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Showing posts with the label WGA Strike

"Bitch is the New Black": Tina Fey Takes on "SNL"

Was it just me or was Tina Fey the perfect vehicle to welcome back scripted television to the airwaves? Fey's winning turn as host this weekend on Saturday Night Live , the sketch comedy series on which she served as its first female head writer, was hilarious, inspired, and completely appropriate, after the long, dark months of the WGA strike. (It also earned SNL its highest overnight ratings in two years, scoring a 6.1/15 share.) From the opening moments--in which she referred to the lack of any hard feelings amongst the crew for the writers strike (and then had to duck several times from a boom being dropped on her head)--to an unexpected cameo from Steve Martin, advising her that she had to stop being a writer and start being a performer (complete with a lesson on the comedy rule of three), Fey proved why 30 Rock is such a critical success: she's funny, sexy, and not afraid to poke fun at herself, even when it means getting bitchslapped by Martin on stage. But it was her

StrikeWatch: And... It's Over

It's official: the WGA strike, which began November 5th, has finally come to a close, following a member vote overwhelmingly in favor of ending the strike (92.5% to be precise) and getting back to work during the official ten-day ratification process. You can literally hear the sound of relief echoing through Hollywood today as writers return to their keyboards to try to pound out as many scripts as possible in time to salvage the 2007-08 season. "Our membership has voted, and writers can go back to work," said WGA West President Patric Verrone in a statement. "This was not a strike we wanted, but one we had to conduct in order to win jurisdiction and establish appropriate residuals for writing in new media and on the Internet. Those advances now give us a foothold in the digital age. Rather than being shut out of the future of content creation and delivery, writers will lead the way as TV migrates to the Internet and platforms for new media are developed." So w

StrikeWatch: Another 48 Hours

In about 48 hours time, the strike could be a thing of the past. By Tuesday night, we'll know about the outcome of the WGA's vote about whether or not to lift the strike proviso and if they will in fact return to work while the 10-day ratification process of the tentative agreement takes place. In the meantime, showrunners (those lucky writer-producer types) returned to the job today and it's expected that the WGA's member body will vote to lift the strike. For the first time in months, things seem hopeful here in Los Angeles. Since the strike began over three months ago, there has been a pall cast over this city, a hush that infected every restaurant, every bar, every coffee shop. All anyone could talk about was this strike, when it would end, what it would mean for an industry already under seige, a business which many viewers seem to have deserted for parts unknown. Expense accounts were slashed, pickets raised, overall deals were canceled, crews given pink slips, wr

StrikeWatch: Cautious Optimism Are Today's Buzzwords

I've gotten several emails from readers asking if the WGA strike is over and I just have to clear the air here and say: it's not over until we're told by the WGA that it's over. While I want more than anything for the strike to come to a swift conclusion and the writers to walk away with a fair deal, I don't think we should be breaking open the champagne just yet. While all signs point to progress in the ongoing talks between the WGA and the AMPTP, we all know that nothing in this life is for certain and progress is just that: progress. When there is a tentative agreement between the two camps, I will cheer with abandon and when that deal is ratified by a majority of the WGA West and East's 10,000+ members, I will break open the Bollinger. In the meantime, I am advocating maintaining an air of cautious optimism. Can this season still be saved? Possibly. But until there's something concrete, in writing, from the AMPTP that the WGA accepts, talking about which

DGA Signs Deal with AMPTP; What Does It Mean for This Season?

Well, at least we're going into the three-day weekend with some positive strike-related news for a change, though it's still unclear whether the deal signed between the DGA and the AMPTP , signed after six days of meetings, bodes well for a return to the bargaining table in that other dispute. “Two words describe this agreement - groundbreaking and substantial,” said Gil Cates, DGA Negotiations Committee chair. “The gains in this contract for directors and their teams are extraordinary – and there are no rollbacks of any kind.” Among the highlights of the deal are increases in wages and residual bases for each year of the three-year contract, DGA jurisdiction over original programming produced for the Internet, new residual formulas for EST (double the current rate), and residual rates for ad-supported streaming and use of clips on the Internet. The new agreement will be submitted to the DGA's National Board for approval on January 26th. (For more on the DGA deal, check ou

Life Without Writers: Murder Unscripted

For a fictional glimpse into a world without writers, you can't do much better than the " Murder Unscripted " sketch which pits Dean Winters and Kathryn Erbe (as an "impossibly hot detective team") against a crime they can't solve... without the help of a writer, anyway. Chris Noth, Zeljko Ivanek ( Damages ' own Ray Fiske!), and Eric Bogosian show up to offer their own possible solutions to his baffling crime in a library. My favorite moment? Erbe's thoughts that the crime echoes that in another episode, in which the mom did it as Winters tries to puzzle out if she meant that mom also committed this crime. Also rather telling: Ivanek's gruff DA at a literal loss for words when presented by Winters with a tangle of rope as a possible murder weapon.

