LB: Latest News from the Writers Guild of America-Talent Agency Battlefront

by Larry Brody

Last night, members of the WGA received the following email about a situation with ramifications everywhere. (P.S. This seems to me to be a Good Thing and, I hope, a harbinger of even Better Things to come:)

November 18, 2019
Dear Members,

Today the WGA signed a negotiated franchise agreement with the Rothman Brecher Ehrich Livingston Agency. This comes on the heels of last week’s agreement with Abrams Artists Agency, which means both agencies can now represent WGA members again for covered writing services.

Under the Rothman Brecher agreement, packaging fees are banned after a sunset period ending January 22, 2021. In order to induce more agencies to sign, the sunset can, under certain circumstances, be extended.

The agency also agreed to information-sharing with the Guild, including contracts and invoices, which will aid the Guild in enforcing late pay, free work, and other MBA violations.

The agreement includes other modifications to the most-recent franchise agreement, including allowing the agency to have up to a 5% ownership interest in an entity engaged in production or distribution. This limitation protects writers from the egregious conflicts of agency-owned production companies outlined in our recent video, while allowing a minimal ownership share.

You can read the agreement here. Redlines reflect changes made to the Buchwald Franchise Agreement. The most-favored-nations clause means any franchised agency may choose to adopt this agreement if it chooses.

Our goal remains to move the negotiation process forward with the remaining unsigned agencies. We will keep you updated as progress is made.

In Solidarity,

WGA Agency Negotiating Committee

Chris Keyser, Co-Chair
David Shore, Co-Chair
Meredith Stiehm, Co-Chair
Lucy Alibar
John August
Angelina Burnett
Zoanne Clack
Kate Erickson
Jonathan Fernandez
Travon Free
Ashley Gable
Deric A. Hughes
Chip Johannessen
Michael Schur
Tracey Scott Wilson
Betsy Thomas
Patric M. Verrone
Nicole Yorkin
David A. Goodman, President WGAW, ex-officio
Marjorie David, Vice President WGAW, ex-officio
Michele Mulroney, Secretary-Treasurer WGAW, ex-officio
Beau Willimon, President WGAE, ex-officio
Kathy McGee, Vice President WGAE, ex-officio
Bob Schneider, Secretary-Treasurer WGAE, ex-officio


WGA Statement of Purpose: Why Agencies Must Change

Our agents work for us. Every dollar they make must be generated as a percentage of the money we make. That is what it means to be our representatives and our fiduciaries. Agency-based studios and packaging fees make a mockery of that and are in violation of the agencies’ ethical and legal obligations to writers. We have taken too long to demand that these practices end. But the persistence of a corrupt system does not make it right. And putting things right does not blow up the business. We do not owe our agents their wealth; they owe us their loyalty. That is what we pay for. In a complex, changing, yet immensely profitable time in our industry, writers need true allies, not deeply conflicted ones. It is for this idea—simple, old-fashioned and un-revolutionary—that we stand—and for which we come together as a Guild again today.

In solidarity,

LB

Larry Brody: Live! From Paradise! #72 – “Itchin’ Like a Man on a Fuzzy Tree”

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THE USUAL NOTE FROM LB: From the summer of 2002 to  the spring of 2010, Gwen the Beautiful and I were the proud and often exhausted owners of a beautiful Ozarks property we called Cloud Creek Ranch.

In many ways, the ranch was paradise. But it was a paradise with a price that started going up before we even knew it existed. Here’s another Monday musing about our adventure and the lessons we learned.

Oh, and if y’all detect any irony, please believe me when I say it comes straight from the universe and not your kindly Uncle Larry B.

by Larry Brody

I’m covered with bites today and, as Elvis put it so well, “itchin’ like a man on a fuzzy tree.” Which means I’m ready to rant about one of the most maddening aspects of living in Paradise.

Ticks!

Wherever you find beautiful greenery you also are sure to find Earth’s most obnoxious little bloodsuckers.

Step outside on a beautiful summer day, and the odds are good you’ll step back in with a tick somewhere on—or in—your clothes.

Over the years I’ve learned how to deal with chiggers. Stay out of the woods. Wear boots and long pants and tuck your pants inside your boots. Keep moving. Deet up.

Ticks, however, are another story. Pick up a rake and presto! There’s a tick crawling up your arm.
Walk past a shed and wham! That’s a tick fastening itself to your neck.

Trim a tree branch and pow! That ain’t no aphid clinging to your leg.

I can Deet myself to death and still find a little bump in an inappropriate place, scratch at it…and splatter myself with my own blood, courtesy of one fat, well-fed tick mom.

I remember as a child plucking off a tick and continuing on my merry way. What I don’t remember is the welt the size of my mountaintop and the Big Itch afterward that I feel now. Have ticks mutated into something far more powerful than before?

In Paradise, common wisdom says there are two ways to beat the ticks.

The first way is to move to the city and spend your life on concrete and asphalt, insulated from nature’s miserable little sucks. Since my neighbors and I are all about living where we can touch and smell and listen to the land, that’s not an option.

The second way is to spray all around with the strongest possible poison. But that’s got a downside too. Everyone’s livestock would pay a high price for grazing on chemical-soaked grass.

Yesterday, as I pondered and scratched, Brannigan the Contractor came by to ratchet up our sagging back deck. After a couple of sweaty hours he came inside to take Gwen the Beautiful up on her offer of sweet tea.

After pulling up a chair, he noticed a two foot long feather on my desk. Brannigan eyed it curiously. “What’re you doing with this?”

“Admiring it,” I said. You don’t see an eagle feather every day.”

Brannigan snorted. “Eagle feather?! No way! It’s from a turkey vulture. Eagles are noble. They hunt just like real men. But vultures? They’re the lowest form of bird life there is. Good for nothing but stripping roadkill!”

