WGA member and comedy writer John Aboud tells me tonight that AMPTP.com, the spoof site of AMPTP.org, has come to an end. “We were renting the url from the owner, and he graciously left it up even longer than we paid for. It was fun, but it’s run its course. If nothing else we forced the AMPTP to hire a better designer and buy a stock photo CD of ‘professions.’ ” As for all those rumors that the website’s owner was threatened with a cease and desist letter, and other weapons from the AMPTP’s legal arsenal, Aboud says nah. But Harvard constitutional law professor Alan Dershowitz did offer to defend him. Meanwhile, Aboud archived the parody AMPTP.com on his personal site: amptp.humortron.net.
By Greg Garcia, Creator and Executive Producer of My Name Is Earl.
I hate writing. I hate it. Sitting down to write a script is torture. In fact, the only good thing that’s come out of this strike is that it’s given me an actual legitimate excuse not to write. Usually I have to spend most of my mornings trying to come up with reasons to be lazy. But these days, I simply wake up and my guild has decided that I am not permitted to put pen to paper. Not permitted to sit and stare at a blank page and feel like a failure for hours on end. Not permitted to type scene after scene only to read it at the end of the day, hate it, and throw it out. And for that, I’m grateful to the AMPTP and the WGA. However, I’m bored out of my mind. Because as much as I hate writing TV, I love watching it. Writing TV is hard, but watching it… Watching it is a breeze. All you need are eyes and an ass. When I sit down to watch an episode of one of my favorite shows it’s like Christmas morning. I get excited. What have they come up with for me this week? I can’t wait. And when it’s over I quickly shut off the TV before I can see the promo for next week’s episode because I don’t want to ruin a single second of it. I don’t have to …
“Representatives from Worldwide Pants and the Writers Guild of America, West and the Writers Guild of America, East met today in Los Angeles. A lively exchange of information took place. The WGAW and WGAE will not comment further,” according to a WGA statement. here’s what Rob Burnett, president/CEO of Worldwide Pants and longtime executive producer of The Late Show With David Letterman, said: “We had a substantive discussion today with the WGA and look forward to continuing these talks next week.”
Cast: Woody Allen, William H. Macy, Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon, Sean Penn, Rosanne Arquette, Richard Benjamin, Peter Weller, Paula Prentiss, Patricia Clarkson, Patricia Arquette, Nicolette Sheridan, Matthew Modine, Martin Sheen, Lizzy Caplan, Laura Linney, Kenny Johnson, Cathy Cahlin Ryan, Catherine Dent, Paula Garces, Michael Jace, Jay Karnes, Benito Martinez, CCH Pounder, David Snell, Nicki Micheaux, Olivia Wilde, Marcia Cross, John Amos, Michael Weatherly, Gary Dourdan, Sprague Grayden, Beth Littleford, Joyce Hyser, Kate Beckinsale, Justine Bateman, Joshua Jackson, Joey Pantoliano, Jeff Garlin, Jay Leno, Jason Bateman, Holly Hunter, Harvey Keitel, Garry Marshall, Frances Fisher, Felicity Huffman, Diane Ladd, David Schwimmer, Christine Lahti, Chazz Palminteri, Bill Pullman, Angela Bassett, Andre 3000, Amy Ryan, America Ferrera, Alan Cumming.
Creative Team: George Hickenlooper, Alan Sereboff, Jill Kushner, Kamala Lopez, Jordan Mechner, Amy Gollnick, Chic Eglee
Music: Anthony Marinelli
Technical Team: Clint Bennett, Joel Marshall, Robert Campbell, Eric Heisserer
This is the 27st of the Writers Guild Of America member-conceived Internet videos for Project “Speechless” featuring A-list Screen Actors Guild talent. For the first time in the TV and movie industry, high-profile SAG actors are together taking their talents directly and exclusively to the Internet, the very medium which is at the center of the current WGA labor strike against the Alliance Of Motion Picture & Television Producers. The project, conceived by director/writer George Hickenlooper and writer Alan Sereboff, made its exclusive weekend debut here on my Deadline Hollywood Daily with 11 videos. The “Speechless” campaign now debuts on its new site, SpeechlessWithoutWriters.com, which will be adding new …
Now that almost all the other late night hosts are returning right after the new year, the latest news is that Jon Stewart (a WGA member) and Stephen Colbert (also a WGA member) are headed back into the studios on January 7th. The good news is that this could make the 2008 Presidential race that much more interesting. The bad news is that the shows won’t have available to them the WGA writers who would make the shows that much more interesting. Both late-night shows were shuttered after the Hollywood writers strike began seven weeks ago. The comedy duo join late night hosts Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien and Jimmy Kimmel returning behind their desks on January 2nd.
