WGAW Meetings To Discuss 2011 Contract

By | Monday October 25, 2010 @ 8:07pm PDT

The WGA West just issued its first Contract Bulletin about the upcoming TV/Theatrical contract about to be negotiated with the AMPTP. Issues discussed include New Media and Pension & Health:

WGAW Member Meetings to Discuss Negotiations for the 2011 Contract

Please join President John Wells, Executive Director David Young, Negotiating Committee Co-Chairs John Bowman and Billy Ray, and members of the WGAW Board to discuss plans for the upcoming negotiations and potential priorities for contract demands. Members will have the chance to give input and pose questions to Guild leaders. Los Angeles area members can choose from three meeting opportunities:

Tuesday, November 9, 7:00 p.m. at the Sportsmen’s Lodge
4234 Coldwater Canyon Ave., Studio City

Tuesday, November 16, 7:00 p.m. at the Loews Santa Monica
Beach Hotel, 1700 Ocean Avenue, Santa Monica

Thursday, Dec 2, 7:00 p.m. at the Writers Guild Theater
135 South Doheny Dr., Beverly Hills

Challenges for the Guild this Year

As hard as it may be to believe, we are now entering the final six months of the contract we negotiated to end our 2007 strike. With our contract expiring on May 1, 2011, your Board and staff have been working over the last year to identify the areas we believe will need to be addressed in our upcoming 2011 MBA negotiations. This process has involved months of staff effort, extensive surveys of our members in screen and television, and many hours of Board discussion.

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Secrets Of TV Showrunners Boot Camp

As Sunday’s Emmy Awards telecast approaches, the Writers Guild of America West last night hosted its annual ”Sublime Primetime 2010″. It was a panel discussion with Emmy-nominated TV writer-producers including Carlton Cuse (Lost), Rolin Jones (Friday Night Lights), Mindy Kaling (The Office), Robert King and Michelle King (The Good Wife), Bruce C. McKenna and Robert Schenkkan (The Pacific), and Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuck, and Ian Brennan (Glee). As part of Deadline’s ongoing series on TV’s top showrunners, freelance journalist Diane Haithman examines the WGA’s Showrunners Training Program about making the leap from writer to boss:

The sixth season of the Writers Guild West’s Showrunner Training Program begins January 2011 and is taking applications now. Conducted in partnership with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, it’s designed to help senior-level writer-producers hone the skills necessary to become successful showrunners in today’s television landscape. But if you want to find about 2010′s boot camp, then you have to first get past the “Cone of Silence”. It seems fitting that the people who make and create TV shows would turn to the sitcom Get Smart to describe the bubble of secrecy that shrouds the popular program. Though voluntary, the pledge to not reveal what happens is vital to the program’s effectiveness. “We’ve only had one instance in five years when something got out of the room, and it was unfortunate but it was the result of an honest mistake,” Jeff Melvoin, showrunner for Lifetime’s Army Wives and one of the founders of the program, tells me. “The reason we have the Cone of Silence is, we want the experience to be meaningful. We have top folks coming in and talking about their experiences, and I think that if people are going to give up six Saturdays and do this program, they deserve the best that we can give them, and that means not pulling any punches.”

While the artistic mission behind the program is making better TV, there’s also another compelling reason: money. Networks and studios are constantly complaining there aren’t enough experienced TV showrunners (creatives who also know how to handle the financial and managerial aspects of putting on their shows). The AMPTP collectively give an estimated $125,000 to $150,000 annually to fund the boot camp. After all, they benefit most from it. The program is one of the most sacrosanct even when the WGA and AMPTP negotiate contracts.

As program co-founder and WGAW president John Wells (E.R., Third Watch, West Wing) tells me: “It’s really kind of a crazy thing, if you think about it – there aren’t too many businesses where somebody writes something, they produce it in the spring [as a pilot episode] and come May 1st somebody says: ‘All right, here’s $26 million – go hire 150 to 200 people and spend it all by sometime next May.’” Wells says that it’s virtually impossible to be just a writer anymore in television. “Some people have done it very successfully, where they’ve found a partner who is willing to take over all the managerial stuff and they are allowed to just sit someplace and write,” says Wells. “But in television, it is certainly the aspiration to reach a point where you are controlling your own material, and feel that you are making decisions about what you are doing – the cast, the music, what the cut looks like.”

