New York Mayor’s Office Names Winners of Women’s Scriptwriting Competition

This is important, dammit! Read on:

by Bryn Elise Sandberg

he New York Mayor’s Office has named two winners for its female scriptwriting competition.

Patty Carey-Perazzo’s Half-Life and Robin Rose Singer’s Adult Behavior have won a first-of-its-kind citywide screenwriting contest focused on stories by, for or about women. The Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME) and Brooklyn College’s Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema announced the selections Wednesday.

The first project centers on a mother trying to restart her stalled career, and the other is about a young woman who moves to New York to work at a Bronx nursing home. The winning scripts were chosen from a pool of over 300 scripts by a panel of industry leaders to be developed into pilots that will air on NYC Media, the City’s official broadcast network with a reach of 18 million households. One of the two winning pilots will be selected for four additional episodes, to air on NYC Media in the summer of 2018.

“Congratulations to Patty and Robin, whose work stood out in a competitive field,” said MOME commissioner Julie Menin. “The contest they have won, as well as four other women’s initiatives our office is rolling out, reflect our commitment to addressing the well-documented underrepresentation of women in the film and television industry — both on and off the screen.”

“This opportunity is unparalleled,” said Carey-Perazzo, who took time out from her day job as a location manager to write about a woman’s attempt to lean back into her career after leaning out to raise her children….

Read it all at Hollywood Reporter

WGA Strike Authorization Vote Results

Like they say in The Lion King, “And so it begins.”

Maybe. Remember, we’re not walking the picket lines yet.

Anyway, here’s the email sent by the WGA late yesterday afternoon:

April 24, 2017

Dear Colleague–

The results of our strike authorization vote are now in.

96.3% of you have voted YES.

6,310 ballots were cast. 67.5% of eligible WGA members voted, a historic turnout.

We thank you for your resolve and your faith in us as your representatives. We are determined to achieve a fair contract.

Talks will resume tomorrow.

Your 2017 Negotiating Committee

Chip Johannessen, Co-Chair
Chris Keyser, Co-Chair
Billy Ray, Co-Chair

Alfredo Barrios, Jr.
Amy Berg
Adam Brooks
Patti Carr
Zoanne Clack
Marjorie David
Kate Erickson
Jonathan Fernandez
Travon Free
Howard Michael Gould
Susannah Grant
Erich Hoeber
Richard Keith
Warren Leight
Damon Lindelof
Glen Mazzara
Alison McDonald
Jonathan Nolan
Zak Penn
Luvh Rakhe
Shawn Ryan
Stephen Schiff
David Shore
Meredith Stiehm
Patric M. Verrone
Eric Wallace
Beau Willimon
Nicole Yorkin

Howard A. Rodman, WGAW President, ex-officio
Michael Winship, WGAE President, ex-officio
David A. Goodman, WGAW Vice President, ex-officio
Jeremy Pikser, WGAE Vice President, ex-officio
Aaron Mendelsohn, WGAW Secretary-Treasurer, ex-officio
Bob Schneider, WGAE Secretary-Treasurer, ex-officio
Writers Guild of America, West
7000 West Third Street, Los Angeles, CA 90048
Phone (323) 951-4000 • Fax (323) 782-4800 • www.wga.org

Solidarity!

WGA Negotiations Update: Striking a Pose

by Mark Evanier


LB’s NOTE: This article written by the legendary Mark Evanier is the most enlightening discussion I’ve seen yet of the current state of the contract renewal negotiations between the WGA and the AMPTP. Things are getting heated, gang. And Mark is here to tell us why:


very few years, the contract between the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers expires and a new one must be negotiated. Sometimes, the negotiations are simple and sometimes, they are not. When they are not, it is because someone at the A.M.P.T.P. — or at at least one of the member companies that comprise the A.M.P.T.P. — decides he or she can be a hero and advance his or her career by engineering a deal that pays the writers less or at least denies us cost o’ living increases.

I joined the W.G.A. on April Fool’s Day of 1976 so I have been through many of these and sometimes been fairly close to the negotiations. It is my observation that these dust-ups are never about what’s “fair,” at least from the Producers’ standpoint. And when they say things like, “The business is hurting…everyone needs to understand that and accept some cuts,” that is always, 100% of the time, horseshit. For them, these dickerings are only about one thing: Getting as much as possible. The less we get, the more they get.

