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Yo Studios: Even Variety Is Reporting Your Weakness

Writer Boi performs on behalf of the WGA’s strike…  (H/T to UnitedHollywood.)

Variety has been an industry mouthpiece through most of the WGA strike thus far — hello, advertising revenue interests.  But today some serious cracks have begun to show even there. 

That they go so far as to publish numbers which clearly show that the writers have a significant upper hand in the minds of Variety subscribers is nothing short of stunning.  That they couch it in terms that won’t wilt the delicate egos of inflated studio heads is expected — but anyone with half a brain ought to pick up the “writers are kicking your asses” vibe.  To wit:

…More than two-thirds of survey respondents stated the Writers Guild of America is representing its side of the battle more forcefully and more clearly than the studios under the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers umbrella org. And more than two-thirds of respondents agreed that the scribes are being “more honest and forthright” than the majors in their discussion of the key issues, chiefly increased residuals for homevid sales and for digital distribution of movies and TV shows.

But while the writers may have broad industry support, survey respondents are mindful of the realpolitik of Hollywood. Survey found that 44% of respondents believe that the strike will be resolved “in favor of the companies,” while 37% feel it will be settled in a way that is “mostly fair” to both sides, and only 20% feel it will be resolved in the favor of the writers. What’s more, survey respondents predict dire consequences for the industry, particularly in the TV realm, if the strike continues past December.

As for the WGA’s decision to strike, more than half, or 54%, of respondents said that they believed the strike “was necessary at this time,” compared to 36% who disagreed and 10% who said they didn’t have enough information to answer, according to the online survey of 999 Variety subscribers conducted Nov. 16-21 to gauge industry perceptions of the strike….  (emphasis mine)

Translating the Variety-ese on this one, even studio executives and producer types who make up a large chunk of Variety’s subscribing readership think the writers have a legitimate beef. Are they worried that their greedy image will turn off viewers altogether — let alone that they’ll be reduced to re-runs of Melrose Place or repeat performances from Dancing With The Stars cast-offs?  Probably.  And they should be.

Let’s look specifically at those poll results on how people think the strike will be resolved.  When we work our way through the prexy spinjobs (oops, pardon me, the spin from the studio heads), what we see is that 44 percent of subscribers feel the studio viewpoint will prevail — whereas a combined total of 57 percent feel that the writers have a strong enough hand to force things to an equitable settlement or an outright writer victory on the merits.

Amazing how much fuss can be generated over a few cents per DVD sale residual, isn’t it?  Corporate suits at the studios want to keep raking it in while the writers who penned a show good enough to create this double-dipping aftermarket bonanza get the shaft.  Except it looks like those on the inside of the industry seem to think that the writers are in the right — and the studio suits in the wrong.

Guess those strong-arm tactics of firing employees for the holidays to try and manufacture a labor rift didn’t work out so well, eh, Ebenezer Prexys?  Still waiting for that high-level executive layoff announcement…

And for our East Coast readers, you can help out as well if you are in the NYC area. A rally will be held tomorrow in support of the WGA — here are the details:

12:00 NOON – 1:30 PM

Nearly 1,000 people expected to be on hand. Joining the striking WGAE members at the rally will be: Senator John Edwards, Congressman Jerry Nadler, Tim Robbins, Michael Emerson, Joe Pantoliano, Colin Quinn, Aasif Mandvi, Tony Goldwyn, Evan Handler, Gilbert Gottfried, Randi Weingarten (UFT), Ed Ott (Central Labor Council), Gary Lebarbera and Denis M. Hughes (NYS AFL-CIO), Sam Freed (SAG NY President), Richard Masur (former national president of SAG), WGAE leaders, and more. Interview opportunities will be available.

Also on hand will be members of the WGAW, SEIU, SAG, UNITE-HERE, UFT, national and NYS AFL-CIOs, and the New York City Central Labor Council.

The Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) and Writers Guild of America West (WGAW) went on strike November 5th. Approximately 10,500 Writers Guild members work under the MBA Contract (Minimum Basic Agreement) with the studios and networks, which expired at midnight October 31st.  The key issue in the negotiations is new media. Writers want compensation for their work used in and/or written for new media, such as the Internet, downloads, webisodes and mobisodes.

I’m sure WGA members would appreciate all the support they could get tomorrow. So if you are in the area, it’s a great time for some strength in numbers.

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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