Saturday, February 09, 2008

Oh, thank God!

Variety is reporting today that a deal has been finalized to end the four month old WGA strike.

Leaders of the WGA made the announcement of the finalized deal early Saturday after spending much of Friday meeting with lawyers over the contract language. WGA West president Patric Verrone and WGA East prexy Michael Winship sent a message to members that stressed the gains made in the new-media sector.

“It is an agreement that protects a future in which the Internet becomes the primary means of both content creation and delivery,” they said. “It creates formulas for revenue-based residuals in new media, provides access to deals and financial data to help us evaluate and enforce those formulas, and establishes the principle that, ‘When they get paid, we get paid.’ ”

Verrone and Winship said in the message that the time has come to end the strike and cited the “enormous personal toll on our members and countless others.”

“As such, we believe that continuing to strike now will not bring sufficient gains to outweigh the potential risks and that the time has come to accept this contract and settle the strike,” they said. “Much has been achieved, and while this agreement is neither perfect nor perhaps all that we deserve for the countless hours of hard work and sacrifice, our strike has been a success.”

I think we'd all have to conclude that this strike really was a strategic and moral success for writers. When it started, the subject of compensation for the Internet was one of the non-negotiables. But the solidarity of the writing community really wonthe day. The studios were shocked, I think, when the TV showrunners refused to work as "producers" arguing that everything they do in casting, editing and show-running, basically is just another form of writing. This action added a tremendous amount of pressure on TV nets and studios.

Then there has been the wonderful solidarity of SAG. The actors, certainly eying their own contract negotiation coming up this summer, but also out of a real sense of appreciation for the long-neglected importance of writers to this business, decided to dig in with us in the strike. Shockingly, the actors refused to countenance a Golden Globes celebration, and then threatened to boycott their annual red-carpet actor glut fest, the Academy Awards. There have only been a few actors who broke the strike, notably Ellen Degeneres, who made a really bad call that I think will haunt her professionally for a long time.

But now, we will have the writers getting back to work after having had a nice long period to think and brood over their next projects. I think we are going to see some great work come out of this solitude. Please join me in praying for this.

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