Whenever Renegotiation Time rolls around, my guild assembles something called the Pattern of Demands — a wish list of things we’d like to discuss. Many times, it is a waste of time because the studios simply refuse to address anything on our list. Their negotiators literally end the meeting if our reps bring out the list. One of the Producers’ lawyers in years past liked to say things like, “We are never going to let these sessions be about what you want. They will only be about what we are willing to give you.”

If anyone does look at our Pattern of Demands, they’ll see items about increased compensation but they will also always see issues that are not directly about money. We want our work to be respected more. We want to be listened-to more on creative matters. We want minorities (including older writers of any color) to be given more consideration. We want our credits to be protected and so forth. Call these the non-monetary issues.

There are people in management at the studios who care about such things but we tend to not negotiate with those folks. The people we deal with only care about the money and with keeping as much of it as possible for their employers. If they address the non-monetary issues at all, it’s because they think they can trade one of the unimportant non-monetary issues for an important monetary one. In the ’85 negotiations for instance, the Producers demanded a change in credit procedures that would have gutted the WGA’s ability to control who received screen credit. They didn’t really care about that. They just wanted to be able to say, “Okay, we’ll drop our demands about credits if you drop your demands about money.”

Because we care (somewhat) about the non-monetary issues and they don’t, sometimes that works. Indeed, in ’85, they dropped those demands but in the same bargaining sessions, we accepted for other reasons a lowering of the fees we were paid when films or TV shows we wrote were put out on home video. The former cost them nothing. The latter cost us billions. From the Producers’ standpoint, that was a wildly-successful negotiation. That year, I don’t think they ever even listened to anything we had in our Pattern of Demands.

Even factoring in that our brief strike that year cost them some cash, the guys who engineered that deal for them were superstar heroes. It was like they’d made a dozen movies as lucrative as Star Wars or Titanic. Each time we embark on a new negotiation, there’s someone there who dreams of doing that again….

Read it all at News From ME (Mark Evanier’s truly enlightening blog)

The WGA 2017 Contract Negotiations Need YOU

Especially if you’re a member. (And even if  you aren’t, because we here at TVWriter™ are absolutely certain you will want to be…especially if your intention is to earn your living by writing TV and films.

Anyway, here’s the latest:

http://tvwriter.net

Click HERE for the clickable view

What TV Writers Need to Know About the WGA Strike Talks

The L.A. Times, which actually knows about these things because, you know, company town, gives us the info we all need:

Golden Age of TV is not so golden for writers: Why the Writers Guild of America is moving closer to a strike
by David Ng

A decade ago, Hollywood writers brought the entertainment industry to a standstill when they walked off the job for three months in a dispute over pay for movies and TV shows distributed online. The strike halted dozens of TV and movie productions and sent shock waves through the Los Angeles economy.

Now, the Hollywood community is feeling a sense of déjà vu as the possibility of another strike looms large. After the collapse of talks with the major studios, the Writers Guild of America is seeking a strike authorization vote from members. While the union has until May 1 to reach an agreement, tensions are as high as they’ve been in years, say people close to the negotiations not authorized to comment.

The charged atmosphere is the result of a perfect storm of economic and digital changes bearing down on the business. Since the last writers strike, the industry has seen far-reaching shifts. Streaming services like Netflix and Amazon have transformed Hollywood and contributed to an unprecedented number of quality series being produced — a phenomenon often described as the new Golden Age of TV.

But times haven’t been golden for many writers for whom more is now less. Shorter seasons are the new norm, with many series consisting of 10 or fewer episodes on cable and streaming — less than half the length of traditional seasons on network shows. That has put writers in a financial crunch since many have exclusivity clauses that prevent them from working on multiple shows per season.

With reruns becoming a thing of the past, scribes are seeing smaller paychecks. As a result, they are contributing less to the guild’s health and pension plans at a time when more baby boomers are retiring and drawing on the plans.

“It’s getting more and more difficult to make a living as a writer,” said John Bowman, a TV writer-producer, and former head of the WGA negotiating committee.

Studios are equally dug in as more customers cut the cable cord in favor of streaming options. They’re also grappling with a dramatic fall-off in once-lucrative DVD sales and a flattening of attendance at the multiplex. They are releasing fewer titles a year, meaning fewer opportunities for screenwriters.

