Eisenstein's STRIKE

LOST co-creator (and sometime comic book writer) Damon Lindeolf had this to say today in the New York Times.

I will probably be dragged through the streets and burned in effigy if fans have to wait another year for “Lost” to come back. And who could blame them? Public sentiment may have swung toward the guild for now, but once the viewing audience has spent a month or so subsisting on “America’s Next Hottest Cop” and “Celebrity Eating Contest,” I have little doubt that the tide will turn against us.

And there’s always interesting strike stuff at Mark Evanier’s blog.

Posted Mark Coale


  1. This strike just goes to show how hypocritical everyone in Hollywood is. They are broken records when it comes to saying that they are for saving the world and how we are all the same and need each other, yet when it comes to money it’s every guild for itself.

    This typist…I mean writers strike is affecting not just TV schedules but the very lives of the crew members who work for production companies and all the service jobs that go to support them (I’m talking about waiters and other types of jobs).

    What a bunch of a-holes. Thank God for books. That is where you find real writers.

  2. I guess I feel the same way about the WGA strike as I did about the Baseball Players strike a decade back, it’s millionaires [and I know all writers are not millionaires] arguing over dollars but it’s the little people that get screwed.

  3. John said: “This typist…I mean writers strike is affecting not just TV schedules but the very lives of the crew members who work for production companies and all the service jobs that go to support them (I’m talking about waiters and other types of jobs).

    What a bunch of a-holes. Thank God for books. That is where you find real writers.”

    All those real writers like Nora Roberts, Grisham, or Evanovich? Oh yeah, and what about James Frey? It’s great we have real writers like him. I’m so happy his “memoir” got published instead of my fictional novel. Warms my heart, especially to think of how many millions of copies of a book full of bullshit got sold when big O put her stamp on it. Super!

    Speaking as 1) an aspiring novelist, comic book writer, and poet 2) someone who has for years been part of labor, environmental, and consumer activist campaigns in nearly every capacity (beginning with my wrongful termination suit against Fedex back in ’02), and 3) someone who works for a book publisher, you’ve not really taken the time to understand what is happening, why it’s happening, and why it is important, so to reiterate the points you’ve not taken the time to understand elsewhere:

    Most, MOST writers get by, because like everyone, you have to get by or you die. That’s it, and many barely get by. A small, small, pitiful handful are millionaires (same as in book publishing, and its not usually the good ones). Considering how much movies and films make, and how much executives and producers earn as a result, the amount writers make is abyssmal. The $.04 for the sale of DVD that costs $29.95 is what sustains them and their families when they are between shows, when they are writing specs and pitches every week to try and land the next show which they are never guaranteed to get, when they are working for months to develop and refine the screenplay and waiting for the film to be shot and edited and released in the hopes it does well enough to earn her/him royalties. Pay for writers is infrequent at best. And that $.04 is the same as it has been for 20 years. Think the cost of living has gone up since then? And gee, its not like any new technologies have emerged since 1988 which have allowed the studios to generate even more revenue.

    Also, seeing as how the league minimum for a baseball player is like $275K, I think the comparison is slightly lacking.

  4. Yeah, those evil millionaires.

    MOST of the writers are not millionaires.

    Currently, there are about 12,000 writers who are members of the WGA. Less than 5000 of them are working at this time. The average wage of WGA members is around $5000.

    The top end writers obviously make big bucks, but most of them don’t. Additionally, many writers go for years between writing jobs. It’s the nature of the industry.

  5. Yep. Most writers are making 42 thousand a year. Frankly, if anyone can stop little people from being screwed over, its the producers. Give the extra four cents and a more than deserved cut of the profits, and the system can get back to work. Simple as that.

  6. At least there was finally some attempt to quantify things instead of saying “most” do this, or “many” do that. However, for some reason one thing I read in this comments section stood out to me beyond everything else…

    Bill: what the hell does being in “consumer activist campaigns” have to do with anything?

