Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Directors Guild of America is said to be on the verge of a contractual deal with the producers; if this happens, there will be more pressure for the Writers Guild of America to accept terms which are comparable.

I've mentioned it to others, but it bears repeating: the reason this strike is so bitter is that the "producers" now are not the group of moguls (the Warners or Laemmles or Mayers or Goldwyns or Cohns) but multinational corporations where some of the people think there must be a way of outsourcing the work to people with no representation at all. In short: why can't the studios find (say) someone who can write or direct "as well as" some famed writer or director, and just pay the imitation less, and not have to worry that the imitation would want compensation?

It's like the studio idea of Marilyn Monroe: she was the replacement for Betty Grable as 20th Century Fox's blonde pinup girl. And while Monroe was still active, Fox was already trying to find clones, so they signed Sheree North and dyed her hair, and they signed Jayne Mansfield. But this wasn't the same thing: just as Marilyn Monroe wasn't really the same as Betty Grable (Monroe was far more unstable a personality), so Jayne Mansfield wasn't the same as Marilyn Monroe.

The Writers Guild strike has been brewing in Hollywood ever since the advent of television. When television first became a mass market commodity, there were questions about residuals, etc. The model of music was used: BMI and ASCAP had made sure that, if you write a song and it is played on the radio, you must get back some money. With records, there is a (small) percentage which goes to the songwriter.

That is what the writers are now fighting for: if they've done the work of writing the scripts for the movies, TV shows, etc. they feel that they are entitled to "residuals" in the commercial exploitation of new media.

But the studios will not meet (at all) with union representatives. This is incredibly arrogant, but an example of how the studios treat talent: with no respect or regard.

So if the Writers Guild does take down the Academy Awards, it would only be poetic justice.


Blogger joe baltake said...


FYI. Turner Classics will be screening Georg Roy Hill's "Toys in the Attic" at 12:45 p.m. on Saturday, March 28th, and Preminger's "Bunny Lake Is Missing" later the same day at 4:30 p.m. Just thought you'd want to know.


6:08 PM


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