Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Why I Care

So I'm a little bit obsessed with the writers' strike. I'm not quite sure why, but I am. I check out DeadlineHollywoodDaily.com about 10 times a day, and I'm trying to stay on top of who is taking what position.

I think that I must be so fascinated by it all because it cuts so close to home. I'm not a television or movie writer (honestly, when anyone asks me if I'm interested in drafting the screenplays of my own books, I just laugh because I have no idea how to do that), but I am a writer, and that, I think, unifies us all. And the fact that the studios and moguls are trying to undercut the value of what these writers give to them just sickens me.

I tried explaining all of this to my husband last night, my husband who has more of the "mogul" mentality given his line of work, and at first, he sort of laughed me off, saying, "Well, of course the studios want to make as much money as they can. It's a business decision." And yeah, of course the studios do want to. Obviously. But then I said, "Okay, so let's say HarperCollins (my current publisher) wanted to put my book online - or wherever - and wanted to generate profits from this but didn't want to give me anything for it. Me. The writer of the book. How would you feel about that?" And because my husband is a good husband and because he fights for every last ounce of respect and every last penny that he believes that I have due, he paused and thought about it, and suddenly, things were a little murkier for him.

And I guess that's why I'm so caught up in the situation: it hits pretty close to home. I hope it's resolved quickly and fairly and that the writers, who are the ones with the vision and who create something from nothing for the studios in the first place, are handed their due.

In other news, I'm over at Monica Bhide's blog today doing a Q/A. Monica is an awesome food writer with a new blog that fun and interesting and insightful, so check it out!

Anyone else following the strike or is it just little old me?


Carleen Brice said...

I'm following it...maybe not obsessively, but I do feel a solidarity. I heard a representative from the union on NPR and he made excellent points about what seem to lay people already high salaries for TV writers: they've got to help these writers last through the lean years. Any writer can relate to that!

Anonymous said...

I've just been following what I hear on the news each morning. And honestly, before I read your post, I couldn't understand why they were striking. I knew about DVD sales and new media, etc., but just honestly didn't seem strike-worthy.

But with the rise in reality TV shows and all the online stuff, these talented people should be paid for it. And you making the anaology to the book finally got it through my thick skull EXACTLY what it is about.

So thanks! Power to the writers! Or something.

Eileen said...

I have been following this very closely. Two things strike me- while at present most viewers don't get their movies or TV shows on line or through new media you can imagine in the future that viewers would go on line and order what TV shows/movies they want this week and at what time. This would be downloaded into a Tivo like computer hooked to the TV. I think it is critical that these writers establish that this is a means of distribution and they are entitled to a cut.

Secondly- writers are some of the only original artists in TV and movie. The others are interpretive artists (I'm not trying to imply that is a bad thing) Directors, actors, props etc. interpret the vision of the story created by the writer. No story and the rest of it falls apart. People remember actors and directors and even producers- but rarely the writer. I don't see them looking for glory- but rather that people remember just how important the writer is to the whole process.

I will now get off my soap box.

Allison Winn Scotch said...

Eileen - Exactly. Nail on the head. Who knows how their work will be distributed in the future, and however it is, they deserve to be paid for it. The end.

Tiffani Hill-Patterson said...

I wholeheartedly agree, Allison. I don't want a company to use my work online without being compensated for it; why should TV writers agree to that?

I hope they reach a good deal soon.

P.S. I finished your book last week and loved it! I'd pick it up when I had a break from my copy editing job and always had trouble putting it down to get back to work!

Looking forward to your next one.

Anonymous said...

With all the inequity and unfairness in the world today, I can't believe anyone would get worked up over a TV Writer's Strike. These people are paid VERY well--much better than most book authors who may labor for years, only to receive a small advance. Book authors don't have benefits or any real unions. Magazine writers' rates haven't increased much in the past decade!

Unions have been broken in this country since the 1980s--and the people its hurt most are the low-income wage earners. I think the TV writers are just greedy.

Eileen said...

TV writers are paid more than book writers because of the market conditions. Something like less than 27% of Americans read more than a SINGLE book last year. I would like to see book writers earn more as well. Heck I write books- but it isn't an either or thing. TV writers aren't taking "my" cut of the pie. What the TV writers want is more of the pie that is going to studios, directors, etc. Compared to the group they are working with they are not greedy. It isn't as if they took a smaller cut you would see publishing houses providing more advance money- the studios would simply take home more cash for themselves.

If we want to get into "what things are worth" then we should pay teachers and health care workers more- but as a society we haven't done that. We've decided it is a market economy. Thus- I'm still supporting the writers union.

Allison Winn Scotch said...

Exactly, Eileen. And when it comes to greed, I think that people misunderstand what the average TV writer makes...it sounds flashy and jammed with glamour, but in fact, I believe that most make about 40k. It's not as if they're buying private jets with their incomes.