TENTATIVE WGA-AMPTP CONTRACT: Writers Guild Negotiators Cave To Studios & Networks After Only 2 Weeks; Critics Say “They Accepted Producers’ First Draft”

By | Sunday March 20, 2011 @ 7:33pm PDT

Email and phone messages already are pouring in about what they’re criticizing as this disaster of a tentative agreement (see WGA West notice to members below). It was reached at 3:30 PM today by the Writers Guild of America negotiators with the Alliance of Motion Picture And Television Producers. It took little more than 2 weeks of bargaining – and no wonder. What a joke. And it comes at a time when nearly all writers are wringing their hands and hanging by their fingernails to maintain their livelihoods under the studio and network cutbacks.

WGA West President John Wells, who is first and foremost a TV producer and patsy for Warner Bros boss and anti-guild hardliner Barry Meyer, looked after his own interests first. He kept his Southland budget down at TNT while also getting a hefty 20% bump for his Shameless writers at Showtime. ”He took care of pay cable while allowing basic cable to make no gains, despite it being the most important area as far as growth. It’s like they accepted the producers first draft,” a source just told me.

Several veteran writers are calling this the worst deal they’ve ever been handed. Clearly, the Writers Guild leadership decided it had no leverage after the Actors and Directors Guilds threw them under the bus by accepting bad contracts and even the WGA membership gave them no hand by overwhelmingly (and understandably) opposing any mention of a strike. Nor did it help that the stock market has been tanking these past two weeks despite all the Big Media companies finding their financial footing again after the depths of the economic crisis. 

Here’s more reaction: “Katherine Fugate is congratulating herself on Facebook and calling the committee heroes, but they’re zeroes.”

Also, screenwriters messaging me don’t expect the WGA to protect their interests now any more than the guild has before given the flimsy new meetings on such hated topics as sweepstakes pitching and one-step deals. And who in their right mind believes ”contract provisions [which] have been added that require each studio to send to its creative executives a bulletin stating clearly that spec writing is not to be condoned” can stop this institutionalized practice. It’s all such a WGA betrayal of screenwriters after the guild leadership went around to Hollywood agencies and pledged to work together to stop the studios’ blatant exploitation of movie scribes.

As for New Media increases, they’ve gone the way of the VCR and the DVD: what was negotiated first is what you’re stuck with now and seemingly forever if the AMPTP continues to have its way.

I had predicted Hollywood could most likely expect quick and easy negotiations. So let’s see… SAG/AFTRA spent just 6 weeks of jointly negotiating with the studios and networks on a new 3-year TV/Theatrical contract. The DGA took just three weeks and change. And the WGA could have bargained right up until its May 1st when its current contract ends. Well, why not speed talks along when your Hollywood Guilds are just rubber-stamping what crumbs the AMPTP are offering despite this rapidly improving economy. The DGA was first to make it plain early on that they weren’t going for big wages (just a 2% increase) or even a better New Media deal. Instead the DGA negotiators were focusing on increased Health Plan and Pension contributions. Same with SAG/AFTRA. Now the WGA focused on the pension plan. But all the writers I know in the guold who aren’t yet or once were big names are most concerned about losing their health insurance. There’s no mention of that today.

Hey, wait a minute: didn’t all three guilds promising that they’d do things different and join together and fight, fight, fight for substantially more this contract go-round and their rightful share of the money pie if only members elected more “moderate” leadership than the militants of yore?

Talk about empty promises. 

The moguls behind the AMPTP always intended to negotiate with the writers last (even though their pact was expiring sooner) to ensure there would be the most Hollywood pressure (synonymous with antagonism) towards them if they negotiated too hard. Although SAG/AFTRA and the DGA traded information during their talks, they left the WGA out in the cold. True, no one wanted another strike. But was the only alternative for the WGA to wimp out like the other Guilds?

Here’s the WGA West email that went out: 

March 20, 2011 

Dear WGAW Member, 

We are pleased to inform you that our negotiators have concluded a tentative agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. Talks began on March 3 and ended today at 3:30 p.m. The three-year deal features significant gains in contributions to our pension fund, improves payments in Pay TV residuals, increases our minimums, and takes steps to address important workplace issues for screen and television writers. Your Negotiating Committee will meet tomorrow to officially vote on sending the tentative agreement to the WGAW Board of Directors and WGAE Council for approval prior to member ratification. 

Highlights of the tentative agreement include:

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The Secret Case Of WGA vs Jay Leno: Cleared Unanimously; Offered Apology; UPDATE: But Why The WGA Cover-Up?


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TUESDAY 12:30AM UPDATE: I’ve learned that both Jay Leno and the Guild investigating panel asked WGAw President Patric Verrone among others to make the final report public, including full transcripts of the hearing. But Verrone et al … Read More »

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WGA Election: Then, The Peace…

By | Sunday September 6, 2009 @ 5:19pm PDT

UPDATES WGAw Prez Candidate John Wells Writes Rebuttal To Verrone/Bowman
UPDATES Message From Verrone & Bowman Disputing Wells’ Campaign Claims

The following joint John Wells-John Bowman … Read More »

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15 WGA Writers Incubate TV Pilots On Web

By | Monday June 15, 2009 @ 10:32am PDT

There’s yet another success story to come out of the writers strike as more Hollywood talent tries to get out from under the studio and network system. But it’s been a long time coming. Finally, Reveille last Thursday has signed … Read More »

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WGA Strike One Year Later: Scheft

By | Sunday March 1, 2009 @ 9:24pm PST

Bill Scheft, who still answers his phone “Late Show Strike Captain,” has been a writer for David Letterman since 1991. His latest novel, Everything Hurts, will be published next month by Simon & Schuster.