After Brannigan left I picked up the feather. When I’d thought it was an eagle feather I’d seen it as beautiful. A prize. But now?

Now I felt like a jerk.

Which got me to wondering. Why value eagles over vultures? Is killing food automatically a “better” thing to do than eating what’s already dead? Wouldn’t it be easy to argue exactly the reverse?

I called Johnny Lee, Deputy Game Warden at Paradise County Fish and Game. Asked him what he knew about vultures.

“Vultures are awesome,” he said. “I’d want to be one if I was a bird.”

This was a surprise. I asked Johnny Lee one question. “Why?”

“They’re the ultimate team players. They know how to make everything around them work for them. They’re not made for hunting so they depend on others to kill. When the hunters are finished, the vultures eat what otherwise would rot and be wasted.

“And they share it with other animals. Everything in the woods knows where to go for supper when they see vultures circling around.

“They’re great flyers too. Most efficient gliders of any bird, and they’re just about the healthiest. They’ve got special bacteria that knock out most disease.”

Which, believe it or not, brings me back to ticks and the itch I’m still scratching. Vultures are in tune with the world, and they’re big on sharing, right?

Well then, here’s what I’m going to do. I’m taking that big feather outside and waving it at the next turkey vulture I see overhead. And I’m asking it the Question of the Hour:

“How can I get along with ticks? How can I get something good out of them? What should I do?”

And I promise that when that vulture tells me, Brannigan the Contractor will be the first to know.

LB: Hey, Trekkers, Have You Seen the Official Star Trek Timeline?

by Larry Brody

For reasons so personal that it’s embarrassing, I admit to being thrilled to learn that startrek.com, which is a genuine, real life CBS-owned official Star Trek site, has issued a timeline for the entire Trek universe, including all its alternate dimensions and casts.

This in itself is a very cool thing for Trekkers and even casual fans, but here’s what’s so wonderful to me:

STAR TREK: THE ANIMATED SERIES
IS NOW CANON!!!

And as canon, its stories now are genuine records of events that happened during the last year of the 5 year mission to go where no man one had ever gone before of a certain star ship called The Enterprise, commanded by this dimension’s Capt. James T. Kirk.

And the icing on the cake here is that although over the years I’ve been employed (that means paid) to write several episodes of different versions of ST, the only one that ended up getting shot with me being the sole writer was an episode of ST:TAS called “The Magicks of Megas-Tu.”

And, yeah, I fucking love that!

All my thanks to the CBS/StarTrek.Com powers-that-be.

The 2-minute timeline video can be seen HERE

The full episode of “The Magicks of Megas-Tu”, albeit with terrible sound quality, is HERE

Info on some of my ST work including the background of how “Magicks” came to be is HERE

LYMI
LB

LB: 2nd Thoughts on my 1st Thoughts on the PEOPLE’S PILOT 2019 Writing Competition Entries

tv_writer_peoples_pilot_main

by Larry Brody

Last week – on November 5th, to be precise – I posted my preliminary thoughts about this year’s PEOPLE’S PILOT entries.

I still can’t go too far beyond that because I’ll need to have read all the entries to make valid comparisons and judgments about PEOPLE’S PILOT 2019 in relation to previous runnings of the competition, but I do have a couple of things to add in response to some questions that have come up.

So:

For those who’ve been wondering about the gender of the writers who have entered, here’s what I’ve got:

  • Comedy Series Writers
    Women 27%
    Men 73%
  • Drama Series Writers
    Women 30%
    Men 70%

Note:

The PP doesn’t ask for gender and probably would be breaking the law if it did, which means that the above figures have to be regarded with caution because they are only estimates based on pretty darn flimsy data – the writers’ names and my probably naive interpretation of the gender they usually are used for.

Similarly, I have no idea of how many of the entrants have eschewed binary gender identification and regard themselves in another way altogether.

In other words, my apologies for what seems to me to be a most inadequate response.

While we’re on the subject, I have to say that the percentage of women entrants has surprised me. I always assumed it was much higher because over the 5+ years I’ve been holding Larry Brody’s Master Class a full 64% of the students have been women.

Why do women account for almost 2/3 of my students yet less than 1/3 of the contest entrants? Anyone out there want to venture a guess? You can get in touch with me via the comments or email me at larrybrody@tvwriter.com .

For those who’ve been wondering about how successful TVWriter™s attempt to encourage Web Series and Audio Fiction Series, here are the stats:

  • Web Series Entries
    5% of the total entries were marked and paid for as web series.
  • Audio Fiction Series:
    2% of the total entries were marked and paid for as audio fiction series.
  1. Note:

I think this low turnout sucks and take full responsibility for it. I’m open to any and all suggestions for how to improve the “intended-for-emedia-response in next year’s PP.

Well, that’s not quite accurate. I’m open to more than suggestions. I’m ready and willing to accept genuine help in getting more of those involved in what I think of as next-gen TV into PEOPLE’S PILOT 2020.

If you’re interested in getting involved in this aspect of the competition – or any other aspect of it for that matter – by all means leave a comment below or email me at larrybrody@tvwriter.com .

Thanks to everyone who has been interested and excited enough to get in touch with me about the contest and, of course, to all those who entered.

LYMI

lboldwriter

 

 

LB

WGAW on the Danger of Talent Agencies Owning studios and Production Companies

For those who continue to ask why we’re “so upset” about the conflict of interest aspect of the current disagreement between talent agencies  and their former clients, the writer-members of the Writers Guild of America.

This could easily be titled Why We Fight.

In a nutshell, from the Writers Guild of America, West:

Agency studios are production companies that are owned or jointly owned by an agency and their parent corporation. Watch the video to learn about their evolution and why, if left unchecked, their existence will increasingly undermine compensation for all talent.