Only David Letterman, whose Worldwide Pants owns both his The Late Show and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, is trying to get back on the air with writers by asking the WGA for an “interim agreement”. On Friday, leaders of the striking writers guild confer with Dave’s production company. My latest info is that WWP’s Rob Burnett is flying to Los Angeles tonight to personally meet with the WGA “because he thought this was too important to just leave up the lawyers,” an insider tells me.
Here’s the Comedy Central announcement that is slowly beginning to circulate:
” The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report will resume production on January 7 with both shows returning to air that night without their respective writing staffs. The January 7 return follows …
The WGA statement just now said, “Film Independent came to us before the strike, and the WGAW Board decided to grant an interim agreement allowing for writing services for the Spirit Awards. The best way to get the awards season back on track is for the AMPTP to return to the bargaining table to negotiate a fair deal with the Writers Guild to get this town back to work.”
The Writers Guild Of America said today: “Comedy Central forcing Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert back on the air will not give the viewers the quality shows they’ve come to expect. The only way to get the writing staffs back on the job is for the AMPTP companies to come back to the table prepared to negotiate a fair deal with the Writers Guild.”
Today, Writers Guild of America members Charlie Craig and Thania St. John, executive producers of the Sci-Fi Network’s EUREKA, began this individual campaign. (I have asked the AMPTP to give me original content expressing its side of the current strike, but the group has declined to date.):
“Believe it or not, we’ve both been WGA members for more than twenty years. Each. That’s like four lifetimes in real job years. Between us we’ve run, what, eight TV shows? We’ve been busy, let’s just say that. Busy enough that we’ve never really sat down and had a conversation on what would seem like a pretty obvious topic:
“Why do we write?”
“What led us to this rewarding and often soul-crushing line of work? The kind of job that from the outside seems easy and fun, but from the inside has proven to be… hard and fun. How did we get here?
Over the last six weeks we’ve finally found the time to pose this question to each other and to a lot of other writers. The answers we’ve received have been humorous, heartfelt, complete bullshit, you name it… but in their own way each answer has been inspirational. People we’ve known for years and people we’ve just met, Assistants and Staff Writers and Executive Producers, have shared with us the countless stories and divergent paths that somehow led each and every one of us to this same place in life: in our case, the Jimmy Stewart Gate at Universal.
The Los Angeles City Council’s Housing, Community, and Economic Development Committee held a hearing on the economic impact of the Writers Guild of America strike on the local and regional economy, but the AMPTP declined to attend. ”We asked them to testify, and they said they would consider it. But then last night they said no,” an LA City Council source told me. ”We were very disappointed.” Instead, on the AMPTP’s behalf, the Motion Picture Association of America inserted a statement into the record.
I asked why the negotiators for the studios and networks didn’t show (a fact which Variety buried in the 3rd paragraph of its account of the hearing). “MPAA got involved because they rep us before the City Council, and because it was their area of expertise – economic impact,” an insider told me. “The MPAA represents the companies before all levels of government throughout the world. MPAA also provides economic data and information on the motion picture and television business to the public, on behalf of our members. But you are right that no individual from MPAA or AMPTP took part in the actual hearing.”
The WGA, which showed up in force for the 7:30 AM hearing despite pouring rain, issued a statement that the AMPTP’s “refusal shows a callous disregard for the people of Los Angeles. First these companies walked away from the bargaining table, and today …
Of course, no one will admit whether this is being done because of the WGA strike. But CBS has confirmed that the annual People’s Choice Awards will be broadcast January 8th. “The show will go on. The People’s Choice tradition on CBS will continue and we plan to introduce some new ideas in the process.” A source told me earlier today that “they are trying to tape winners giving ‘Thank you’s with clips to air. No press allowed. No red carpet.” Presumably the event will be picketed by striking writers.
I know what you’re thinking: who watches these phony baloney awards and who cares?
But, presuming you do, the “new magazine-style format” hosted by Queen Latifah will feature acceptance remarks as well as answers to questions from their fans. The show’s producers claim this will “give fans a more personal glimpse into the lives of their favorite actors and musicians”. But the previously filmed pieces also help the show avoid making celebrities cross WGA picket lines.
