Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Writers' Well-Deserved Win

The Writers Guild of America has found the Achilles heel of TV Networks, studios and producers in Tinseltown's grandest show of the year: The Academy Awards. Threatened by a boycott that will transform this annual event into a half baked version of a Japanese Kabuki play, the Alliance of Motion Pictures and Television Producers finally came up with an offer that was acceptable to the 3 month striking writers last February 1. The ratification of the agreement was done through a vote on Tuesday, February 12, by all members at the picket lines, or at those designated and prepared voting locations.

The Oscars was destined to suffer the fate of the Golden Globe Awards, which looked like a wake where the hosts were delivering their respective eulogies; or the Screen Actors Guild Awards that was more of a forced fashion show with celebrity models attempting to look as upbeat and enthusiastic about an affair devoid of eloquence. The strike has rendered Hollywood "speechless", and has forced the networks to release a barrage of Reality Shows that were too contrived to be anything but real. These low budget shows were so obviously scrimped that it made viewing an exercise in bearing boredom. Viewers who depend on TV shows as a stress reliever to prolong their lives were served programs that bored them to death.

Patrick Verone, President of the Guild's West Coast branch said writers would get a maximum flat fee of US $ 1, 200 for streamed programs in the next 2 years, and 2% of a distributors gross in year three - a critical union demand. Downloaded movies and TV programs will also provide increased residual payments to writers. The strike has cost the industry some US$3.2 billion in direct and indirect costs on the economy. The Guilds major concession to the networks was removing the unionization of animation and reality TV shows off the negotiations. The Guild however said, it is intent on pursuing these goals.

The strike has seen TV ratings tumble, with only the Fox network raking in viewers with the Super Bowl (97.45 million) and the Super Bowl post game (63.93 million), House (29.05million), American Idol (28.22 million), and Moment of Truth (17.64 million). CBS ratings were down 22%, and ABC was down 14%. The drop in ratings hasn't made the advertising industry delirious. The lag in production will cause new episodes of high rating programs to be completed by April, and the quality shows and upscale viewers such programs enjoyed do not take to re-runs very kindly; and may not return until May, or worse, not return at all. Advertisers are apprehensive about this development and would want to fast track new episodes.

Certain quarters among producers claim it's a victory for both sides since a number of them waited until the lapse of the 60 day window for force majeure to kick in for the writers; allowing them to terminate hefty deals with writer-producers and wipe their books of accounts with what they regard as dead weight. But how many such deals could there be? Besides, would the networks risk losing writers for their rated programs that were cut by the strike? This kind of sour graping is unnecessary and only adds lunacy to an already crazy situation. They should just accept defeat graciously.

The Golden Globe Awards illustrated the power and solidarity of the writers, and their resilience as an organization. Having suffered the deprivation of not sharing the holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year, which the producers hoped would break them; they struggled on until the long torturous march reached dangerously close to the point of no return when they could unleash their most potent bargaining chip: The Oscars. An event where producers could parade their vanity and pompous values mistakenly referred to as glamor and eccentricity. The loss of this event is a death knell for their coming productions, and this will deprive them of financiers and certain loss of income - a fate worse than death for unscrupulous capitalists.

Now that the writers are settled, what happens to Sylar and Peter Petrelli, and the cheer leader? And the rest of my Heroes? No re-runs pleeeeeeease!



Debbie said...

YEAH. I want our regular shows to get back on again.

Debbie Hamilton
Right Truth

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi Debbie,

I thought you watched only the news programs and political commentaries? :-)

The programs are pleasant diversions from the drudgery and heaviness of news reports we receive. But that doesn't mean were escapists, right?

I just want the new programs before the strike to continue. Can't wait really. AAAAAAARRRRGGGHHH! --Durano, done!