Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Confused Studio CEOs: Internet $ is for Us, Not for Writers

Confused Studio Chairman Somehow Stumble Forward
Money for them, opportunity for them. For the writers? Not so much.

Mmmm, actually, ZERO for the writers. Yeah, you heard me.

All those The Office episodes you've been watching on the internet? The writers didn't get a single dime. The studios? Well, there sure were ads every few minutes, and someone paid for those ads, and someone got money for those ads being paid for, and we're just going to take a wild ass guess and say it was THE STUDIOS (which these days is the same as the networks, ever since the FCC said networks could own the shows, but we're not going to get into that today. That's for after a Democrat is elected President.)

Point being, every single episode of your favorite show shown on the internet, the studios make money, and the writers don't get squat.

The writers will stay out forever, because they're being told to work for free. Their contract says that they'll work for free.

How about if your boss puts in your contract that you'll work for free forever. And he gets to make billions, literally freaking billions of dollars off your work, forever. And get paid $50-60 million a year.

(Some of you also apparently still somehow don't understand what a Residual is. Go read Chris Kelly's "What Were Residuals, Daddy?" before you comment again on how writers don't deserve residuals. Or I'll shove your head so far up your ass it will come out your ears sideways, and then I'll block your ability to comment at GNB ever again.)

UNITED HOLLYWOOD -- Strike Central - Get your strike news here.

Tim Kazurinsky Explains Stuff

The Office Writers Explain Even More Stuff

And check this out (by the co-creator of Thirty Something and My So-Called Life):

Los Angeles Times

Are the corporate suits ruining TV?
by Marshall Herskovitz

After 20 years and five series, including "thirtysomething" and "My So-Called Life," my partner, Ed Zwick, and I have -- for the time being at least -- stopped producing television programs.

It's not personal. I count as friends many of the executives who work at the networks. We had a deal at one network, ABC, for all of those 20 years, and, in spite of many regime changes, we were always treated with great respect. This is not about how we were treated but rather something much larger: How a confluence of government policy and corporate strategy is literally poisoning the TV business.

It started in 1995 when the Federal Communications Commission abolished its long-standing "finsyn" rules (that's financial interest and syndication, for those unfamiliar with the term), allowing networks for the first time to own the programs they broadcast. Before that, under classic antitrust definitions, the networks had been confined to the role of broadcaster, paying a license fee to production companies for the right to broadcast programs just two times. The production companies owned all subsequent rights. In the mid-1990s there were 40 independent production companies making television shows. If a particular network didn't like a show -- as famously happened with "The Cosby Show" many years ago -- the production company could take it to another network.

But not after 1995. The abolition of the old rules set in motion an ineluctable process, one that has negatively affected every creative person I know in television. Today there are zero independent production companies making scripted television. They were all forced out of business by the networks' insistence -- following the FCC's fin-syn ruling -- on owning part or all of every program they broadcast.

The most profound change resulting from that ruling is the way networks go about the business of creating programming. Networks today exert a level of creative control unprecedented in the history of the medium. The stories my friends tell me would make me laugh if the situation weren't so self-defeating. Network executives routinely tell producers to change the color of the walls on sets; routinely decide on the proper wardrobe for actors; routinely have "tone" meetings with directors on upcoming pilots; routinely give notes on every page of a script. (When we did "thirtysomething" in the late '80s, we never received network notes.) And by the way, they have every right to do these things. As owners, they have a responsibility to satisfy themselves that their product is competitive and successful.

The problem, of course, is that these executives often have little background or qualification for making creative decisions. They are guided by market research and -- they want to believe -- a learned intuition about what the public wants. This season's new shows have been a good indicator of how successful that strategy is: Even before the current writer's strike, virtually every new show was struggling.

There's more...
Brilliant stuff. Just like his shows.

Go read it. Then check out his new show... on the internet. Which is why this fight is on.

This fight is the same fight which was waged when railroads happened. When radio happened. When television happened. When VCR's happened, and yes, when downloads started to happen.

It's happening now, again, because a small group of greedy men want to own EVERYTHING, control everything, and tell you what you can and can not see, watch, hear, listen, believe, think, upload, play, and whom you can even talk to and about what.

Fuck them, and everything they stand for. This fight is for all the marbles. It's about who can create stories and make a living as a creator. We win here, or every artist in the world might as well put a fucking bullet through their head.

Photos: Housewives, Jesse Jackson, Heroes, Scrubs.

These aren't even writers. They are actors and other folks who are clear what is at stake.

Do what you can. Talk to everyone you know.

This fight must be won. Or lawyers will be writing every drama and comedy you watch the rest of your life.