The Strike, Day 26: That Sinking Feeling Returns


The media blackout that accompanied the resumption of contract talks between the WGA and the AMPTP forced our Hollywood StrikeWatch round-up into a brief hiatus, but as the two sides have decided it's time to start talking to the press again, we can put our bullet-pointed morning show back into production:

· Remember all the "cautious optimism" that was sweeping Hollywood as the Guild and studios got back to the bargaining table, spurred on by rumors that the dispute might get wrapped up before Christmas and the still-fresh memory of the sweet, lingering taste of picket-line churros consumed while marching for the cause? Now that the Guild has actually seen the AMPTP's proposal, that optimism is being downgraded to "sinking feeling this thing might drag on for a while." Says the WGA press release issued late yesterday: "Among the rumors was the assertion that the AMPTP had a groundbreaking proposal that would make this negotiation a 'done deal.' In fact, for the first three days of this week, the companies presented in essence their November 4 package with not an iota of movement on any of the issues that matter to writers. Thursday morning, the first new proposal was finally presented to us. It dealt only with streaming and made-for-Internet jurisdiction, and it amounts to a massive rollback....

The AMPTP says it will have additional proposals to make but, as of Thursday evening, they have not been presented to us. We are scheduled to meet with them again on Tuesday.[...] The AMPTP's intractability is dispiriting news but it must also be motivating. Any movement on the part of these multinational conglomerates has been the result of the collective action of our membership, with the support of SAG, other unions, supportive politicians, and the general public. We must fight on, returning to the lines on Monday in force to make it clear that we will not back down, that we will not accept a bad deal, and that we are all in this together." [WGA.org]
· In an update entitled WHERE WE STAND, the AMPTP reveals that it spent most of its free time away from the bargaining table workshopping positive-sounding names for a new proposal with its PR firm, proudly announcing it's offered the Guild participation in a New Economic Partnership that will deliver Incredibly Generous Additional Compensation to the Cherished Content Partners upon whom the studios already lavish $1.3 billion for their services. How will those greedy scribes be able to say they're interested in an equitable solution if they don't accept this More Than Fair Invitation To Unlimited Prosperity? An excerpt from their statement: "While we strongly preferred to continue discussions, we respect and understand the WGA's desire to review the proposals. We look forward to resuming talks on Tuesday, December 4. We continue to believe that there is common ground to be found between the two sides, and that our proposal for a New Economic Partnership offers the best chance to find it." [AMPTP.org]
· United Hollywood admires the balls it took to sell the Partnership with a smile: "Turns out their exciting, groundbreaking proposal is... a residual rollback. And not just any rollback, one of the biggest in the history of the Guild. Then, stunningly, the companies have the balls to say their plan gives us more compensation. Well, I'm sorry, but If you take away a dollar and give me a nickel, the nickel ain't a raise. Somewhere, Nick Counter's first-grade math teacher is embarrassed. So we decided to do some math of our own: We broke out the cost of the WGA's current proposal to the conglomerates into yearly figures. We found that the TOTAL payment yearly — the total that ALL the companies would make under our proposals — is $50.54 million. And that, we realized, is about one-third the budget of TRANSFORMERS. We are asking IN TOTAL, for the equivalent of the cost overrun on a summer event movie." [United Hollywood]
· The "AMPTP" takes yet another stab at getting their message onto the YouTubes. [YouTube]
· In perhaps the most depressing development following the last four days of negotiations, over at the Reporter, the bickering silhouettes have resumed their tug of war over the giant pencil. [THR]