    While I generally don’t support strikes, I think this is one realm where they still hold sway as an effective manner of balancing power between the two sides of this argument. That being said, I’m tired of people demanding cradle-to-the-grave security. Do you know what I would do if I was barely scraping by on my royalties? I’d get another fucking job. If four cents per DVD isn’t paying my rent then maybe I should get my ass out of the Starbucks and start stocking shelves, or working construction, or other work that’s ready to be found. I want these agreements to be fair, but if you don’t like their rules: don’t play their game. You aren’t required to write for a living. It’d be great if life were fair, and good guys always got the girl, and so on and so forth, but those hackneyed cliches smack of…..well, of poor Hollywood writing. According to Mickey Mantle’s biography, in the off-season Ted Williams had to drive a Budweiser delivery truck to make ends meet. Teddy Baseball driving a truck?!? He hit .400 over a full season and he still had to get a second job.

    I hope the writers get a share of internet profits because there will come a time in the future when that is a profit center for the studios, but in the meantime please don’t act like you have a God-given right to make a comfortable living in whatever you choose because there is no such guarantee.


  7. I think the strike is great! Why should the people at the top of the financial food chain make the most money off of movies and television? Or anything else for that matter. Why should writers make a pittance just because the people with the most money say that’s the way it should be. You gotta’ fight for what you want.
    To generalize,…I’m starting to get the impression that non-creative types don’t really get the drift on this stuff. (Wait! Is there even such a thing as a non-creative-type?) Art moves the culture forward. Movies and television are collaborative arts. If every body is having a piece of the same pie,…doesn’t it make since that everyone should have relatively the same size slice of pie? Obviously there are mitigating factors,…but,…I mean,…basically the same size slice of pie?

  8. Jonathan said:

    “Bill: what the hell does being in “consumer activist campaigns” have to do with anything?”

    I wanted to stress my status as a class warrior.

  9. God, where do I start. Do I start with Bill and his “consumer activism” or should I start with Steve Taylor.

    I guess I’ll start with Steve. This country is based on at will labor and the mobility of said labor. If you go to one industry and feel that the wages aren’t good enough to support the type of lifestyle you want, then you can easily leave. If writing isn’t paying the bills…then don’t be a writer. Go do something else that makes money. There are plenty of other jobs out there.

    If an industry wants talent, then they will pay for it. It happened in the computer industry it can happen in the movie industry: without unions or strikes.

    The way your world would work, doctors would make the same as paperboys and that’s just idiotic.

    Now let’s look at Bill. I love consumer activists because they are usually don’t have a clue as to what they are talking about or what they claim to be experts in.

    Kind of like the activists who closed down sweatshops in India because they were employing children. 5 years later those same kids went from sewing carpets to working as prostitutes because they couldn’t find any other type of work. That’s just great, isn’t it? I guess that’s OK by you since it’s not your kid. I on the other hand think the factory was a little bit better than prostitution, but what do I know.

    Or the time when they got the government to ban DDT. Yea, it was great for one bird that can now have normal eggs, but now the lack of DDT is killing 3MM children in Africa who are dying from malaria. I guess that’s OK by you since it’s not your kid. But what about that child’s family? Again, what do I know.

    I feel no sympathy for the writers. They are hurting a lot more people by helping themselves. No one is even thinking of the bigger picture here. If the companies give in to the writers they are going to have to pass that on that cost onto somebody. And that cost could come in different shapes: they could pass it on to consumers and we’re back to affecting poorer families who may want to buy a DVD, but now can’t afford it because the dollar increase in price may be the difference between entertaining themselves or buying food. Or the companies will tighten their budgets to the point that they will lay off more workers than they are doing now and/or only allocate their monies to certain hit makers thus pushing out smaller companies or keeping out writers who maybe have something risky out of the business.

    But hey, a Master’s in Economics and a successful business doesn’t necessarily make me an expert.

