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

2017 College Television Awards Nominees Announced

by TVWriter™ Press Service

This just in from the Television Academy Foundation about an award more commonly known as “The Student Emmys:

Nominations for this year’s Awards have been announced!

The 38th College Television Awards will be held on Wednesday, May 24, 2017 in the Wolf Theatre at the Saban Media Center.

You can see a video of the full announcement HERE

Press background explaining what the heck these awards are all about is HERE

And here’s a list of all the nominees:

COMEDY
Dollar King
Trevor Smith
American Film Institute

Magic Mouse
Annie Bravo
Austin Brown
Full Sail University

DRAMA
DeKalb Elementary
Reed Van Dyk
University of California-Los Angeles

Snowplow
Joshua Valle
American Film Institute

Viola, Franca
Marta Savina
University of California-Los Angeles

ANIMATION
Taijitu
Dylan Hoffman
Brigham Young University

Unmasked
Christina Faraj
Alice Gavish
School of Visual Arts

The Wishgranter
Kal Athannassov
Ringling College of Art and Design

CHILDREN’S PROGRAMMING
A Taylor Story
Becky Prolman
Camille Houphouet-Boigny
Chapman University

The monkey king is in town
Shamola Kharkar
Chapman University

Pick Your Own
Amanda Domuracki
Andrew Fewsmith
Wes Palmer
Luke Shields
Boston University

COMMERCIAL
The Aussie Bean 30 Second Spot
Noah Rashba
Chapman University

Lost Chocolate: A Skateboard Story
Caleb Heller
Jane Hollon
Andrew Pollins
American Film Institute

The Plumber
Yoni Klein
Andrew Pollins
American Film Institute

DIRECTING FOR DRAMA
Ernie
Hadley Hillel
Chapman University

It’s Just a Gun
Brian Robau
Chapman University

The Other Side
Daniel Abatan
American Film Institute

INDIVIDUAL ACHIEVEMENT IN NEWSCAST
Head Games
Erika Orstad
University of Miami

LOREEN ARBUS FOCUS ON DISABILITY
Slow Angels
Ying Lu
New York University

MISTER ROGERS MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP
Estefania de la Chica
Development
Columbia University

Kevin Wong
Research
New York University

MUSIC COMPOSITION
For Old Time’s Sake
Robert Mai
Chapman University

Icarus
Ryan Stratton
Chapman University

Parchment Wings
Benjamin Hoff
University of North Carolina – School of the Arts of Filmmaking

NEWSCAST
Carolina Week – April 13, 2016
McKenzie Bennett
University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill

WUFT News First at Five: September 2nd, 2016
Dani Hurtado
Ryan Roberts
University of Florida

WVU News “Special Edition” Heroin and Opioids: When Addiction Hits Home
Megan Saporito
West Virginia University

SERIES-SCRIPTED
The Buzz
Shasta Ford
Matt Nickley
Savannah College of Art and Design

Con
Audrey Emerson
Jen Enfield-Kane
Joelle Jacoby
Jenn Kuan
Noah Suarez-Sikes
Amy Suto
University of Southern California

Sanity
Helga Bryndis-Ernudottir
Allison Hartel
Andrea Massaro
Will McCance
Linda Riedman
Junyi Zhang
University of California-Los Angeles

SERIES-UNSCRIPTED
Learn to Count in an Endangered Language
Eli LaBan
Temple University

MCBCtv
Brad Parsons
Central Michigan University

Show-Me Chefs
Chelsea Eichholz
Ryan Gilyard
Daan Jansen
Missouri State University

VARIETY
2016 University of Florida Homecoming Parade Pre-Show
Danielle Frew
Jack Kramer
University of Florida

Brooklyn’s Best
Amina Ebada
Michael Irgang
Kevin Keating
Salomeya Lomidze
Jeremy  Norris
Michael Zhonga
City University of New York – Brooklyn College

Routes TV-Oklahoma: The Natural Disaster State
Trevor Slack
University of Oklahoma

WRITING FOR COMEDY
The Buzz
Matt Nickley
Savannah College of Art and Design

Dollar King
David Brent
American Film Institute

Trying to Fuck: A Modern Day Romance
Matt Gibson
Chapman University

WRITING FOR DRAMA
Lockdown
Daisygreen Stenhouse
American Film Institute

No Way Back
Michael Kongshaug
Eileen Shim
American Film Institute

Snowplow
Christopher Greenslate
Mia Niebruegge
American Film Institute

TVWriter™ congratulates all of the Television Academy Foundation’s 38th College Television Awards Nominees!

