Category: Strike News

DGA ratifies three-year contract

The Directors Guild of America announced today that its members overwhelmingly endorsed a new three-year contract. The agreement, which takes effect July 1, secured gains for directors in the area of Internet pay and paved the way for a similar pact between studios and writers that ended a 100-day strike. The guild has 13,500 members.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 20, 2008

Statement by Michael Apted
President of the Directors Guild of America
Announcing Ratification of the DGA Contract

LOS ANGELES - It is my great pleasure to announce that the DGA membership has overwhelmingly voted to ratify the new collective bargaining agreements between the DGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). 

The vote reflects the strong support and enthusiasm our members have for our new contract.  We won important gains such as higher wages, higher residual bases, significant improvements in basic cable, a more secure health plan, and solutions to problems affecting our ADs and UPMs. 

We also set a series of important precedents crucial to our survival in this digital age -- among them, jurisdiction in new media, a doubling of the home video rate as it applies to electronic sell-through, and the establishment of a gross based payment in ad-supported streaming while maintaining our historic fixed residuals where there is continued uncertainty about actual grosses.

We entered this round of bargaining steadfast in our belief, borne of 70 years of negotiating experience, that what would make it possible for us to achieve our goals was our 18 months of research and preparation, our understanding of the issues our industry faces, and our willingness to sit across the table and negotiate until a conclusion was reached. We also recognized that this was only the beginning of a series of difficult negotiations and that we are still years away from the time when new media will be our industry's dominant revenue source.

This was, is, and will continue to be our approach to collective bargaining in this digital age. We believe the results speak for themselves.

'Lost' answers one question

Lost51 There are many questions we cannot answer when it comes to “Lost,” but here’s one we can: Co-show runners Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof confirmed today that they will produce five more episodes of the ABC island-castaway drama to air this spring. Before the strike, production had completed eight episodes -- half of its season order.

Now that the writers “have hit the ground running,” they know they will only have time to complete five more episodes, Cuse said. The show runners have a deal with ABC and ABC Studios to produce two more seasons of 16 episodes each and will add the three missing hours to those two seasons.

The fourth season of “Lost” premiered two weeks ago in a new Thursday time slot and has been performing very well for ABC. “Lost” will continue to air on Thursdays at 9 p.m. until April when “Grey’s Anatomy” returns with new episodes. “Lost” will then move to the time slot after “Grey’s” at 10 p.m.

“We will condense our storytelling, but we don't think that will be a bad thing,” Cuse said. “We couldn't be more excited to be back!”

Since the show returned this month, the Internet has been abuzz with all of the new mysteries and questions presented, the biggest ones being: Who are the Oceanic 6 and what is their secret? Indeed, the producers designed the season to be full of questions and suspense in the first half and full of answers and satisfaction in the second. Does the shortened season mean we might not know what “the freighter folk,” as Lindelof calls them, want with Ben until next season?

“With three less episodes, that's 18.7% less episodes than the originally promised total of sixteen,” Lindelof wrote in an e-mail. “Therefore, while it is true you will get 18.7% less answers, you will also get 18.7% less new QUESTIONS to bang your head against the wall about.  So at least there's that."

-- Maria Elena Fernandez

(Photo courtesy ABC)

WGA: 'The strike is over'

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Excerpts from the WGA's message to its members:

On Tuesday, members of the Writers Guilds East and West voted by a 92.5% margin to lift the restraining order that was invoked on November 5th. The strike is over. Writing can resume immediately....The decision to begin this strike was not taken lightly and was only made after no other reasonable alternative was possible. We are profoundly aware of the economic loss these fourteen weeks have created not only for our members but so many other colleagues who work in the television and motion picture industries. Nonetheless, with the establishment of the WGA jurisdiction over new media and residual formulas based on distributor’s gross revenue (among other gains) we are confident that the results are a significant achievement not only for ourselves but the entire creative community, now and in the future. We hope to build upon the extraordinary energy, ingenuity, and solidarity that were generated by your hard work during the strike. Over the next weeks and months, we will be in touch with you to discuss and develop ways we can use our unprecedented unity to make our two guilds stronger and more effective than ever....

More news on the strike

'Friday Night Lights' in timeout until fall?

“Friday Night Lights” show runner Jason Katims and his assistant, Jamie Duneier, are happy to be back in the office. But it will probably be a while before their writing staff joins them.

NBC has not decided if it will produce more episodes of “Friday Night Lights” for the spring. Katims will be attending several meetings this week with the network and Universal Media Studios, which produces it, and is hoping fans won’t have to wait until the fall to learn how the Smash Williams football story ends or if Jason Street is going to be a father.

