Sunday, October 28, 2007

WGA Weekend Update

I've been trying to keep up with the prospects for a writer's strike by the WGA, and one of the best sources for me has been If you don't know what we're talking about here, see my recent blog post for a summary of how this might affect Lost.

Last Thursday, the WGA's negotiations with the suits of the AMPTP (Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers) did not seem to be going well, with predictable acrimony in the week leading up to the expiration of the current contract (link). The WGA cannot budge from its marquee demand of DVD residuals, but the producer are not signaling any inclination to budge. A few days earlier, there was an interesting article about one point that WGA may be willing to back off on, which is jurisdiction over reality shows, which have been one mainstay of non-WGA television fare. (link)

Also something interesting is that Variety had an article about the strike, but dedicated to Lost. (link) Of course they note that ABC is planning to broadcast the entirety of Season 4 consecutively, and that Carlton Cuse is one of the 17 members of the WGA negotiating committee. What I didn't know is that Lost apparently has a highlighted central position in the industry with respect to these issues. Variety writes:

"Interestingly, "Lost" exec producer Carlton Cuse is one of the 17 members of the Writers Guild's contract negotiating committee, though no one is conspiratorial enough to suggest he could have plotted it this way all along. But it's probably not a coincidence that at a time when compensating writers for their work in the digital realm is one of the points of major contention between WGA and the AMPTP, "Lost" is the only TV production show to come to terms with the WGA, DGA and SAG on production of the "Lost Video Diaries" designed for mobile phones and Web plays."

And the most recent news? Friday was the first day that actual negotiating was attempted, rather than each side simply pushing their proposals (WGA has 26 proposals). However progress was small to none, to the extent that both sides decided to take a holiday: They won't come back to the bargaining table at WGA West headquarters until Tuesday, only one day before the expiration of the current contract. And things look dark enough that a federal labor mediator (from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service) will be present. (link)

There's also an interesting article where the DGA (directors guild) aren't happy about the WGA stepping on their toes. In other words, if the WGA strikes, the directors are still on DGA contract and are required to continue working-- on work not covered by the WGA. However this is a gray area for dual citizens: dual union cardholders such as show runners, who are hyphenate writer-directors. The article notes that four show runners are on the WGA negotiating committee, including Lost's own Carlton Cuse. The work in question includes minor script adjustments during filming, such as re-assigning lines to different cast members, or even changes in stage direction. According to Gregg Nations in my previous blog entry, crossing the picket line as a director won't be an issue for Carlton since Lost would simply shut down immediately. The article also mentions a possible spat with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE). Yow. Anyways read more here.

The lesson? Don't rely on Lost bloggers for WGA news... Read it from their source-- read over the next few days to keep up with detailed developments in this news as we approach next Wednesday and beyond.

If you know of any other good industry news sources, please post them below.
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