Statement from Rob Burnett, president/CEO of Worldwide Pants and executive producer of The Late Show With David Letterman: ”We are meeting with the Writer’s Guild on Friday to discuss an interim agreement for Worldwide Pants. With the WGA now embracing a strategy of offering interim agreements to individual companies, it is inconceivable to us that there is any producing entity more deserving than Worldwide Pants, which has been and continues to be a staunch supporter of the Writer’s Guild and its positions.”
Writers and others have been complaining to Variety today about an AMPTP ad which doesn’t identify itself as such located right above the trade’s strike coverage. “Holy crap, how much are the AMPTP paying them? Oh right, tons,” one WGA member emailed me. “Not to mention the ad misquotes David Young once again, but misinformation from the AMPTP is a given at this point.”
The complaints prompted Variety‘s online editor Dana Harris to post this message on the site: “Yes, that is definitely an ad. We’ve received some emails complaining that the Flash banner above could be confused for a editorial content since there’s no identification of its advertising status. However, it is an ad; click on it and you’re redirected to the AMPTP site. Its lack of advertising identification is a technical glitch that we’re currently working to resolve. In the meantime, please know that the space above the posts and below the Scribe Vibe logo goes to those who pay for it.”
There’s no doubt that Variety‘s now famous post-strike headlines blaming the writers for every sorry twist and turn in these complicated negotiations with the studios/networks have increased rather than decreased, from my estimation. As a result, I thought I’d share this email interaction between succesfull TV writer Nicole Yorkin and Variety editor Peter Bart over her decision to cancel her subscription:
Sent: Monday, December 10, 2007 3:33 PM
To: Bart, Peter (RBI-US)
Subject: from Nicole Yorkin
Dear Mr. Bart,
As a former journalist and …
That the studios and networks have been twisting the truth about the WGA strike to suit their own purposes looks to be standard operating procedure during this strike. That happens on the other side of this labor dispute, too. But no company seems to be doing this more than Disney/ABC. For instance, all comments (not just some) that are even mildly friendly to the WGA are quickly deleted from ABC.com. Here is one striking writer’s experience on Tuesday: “I was on ABC.com today when I saw the Leno story and that there were comments where writers were being bashed and scabs promoted. I defended writers and less than two minutes later the comments were deleted. I tried again and, once again, my comments were deleted. Talk about ABC/Disney censorship.”
The above wouldn’t seem as scary if Disney didn’t own an international news operation, ABC, which is supposed to report accurately and consider both sides of an issue.
But it gets worse.
ABC recently held a ”Strike Educational Seminar”. Its purpose was described thusly: “With each day of the WGA strike, more articles and opinions circulate in the media. Now is your chance to hear the real issues in question. Please join Mark Pedowitz and Marc Sandman for a brief discussion of the strike and its challenges.” According to an account of the seminar from a Disney/ABC employee who wishes to remain nameless but whose identity I have confirmed, very …
There are a lot of rumors that David Letterman’s Worldwide Pants may not get its interim agreement because of a change of heart by the WGA leadership. But here’s a new statement from Rob Burnett, president/CEO of Worldwide Pants and long-time executive producer of The Late Show With David Letterman, regarding the status of its request for an interim agreement with the WGA:
“We are willing to agree to the writers demands that are within our control, so we have no reason to believe that an interim agreement can’t be achieved with the WGA. As a result, our only focus is on returning January 2nd with writers.”
Right now there’s still no firm date for Letterman, a WGA member, to return to work. Both Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien announced Monday they would go back January 2nd. ABC said today that Jimmy Kimmel returns then, too. ”Though it makes me sick to do so without my writers, there are more than 100 people whose financial well-being depends on our show,” Kimmel’s statement said. “It is time to go back to work. I support my colleagues and friends in the WGA completely and hope this ends both fairly and soon.”
Update: I’m told co-head writer Eric Stangel and his wife Elizabeth Weitzman just had Late Show‘s first “strike baby”: Eva Weitzman-Stangel, 7 lbs 12 ozs, born at 3:50 PM today, 19 inches long.
After nearly three years of legal battling and public bad-mouthing and six months of settlement talks, it’s all over. Even better, it’s back to Middle Earth for all parties. Today’s big news is that JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit and its sequel will finally be made back-to-back for New Line and MGM the way they should be — under the Academy-Award-winning creative vision of Mr. Lord Of The Rings. But Jackson won’t be directing this time out, because of his previous commitments to DreamWorks for The Lovely Bones and Tintin trilogy with Steven Spielberg. While that will disappoint his LOTR fans, they’ll be pleased to know that the famed director will be integrally involved as executive producer along with his partner Fran Walsh. I’m told Jackson will make all creative decisions in concert with New Line, which will manage the production of the films.
