The WGA Strike, The Studios, and !!*%#%@*! Greed

A Rant from CI Founder Jim Cirile

Howdy, fellow scribes,

I’m sure you’ve all heard about this gem from last week:

     “The endgame is to allow things to drag on until union members start losing their apartments and losing their houses,” said one anonymous studio executive to Deadline.

I don’t know about you, but that makes me a little angry.

Now take a look at this…

Angrier now?

But wait – there’s more.

When the Writer’s Guild strike began May 2nd, according to reports, the AMPTP (“the studios”) made a pathetic “last, best offer,” which was summarily rejected; and then they simply walked away three hours before the deadline.

Did they want a strike?

I believe they did.

“I think we’re in for a long strike, and they’re going to let it bleed out,” said one industry veteran intimate with the POV of studio CEOs. Another insider called the method “a cruel but necessary evil.” —

See, the studios like strikes. It gives them an excuse to get rid of legacy deals they may no longer want. A strike is like a frickin’ Get Out of Jail Free card for them. Ava DuVernay’s deal with Warners, reportedly worth $100M? Yeah, that’s gone. Look at all the housecleaning at Disney and Lucasfilm – with more heads rumored to roll soon, given what may be the single largest failure in movie history, Indiana Jones and the Sad Humiliation. 

Keep in mind executive turnover – most of the studio heads inherited the deals they’re stuck with. Now they can 86 all the people they never wanted to work with in the first place.

And let us not forget how much money they are saving by not producing anything for an entire quarter or two. Sure, there may be some consumer anger down the line, but that may be at least partly deflected by the shill corporate media, which they happen to own.

Accepting all of this as a reality of the biz, the studios’ behavior has still been absolutely abhorrent. When you make $40M/year, and you deliberately inflict pain on writers to weaken their position? That makes you a loathsome person, and it calls into question the entire system. Just who are these cretins – the Igers and the Zaslavs and their ilk – and why do they deserve such insane paydays? Even the most ardent capitalist must realize that if an exec is making nine figures, that is profit that is not being returned to the shareholders. 

Oh, yeah. Someone’s getting rich, all right. But not the investors and certainly not screenwriters.

If you think that now that SAG-AFTRA has joined the fight, there’s renewed hope the studios might return to the negotiating table, think again. Despite numerous forays from the WGA, the studios have just said, “Nah, we’re good.”

According to Deadline, “The studios have no intention of coming back to the table with the WGA until the fall,” said a top-tier producer. “Not Halloween precisely, but late October, for sure, is the intention.”

Whether you’re in the Guild now or hope to be, this affects us all. And this frankly psychotic behavior from the studios cannot be allowed to stand. There has to be a punishment. Now is the time to consider canceling your streaming subscriptions. The only thing these CEOs understand is their own bonuses, which may be on the line if the streaming numbers plummet on their watch.

I’ll leave you with a glimmer of hope. Disney is in crisis and has lost the hearts and minds of much of America, and according to rumors, they may soon be forced to sell off assets. And hard-charging Los Angeles City Controller Kenneth Mejia has announced an investigation into why unscheduled tree-trimming took place outside Universal last week, which denied the picketers shade in the midst of a crushing San Fernando Valley heat wave. The trees are only supposed to be trimmed once per decade. 

Mejia’s office has the power to levy stiff fines. Pop some corn – this is gonna be good 🙂

Maybe, just maybe, if we all pull together, we can turn their golden parachutes into Wile E. Coyote parachutes. 

Then maybe things will change.

Or not. Netflix just added 5.9M subscribers in Q2, doubling expectations.


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