Contact the network executives and studio heads and tell them to give the writers a fair deal.

When the AMPTP came back to the bargaining table and made a counter-offer to the WGA, many interpreted it as a good sign that an end to the strike might be drawing near.

It now looks like that wasn’t the case. The AMPTP has hired Democratic consultant Chris Lehane. Lehane worked for SAG during the last strike, at which point he said:

“… we believe strongly in the need to preserve the strength of the union and this agreement does that. We both come from liberal, progressive backgrounds, and this union represents working people."

I guess "liberal" and "progressive" have become synonymous with "union busting asshole."

Over at United Hollywood, they point out why this is such a big load of bullshit:

This firm has built a reputation and a substantial income largely from Democratic, progressive political causes. A short list of their past employers includes Al Gore, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Michael Moore/Miramax (for Fahrenheit 9/11 and Sicko), and my personal favorite, the Screen Actors Guild. Founding partner Chris Lehane is currently a consultant for the Californians for Fair Election Reform, a major Democratic group, among other things.

My DC lobbyist friends tell me that for emergency “crisis management,” firms like Fabiani & Lehane charge as much as $100,000 dollars a month. But the AMPTP is also paying Steve Schmidt, a veteran Republican-leaning PR guru. He could easily cost another $100,000 a month.

My concern is this: no one hires crisis management firms at such huge expense if they’re planning on making a fair deal. A fair deal doesn’t require hundreds of thousands of dollars of spin to sell. A fair deal is its own good PR.

No matter what happens with Lehane, the AMPTP has gotten their money’s worth out of him. He’s a "Democratic Consultant" who just sold them his party affiliation so they can say well, we’re working with the Democrats too so as not to be written off as corporate Republican creeps.

But nobody drops this kind of money when they’re getting ready to settle, and indeed the AMPTP has never produced the second half of the "offer" with regard to streaming video content that they promised on Tuesday.

Nikki Finke:

Peter Chernin is privately telling Hollywood that the producers plan to quit the talks any day now. That they have no intention of coming back with another streaming proposal "until we are close". And that they’ll only give a better electronic sell-through formula "at the last minute" when a contract with the writers is virtually signed.

These quiet remarks by the Fox/News Corp No. 2 are the complete opposite of what the AMPTP is telling the WGA around the bargaining table.

It appears the "offer," never really completed, was more of an attempt by the AMPTP to look like they were actually negotiating in good faith when they weren’t — what they’re probably more concerned with at this point is turning public opinion around.

Patric Veronne and Michael Winship of the WGA:

[W]e hereby challenge the AMPTP to negotiate in good faith, day and night, through the Christmas and New Year’s holidays – whatever is necessary – to get this done and get the town back to work. The Writers Guilds will remain at the table every day, for as long as it takes, to make a fair deal.

The fact that 69% of people in Los Angeles who know about the strike support the writers took them by surprise, and the Lehane hire is probably indicative of an organization that doesn’t want to look like a bunch of pink-slip wielding Scrooges during the holidays. If they’re operating in good faith, the AMPTP should go back to the table and stay there until an agreement is reached.

Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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