Wells and Melvoin formed the program because both believe the apprenticeship system long in place before the word “showrunner” even existed has disappeared. Plus, shows are being given to creators who cut their teeth in the feature film world or, more rarely, playwriting or other writing disciplines. So these creatives were coming to television with a unique vision but no practical experience in the medium. Read More »

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DGA Message To Members: Top Contract Issue Health & Pension Plans, Not Money

By | Saturday August 21, 2010 @ 2:09pm PDT

It looks increasingly like the Hollywood guilds are giving up before they even go into this 2010/2011 round of negotiations with the movie studios and TV networks. This message by 4-time Basic Agreement/FLTTA Negotiations Chair Gil Cates to 14,000 Directors Guild members talks about focusing on health and pension plans and doesn’t even mention demanding more New Media money from the AMPTP. This, despite the fact that Big Media is alive and well and even flourishing not just this quarter but in many cases for next quarter or even the entire year. (Every Studio & Network Boosted Earnings) For instance, Warner Bros’ home video revenue was down 8%, but revenue from digital distribution grew by a sizable 50% and now represents nearly 20% of the studio’s total home video pie. Yet the trickle down effect has been slow or nonexistent for Hollywood when it comes to this and every Big Media revenue stream.

What’s also interesting about Cates’ statement is that this notorious hater of the Writers Guild cozies up to the new SAG-AFTRA cooperation. So it’s clear what’s going to happen during this next round of negotiations: SAG-AFTRA make a quick and easy contract full of compromises and few gains. The DGA soon follows. Which leaves the WGA on its own – facing bogus Hollywood trade reports about impending strike action to create pressure from all the other guilds to hurry up and make a deal “so we all can go back to work”. In other words, capitulation.

Dear Members:

I’m honored to be serving as your Basic Agreement/FLTTA Negotiations Chair for the fourth time, and to be giving you the first update on the 2010/2011 negotiations cycle.

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SAG 1st VP Johnson: “Is It A 2% World?”

SAG’s 1st Vice President Anne-Marie Johnson has issued this statement 50 days before the TV/Theatical Negotiations start with the AMPTP, whose Big Media members just reported bigger profits this past quarter and better forecasts for the rest of 2010 and also 2011. (Every Studio & Network Boosted Earnings):

Hello Hollywood Members;

Well, SAG and AFTRA have completed the Wages and Working Condition meetings and caucuses. We are now about to enter the next phase before beginning formal negotiations on September 27th. Members of both SAG and AFTRA W&W committees will meet in a national plenary to go over the proposal package voted up unanimously on the last day of our joint w&w meetings. Negotiations are going to be a challenge. Especially considering the offer received and ultimately approved by the Teamsters. Is it a 2% world? Who knows. But SAG and AFTRA will do their best not be distracted by other unions’ issues and put the livelihood and security of our members, with our very unique needs, first.

As many of you have seen in press releases and in the media, AFTRA and SAG both created Presidents Forum to begin a serious dialogue regarding merger. And as many of you know, I’ve always believed that any official dialogue regarding merger, in the midst of negotiations, is too soon and a distraction. I believe both unions should look at our current joint negotiations as a litmus test for what could be the first step to eventually merger and place all of our collective energies towards working together to secure a contract that will provide both SAG and AFTRA members the opportunity to qualify for health care and support a family. But both unions have decided to move forward with regard to merger and it is now up to us, the member, to get involved with all phases of what will be a very long complicated process. Only with SAG membership involvement will SAG, the institution, be able to shape what kind of union will serve our members with the strength and advantages SAG members have experienced for the last 77 years.

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SAG Board Names Ken Howard Chair Of Joint TV/Theatrical Negotiations

By | Sunday April 18, 2010 @ 5:15pm PDT

SAG splitsvillesmallLos Angeles, (April 18, 2010) – Screen Actors Guild National Board of Directors, meeting in a two-day plenary in Los Angeles, appointed President Ken Howard as Chair of the Guild’s TV/Theatrical Joint Wages and Working (W&W) Conditions Plenary

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UPDATE: Cinematographers Local 600, Editors Local 700, And Sound Technicians Local 695 Approve IATSE-AMPTP Contract

By | Thursday March 19, 2009 @ 7:10pm PDT

BREAKING NEWS: The latest is that Motion Picture Editors IATSE Local 700 just announced that its membership “overwhelmingly voted to ratify the 2009-2012 Basic Agreement. 75% voted for ratification, and 25% against ratification.” (MORE)

IATSE Local 695 representing Sound Technicians, Video Engineers, Television Broadcast Engineers and Studio Projectionists involved in motion … Read More »

