Friday, November 09, 2007



Jane, Howie, screen writers and some striking sax player

NY Times editorial writers or reporters have derided the striking screen writers as a bunch of latte drinkers. I've never tasted a latte-- or any kind of coffee-- and Jane, Irwing and I weren't out for any refreshments today when we joined the WGA (Writers Guild of America) in front of the Fox Studios in West L.A. Fortunately while the 3 of us were marching up and down picketing and cheering on the strikers, Digby was doing the really heavy lifting. Her analysis of the strike, as one would expect, is spot on.
You hear a lot of nasty snark in this town about how these WGA strikers are all millionaires playing at being hardhats, and it totally misses the point. The union movement is about solidarity, which is a fundamental progressive value. I have no idea if those fellows in the store were highly paid TV writers or hopeful freelance screenwriters or what, but it wasn't relevant to the conversation. Those four guys had interests in common in their relationship to the owners of their industries. Unions are one of the vehicles that can make our capitalist society work to the benefit of all and not just the few.

The derisive tone much of the media has taken to the strike is nothing new, by the way. Just a few weeks back when the UAW went on strike against GM, Jim Cramer was apoplectic on Hardball screaming, "They have to break this union! They have to break this union!"(and Chris Salt-Of-The-Earth Matthews nodded in agreement.)

And they have always been especially hostile to the Hollywood unions, which were forged back in the day with battles in the streets. The right to organize in the entertainment business was extremely hard won and in many cases those who fought it were later blacklisted as commies for their trouble. It's never been frivolous. The propensity to exploit in competitive "glamour" fields is very, very strong and it was always about making sure that those who weren't on the A-list could make a decent living and build normal middle class lives. (And from the beginning many of the A-list marched in solidarity with their less rich and famous brethren. It may even have been partially in self-interest. Show business may be one of the most insecure professions on earth.)

Writers Damon Lindelof (Lost) Marc Cherry (Desperate Housewives) explain what's going on from their perspective:



At 10:53 AM, Blogger Scott said...

I know first hand that many of the writers aren't "millionaires" because my brothers best friend is in the Writers Guild. He is right now in about the same situation as Marc Cherry was seven years....desperate in that he really needs something he has written to sell. Of course that won't happen with this strike going on. He has sold two original movie screenplays (one with a partner) but that was quite a while ago and they haven't been made yet and there is no guarantee they ever will be. The writer gets money if the script goes into production and then of course there is the residuals as has been mentioned as the foundation for the strike. But you don't get residuals if they don't make it. Anyway, Hollywood writers are just like novelists in that, yes there some Stephen Kings money wise, but most are much more middle class or even poor for that matter. And most aren't known enough to even get interviewed for a video like the one posted on this website.

At 11:41 PM, Blogger msladyDeborah said...

Your post is one that I had to comment on. The state of the American worker is in national crises. I am a union worker myself and in full support of the WGA Strike! It is necessary to go to this form of resistance when the management and owners refuse to be fair. It is a good lesson for all of the nation to learn from. The people who actually produce from the goods really do have power. The impact this strike has already had is enough evidence of the importance that writers hold in the entertainment industry. There needs to be a fair distribution of those funds for the people involved in the process. Go WGA! Stand your ground.


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