AMPTP vs. WGA: Didn't we do this already?

It’s no secret that my horse in the race between the AMPTP (aka the evil conglomerates who decide to do things like release a third Grease movie direct to DVD), SAG (aka the group of actors for whom it’s hard to feel sympathy when one of their long-standing demands includes first-class air travel to location shoots [page 8 of the .pdf]) is actually the WGA because not only did they manage to keep together their membership during the tough negotiations, I’m a writer, too. (Hey, I never said it was the most noble of reasons for liking them.)

Well, to overstate the metaphor, according to the AMPTP’s .pdf Fact Sheet, the WGA is entering the fray like a horse that should have been put out to pasture a long time ago:

On November 19th, the Writers Guild of America issued a press release alleging that Hollywood studios “are not paying residuals for writers’ work that is reused on new media.” The WGA issued its press release just as a federal mediator was about to bring SAG and AMPTP together. In addition, the WGA made its complaint about new media residuals without first asking any of the Companies to help resolve any outstanding issues, as is customary practice. The WGA’s press release was highly misleading and seems to have been designed to poison the atmosphere for the federal mediation rather than to actually ensure that residual payments are made to working writers.

At least that’s what it looks like on the surface. But if you read the Fact Sheet a little more closely, my WGA horse is more like the championship stud horse who got sidelined by a very minor injury, only to find out later on that the doctor who treated it botched up the recovery so that even if he wanted to even gallop across the field, he can’t:

Some studios have either made streaming payments to the WGA under the new formula, or are set to make those payments this week. The remaining studios are still working to program their residual systems to incorporate the new formulae.


An unprecedented number of new formulas for residual payments for film and television streaming, permanent downloads (EST), and derivative and original made for new media programs that needed to be programmed.

Are you kidding me? The first excerpt sounds a little too much like “Your check is in the mail” whereas I highly doubt that a good, core team of independently chosen mathematicians and computer programmers couldn’t tackle those formulas and whip up a solution in a month.

Still, I have to admit that the WGA’s dramatic timing of their press release was actually quite a bit of genius.

Which is exactly what you’d expect from a bunch of writers.

Posted on December 3, 2008 at 10:49 by Trisha Lynn · Permalink
In: News

One Response

Subscribe to comments via RSS

  1. Written by Gordon McAlpin
    on 2008-12-03 at 11:05

    “I highly doubt that a good, core team of independently chosen mathematicians and computer programmers couldn’t tackle those formulas and whip up a solution in a month.”

    Ah, but you have to get executives to TELL those mathematicians and computer programmers to tackle them first. And we all know that executives take at least twice as long to tell other people to do real work than it takes those people to just do the work.

Subscribe to comments via RSS