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Remember IATSE/AMPTP Tentative Pact? There Looks Like Lotsa Trouble Ahead…

By | Tuesday February 3, 2009 @ 6:49pm PST

I’m told that January saw a lot of pushback from the various guild members and even board members angry over negotiated terms of the IATSE/AMPTP tentative contract in advance of what will be ratification votes this month. The result is that leaders … Read More »

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SAG: “We Did Not Reject AMPTP’s Offer”; Big Media Threaten Big Actors Guild; AMPTP Tries News Blackout Against Me

By | Friday July 11, 2008 @ 5:42pm PDT

Today, SAG issued the below statement denying media reports (not mine) that it had rejected the AMPTP’s “last best final” offer. Also, I’ve just learned that the big actors guild has signed guaranteed completion contracts with over 500 independent productions … Read More »

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AFTRA Skedaddled To Avoid Briefing SAG

First, I’ve got additional info about the AFTRA-AMPTP deal announced yesterday: I’m told the union’s New Media terms are the exact same offered by the networks-&-studios group to SAG on Day 1 of their negotiations last month. So AFTRA negotiated with the networks and studios for 16 days only to … Read More »

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AFTRA Deal With AMPTP Caves On Clips; SAG Vowing To Fight Hard On This Issue

UPDATE: I’m told that AFTRA’s New Media deal terms are the exact same offered by the networks-&-studios group to SAG on Day 1 of their negotiations last month. So AFTRA negotiated with the networks and studios for 16 days only to obtain what SAG flatly rejected. So that was … Read More »

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AFTRA Having Difficulty On AMPTP Deal: Preparing Members For Clips Cave-In?

The message below went out from AFTRA’s leadership to its membership just now. In my opinion, it sure looks as if the union is preparing members for a major cave-in on the clips issue. But I must say that hiding behind … Read More »

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AFTRA Negotiations With AMPTP: “Number Of Challenging Issues… Resolution May Not Be Quick Or Easy”

This email was sent by AFTRA to members today about the AMPTP talks:

May 19, 2008
Dear AFTRA Member:


As you know, AFTRA has been in negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) on our contract covering primetime network dramatic programs—also known as Exhibit A—since

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SAG Contract Report #5: Actors Clips

This is the fifth in the Screen Actors Guild’s 2008 contract reports. Report #1 discusses middle-income actors, #2 talks about New Media (at end of post), #3 explores residuals, #4 explains general topics. Now #5 focuses on actors clips:

Number 5 — The AMPTP Wants to

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URGENT! AMPTP Walks From SAG Talks; Repeat Of Big Media Arrogance Towards WGA; SAG & AMPTP Spar In Statements

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EXCLUSIVE (keep refreshing for latest news): This is a virtual repeat of how the group representing the Big Media companies acted during bargaining with the WGA, including how the AMPTP and moguls pitted the directors guild against the writers guild. … Read More »

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AFTRA Starts Its AMPTP Talks Tomorrow

LOS ANGELES (May 6, 2008) – The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) announced that its Primetime Negotiating Committee, comprised of 31 working actors, will commence formal talks with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) regarding a new three-year Exhibit A of the Network

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Comments (7)

SAG & AMPTP Agree To Talks Extension…

By | Friday May 2, 2008 @ 12:12pm PDT


Not that I expect both sides to break through the current stalemate on a contract anytime soon, still the AMPTP and SAG will keep bargaining on a day-to-day basis through at least May 6th. Meanwhile, acting at their request, AFTRA just announced it … Read More »

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Do You Think This Could Be The Reason?

Today, The Hollywood Reporter does an AMPTP-friendly story about how Hollywood’s big-name movie stars aren’t pulling in the money they once did at the box office. What the trade fails to point out in its chart is that all but one of the actors are CAA clients. The one who’s … Read More »

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TOLDJA! Media Moguls Nix SAG Demands; Hollywood In De Facto Features Strike

I told you this would happen, and now it has: the Alliance for Motion Picture and Television Producers representing the Big Media moguls finally acknowledged today that after 13 days the negotiations with SAG are at a stalemate with only … Read More »

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By | Thursday April 24, 2008 @ 4:02pm PDT

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EXCLUSIVE (Keep refreshing for latest updates): I can now report that the negotiations between the Screen Actors Guild and the AMPTP are not making any progress with both sides very far apart and very frustrated. Negotiators for the Hollywood CEOs are privately making Read More »

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