Cartoon: ‘The Pursuit of Idleness’

NOTE FROM LB: The way I see it, Grant Snider is absolutely the most inspirational guy on the interwebs today. Dood knows the ins and outs of creativity, creative people, and the creations of creative people, like no one else does ever has.

For example:

Don’t just sit there, get on over to Grant’s site, Incidental Comics, and look around. You won’t regret it. And while you’re there buy a poster or three. Or his new book. You won’t regret that either.

Peggy Bechko’s World of Stand-up (Sit Down?) Writing

by Peggy Bechko

Sitting or Standing – oh, what the *&^%!

We’re writers. We end up sitting a lot.

We’re no doubt aware of the fact that sitting a lot isn’t really good for us. There are studies that claim to show how very, very bad it is by informing us all that it increases the risk of type 2 diabetes and of course cardiovascular disease. It also leads to obesity and back pain. In fact it could be killing us (duh – look at what sitting all day causes).

But wait. Now there’s a new study by researchers in the UK that comes at it from another angle and says long days of sitting doesn’t seem to be killing us after all. At least no faster than standing.

What? Oh, for crying out loud.

So what’s the basis for this?

Well, here’s a quote: “Our study overturns current thinking on the health risks of sitting and indicates that the problem lies in the absence of movement rather than the time spent sitting itself,” said researcher Melvyn Hillsdon from the University of Exeter. “Any stationary posture where energy expenditure is low may be detrimental to health, be it sitting or standing.”

Hmmm. Okay, writer, now what do we do?

I mean I got a standing desk and everything.

There’s a key here, right? Umm, yeah. It hinges on our daily activity according to these researchers (who, by the way, spent 16 years on their project). The extrapolation is apparently activity, every kind of activity.

Define activity I said to myself.

In general, it’s any sort of movement.

For example, the study took place in London which is a city that requires a lot of walking to and standing on public transportation to get places. So, the folks in this study had double the average daily walking time that most other folks there in the UK and I’m assuming in the US.

So, despite the fact that remaining seated for long periods is bad for your health, no matter how often you hit the gym, simple movement is big for health.

What is needed apparently is a bigger expenditure of energy in some form. Even fidgeting counts.

The take-away?

Well, I’m not getting rid of my standing desk. I like it and I actually think it causes me, personally, to focus better. If you want to see it you can check mine out at http://amzn.to/2mQU9NS – it’s a Varidesk.

I split my day between sitting and standing (standing with a lot of fidgeting). Now I’m adding to that a new focus on increasing physical activity. The fact is my standup desk does encourage more movement than sitting. I do fidget and I do move back and forth on my feet and I do tend to step away more often. So now when I step away, I walk up and down the stairs.

All that walking is good, and easy to arrange. My suggestion is that you make the commitment to walk more, to fidget at your desk more and to generally keep spending your energy.

After all, who needs the stress of worrying about the hours we spend at our computers, a situation that no matter how good our intentions we can’t change?

Now, get up, stretch, move around, then go on and write that award-winner. Your body may not be able to give an acceptance speech for your conscious contribution to a healthier life, but your life will speak for it, every moment of every day.


Peggy Bechko is a TVWriter™ Contributing Editor. Learn more about her sensational career HERE. Peggy’s new comic series, Planet of the Eggs, written and illustrated with Charlene Brash-Sorensen is available on Kindle. And, while you’re at it, visit the Planet of the Eggs Facebook page and her terrific blog.

Larry Brody’s Poetry: ‘The Navajo Dog Walks Her Talk

by Larry Brody

NOTE FROM LB:

The Navajo Dog is back today, and while I don’t think anyone could be as happy about that as I am, she definitely is worth keeping company with. Oh, and yes, this is a true story, every word. To let it be otherwise would betray everything she has lived for.


