The writers have won the battle, and their demands will be met!
At least that’s what they’re shouting. It is what they want you to think. With the help of the press, this is the message that they are conveying. Not a lick of this is true of course, but the page used most often in the playbook for the fight over public opinion; is the page that tells you to declare victory as quickly, loudly and obnoxiously as possible.
Tactics like these that are often employed by organizations such as the Writer’s Guild, or Sag-Aftra. Very rarely do they work in a long term battle. For example, the cracks in your case and for that matter, declaration of victory start to show when the war you are fighting reaches its hundred day milestone.
Sleight of hand works fantastically for magicians. Street performers and even celebrity chefs incorporate it masterfully to put on a good show. However, the more you use it during negotiations; the more it becomes evident that you have little to no leverage. Eventually, the cause you will be fighting for will be lost and you end up walking away with nothing.
The AMPTP Is Slowly Eroding Hope For The Strikers
While the strikers have been grand standing and falsely declaring a win, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers has actually been silently whittling away at resources that the writers and actors sorely need.
Last week Disney pulled (read: all but cancelled) Ironheart and several other programs from Marvel’s production schedule despite it being in the post production process.
Today, Warner Brothers suspended production deals with four high-profile producers. As we all know, David Zaslav is no stranger to the feeling of an axe. He wields it indiscriminately and if your head is the one that rolls, then apologies to you. You just zazzed. It is important to note that pre-strike, Warner Brothers was so bad off financially, that Zaslav openly said that the strikes are actually beneficial to his bottom line.
The strikes have actually saved The Zazz and Warner Brothers $100,000,000.00. Who on Earth would want this party to end with results like that?
Force Majeure Will Do What The Studios Couldn’t
The deals cancelled by Warner Brothers include projects that were being overseen by Greg Berlanti (Creator of The Arrowverse) JJ Abrams, Mindy Kaling, and Bill Lawrence (Cougartown, Ted Lasso, Scrubs).
Those are some pretty heavy, expensive hitters. Albeit, not all of them are lucrative. JJ Abram’s deal with Warner Brothers goes back to 2019 and was worth a half billion dollars. He has yielded little to no return on that investment much to the frustration of Warner Brothers. Mindy Kaling gave us Velma or as my colleague Nathaniel Cruz calls it: A selfish show made for no one.
All of these deals are money pits. Worse than them being money pits, they are well structured and iron clad. All of these deals were untouchable until the moment the first picket sign was picked up. Force Majeure is allowing Hollywood to clean the slate and start anew. The more you strike, the more time they have to cancel projects they were stuck with. To quote the insufferable Rachel Zegler: “…it could all end up on the cutting room floor. That’s Hollywood, Baby!”
While the writers are grandstanding and enjoying the assistance from the press. The AMPTP is slowly but surely purging dead weight, and eliminating the excess that has been hamstringing them for years. Writers and actors are fighting their common enemy. Yet, their common enemy is taking this opportunity to fortify themselves and give the writers and actors a radically different environment for them to return to.
Public Support Will Not Last
As I pointed out last week, there will be no winner in this battle. Everyone stands to lose. The AMPTP is cleaning house quietly, but that will not help with consumer confidence in their future products. The WGA and SAG-Aftra are enjoying public support at the moment, but that is going to go by the wayside at any minute as we speak. When you do a deep dive, the strikers have unrealistic demands.
Adam Conover, one of the leaders of the WGA strike and champion of the “man with the most punchable face” contest does not want writing to be part of a “gig economy”. Upon hearing that, You have to pose the question: If writing isn’t a gig job, then what is it? You work on a project. The project ends. You move on to the next project. TV and Movie writing by its very nature, is the textbook definition of a gig job.
I can tell you that I would prefer that my hound not be a hound, and wish for it to be a ferret. That will not magically make my hound any less of a dog or any more of a member of the weasel family.
Furthermore, how insulting is that line of thought to the people that they are asking for support from? Your sentiments are insulting to Uber drivers, musicians, freelance journalists and every other member of the maligned “gig economy” but you ask for our support and you ask for us to fight with you.
We are not a good enough community for you to be a part of, but we are good enough to help you fight your battle. Thanks Adam. That means a lot. Just not in the sense that you think it does.
The Coming Shift In The Economy Will Hurt The Cause
The studios did recently offer the writers a generous deal that would be the largest pay increase for Hollywood writers in thirty-five years.
Union members stood to make up to $11,000.00 per week with guarantees for multiple weeks. The studios met every demand the writers asked for with the exception of the minimum numbers of writers assigned to a project. The Union took an all or nothing stance on the proposal and walked away.
Now, the unions are still maintaining public support due to their aforementioned assistance from the press. That is set to dissipate rapidly in the coming weeks. New policies are being enacted in Washington D.C. that are going to make the price of gas skyrocket.
When the price of gas rises the way these policies are set to raise them, is the average person going to care about the number of writers assigned to a tv show, when they have to work a double shift just to be able to pay for groceries and gas?
That’s a rhetorical question.
Many people will read this article and assume that I am on the side of the producers. I am not. Nor am I on the side of the writers and actors. I think this whole thing is reprehensible on both sides. We had an entire State set ablaze recently. The lucky denizens were the ones that lost their homes. The unlucky ones were added to the death toll. Yet, these overgrown children are dominating our news cycle with maladies that are frivolous to the point where Lionel Hutz wouldn’t even take a side.
All that I am trying to convey, is that for the writers; despite their boisterous claims of victory, this is an unwinnable war. You are going up against the house.
Spoiler Alert! The house always wins.
Thank You for reading. When I am not writing, I enjoy spending time with my wife Barbara, my three year old daughter Frankie, and my loyal hound dog (not a ferret) Marbles. Please don’t forget to follow us on Twitter/X and subscribe to our brand new YouTube Channel for more thoughtful and insightful discussion. Stay Geeky Everybody!