All of this has set the stage for conflict. A strike authorization vote is set to take place mid-April. The move is a typical negotiating tactic by unions, but the WGA said it’s a response to the hard-line position taken by the studios, which have so far refused most of their demands….

Read it all in the L.A. Times

Netflix Original Series Coming in April

Yeah, we’re tired of the Netflix logo so here’s the icon instead

We here at TVWriter™ make no bones about it: We’re fans of Netflix’s original productions because so many of them feature such excellent writing. (Yeah, there are exceptions. Iron Fist comes to mind for one. So does Grace & Frankie…but that’s a whole ‘nuther post we hope to publish soon.)

Without further ado, here’s a list of series that will be gracing our browsers starting next month:

  1. Chewing Gum, season 2 (April 4th)
  2. Louis C.K. 2017 (April 4th)
  3. Dawn of the Croods, season 3 (April 7th)
  4. The Get Down: Part 2 (April 7th)
  5. Win It All (April 7th)
  6. Chelsea, season 2 (April 14th)
  7. Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return (April 14th)
  8. Lucas Brothers: On Drugs (April 18th)
  9. Bill Nye Saves the World, season 1 (April 21st)
  10. Girlboss, season 1 (April 21st)
  11. Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On, season 1 (April 21st)
  12. The Mr. Peabody & Sherman Show, season 4 (April 21st)
  13. Tales by Light, season 2 (April 21st)
  14. Vir Das: Abroad Understanding (April 25th)
  15. Las Chicas del Cable, season 1 (April 27th)
  16. Casting JonBenet (April 28th)
  17. Dear White People, season 1 (April 28th)

Hmm, looking over this list, don’tcha kind of wonder what Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On is all about? And how the hell it could ever be even remotely, um, “good?”

LB: WGAW & WGAE Ask Members for Strike Authorization Vote

by Larry Brody

As usual (don’t trust us, google Writers Guild of America AMPTP negotiations over the past two decades and see for yourself), the AMPTP is stonewalling the Writers Guild on all fronts during the early negotiations.

It’s a thing they do because, well, because they think it shows the contempt they feel for our oh-so-unnecessary-selves. (“We don’t really need writers because any one of us could do what they do if we just had the time” has been a mantra since the early days of silent films.)

To me, what they’re demonstrating is just the opposite. Not contempt but fear because only we writers can do what they can’t. I can’t prove it, but I don’t believe there’s a single studio, network, or production company who hasn’t at some time tried to write a script…and failed miserably.

So they try to bully us into “submission” by blowing off our proposals and calling for cutbacks in the current pension and health plans.

The result of their tactics was inevitable. Here’s the latest email on the subject from the WGAW and WGAE:

March 24, 2017

Dear Colleague,

The initial two-week bargaining period agreed to by your Guild and the AMPTP concludes at the end of the day today.  We do not yet have a deal. We will continue to bargain in good faith to make such a deal.  But, at this point, we want to let you know where we stand.

We began the negotiations with two truths about the current state of the business at the heart of our proposals:

First, that these have been very profitable years for the companies.  This past year they earned $51 billion in profits, a record.

Second, that the economic position of writers has declined sharply in the last five or so years.  Screenwriters have been struggling for a long time. They are now joined by television writers, for whom short seasons are at the core of the problem.  In the last two years alone, the average salary of TV writer-producers fell by 23%.  Those declines have not been offset by compensation in other areas. In Basic Cable and new media, our script fees and residual formulas continue to trail far behind those in broadcast – even though these new platforms are every bit as profitable as the old model.

In light of all this, we sought to tackle a number of issues that directly affect the livelihoods of all writers.

–We asked for modest gains for screenwriters, most particularly a guaranteed second-step for writers earning below a certain compensation level.

–We asked for a rational policy on family leave.

–We sought to address chronically low pay for Comedy Variety writers.

–We asked for 3% increases in minimums – and increases in the residual formula for High Budget SVOD programs commensurate with industry standards.

–We made a comprehensive proposal to deal with the pernicious effects of short seasons. This included a limit on the amortization of episodic fees to two weeks, a proposal that sought to replicate the standard that had been accepted in the business for decades.  It addressed, as well, the continued problems with Options and Exclusivity. And it sought to address the MBA’s outdated schedule of weekly minimums, which no longer adequately compensates writers for short terms of work.

