Hollywood Studio Exec Explains The Writers’ Strike

A studio executive explains the Hollywood writers’ strike (as written by striking Colbert Report writers).

Bloody brilliant.

Also, the AMPTP finally fights fire with fire, and uses the internet to counter the WGA’s ugly smear campaign.


via pmarca

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What's been said:

Discussions found on the web:
  1. Dave commented on Nov 29

    Since the writers are going to lose all this support for them will only cause them to strike longer than they otherwise would and deplete more of their savings and small strike fund.

  2. Cherry commented on Nov 29

    What writers write is largely a reflection of the American people. I would say that doesn’t speak to well what these slobs look at.

    The guild should strike for a smarter and less degenerative populace.

  3. Ross commented on Nov 29

    I must be too old but I do not get the humour. I will admit that I have soiled myself reading this blog! It all ‘depends’ on your point of view.

  4. Monkeyfister commented on Nov 29

    No sir–

    It is the Writer’s Guild that is 100% in the right on this.

    Sorry that you can’t watch new, original shows on that new $2,000 plasma screen TV, but the Writer’s deserve the extra nickel per movie.

    I absolutely find “The Big Picture” required reading on a daily basis, but I cannot agree that the BIG, RICH Producers (Sony, G.E., et al) are hurting so badly that they cannot properly compensate those that create the products.

    Same with any industry.

    But, then again, I don’t even own a television, let alone a $2,000 plasma screen, so I guess I am not losing out on my “investment” like others.


  5. Barry Ritholtz commented on Nov 29

    Um, I assumed it was clear that both of these are parodies from the writers —

  6. philip commented on Nov 29

    We’ll figure out who is right. That is what a strike is. Neither side has a right to the status quo, whichever side caves was wrong. That is the way strikes work and the way they should work. The writers have the advantage of being witty and making snarky youtube videos. The studios have the advantage of having the reins over the bulk of the machinery that monetizes what the writers do. There is a reason why writers don’t own the studios: it is really hard to run a profitable studio. Unless the writers want to take on the risk of actually losing money when something they write can’t be monetized then they will have to settle for whatever they can get through negotiation and striking. I have not heard any writers saying they want to be on the hook during bad years or when the shows they write lose money. We’ll see where the chips land, but the writers don’t have the moral high ground that they’d like you to think they have.

  7. John Thompson commented on Nov 29

    The DVD cut writers get is only .04 right now on average. (writers want .08 cents out of a 12.99 to 19.99 DVD is what I heard)

    Writers got a pretty bad deal in ’88? Strike lasted six months?

    And, there have been several years to perfect internet percentages. Makes me wonder if having the writers analyze internet business models will expose some shady dealings.

    Averaged with out of work 10,000 members in the guild, writers average $60,000 per year I heard.

    Vudu will be huge! Writers won’t leave the table ’til getting some.

  8. a guy called john commented on Nov 29

    Interesting commentary from a writer on npr today:

    The writers I’ve talked to are concerned about the way the picket lines and those videos have been portrayed in the wider media — with a snarky undertone that has cast the writers as elitists in “arty glasses and fancy scarves” and engaged in “the funnest strike ever.” And that’s a quote, too, ’cause I ain’t having any fun.

    The feedback I’m starting to get is that high-spirited picketing isn’t for the public, but for the writers ourselves. It’s writer crunch time, baby. Now may be make it or break it time for union solidarity

  9. Jim Bergsten commented on Nov 30

    I’m conflicted…

    On the one hand, I am positive that writers are not being equitably compensated. This is an unfortunate consequence of the universal truism: “if you enjoy your work, it isn’t work, and a whole lot of other people would love to be doing it, so we don’t have to pay YOU to have fun at our expense.” This is why we have starving artists and starving musicians and starving writers and starving actors and starving poets and starving composers and starving comedians and so on.

    On the other hand (which has nothing to do with the strike other than perhaps giving those involved some time to actually THINK), it would be nice if AMPTP (?) or the WGA imposed some minimum standards on storytelling excellence and dare I say it, originality. To wit: stories by writers with more than 20 years of life experience and perhaps written by folks who are not rich, born into LA nobility, and from dysfunctional families. Writers who can come up with something more than “Bush is dumb, Bush is dumb, Bush is dumb, Bush is dumb.”

