The WGA Preps for the Next big Negotiation

What will it be? Peaceful negotiation or war? What will our champions at the Writers Guild of America (both West and East versions) be negotiating – or battling – for?

Find out where things stand via this open letter from the EGA:

January 20, 2017

Dear Fellow Writers,

On May 1st the current Minimum Basic Agreement (MBA) covering most WGA writing expires. The Negotiating Committee has set goals for our upcoming bargaining sessions with the AMPTP.  Now we need to make sure the membership understands and agrees with our agenda and approach.

Let’s lay out the context. The 49 billion dollar annual operating profit accumulated by the six major media companies with whom we will be negotiating is double what their profit numbers were only a decade ago.

Contrast that with the economic picture facing the members of our Guilds, whose average incomes in both features and series TV have actually decreased over that same decade.  You’ve told Guild leadership in meetings and surveys that new models of development, production, and distribution – while making the companies richer – have not worked to your individual or collective advantage.

And contrast the companies’ prosperity with the state of our Health Plan which, due to rapid inflation in health care costs nationwide, has run deficits for all but one of the past four years, forcing a dip into long-untouched reserves.  Getting our fair share will require resolve and solidarity and the willingness to fight if necessary.  But in a time of unprecedented profits for our industry, we believe it is our due.

Now we need to know where you stand.

You will soon receive an invitation to participate in one of a series of outreach meetings the WGAW and WGAE will convene over the next six weeks.  These are critical meetings as we prepare to negotiate with the companies.

We thank you for your support, and look forward to hearing from you over the coming weeks.

In Solidarity,
WGA Negotiating Committee

Chip Johannessen, Co-Chair
Chris Keyser, Co-Chair
Billy Ray, Co-Chair

Alfredo Barrios, Jr.
Andrea Berloff
Adam Brooks
Zoanne Clack
Marjorie David
Kate Erickson
Jonathan Fernandez
Travon Free
Howard Michael Gould
Susannah Grant
Erich Hoeber
Richard Keith
Warren Leight
Alison McDonald
Luvh Rakhe
Shawn Ryan
Stephen Schiff
David Shore
Meredith Stiehm
Patric M. Verrone
Eric Wallace
Beau Willimon
Nicole Yorkin

Howard A. Rodman, WGAW President, ex-officio
Michael Winship, WGAE President, ex-officio
David A. Goodman, WGAW Vice President, ex-officio
Jeremy Pikser, WGAE Vice President, ex-officio
Aaron Mendelsohn, WGAW Secretary-Treasurer, ex-officio
Bob Schneider, WGAE Secretary-Treasurer, ex-officio

munchman: Better Days are Coming?

munchman’s TV Musings #11
by munchman

I was shocked – shocked, I say! – to look over TVWriter™’s Google Analytics this past weekend and discover that munchman’s TV Musings is far and away the least popular of all regular features on this site. Not just for this new year, oh no, but for all time. Even if you include my old Love & Money column, which held the title up till now.

So thank you, friends and neighbors, mates and exes, for you continued lack of support. I promise to continue bugging the shit out of you for many days, weeks, months, possibly even years to come!

Which brings us to:

  • Life in our oh-so Phil-Dickian Universe of black comedy and ennui (and who’d a-thunk those two concepts could co-exist so well?) continues to bring a simultaneously disgusted and bored smile to Yer Friendly Neighborhood Ubermuncher’s face. Case in point: Recent news that the Coen Brothers are going to write and direct their first TV series. It’s called The Ballad of Busty Scruggs, and guess what, ya illiterate bastids? Sucker that I am for anything that’s the ballad (or even ballade) of anything, I’m intrigued as hell and looking forward to what they end up giving us. Welcome to the Binge Watching Brigade, balladeers!
  • OTOH, recent news that Constantine, a successful comic book about a very successful and un-Doc Strange or even Harry Potter type wizard that has failed in all previous attempts to bring it to both film and TV is coming back as an animated series reaffirms my suspicion that my eternal depression is justified. Don’t get the munchadingus wrong. I lurve the comic book incarnation of everybody’s favorite bi-sexual magicker and would love to see it on my laptop, but this time around it’s appearing on the farm team’s farm team. By which I mean on the CWSeed website, which is where the morons-who-consider-themselves-ultrahip-geniuses show stuff that even they understand isn’t good enough for their grossly inadequate attempt at being a television network, the CW itself. I’m thinking, “Yikes!” and worrying that I’m being too optimistic.
  • Speaking of comics, BleedingCool has a list of the top selling comic books of 2016 that probably would tell me a lot if I bothered to analyze – that means think, if any Trumperfuckers are reading this – it. Turns out the numero uno seller of last year was Big Trouble in Little China/Escape from New York #1 by Greg Pak and Daniel Bayliss, which beat not only Marvel’s Civil War #1 but D.C.’s first issue of Harley Quinn. A non-tentpole winner, guys ‘n’ gals! A property with no toys, no games, no recent successful film or TV series! Maybe there’s some hope in this world after all, yeah?
  • While we’re on the subject of hope, I noticed that Wil Wheaton – yeppers, that Wil Wheaton – last week posted a short, uh, post on his website about a subject that should be near and dear to our hearts. It’s called “Three books that helped make me a better writer,” and I’d say it’s a must-read except…sorry, Wil, I love you as a mid-range almost-threatening mildly-irritating evil boss in most if not all of your recent TV play acting, but this writing thing? Better writer than what? Any other almost famous in another area beginner? Keep hoping, pal. Dreams can come true!
  • Ooh, Drew Barrymore is coming to the TV series meatmarket next month with a series called Santa Clarita Diet on Netflix. Methinks that’s cooler than shit but what’s this thing where she’s playing the MOM of the lead character? No way is she old enough for that. No way can I, Ms B’s absolutely biggest fan who thought she was fantastic in Guncrazy no matter what anybody sez, be that old either. Curse you, Phil Dick! Get yer universe outta here and go!
  • I’m gonna go now too, but first one last cooler than shit bit of showbiz newz. For reasons that my former significant other could never understand and to be honest I’m not so sure I do either, I’ve become a fan of a tumblr blog called Left,Write, LeftAnd as that selfsame ex can attest, when I’m a fan I’m as fanatic as they come. So not only am I recommending the blog, I’m also here to officially congratulate its writer, Adi Blotman (whose name, come to think of it, may be as real/unreal as munchman itself is or is not) for having what it takes to write a full length pilot script of some sort or other, as opposed to just thinking about it in bed at night and falling sleep while trying to decide what color hair the protagonist has. And, further, for entering it in the 2017 Launch Pad Pilot Competition. Hey, Adi, have you thought about entering this in the next PEOPLE’S PILOT as well? I know the head guy over there pretty well, and…

Oops, I’m outta time and space for this week. (My ex sez I’m always outta time and space, but what the hell, I kinda like the dimension I’m in. Tune in next time to hear me quietly rage about Love, Money & The Industry…and the goddamn Philip K. Dick multiverse we’re fucking stuck in!


Yer Friendly Neighborhood munchman is the official TVWriter™ scapegoat and has been getting kicked around here since the very beginning of this site. He wants us all to know that he’s cooler than we are. And we think you’ll agree when we say to him, “Dood, we don’t effing care!” You can learn more about muncher (but not all that much, really) HERE

Stareable.Com and the New TV Paradigm

mockup


EDITOR’S NOTE: We at TVWriter™ don’t often promote new web ventures because doing the best it can for our visitors and accepting paid advertising for other sites just don’t mix as far as we’re concerned.

But there we were, a few weeks ago, looking around the interwebs for an easier way to find a web series or two or two thousand to watch, and we found a site that totally knocked us out: Stareable.

We reached out to its head honcho and invited him to tell everybody who comes to TVWriter™ what it’s all about. Here’s what he had to say:


by Ajay Kishore

I’m a TV fanatic. I especially would binge watch web series like The Outs and Cop Show because they could be counted on to offer me something new. But it didn’t take me very long to run out of episodes, and then I would struggle to find what to watch next.