–Finally, we sought to address script fee issues – in basic cable and streaming – but also in the case of Staff Writers. Unconscionably, our lowest paid members are now often held at the staff level for multiple seasons, with no compensation for the scripts they write.

What was the companies’ response to these proposals?

No, in virtually every case.

–Nothing for screenwriters. Nothing for Staff Writers.  Nothing on diversity.

–On Family Leave they rejected our proposal and simply pledged to obey all applicable State and Federal laws – as if breaking the law were ever an option.

–On short seasons, they offered a counter-proposal that addressed the issue in name only – thus helping no one.

–They have yet to offer anything on minimums, or on HBSVOD.

–They have made some small moves on Options & Exclusivity – some small moves for Comedy Variety writers in Pay TV.  But that is all.

On the last day of these two weeks, the companies’ proposal has barely a single hard-dollar gain for writers.

$51 billion in profits and barely a penny for those of us who make the product that makes the companies rich. But that’s not all.

In response to our proposal to protect our Pension and Health Plans, this has been their answer:

Nothing on Pension.

And on our Health Plan, two big rollbacks.

First, they have demanded that we make cuts to the plan – $10 million in the first year alone.  In return, they will allow us to fund the plan with money diverted from our own salaries.

More, they’ve demanded the adoption of a draconian measure in which any future shortfalls to the plan would be made up by automatic cuts in benefits – and never by increases in employer contributions.

This, too, is unacceptable. The package, taken as a whole, is unacceptable – and we would be derelict in our duty if we accepted it.

Therefore, your Negotiating Committee has voted unanimously to recommend that the WGAW Board of Directors and WGAE Council conduct a strike authorization vote by the membership.

Once again, we are committed to continue negotiating with the companies in good faith to get you the deal we all deserve.  We will continue to update you as things progress.

Respectfully,

The Negotiating Committee Members of the WGA West and WGA East

Chip Johannessen, Co-Chair
Chris Keyser, Co-Chair
Billy Ray, Co-Chair

Alfredo Barrios, Jr.
Adam Brooks
Zoanne Clack
Marjorie David
Kate Erickson
Jonathan Fernandez
Travon Free
Howard Michael Gould
Susannah Grant
Erich Hoeber
Richard Keith
Warren Leight
Alison McDonald
Luvh Rakhe
Shawn Ryan
Stephen Schiff
David Shore
Meredith Stiehm
Patric M. Verrone
Eric Wallace
Beau Willimon
Nicole Yorkin

Howard A. Rodman, WGAW President, ex-officio
Michael Winship, WGAE President, ex-officio
David A. Goodman, WGAW Vice President, ex-officio
Jeremy Pikser, WGAE Vice President, ex-officio
Aaron Mendelsohn, WGAW Secretary-Treasurer, ex-officio
Bob Schneider, WGAE Secretary-Treasurer, ex-officio

Here’s another, more detailed analysis of the situation than my intro, from Facebook friend Micah Ian Wright:

And just like that, Hollywood’s TV Distributors slit their own throats. They survived a strike in 2007-8 by airing lame gameshows and reality shows. Audiences put up with that because there were few other options for viewers. Today, however, there’s Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu, where viewers can go to watch a bunch of new (and old, and British, and Swedish and Israeli, etc.) TV shows, many of them far better than what ABC/NBC/etc. are putting on the air.

Worse for the AMPTP, today’s business market is massively different. Global TV licensing has grown 320% since 2008. Today 40% of the AMPTP’s profit comes from global licensing of scripted entertainment. No one in Germany wants to watch “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” or “The Weakest Link” — they can produce domestic versions of that kind of low-budget dreck themselves. They can’t make “House of Cards” or “Game of Thrones” themselves, however, so the AMPTP is playing a very dangerous game by egging us toward a strike.

I know this is the Era Of Trump where rich corporations imagine they have the freedom to crush unions and steal all the cash for themselves, but they’re forgetting that he actually lost the popular vote by quite a wide margin and that he’s more unpopular than ever. These companies GAVE Trump $4 Billion in free airtime and helped elect him president. We haven’t forgotten that, and we aren’t inclined to cut them any breaks for helping foist this dictator upon us, hoping he’d make it easier for them to scalp their employees and loot their pension funds.

They have unprecedented profits built on our labor. They can share that money or feel our pain.


Larry Brody is the head dood at TVWriter™. Learn more about him HERE