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Put Your Pencils To Work For Writers

SNL’s Will Forte and Kristen Wiig on pencils and you…

Now this is a great idea — Pencils to Moguls — talk about getting your point across!

Back in 2000, Jack Lemmon won both an Emmy and a Golden Globe for acting.  During one of those acceptance speeches, he stood before the audience, an icon of substantial stature and acting chops…and he thanked the writers, without whom he would not have been able to act so well in so many brilliant roles.  Because without the writers, those roles would never have been so brilliantly scripted, and all those memorable characters would never have had all those pitch perfect lines to deliver.

“Some Like It Lukewarm” just doesn’t have the same pizzaz.

I happened to be watching that particular awards show with a friend of mine who works in television as a writer.  (She worked with Joe Straczynski, a fabulous writer in his own right, on Babylon 5 and Crusade, among other gigs with other shows through the years.)   And I remember how much it meant to her that Lemmon stood on the stage and thanked the writers.

Because, frankly, they far too rarely get the credit they deserve for their creative impact on the magic we see on screen.  Without the writers, the memorable lines, the poignant stories, the well-set scenes, the characterizations that pull you into to the world of fantasy and shadows on the screen — none of it works, and you get stuck with idiocy like Kid Nation and/or Fear Factor.


The above YouTube is a take off on an idea that started with some fans of Joss Whedon and took on a life of its own.  And I think it is a brilliant way to get the point across that fans of various shows not only appreciate what the writers do and value it for what it brings to their lives — but that the studios ought to value quality work as well.  Or those fans are likely to stop paying money for all those products the studios want them to buy.

You make a shitload of money off someone else’s words, you ought to compensate them fairly for all of the work that goes into the writing.  It isn’t easy to sit down in front of the keyboard and invent an entire world and a bunch of characters and plots and well-developed stories out of thin air.  It’s especially difficult to write good dialogue that isn’t stilted or choppy.  And when that is pulled off in a way that is both brilliantly done and memorable, the lines from a good script can live and take on a life of their own for years.  Shouldn’t the creative minds who provide us with an escape from reality for an hour or two on screen be paid fairly for the hours of meetings and irritation with the studio suits, the constant fighting to keep the creative process clean, the 4 am wake-up to the perfect line, the endless pots of coffee and the levels of ego through which they have to struggle simply to get a script approved?  Let alone shot, in the can, and on the screen?

Jane got it absolutely right the other day when she said that video and DVD sales have opened up a huge revenue stream for the studios — and since all of those aftermarket sales were initially dependent on putting together a story that people want to see again and again, it is only fair that the creative minds who wrote those stories in the first place are properly compensated for their work.   Otherwise, the media moguls are just profit-hungry greedy assholes who are stealing from the writers to further line their own pockets.

I think Dickens already wrote that, don’t you, Ebenezer?

There was a huge rally yesterday in support of the WGA.  Skippy was there and provides pictures and a firsthand report.  If you aren’t in the LA area, you still send a message in support of the writers here.

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com