StrikeWatch: Day 32

Welcome to Day 32 of the WGA Strike. Cautious optimism are the words du jour as talks between the WGA and the AMPTP continue. Negotiations are set to resume this morning at 10 am PT after yesterday's encouraging talks that had both sides nearing some sort of common ground on several looming issues. The WGA released its end-of-day statement, which contained language far more encouraging than anything thus far: "The Writers Guilds met today with the AMPTP and discussed issues of jurisdiction for original content for the Internet, Reality TV, Animation, and Basic Cable. The talks also were focused on contract enforcement. For the last two days, we have had substantive discussions of the issues important to writers, the first time this has occurred in this negotiation. However, we are still waiting for the AMPTP to respond to all of our proposals, including Internet streaming of theatrical and television product and digital downloads." And the AMPTP released their own stat

StrikeWatch: Day 26

Welcome to the 26th day of the WGA strike here in Hollywood. I had hoped better news would spill out of the talks held this week between the WGA and the AMPTP but, now that the media blackout has been lifted and the AMPTP's "groundbreaking" proposal has seen the light of day, it's not at all what anyone supporting the writers had hoped for. The AMPTP offered the following official statement: "The AMPTP today unveiled a New Economic Partnership to the WGA, which includes groundbreaking moves in several areas of new media, including streaming, content made for new media and programming delivered over digital broadcast channels. The entire value of the New Economic Partnership will deliver more than $130 million in additional compensation above and beyond the more than $1.3 billion writers already receive each year. In response, the WGA has asked for time to study the proposals. While we strongly preferred to continue discussions, we respect and understand the WGA&#

StrikeWatch: Day 22

It's Monday morning and Day 22 of the WGA Strike with no sign of a resolution anywhere in sight. As the writers strike enters its fourth week, the WGA and the AMPTP will sit down today for the first time since the writers went on strike three weeks ago. The session, scheduled to begin at 10 am today, will happen at an "undisclosed neutral site at a hotel without CEOs in attendance." Said talks will also occur under a news blackout. So far, there has been no indication about whether talks are set for Tuesday in addition to today's silence-breaking return to the negotiation table. The writers, meanwhile, resumed picketing at major studios today, after the Thanksgiving holiday. Shifts have been set for three-hours, with Warner Bros. getting the first shift as early as 5 am . Missed 30 Rock 's live show in New York to benefit the production crew affected by the strike? Read Entertainment Weekly 's report here and The Huffington Post 's recap here . And did y

StrikeWatch: AMPTP Agrees to Resume Talks with WGA

One piece of promising strike-related news: the two sides seem headed back to the negotiation table, at least for now. The studios and networks have agreed to restart talks with the striking writers on November 26th, though said writers will remain on strike during the talks, after the studios dropped their demand that the strike had to cease before talks could begin anew. It's rumored that CAA agent Bryan Lourd helped broker the agreement to return to the table. A joint statement released by the WGA and the AMPTP said the following: ""Leaders from the AMPTP and the WGA have mutually agreed to resume formal negotiations on November 26. No other details or press statements will be issued." (Both sides had agreed to a press blackout.) An email from WGA West President Patric Verrone, obtained by Variety , offered this statement: "This announcement is a direct result of your efforts. For 12 days I have repeated that a powerful strike means a short strike. [...] No

StrikeWatch: Day 12

It's Day 12 of the WGA Strike with no sign of a resolution anywhere in sight. After today's fan-themed protest at Universal, only two days of pre-Thanksgiving strike-related activities planned, including Monday's planned assistant and below-the-line employee strike at Fox. In other news, the strike has now affected US network productions that shoot outside the country. Both Vancouver-based NBC Universal productions Bionic Woman and Battlestar Galactica have shut down due to the strike . Bionic Woman , which was supposed to continue shooting until mid December, has instead shut down far ahead of that schedule, ceasing production on November 9th. Across town, fellow NBC Universal drama Battlestar Galactica , which was meant to shoot until March on the final batch of its Season Four episodes, will instead shut down today, as it has run out of scripts. Production on FX's The Riches was shut down for 15 minutes yesterday due to picketing organized by showrunner Dmitry L