First of all,

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WGA Strike One Year Later: Eastlake

By | Sunday March 1, 2009 @ 4:00pm PST

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Carl Eastlake has been a TV showrunner and had staff positions on a dozen series and long-form productions. He is currently working on a pilot script assignment and has a studio feature assignment. During the WGA strike, he helped coordinate Guild members who volunteered to assist the Read More »

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WGA Strike One Year Later: New Media

By | Sunday March 1, 2009 @ 1:47am PST

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Ellen Stutzman, WGAW Research Director, wrote this for the WGA website.

It has been a year since the strike was settled, the contract ratified and writers returned to work, and in that time the world of New Media has continued to spin forward. Hulu’s rapid

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WGA Strike One Year Later: David

By | Saturday February 28, 2009 @ 9:42pm PST

Marjorie David is a seasoned television writer and executive producer (Wildfire), and co-executive producer (Life, Dark Angel, Chicago Hope). She volunteered to serve as a Contract Captain for the WGA’s Contract 2007 Campaign. She is a member of the working board of the League Of Hollywood Women Writers.

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WGA Strike One Year Later: Gable

By | Saturday February 28, 2009 @ 2:57pm PST

Ashley Gable is co-executive producer of The Mentalist and has been supervising producer on Crossing Jordan, and co-producer on The Division. A former attorney, and a working writer for 10+ years, she was a picket coordinator at Fox during the WGA strike. Last year, she ran for the WGA’s board Read More »

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WGA Strike One Year Later: Rodman

By | Saturday February 28, 2009 @ 1:11pm PST

Howard Rodman is professor and former chair of the writing division at the USC School of Cinematic Arts; a member of the board of directors of the Writers Guild of America, West; and an artistic director of the Sundance Institute Screenwriting Labs. His films include Savage Grace, … Read More »

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WGA Sets Record Straight On Its Strike: “We Achieved Most Important Objectives”

By | Friday February 27, 2009 @ 1:12pm PST

The Writers Guild Of America, West, just issued this statement to answer “the concerted effort underway by the AMPTP and some in the press to minimize the success of our strike” which officially ended with the ratiication of the proposed Theatrical and Television Basic Agreement on February 26, 2008. In … Read More »

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DHD ADVISORY: No, I Didn’t…

By | Sunday December 14, 2008 @ 7:57am PST

Emails are telling me that my name is among the signers of the “no-strike” petition on the Internet. I didn’t sign this petition nor would I sign a “yes-strike” petition. In fact, I never sign petitions, period. Which shows how unverifiable the names are on what is now a meaningless petition. I … Read More »

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Tyler Perry And WGA Talk Settlement

By | Thursday October 16, 2008 @ 11:09pm PDT

UPDATE: Well, the Writers Guild Of America is not yet ready to call off its labor action against Tyler Perry Studios. Because even though everyone is confident there will be a deal, it has not been inked yet. Obviously, all those strike months … Read More »

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WGA Bans Members From Writing For Ozzy Osbourne’s New Variety Show

By | Wednesday October 8, 2008 @ 3:15pm PDT

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The following message went out today from the Writers Guild West and East to their members. No WGA scribes may new write for the Ozzy Osbourne show (tentatively titled The Osbournes: Loud And Dangerous) being produced by FreemantleMedia North American. The email also reminds members that no … Read More »

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Photos: WGA Pickets Tyler Perry Studios

By | Sunday October 5, 2008 @ 6:15pm PDT

No mainstream media outlets — People, CNN — even mentioned the WGA protest. And Barack Obama, though invited, did not attend the gala Atlanta event at Tyler Perry Studios. Here’s who did: Will Smith, Oprah Winfrey, Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee, Cicely Tyson, Louis Gossett Jr, Holly Robinson Peete, Tracey Edmonds, music … Read More »

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TV Showrunners Tell Tyler Perry: Firings For WGA Activity “Simply Not Acceptable”

By | Saturday October 4, 2008 @ 6:43pm PDT

Dozens of the biggest names in scripted television today signed an open letter to Tyler Perry after the Writers Guild filed charges of unfair labor practices with the National Labor Relatios Board on Thursday after he allegedly fired more than half his writing staff on the TBS sitcom House Of Read More »

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WGA vs Tyler Perry Productions, Contd

By | Friday October 3, 2008 @ 7:10pm PDT

ACTION ALERT!
October 3, 2008
To My Fellow Members,

Our Guild is engaged in a labor dispute with Tyler Perry’s production company, House of Payne, LLC. Earlier this week, four of the writers on its TBS sitcom House of Payne, who were actively seeking Guild representation, were abruptly fired in violation of

Read More »

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SAG Denies Variety’s Latest Fabrication

By | Monday July 14, 2008 @ 11:00pm PDT

EXCLUSIVE: The Screen Actors Guild is furious over Variety‘s erroneous report tonight that the guild “may agree to the majors’ request to send out their final offer to the 120,000 guild members at the end of July.” I’m told by one … Read More »

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Watch Strike.TV Video! Online Network Created During WGA Strike Gets Real

www.strike.tv Teaser from StrikeTV on Vimeo.

HOLLYWOOD – July 3, 2008 – This Independence Day, Strike.TV sets sail with a new online Network that gives total freedom to it’s creators. Strike.TV was conceived by the professional communities of Hollywood and birthed during a year of hard

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