As most of you probably know, the Writers Guild of America (both East and West branches) are on strike against the media producers (the AMPTP). Being as I am a kind of backdoor member of the WGAw, I support the union, and I thought I'd speak to it a bit.
First, these days, Hollywood isn't so much about making movies as making the deal, and it is all about the pie, and who gets what slice of it.
The writers -- without whom there would be no teleplays or screenplays, and thus no movies but documentaries, and no television, save the vile and onerous "reality" shows -- are once again being told to bend over and hand the producers the soap.
WGAw writers, on average, make about $60,000 a year. Better than being on the dole, but hardly enough to be considered serious wealth.
The crux of the strike this time is the same as it has been in the past: Everybody wants a bigger piece of the pie, and at least some of the producers would happily take it all.
The specifics of this round concerns the internet. Producers sell streaming video, for which there are commercials and for which they are making a shitload of money, only the writers don't get any of it.
When videotape came out, the producers said to the writers, "Gee, we don't how much money is gonna be involved in this, probably not much, so hold off on asking for any of it, and we'll hash it out later."
Home videotapes made a lot of producers filthy rich, and the writers got screwed.
When DVDs appeared, the producers said, "Hey, yeah, there might be some money here, but, you know, the formats haven't been nailed down, so, hold off on asking for any of it, and we'll take care of you later."
Uh huh. And guess who also didn't make any money from that.
And now, the associated producers are saying, "The internet? Well, yeah, there might be some money in that, but probably not all that much, so why don't you hold off and --- "
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me fourteen times, what, I am an idiot?
Well, yes, but not totally.
That's what the writers are trying to get: a piece -- a small piece -- of the internet action, which is already making producers rich.
There are other issues, but that's the sticking point. Just so you know ...