StrikeWatch: Day 11

It's Day 11 of the WGA strike and there's still no sign of resolution to the strike as we inch towards the Thanksgiving holiday. Strike-related activities will cease on Tuesday as Hollywood shuts down for the holiday. Writers should have something to be thankful for, namely an overwhelming public support for the strike, even though the studios haven't yet given them what they deserve. Maybe since they've been nice, a resolution to the issues on the table will come in time for Christmas/Hannukah. (Just a thought.) Speaking of that public support, a pair of studies released yesterday (conducted by Pepperdine University and SurveyUSA respectively) showed that public sympathy during this battle definitely falls with the writers. 69 percent of those polled in the Pepperdine study and 63 percent in the SurveyUSA poll were in support of the writers' cause. The studios fared far worse, with only 4 percent and 8 percent of those polled (respectively) in support. There are s

StrikeWatch: Day 10

Good morning. It's Day 10 of the WGA strike and, with Thanksgiving nearly upon us, there are no signs of a resolution any time soon. Yesterday's SAG-themed strike brought out approximately 2500 strikers to the gates of Universal, including many A-list actors who turned out to support their scribe brethren. Televisionary yesterday participated in a sign of solidarity with the writers by not posting any new material on what was termed Dark Tuesday and offering the general public some options in terms of supporting the creators and writers of their favorite series. Reaction to the symbolic strike was mixed, thanks to a link on The Drudge Report, which soon flooded many media sites covering the blog blackout with largely negative comments. I think many people are against this strike simply based on their misguided perception that the writers striking are (A) rich and (B) liberals. The fact is that the writers who are being the most abused by the studios are in fact those making th

TV Blogs Go Dark in Solidarity with the Writers Guild of America

On November 13th, this blog and the blogs listed below will be on strike for the day in solidarity with the Writers Guild of America. As fellow writers and as TV fans, we are coming together to express our strong support for the writers and their goals. We believe that when a writer's work makes money for a company, that writer deserves to be paid. Many writers depend on residuals for a stable income, and that income shouldn't be based on an outdated formula which ignores the existence of new media and all but a tiny percentage of DVD sales. The talented writers responsible for so much of what we love about television should and must be paid fairly and equitably, and we will stand with them until they reach that goal. For everyone's sake, and for the sake of television, we hope both sides can come to an agreement quickly. To further that goal, we are calling on our readers to sign this petition and to contact the following television networks, voicing support for the writ

StrikeWatch: Day 8

It's Monday morning and Week Two of the WGA Strike begins today, with no sign of resolution anywhere in sight. Today's themed strike: Bring Your Child to Strike Day (it's a school holiday, thanks to Veteran's Day). Expect the big stars to come out on Tuesday for a SAG-supported round of picketing. For those of you who missed my late Friday post, an updated list of which series have shut down production (along with how many shot episodes and scripts remain) can be found right over here . Over the weekend, Lost showrunner Damon Lindelof offered an eloquent and sobering op-ed piece about the strike in The New York Times , entitled " Mourning TV ." Lindelof's piece speaks volumes about the conflicting interests of writers and studios as much as it does signal the (long-coming) end of an era in which we all watched the same television series live, with commercials, on a set-top box. Those of us obsessed with our beloved TiVos knows that the winds of change ble

StrikeWatch: Production Blackout Update #2

It's Friday evening and the first week of the WGA strike is winding down with no signs of resolution in sight. For those of us who work in the TV industry and didn't live through the 1988 strike, it really has been a strange, strange week here. Rumors are circulating of a "secret, backchannel discussion" between parties that are being planned for this weekend. However, many insiders believe this to be more wishful thinking than anything concrete. Around town, many writer/producers whose projects aren't currently in production found their term deals suspended as FOX, CBS Paramount, NBC Universal, and ABC Television Studios react to the strike. But what the general television audience is curious about is how the ongoing writers strike will affect their favorite series. Below is the latest production blackout update, sorted by network: ABC Big Shots : Shot episode nine on November 7th. Has 11 of its 13 episode order already written. Boston Legal : Will have 14 of 22