“The most difficult part of this is that, when the strike ends, I think that everybody here will be celebrating that the strike ended and then the next question is, when are we going to get back to work?” Katims said. “Are we going to get back to work? It’s going to unfold differently for every show.”

Fifteen episodes of the football-centered drama have already aired, and Katims says he can complete five or six more — if given the chance. Always a ratings-challenged, critical darling, “Friday Night Lights” has been performing better since it moved to Fridays. But that doesn’t guarantee it a spot on the fall lineup.

“I’ve heard that serialized shows are less likely to come back this spring," he said. "And, of course, we’re on the eternal bubble, so we have to wait and see what they want to do.”

--Maria Elena Fernandez

Two and a half reasons to smile again

Loree Veteran TV producer Chuck Lorre has made a career out of being funny. And although there was nothing humorous about not working for three months, Lorre has found his smile again.

Both of his CBS comedies, “Two and a Half Men” and “The Big Bang Theory,” will produce nine more episodes for this season, which means his 200-person staff will be back at work by next week — much sooner than most of the TV industry.

Lorre and his co-show runners, Lee Aronsohn (“Two and a Half Men”) and Bill Prady (“The Big Bang Theory”), returned to work Monday to figure out how they will produce nine episodes in 12 weeks. This is how it will play out:

“It’s gonna be an enormous cluster [insert the word for Charlie Harper’s favorite hobby] of stuff to do,” Lorre said in his first interview since the strike was called. “Normally, the kind of stuff you complain about is now just an absolute joy. Yay! We get to make our show again. We’ll be working seven days a week for the next three months and we’ll be happy to do it to pull this off.”

“Two and a Half Men,” the No. 1 comedy on TV, is in good shape, Lorre said, because they have one complete script ready to produce. “Big Bang,” a freshman show that was gaining momentum in the ratings when the strike began, was in the middle of shooting an episode, so production will start from scratch on that episode.

“It’s really surreal coming back after a strike,” Lorre said. “It’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced. I really hate to date myself, but I was around for the ’88 strike and it’s very disorienting. It’s not a vacation. It’s not restful. It’s a stressful  three months. It was purgatory. It was not hey, hooray, we’re not working. It was awful. There’s an emotional toll. I’m really lucky because it was not a financial strain. But the financial strain on people around you and entire communities is huge. There’s nothing good about it.”

Lorre says he is thankful his employees will get to complete the majority of the episodes ordered, as opposed to shows that are facing severely shortened seasons and others that aren't returning to the schedule until fall. “Men” will complete 19 out of 24 and “Big Bang” will finish 17 of 22.

“Just like it’s better to have written than to write, I’m glad this is behind us,” Lorre said. “But at the same time, there’s something to learn about it. I certainly learned something about the depths of my workaholicism, because there was withdrawals.”

Returning to his job this time has been nothing like coming back from a vacation hiatus, Lorre said.
“We got sent home,” he said. “Even if you don’t like school, you don’t want to get sent home. And the truth of the matter is to be at work every day with people for years, it becomes your life. And people become part of your family. And when a show stops suddenly, you’re powerless to do anything about it. And it’s not unjustified. It’s all legitimate. There’s no malice on the part of anybody. It was a journey, and these three months were both awful and instructive about how grateful we have to be about being able to do this for a living.”

Did it provide fodder and inspiration for his famous vanity cards? Lorre is known for the musings he posts at the end of each episode of all of his shows. During the strike, the cards stayed on message: “United we stand.”

“I took notes,” he said coyly. “I have some thoughts.”

-- Maria Elena Fernandez

Triumph: 'Those strike rules were a hoot'

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This year’s WGA East Awards, held Saturday night at Manhattan’s Hudson Theatre, seemed more like “WGA at the Improv,” especially when Triumph the Insult Comic Dog hit the stage. The profane dog puppet of “Late Night With Conan O’Brien” had the room in stitches as he roasted the writers and their cause. A sampling, edited to meet the standards of this newspaper’s website, follows below.

-- Matea Gold


Today we had a great victory! My name is Michael Moore! C’mon folks, we did have a good day today. I think there’s good reason to Comiccelebrate. We have an agreement that we can pretend we’re happy with.

No, we have an excellent agreement. And what better way to celebrate than with the most scaled-down [expletive] award ceremony ever? Who needs Rita Moreno? Who needs to sit? Who needs food? You can drink free Sierra Mist at the bar.

That’s right, those are the perks of being in the WGA –- this is why you didn’t go fi-core, ladies and gentlemen! John Ridley is shaking right now. No Sierra Mist for John Ridley!

I’m told the agreement was met with some controversy, but I believe that the overwhelming majority of the guild is relieved to stop striking and getting back to being out of work.

We had to get an agreement today. We had to. There was too much public outcry. At the end of the day, we had to end the strike to get all the ugly writers off of YouTube.

By the way, if you don’t like any of these jokes, I didn’t write them because of the strike. But fortunately Jay Leno was nice enough to give me some. How does he do it? He runs them by Mavis at 3 in the morning!

How about our negotiating committee? Where’s their award? It couldn’t have been easy for them, representing this freak show. Patric Verrone, John Bowman -- you know what people don’t know about these people? That they’re great comedy writers. They are tremendous comedy writers. They’ve written hilarious material like "Futurama" and "In Living Color" and -- the Writers Guild strike rules! The strike rules, ha, prohibit all the writing, ho ho, by any guild member that would be performed on-air by that member, ah ha ha ha, including monologues! Oh ho ho! I can’t take it! It’s too funny! Oh ho ho ho! The strike rules!

Continue reading »

Writers Guild board OKs accord to end strike

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Moving one step closer to ending the 4-month-old strike, the board of the Writers Guild of America unanimously blessed this morning the tentative accord reached last week with the studios.

The endorsement paves the way for writers to return to work on Wednesday, pending a vote by the guild's membership to lift the strike order on Tuesday. The guild's 10,500 movie and TV writers are expected to ratify the new three-year contract within 10 days.

Hollywood's top show runners, however, can return to work Monday in their capacity as producers, which includes hiring crews and getting their series ready to shoot. The strike shut down more than 60 shows and idled thousands of production workers, who are anxious to return to their jobs.

The resolution comes in the nick of time to save the annual Academy Awards show, which can now come off as planned on Feb. 24 without the threat of picketers outside the event and a paucity of stars on the red carpet and writers to pen the jokes made by presenters. It also means the networks will now be able to begin, albeit at a delay, developing new shows for next season.

In the last few days, the writers had been letting the leadership know that they wanted to have a say. And on Saturday night, soon after the beginning of a well-attended membership meeting at the Shrine Auditorium, Verrone announced that this indeed would be happening.

As a result, the union's leaders reversed their original plan, which would have allowed the WGA board to send writers back to work on Monday.

More news on the strike

-- Richard Verrier and Claudia Eller

Back to work by Wednesday?

Wga_11

This morning's strike developments:

The WGA negotiating committee has voted unanimously to recommend the deal, and the WGA West board is meeting at this moment to vote to ask the membership to ratify the contract.

If that happens as expected, here's how the week would unfold:

--There would be no more picketing.

-- Show runners could go back to work Monday and begin their producing
duties.

-- Members would vote Tuesday.

-- Everyone should be back at work Wednesday.

More news on the strike

--Maria Elena Fernandez

Joel Stein dispatch: What's he really writing?

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Bill Condon, who sits directly in back of David Young, is the only one on stage taking copious notes. I think he's writing a script, getting an unfair jump on the rest of us. Fine Bill Condon!

More news on the strike

-- Joel Stein

Joel Stein dispatch: Open your arms

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David Young says the studios told him to embrace some technical boring offer with open arms. Patric Verrone, who is sitting next to him, points out that you can't actually embrace something with open arms.

See, we are writers!

More news on the strike

-- Joel Stein

Joel Stein dispatch: C-SPAN writer's edition?

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Even if you've never been in a sitcom writers room, you probably know enough about writers to realize everyone would be late. They just recently started. I'm already bored.

There are 36 people on stage in two rows with paper placards. They're projected on a big screen in back of them. If you imagine a more boring version on C-SPAN that covered intellectual property law, then you can imagine the electricity.

More news on the strike

-- Joel Stein

L.A. writers convene at the Shrine

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About 3,500 members of the Writers Guild of America are gathered at the Shrine Auditorium to discuss the terms of the tentative deal struck with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.

Projected on a screen above the stage is a picture of a circle of pencils entitled: “Stronger Together.” 

About 7:30 p.m., the meeting opened with an ovation and WGA West President Patric Verrone saying, “Good evening. Welcome to the Grammys. We have a deal! More importantly, you have a deal.” The deal, he said, took until 1:30 a.m. to come about and until about 6 p.m. tonight to get signed.

“I am personally recommending that we ratify this deal,” Verrone said.

In urging the members to accept the deal, he said that although there were concessions, “it is the best deal the Guild has bargained for in 30 years. Admittedly, the contract has some holes.”

The writers succeeded in getting jurisdiction in new media and higher pay for work distributed on the Internet. Verrone said the guild would continue to push for rights in animation and reality.

The strike isn’t over Monday, he went on to say. The decision to lift the strike will come after the members have had a chance to vote on the contract Tuesday.

“We have repositioned this Guild as a powerful player in this town,” chief negotiator David Young told the crowd before he broke down the details of the contract.

More news on the strike

-- Times Staff Writer

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