Posted on Saturday, January 12th, 2008 by Peter Sciretta
Here is another Writer’s Strike Update from our undercover Hollywood correspondent Hooper X.
As was reported last week, United Artists formally completed their interim agreement with the WGA. The framework for the deal was the same as Letterman’s World Wide Pants deal. But the week’s much larger side deal came from an unlikely place. According to sources, the Weinstein Company has struck their own deal with the WGA. This marks the most significant deal to date for the WGA and could have much broader effect on the strike and its eventual resolution. With the World Wide Pants deal, the only people really impacted were the 40 or so writers on Letterman and Ferguson shows. Then United Artists stuck their deal with the WGA. While it was the WGA’s most significant deal to date, there was some question as to the real impact it would have on the writers. The truth is that UA, while important, is a fledgling production house that many would argue doesn’t quite qualify as a movie studio. They have a very short track record and a limited capacity to turn out a healthy slate of films year to year. The Weinstein Company’s deal marks a much more important step in pressuring the major studios back to the bargaining table. First, the Weinstein’s have an established production machine that has been turning out movies for years (the Miramax years included). Last year alone they produced over 10 films and distributed many more. Additionally, this pact covers their Dimension Films division which in recent years has been far and away the most successful part of their company. Second and more importantly, this gives the Weinstein’s leg up over all the other major studios. Harvey Weinstein is quoted as saying he did this deal because “it gives us a competitive edge”. This is important. While UA can expect to churn out another movie or two with their new pact, the Weinstein’s will likely be much more aggressive. They can go out and coroner the market on the hot scripts and more importantly, they can get all the movies they already own into production and bring the writers back for rewrites which is a major part of the movie making process. Don’t think for a second that this won’t put real pressure on the other movie studios to put their own deal together. Nobody in Hollywood wants to live in a world were Harvey Weinstein has cornered the market on all the good stuff.
Well, it looks a lot like the Golden Globes have been gutted. Last week the WGA informed the Hollywood Foreign Press Association that they would not be granting them a waiver to telecast the show. At the same time, the Screen Actor’s Guild informed the HFPA that none of their membership would cross the picket lines the WGA had promised. The WGA did give the HFPA a second option, don’t televise the show and the WGA won’t picket (and the actors will attend). The trouble with this option is NBC owns the rights to broadcast the show. If they held the ceremony NBC insisted on broadcasting it. So after a lot of wrangling from all sides, it looks like the end result is this:
No awards ceremony.
There will be a “news conference” on Sunday to announce the winners. Ultimately, nobody won. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Apparently today, the people who normally put together the gift bags presented to the nominees and attendees held their own confab and made sure everyone got their free stuff. God knows the world would have come to an end if the filthy rich people didn’t get their free stuff.
Director’s Guild and AMPTP begin negotiations
Perhaps the most significant development in the WGA strike came yesterday with joint announcements from the DGA and the AMPTP that they would begin formal negotiations on a new contract beginning Saturday. It has long been believed that if the WGA strike were to drag on too long, the DGA would wind up taking its shot at getting things resolved. According to Nikki Finke at Deadline Hollywood Daily, key members from the DGA and the AMPTP have been meeting in private to hash out the basic framework for an agreement. Nikki says that the DGA wouldn’t begin formal negotiation with the AMPTP until they were within shouting distance of an agreement. This move would indicate that the DGA believes it can make a deal here shortly.
Of course none of this matters to the WGA. Ultimately, they will have to make their own deal with the producers. However, it is a widely held belief that should the DGA make a deal first, there would be significant pressure put on the WGA to use the DGA’s deal as a template for their deal and get it done. It will be difficult for the WGA to insist that they are being reasonable if the DGA’s deal is done and the industry believes it to be fair and reasonable for both parties. It will make for an interesting week to come.
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