Ask the guy who wrote Story.
Robert McKee himself declared the other day in Paris that Hollywood films are “the death rattle of a dying industry.”
The film industry is probably not going to die tomorrow of course, but still.

Academy Award-winner Alan Ball went to TV after American Beauty because of all the projects that were rejected by movie studios.
He then made Six Feet Under.

Creativeness is nurtured in TV.
New channels are growing every second, producing more and more shows, taking chances on something that only yesterday was thought to be crazy by many networks.
Opportunities are created every second in TV.

Who would have thought 2 years ago that a small basic-cable movie channel was going to make not only one but two innovative shows, let alone one that wins Best Drama?

Television is continuing its momentum thanks to exceptional writing talents.

And this is why Television is where you must be.

Can't find what you're looking for? Try refining your search: