Rallying the troops
There were lots of ovations, and the mood in the room was supportive as Writers Guild leaders threw the meeting open to questions -- and lots of stirring comments meant to rally the troops.
A film writer asked what the strike would actually look like -- what tactics would be employed? David Young, the chief union negotiator, kept mum except to say: "There is a plan, but I'm not going to talk about that here. In years past our picketing schedule has gone 'Picket on Mondays for two hours and then meet at a bar until the following Monday.' That's not how we're going to do it this time."
The leaders hammered home the inequities they saw as spurring the strike. On shows such as "Lost" and "24," writers are shortchanged, they said: The networks rerun those episodes on the Internet, but writers don't see any residuals. Such payments for Web reruns, as well as compensation for original Web content, basic cable, reality TV and animation compensation, are at the heart of the negotiations.
Young said the writers were in the power position. "They're not in the position to go without writers. They just want to give us the cheap deal as always and we're putting our foot down.... The only thing we want less than a strike is a bad deal."
Patric Verrone, president of the Writers Guild of America, West, urged members not to talk to the traditional mainstream media about the strike situation because those news outlets are owned by conglomerates. He wouldn't comment on precisely when the strike would begin, but implied that it would be Monday.
-- Maria Elena Fernandez