  10. John, George H. W. Bush has a master’s degree in Business, so no, I don’t think, nor will I ever think that any kind of degree makes anyone an expert in anything.

    But you’re right. No one should ever fight for anything. No one should ever try to stop injustice, or corruption, or raise themselves above the level they were born to, because then when something else shitty happens, well then they’ll have to take the blame for that. They should all just be happy with whatever happens to them, and if someone comes along and takes what little they do have away, they should resign themselves to it, give up the hours and the years they’ve spent working for those things, and go scrub toilets. We should just forget about the pursuit of happiness and realize that the only thing that matters is quantity, never quality. Writers obviously hate their jobs and should give them up because people don’t like when they make a fuss about them, because the studios deserve to keep as much of their profits as possible and the executives should be allowed to make 10 times as much as everyone else, and because once all the writers go start working at Starbucks they’ll be happy as goats in a clover patch.

    Anytime anyone tries help themselves or help others we should yell and stone them to death for their blasphemy. We’ll spray DDT everywhere so no one ever has to die of malaria, just cancer. John, you’ve made this a better world for all of us. Thank you.

  11. I think the minimum for a WGA movie script is $60K [most get more] and $30K for TV script. That’s not including the weekly salary for TV writers/producers get. If you add it all up, an employed television writer makes pretty close the league-minimum of $275K for a baseball player.

    My point was that I don’t think that employed writers are struggling paycheck-to-paycheck like the the people who work production.

    I personally don’t think there is a right or wrong answer on business vs. unions. If you look at the auto industry, you have to wonder why foreign automobile companies like Toyota, Honda, and BMV can manufacture and sell cars profitably in the US while Ford and GM can’t. Is it the fault of corporate management or the UAW, the truth it’s probably the fault of both.

    Like any organization from the US Government to Wal-Mart to the Catholic Church, there are good points and bad points. Each has a history of doing good and bad, hopefully you continue your good points and correct your flaws.

    When both sides are only looking out for their own interests, and there is no compromise, everyone loses.

  12. >>>My point was that I don’t think that employed writers are struggling paycheck-to-paycheck like the the people who work production.

    Chris, I know many screenwriters, including one in my family who has been nominated for major awards. There is NO WRITER I KNOW who has not struggled at some time. And even if they have not had to struggle for 20 years, THEIR ONLY SAFETY NET FOR THEIR RETIREMENT YEARS IS RESIDUALS.

    And in this business, retirement years begin at age 30 or so.

    This is a volatiel, shortlived line of work. Kim Fields may be able to make a living from having played Tootie…do you think the WRITERS who created those VERY SPECIAL EPISODES can say the same?

    This is a fight for an equitable share of the pie, a share which has been given in other areas — although not without a fight.

  13. Chris said:
    “If you look at the auto industry, you have to wonder why foreign automobile companies like Toyota, Honda, and BMV can manufacture and sell cars profitably in the US while Ford and GM can’t.”
    Health insurance costs. Foreign companies don’t have to pay them. This has been in the news quite a bit this year.

  14. Ah, Bill. You piece of flotsom. How you make me laugh.

    Yours is the typical response of the ignorant. You put everyone in the same boat just because they share one trait. So if a guy like Bush has a degree and is stupid then everyone who has a degree is stupid. That makes total sense.

    Yes, yours is the most insightful response I’ve ever seen; you my good man should be working at Harvard.

  15. I prefer to think of myself as doloric sea-bound detritus. Vocab-War!

    I have 2 degrees, a BA and an MFA, so yes, I am twice as dumb as I was before I got those degrees.