The two Hobbit films – The Hobbit and its sequel – have long been stalled. Now they are scheduled to be shot simultaneously, with pre-production beginning as soon as possible. Principal photography is tentatively set for a 2009 start, with the intention of releasing The Hobbit in 2010 and its sequel the following year, in 2011.
This deal settles all of Jackson’s litigation relating to the LOTR trilogy after he sought to audit …
No WGA Waivers For Globes Or Oscars (And Other News From Tonight’s Meeting); AMPTP Nominates WGA For “Worst Union”
(Keep refreshing for the latest news and updates…)
URGENT! The denials were announced tonight at the big WGA West membership meeting taking place right now at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association had requested a waiver for its NBC broadcast, but the WGA rejected it. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences had asked for a waiver to use clips from movies and past Academy Award shows which the WGA rejected. I’m told that once AMPAS asks to use WGA writers, that will be denied, too. For days already, emails have been circulating inside the major Hollywood talent agencies discussing what the actors and directors and even writers should do about attending since WGA picket lines will be erected outside the events. (See my previous, Golden Globes Screwed By Writers Strike?)
TUESDAY AM UPDATE: The following statement was released today by Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers spokesman Jesse Hiestand:
In the category of Worst Supporting Union, the nominee is the WGA. The union, which initiated this strike, continues day in and day out to make good on its commitment to, in the words of a leading WGA organizer, “wreak havoc,” even though those being hurt include WGA’s own working writers, the below-the-line workers and their families, the broader Los Angeles region – and now the creative artists who deserve to be honored for their work over the last year.”
The Directors Guild of America and the Writers Guild of America announced today they “will meet shortly to discuss new media, including what the DGA has developed from its research and studies. Neither the WGA nor the DGA will have any further comment on the meeting or any of the information shared in the meeting.” Is it possible that the Kenny Ziffren-drafted New Media proposal for the DGA could also meet with the WGA’s approval?
The following “Open Letter To The Entertainment Industry” was posted this morning by the AMPTP on its website AMPTP.org. I can’t objectively post this same old shit again and again without comment. It sounds like yet another missive dictated by IATSE local boss Tom Short who continues in cahoots with AMPTP. Interestingly, the organization that reps the 8 studios/networks prolonging this strike refuses to focus on the central issue of its walking away from the negotiating table. Instead of making useless statements that defy objectivity, the alliance need to do something useful and schedule the next round of talks:
December 17, 2007
AN OPEN LETTER TO THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY
FROM THE AMPTP
As the WGA-initiated strike now enters its seventh week, the strike’s economic consequences are growing more severe by the day. The below-the-line workers whose families depend entirely on our industry have already lost more than $200 million in the Los Angeles area alone, and the health care benefits for many of these families are now in real jeopardy because of the WGA strike. The working writers themselves have now lost more than $115 million, and these writers are no closer today to getting their fair share of new media revenues than they were when the strike began. The economic impact to our regional economy is also growing. By January, the economic losses to the region will exceed $200 million a month, with as many as a third of the entertainment industry’s 250,000 jobs jeopardized.
In the face of these
Now that Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien — both WGA members — have announced they will be “reluctantly” returning to the airwaves without their writers on January 2nd, the WGA East and West is reminding everyone of its pre-approved “Strike Rules pertaining to Comedy/Variety”, which were sent to all comedy/variety shows prior to the strike. “These are the rules we expect all the hosts to adhere to if they go back on the air without their writers, who will still be on strike,” a WGA spokesperson says. Meanwhile, David Letterman’s Worldwide Pants continues negotiations for The Late Show and The Late Late Show starring Craig Ferguson with the WGA for that “interim agreement” that’s supposed to be a sure thing:
NOTICE TO ALL WGA MEMBERS WRITING FOR COMEDY/VARIETY SHOWS
The Council of the Writers Guild of America, East, Inc. and the Board of Directors of Writers Guild of America, West, Inc. (collectively the “Guild”), have adopted Strike Rules which will go into effect if the Guild calls a strike. The Strike Rules, among other provisions, prohibit Guild members from performing any writing services during a strike for any and all struck companies. This prohibition includes all writing by any Guild member that would be performed on-air by that member (including monologues, characters, and featured appearances) if any portion of that written material is customarily written by striking writers.
Here were today’s statements by the NBC late night hosts:
Jay Leno: “This has been a very difficult six weeks for everybody affected …