    There goes my union card.

  10. speedlet commented on Nov 30

    The untold story in all this is that the media companies are picking a fight with the writers over chump change. In the case of some studios, the money at stake is less than $1M per year.

    Meanwhile, advertisers are demanding refunds of upfront money for next season. The networks are currently only offering “make-good” arrangements, but there is talk of one major ad buyer filing a lawsuit to demand a cash refund, with other lawsuits to follow. Even if the networks manage to settle those suits, those alienated advertisers will soon be moving to Google. Meanwhile, the exodus of TV audiences to the internet continues. And have you ever heard any of these companies say anything coherent about how they plan to deal with piracy?

    Shades of the death of the music industry…

  11. Douglas Watts commented on Nov 30

    The AMPTP needs to hire the record industry for strategy consulting.

  12. jkw commented on Nov 30

    imposed some minimum standards on storytelling excellence and dare I say it, originality. To wit: stories by writers with more than 20 years of life experience and perhaps written by folks who are not rich, born into LA nobility, and from dysfunctional families.

    What does life experience or family background have to do with originality? Are you saying people from rich families can’t write well? Are you claiming people from dysfunctional families can’t tell good stories?

    If you want standards on originality, shouldn’t they be based on how original the stories are, rather than what the writer’s background is?

    The WGA has all the power here. The simple way for them to get what they want is for them to retain the copyright on everything they write. Then any time a new distribution format comes out, the studios have to negotiate a deal before they can use it, because any unlicensed distribution of a derived work is punishable by ridiculously large fines (lobbied for by the movie and music industry). If they started threatening to bring copyright retention to the bargaining table, the studios would probably cave in very quickly.

  13. michael schumacher commented on Nov 30

    this is a major reason why you will never see any downloaded content that is free of DRM. Studios are greedy bastards and the protracted way this whole thing has been handled really proves it. Why else do studios cut content deals with EVERYBODY but yet never allow one dist. to have too much content?? All about control….another reason you will never see Itunes be as successful with movie content as it was with music.

    going forward any digital delvery will be ALL about content licenses.

  14. doug commented on Nov 30

    I don’t know about most people, but does anyone else notice our media is both over-scripted and over-produced? Think about a world with in depth presidential debates on a single real issue, and without shows like “Ugly Betty” ( rehash of a TV show on foreign language station ). Whoa! Imagine!

  15. Jim Bergsten commented on Nov 30


    Life experience has to do with being around long enough to have something worthwhile to say. This is why experienced professionals get paid more than newbies (or at least they used to. Or should).

    Diverse background has to do with sharing viewpoints different from our own. Being in a “politically correct” group doesn’t make your viewpoint novel or unique or necessarily worthwhile. And not different (it’s called “preaching to the choir” though every choir “I’ve” ever seen just wants to sing and go home).

    Can rich people write well? Well, they can hire ghostwriters. Do people from dysfunctional families have something worthwhile to say? Sure. But, we’ve heard it before, over and over. It’s not bad, it’s old.

    They tell fledgling writers to “write about what you know.” So we get stories about Orange County spoiled teens. Or Broadway shows about Broadway shows about Broadway shows. 30 Rock. Growing up in Brooklyn. Hanging around Tom’s Restaurant on 112th and Broadway. Been there, done that. No longer interesting. No longer thought inspiring.

    OK. Not terribly succinct. How’s this?

    Writers deserve more.
    Audience deserves better.


    Oh, and more to the point of the thread, the real question is, “who makes money from the strike”? The middlemen. The attorneys. The negotiators. The agents. The publicists. This is the reason for the strike (and its duration). Way more will be spent on both sides than what is at issue.

  16. Doug commented on Dec 1

    The tagline in Jim’s post sounds good when applied to lots of things, if you put GOOD first. Good Teacher’s, cops, politician’s; a little more money would help attract better candidates in these vital professions. When it comes to TV writers and producers, my formula goes like this: First, fire half of them, and spread their compensation among the remaining talent. There are no guarantees, but it might inspire a healthy sense of competition to produce a better quality product. Our mass media is a joke!

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