Sunday, November 18, 2007

Talking Turkey

So the AMPTP and WGA resume talks on the 26th. Good news. Providing it's not a cynical ploy by the AMPTP because they know they are losing the PR battle. Once again they propose a deal which is completely unacceptable and then use their media outlets to blame the WGA. I hope not. But I am optimistic because I don't think the WGA are going to take any crap. And I think the majority of the members will support that.

Having said that, I am not a smart guy. I just got a statement saying something I wrote a couple of years ago, on a one hour prime time drama series , has aired in Canada. There are two figures on the statement and I'm so dumb I can't work out if the payment is for one episode or two. The total is about £130. No great shakes but keeps me in beer and pizza for the week so no complaints.

But it set me thinking about how much admiration I have for the negotiating committee of the WGA in terms of how much detail they have to know. They don't just have to negotiate in broad terms for a fair deal. They have to wrap it up airtight, I mean duck's arse airtight, so that the AMPTP can't wriggle out of it.

See, what set me thinking was the payment I received was my share of the BBC licensing the episode[s?] to the Canadian outlet. The Canadian outlet was BBC Canada. Okay I didn't even know there was a BBC Canada but there you go. To be honest I rarely look at the source of the cash on these statements unless it is a big enough figure for me to say a silent prayer of thanks.

But I thought I would in this instance. Maybe because the whole residual thing is so high profile right now.

Now I'm not saying the BEEB are up to any shenanigans by for instance licensing the episode for a paltry fee to a subsiduary company in order to bypass meaningful royalty payments. Far from it. They have no need to. But think about the vertical integration and sprawling media empire of the AMPTP?

Studios are already well known for dubious licensing deals on film properties with a view to minimising revenue and therefore gross and net profit participation of talent. Just a small part of the notorious smoke and mirrors of studio accounting. Made easy by the incestuous and tangled associations between provider and pipeline.

It is this that the WGA negotiators are up against. Especially difficult when they don't have access to the AMPTP figures on internet revenue. I don't envy them, but I do admire them and wish them well.


MaryAn said...

"Once again they propose a deal which is completely unacceptable and then use their media outlets to blame the WGA" - crossed my mind, too. Hope we're mistaken.

English Dave said...

I think they were taken by surprise by the level of public support maryan. The attempt to portray writers as overpaid fatcats backfired on them.

Frankly I think they have been treating the creatives and audiences with something approaching contempt and perhaps not even realising it.

I hope some of our UK mandarins are taking note.

The audience is not as stupid as some seem to think.

I would dearly love to post a rejection I got recently which is mind blowing in it's patronizing attitude to an entire country, but that would give the game away I fear. lol

Anonymous said...

I'm curious. How does this residuals payment work when there are multiple writers on a script? Is it only the ones who make it on to the credits who get a share? What happens if there are separate story credits and screenplay credits?

English Dave said...

anon in the UK it is the credited writers who would split the residuals.

A 'story by' credit on it's own might not qualify for residuals, it would depend on the contract.

Lucy said...

What the WGA might want to do if they propose that same shitty deal is poke the AMPTP's eyes out with all those pencils the fans are sending in. That'll be poetic justice AND a big message to 'em...