The Navajo Dog Walks Her Talk

The Navajo dog walks her talk, has been for at least

A thousand years. Lost items are a specialty. She

Has found a hidden concho belt, the skull of a vanished

Cat, and several renewed friends. Money she isn’t

That good at, but opportunities abound at her call.

The problem is, she drives me crazy, demanding a

Quid pro quo. “What have you done for me?” she

Will say. “You trade with the medicine men. What

Will you give your medicine dog?”

For awhile, rides in the truck were enough, her

Nomadic origins satisfied by the bumping of

The bed. Locking up the Navajo dog was impossible

Anyway. I would close the garage door on her,

Turn around, and there she would be, laughing.

Food as a thank you is hopeless. Anything she wants

She can take for herself. Once, I buried a sack of

Dog food beneath half a ton of oil drums, just as a

Test. The Navajo dog didn’t flinch, just waited until

I turned away. Then—wham!—a rumble, a crash, and

A dog munching contentedly, while the drums shivered

And swayed.

One of the skills the Navajo dog has taught me

Is the making of spirit staffs. It began when I

Wanted a stick to guide me over some rough

Paths. She told me where to find a good strong one,

Then guided me to some turkey feathers, and corn.

I stained the kernels with vegetable dye,

Strung them as beads, and attached them to

Both the feathers and the wood. Still, the

Navajo dog felt it wasn’t

Enough, took me out again. This time, we found

The skeleton of a cow, and the dog went directly to the

Spine. “Pick a backbone, any backbone,” she said

In stage patter. “You need a reminder to be brave.”

“I am brave,” I said.

“Sometimes,” she said, “you forget.

I attached the vertebra to the staff, using the

Corn beads. Still, the Navajo dog felt it wasn’t

Enough, took me out once more. This time, we

Made a fire, and kept the ashes, and at her

Instruction I used them to paint a black spiral

The length of the wood. “Black is a sacred

Color,” she said. “Where I come from,” I told her,

“Black means death.”

“Where I come from,” she told me, “everything

Means death.

And life as well.

With the black, and the corn,” she said,

“And the feathers, and the bone,

Your new staff will carry you

Straight to heaven, or maybe hell.”

I have walked many miles with my spirit staff,

And climbed the steepest slopes. I have fallen,

And gotten up,

And fallen again,

But never has the staff failed. It carries turquoise

Now, set into the wood. “So you can fly freely

Where you need to,” said the Navajo dog,

And I’ve flown fast and free. Now, though, she

Wants a staff of her own, with no instructions,

No hints, no clues of what it should be. I figure

To pull out all the stops, and give her what she

Deserves.

After all, in a realm

Where all things mean death

And life

I’ll never be able to find what she needs.


Larry Brody is the head dood at TVWriter™. He is posting at least one poem a week here at TVWriter™ because, as the Navajo Dog herself once pointed out, “Art has to be free. If you create it for money, you lose your vision, and yourself.” She said it shorter, though, with just a snort.

TVWriter™ Don’t-Miss Posts of the Week – March 27, 2017

Time for TVWriter™’s  Monday look at our 5 most popular blog posts of the week ending yesterday. They are, in order:

Looking for TV Pilot Scripts?

8 Tips for Writing for Children’s TV Shows

More Aliens than Asians on Screen: White-Washing Ghost in the Shell

LB: 3 Shows I Just Can’t Watch Anymore

Ethics in TV Storytelling from ClexaCon

And our 5 most visited permanent resource pages are, also in order:

Writing the Dreaded Outline

The Logline

SPIDER-MAN UNLIMITED SECOND SEASON ARC

THE PEOPLE’S PILOT

The Outline/Story

Major thanks to everyone for making this another great week at TVWriter™. Don’t forget to click above and read what you missed and re-read what you loved!

The Fiction Writer’s Character Chart

image by The-Happy-Thought

Know how all the writing books (including LB’s own) tell you to create autobiographies for your characters so you know them inside and out before you start writing?

It’s a bitch, right? But here’s something that’ll help you. Writer Rebecca Sinclair has created a brilliant template that homes in on exactly what character aspects you need to know, and the good peeps at Eclectics have published it on their site.

We aren’t publishing it here out of consideration for Ms. Sinclair’s wishes, but we guarantee you that it’s worth a click. So, hey, you know what to do, CLICK HERE!