I knew there was stuff out there, but YouTube was like the ocean and it felt stupid to google “comedy web series.” It was odd that there wasn’t a better way to find what web series to watch. So I thought, maybe that’s something worth working on.

When I thought about it more, I realized two things were important:

1) you want to be able to find shows across all genres and platforms all in one place

2) you want reviews and recommendations, so you can separate out what’s quality and what fits your tastes.

I quit my desk job, hired a team, and bought an excellent selection of snacks. Together, we set to work creating Stareable.Com. Over the past two years, we’ve collected thousands of web series in one place, making it easy for users to browse shows, leave reviews, and find new, awesome content to watch.

In addition to constantly adding new shows to our library, we are proud to empower web series creators by cultivating a community where independent productions can thrive. We love web series for their diversity; it’s a medium that allows up-and-coming, independent artists from every background to voice their creative visions.

The way I see it, television in general will inevitably become much more independent. The notion that a great show has to be produced by a big channel/production studio is outdated. Seriously, watch some web series. You’ll be blown away by the talent in this industry!

We’ve come across nascent series that have maybe a thousand views but are completely brilliant. We’re excited to help spotlight these shows and their creators and get them the fans they deserve. In fact, to promote this talent, we started a blog on Medium where we interview web series creators and offer the latest news for people navigating the web series industry.

It’s our chance to digitally wave our hands and say “hey guys, you need to watch this show”, while also helping to solve the problem that started all this: namely, “argh, there is so much content and I don’t have time, just tell me what to watch!”

At Stareable, we’re also aware that traditional media has embraced web series like never before. The production quality of shows has skyrocketed and we’re excited to see established shows and networks, like Comedy Central or The Walking Dead, create web series of their own.

Our task is to keep up with the ever-expanding web series universe. We aim to be comprehensive—if a show exists we want it to be listed our site—and useful by curating lists of shows that help people find content that they want to watch.

We’re excited for what we’ve built but more importantly for where we’re going. We plan to continue to evolve the site and include more shows and would love suggestions and feedback on both. We hope you’ll take a good, long look at what we’re doing, and then, please, don’t hesitate to reach out if there’s something we could do better or a show we could be listing.

Welcome to the future at Stareable.Com!

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Do You Know What Your Screenplay Option Contract Really Says?

Time now for some hardcore advice on the business of show business. And we can think of no better source to turn to than Stage 32:

third-party_option_key

Understanding The Option Agreement For Your Screenplay
by Wallace Collins

Many writers dream that someday their story or script will garner interest from someone who wants to develop it into a film or TV project. Usually, the first step is when that someone, maybe a producer or a production company or even a studio, offers the writer a contract known as an option agreement. As with all such matters where art meets commerce, I always advise that if you are asked to sign anything – other than an autograph – you should have your lawyer review it first. Every writer should have a literary agent and a lawyer advising them about their business dealings once they get to this stage of the process, where the creative spills over into the business world.

An option agreement at its most basic is a contract whereby the writer grants someone, for a period of time and for a payment, the right to make a film of the writer’s screenplay. The three main material issues that usually arise in negotiating such a deal are the length of the option period, the amount of the option payment and the purchase price if the project comes to fruition. How each of these issues will be resolved will vary depending on the negotiating leverage of the respective parties (i.e., whether the writer is a beginner or has had prior success in the industry and whether the producer is an experienced player or just a fledgling production company trying to get traction).

An option agreement will designate an ‘option period’ or length of time granted to a producer or studio to commence production of the project. It can range from six months to two years, or longer, depending on the negotiations. Such agreements frequently include additional periods of time for the producer to extend the length of the agreement in consideration of additional payments to the writer….

Read it all at Stage 32

Munchman: Who Will Stop The Current TV Madness?

Munchman’s TV Musings #8
by Munchman

Last week, Yer Friendly Neighborhood Munchman got all ranted up about the need for TV to come up with something new. On actual Old Media television, I mean. Web series are something else. Or at least they should be…as in original.