  16. I don’t agree that this country is based on “…at will labor,…” In fact, I don’t believe that I’ve ever run across that phrase,…in relation to anything,…before and I’m not altogether certain that this country was based on any one particular idea.
    Seems to me that it’s based on lot’s and lots of ideas.
    I think you make a mistake by asserting that “If writing isn’t paying the bills,…then, don’t be a writer.” It seems to me that things aren’t that simple. Most people who write,…or draw,…or paint,…don’t actually do it because it pays the bills. They do it because,…it’s what they do. It is their art. Their form of expression. The fact that they can make money off of it is almost secondary, for the most part. Creative people tend to continue being creative whether they’re compensated for it or not.
    As far as paperboys making as much as doctors,…well, is that really so idiotic?
    In your opinion, perhaps it is. In my opinion, it ain’t necessarily so.
    Is it more correct that the people who come up with the ideas for television shows and movies should make less than the people who sell the shows,…or produce the shows. Not in my opinion. Screw that elitist crap. Producers will find that they can’t do what they do without the people who create the shows. Regardless of how long it takes, they will have to come around. And really it’s not about everyone making the same amount as each other. It’s about people being compensated fairly for the increase of revenue generated by new technologies,…among other things.
    And really, what good are new technologies if a people can’t get ahead at what they want to do,…or even at what they might have to do.
    Besides, it’s bad manners not to share and I believe that actually is one of the things this country is based on.

  17. Yes, Steve, a paperboy making the same as a doctor is completely idiotic. And it’s unfortunate that you don’t know how idiotic that sounds. That says a lot about you.

    Also, note your contradition: you state that writers write because that’s what they do. That if they earn money doing it, it’s secondary. If that were true then they wouldn’t be striking, would they?

    And by your last statement you’re saying that no one should work for compensation that if someone makes money they should just…share it? What? So that means you work and make money and give it away? That no one else should work to earn anything? That’s rediculous and just goes to show how much you don’t know about anything.

  18. Yeah, buddy. GIVE IT AWAY!
    I think it’s interesting that, whether you think my comments, or anyone’s comments for that matter, are valid or intelligent or not, that you feel it’s necessary, or that in some way it adds weight to your words, to belittle and denigrate them by using insulting language. Idiotic? Piece of flotsam? Ignorant? You refer to the writers as assholes,…you generalize about how hypocritical EVERYONE in Hollywood is,…all while displaying an incredible lack of real world knowledge about the subject. Acting superior and putting people down doesn’t do a thing for your “argument.” I, for one, would appreciate a little more civility on your part. Polite society is no place for rude behavior, old chum.
    I’m afraid you’ve taken some of what I said a little to literally. My bad. I didn’t realize it was that kind of place.
    One thing I will reiterate and that I hope you will take literally, is that just because the writers are on strike,…doesn’t mean that they aren’t writing. You can bet your bottom dollar, they’re probably writing like crazy. Artist’s, by and large, don’t do it JUST for the money. It’s bigger than that. It’s greater than that. And in my opinion, it’s better than that.
    You’ll find that most artist’s are a scrappy bunch and when push comes to shove,…well, they don’t generally just bend over and take it up the,…oops.
    You get my drift.

  19. I don’t think belittling or denigrating anyone adds weight to my words. I’m just calling it like I see it. Civility? No. You’re not going to get that from me. Deal with it. If you say something stupid I’m going to say you’re stupid. If you have a problem with that it’s on you, not me. This is a dog eat dog world my friend.

    The reason I feel that I’m better and smarter than you is because I am. It’s that simple. In nature there are the strong and there are the weak. Guess which side I know you’re on?

    Now, I didn’t describe writers in that way. I just don’t agree with their strike. Apparently, you don’t mind that other people are losing their jobs because of the strike. It’s OK for EVERYONE to be unemployed because of one group. Again a mark of your lack of intelligence and you’re lack of caring for others.

    You reiterate your belief in writers are writing only to write and that money is secondary. Yet, aren’t they striking over money? Who doesn’t get the reality of the situation now?

  20. It’s no wonder what side someone with a “successful business” takes when a strike is mentioned. I don’t believe for one second that John cares about how this is impacting non-writers and the unemployment concerns of the little guys.

    I could stand to spend another $.04 per DVD or whatever if it means a writer gets what he/she deserves.