This week, well, it’s looking like I’m going to have to dish up more of – choke! – the same. I’d apologize, but it seems to me that’s the broadcast and cable channels job, They’re the ones still pushing the same old TV dreck, right?

  1. The latest example of WTF Fuck TV comes from Vampira herself – Annie Rice. You remember Ms. Annie, don’tcha? She’s the one began the whole modern vampire genre with her book Interview with the Vampire back in 1976, then, in 2005 when she and critics alike realized the vampire scene had itself become a night of the living dead abandoned it in favor of a kind of Christian sleaze thing in which she gave good ole Jezuz a pop bio fix. Just a few years later she realized that the Anne Rice audience was not much interested in God and returned to her vamps, writing the same kind of crap as before except with much less energy. Now, deciding that it’s her bank account that needs reviving, the writer has decided to go all Game of Thrones on her unsuspecting faithful and turn her vampire oeuvre into a never-ending TV bloodbath, with her son acting as exec producer of whatever the hell she’s up to cuz…blood, you know?
  2. Baron Von Munchbatten here is pretty damn sure the Rice TV plunge will be iced by all but the more credulous of her fans, but here’s another rehash type show that probably will get more traction, probably because it’s based on something whose source is a tad more recent: The 2014 feature film Snowpiercer. As far as I could tell when my then girlfriend the hipster tied me into a chair, propped me eyelids open with barbs she’d removed from her old barbed wire emo costume and forced me to watch this meaningless drivel, the only thing interesting about Snowpiercer was the fact that it packed so much action into such a relatively short time and confined setting that its cult audience never had a chance to realize that absolutely nothing in the premise, backstory, or visible behavior of the characters made sense. Audiences being as, um, suggestible as they are, this same trick may indeed work in a TV version, where a lack of rational human behavior has become the norm for most of the series in the past decade. In other words, I’m predicting that the marching morons of the millennial will lap Snowpiercer up like my late lamented cocker spaniel scarfed down his own, eh, caca. Please, God, let me be as wrong as Anne Rice was about you!
  3. Have you watched TV Land’s new original series called Younger? What didja think? An astounding number of reviewers have loved this series about “a newly divorced, 40-year-old mom trying to re-enter the workplace,” but Munchikins has found it to be amazingly clueless about how genuine 40-year-olds, i.e. geriatric cases by TV executive standards, think and behave. The mindset of everybody in this fiasco is stuck in a vapid, empty, pre-teen slot. I’d call it a rut, but ruts are deeper. And it isn’t exactly a groove either, becuz grooves are cooler. It’s just…D-U-M-B.
  4. The goode ole U.S. of A. isn’t the only country where TV creativity definitely needs to be made great again. In the Hindustan Times recently Indian TV star Reena Kapoor has had this to say: “A lot needs to develop when it comes to television. I will say we have not progressed at all and have only gone backwards. People don’t make shows anymore, the way they were made earlier and I miss that.” Whoa! Coming from the star of Woh Rehne Waali Mehlon Ki, that’s really harsh criticism, yeah?
  5. LB keeps saying that if I can’t write positive comments throughout this column I should at least end on an upbeat note, and I agree with him. So here’s a positive thought that I really mean: Chuck Lorre, a punching bag for so many critics who adore shows like Younger as well as a currently has-been actor named Charlie Sheen, is still alive and writing and producing comedies that never cease to make this Munchamaniac laugh. Dude has a studio full of talented writers who come up with new wackiness week after week on series after series, and I’m grateful as hell that he’s still in the network TV game. To be precise, I’m thrilled that Chuck is allowed to be in the game. He’s 64, y’know, and if he doesn’t start dyeing his beard to match the inky blackness of his hair somebody in the executive suite’s going to catch on and Chuck will be as dead in the biz as another once famous Lorre – Peter – is in real life.

That’s it for this week. Seeya soonish with more musings about Love, Money, and the dirty job of writing for TV!