Saturday, December 29, 2007


I am happy to report that my readership is up to seven. Number seven had a question, "What is Fi-core, how does it work?" Because I'm all about service, I weighed in with my layman's understanding as well as an educated description from the Huffington post.

Financial core status is basically turning in your WGA membership card. Saying fuck you and the union you rode in on. It allows writers to work outside the boundaries of the guild. They still work within the payment and dues structure, but they are not restricted by the union parameters. I'm not sure how it affects health insurance and the other great WGA benefits.

This from the Huffington Post:

"Financial core," for those not attuned to the vagaries of labor law, is a status in which members withdraw their formal membership in the guild (as far as the guild is concerned), but are still considered guild members for legal purposes. See NLRB. v. General Motors, 373 U.S. 734 (1963) and CWA v. Beck, 487 U.S. 735, 745 (1988), both of which are Supreme Court cases.

Under the law, Fi-Core members are no longer subject to guild discipline, and can thus cross guild picket lines to work during a strike. The can also work non-union as well as union jobs, and continue to receive all benefits of guild membership, when they work a union job. They also continue to pay almost full guild dues.

Since Fi-Core members can work during a strike, the guilds would lose enormous leverage. This is because the guilds would lose the ability to shut down the industry. Production would restart, and the guild becomes a mere echo of its former self. The guilds become organizations of the disenfranchised - non-working writers and actors, and those whose stature in the industry commands only low wages. Eventually even they begin to defect. The guild survives (because Fi-Core members pay dues), but loses the ability to strike, and thus to bargain effectively.

This sounds pretty awful. But, there's a flaw in the argument: show runners and screen writers would no doubt threaten to change their status to Fi-Core and go to the WGA in massive numbers before actually doing so (likewise as to celebs and stars with respect to SAG). This is exactly what ended the 1988 strike. At that point, even the hardline guild leadership would probably listen. There would probably also be a movement among the rank-and-file to go Fi-Core as well.

Oh, Fi-core actually has nothing to with bottom bitches, I just like the way it sounded.

Thursday, December 27, 2007


Yesterday's Variety had this story: WGA ENLISTS AID OF PR PAIR Democratic Political Consultants To Help Effort
The Writers Guild of America has retained veteran Democratic political consultants Bill Carrick and Kam Kuwata to provide assistance on the strategic and PR fronts of the 8-week-old strike.

The duo came aboard earlier this month at the guild's behest in the wake of the Dec. 7 collapse of negotiations between the WGA and the AMPTP, which insisted that the guild remove half a dozen proposals from the table as a condition of continuing to bargain. The WGA refused, and no new talks have been scheduled, while the Directors Guild of America is widely expected to set a start date for negotiations on its contract within the next week.

Kuwata said he and Carrick will work for the WGA for as long as needed.

In their first major task for the WGA, Carrick and Kuwata helped organize the guild's participation in the well-publicized Dec. 19 hearing at Los Angeles City Hall on the economic impact of the work stoppage.

The WGA's been touting the fact that recent polls show the general public backing writers, such as last week's USA Today/Gallup poll showing 60% support among respondents. Kuwata said that he's seeing similar levels of public support in informal gatherings, such as his own family's holiday dinner...

-- I'm glad the Kuwata family is feeling our pain. Maybe I'll send them my post-holiday Mastercard bill. Is it me, or does the idea of needing to protect our public image fly in the face of our "everyman" cause? I hate being the one who keeps pulling the scab off the wound, but "what the fuck?" That's our fucking dues that are paying for Mr. Kuwata's holiday dinner. I've been told by "those in the know" that this PR hire is a necessary component of our strategy. Really? What strategy is that? The get back to work strategy or the save face strategy? I need some drywall.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


The six people who actually read this blog have realized by now that it's nothing more than a grocery list of my fears. I am a man torn between right and write. Nikki Fink's column a few days ago brought to light what many (if not all) writers feared. She wrote: I have learned: that the CEOs are deeply entrenched in their desire to punish the WGA for daring to defy them by striking and to bully the writers into submission on every issue, and that the moguls consider the writers are sadly misguided to believe they have any leverage left. I'm told the CEOs are determined to write off not just the rest of this TV season (including the Back 9 of scripted series), but also pilot season and the 2008/2009 schedule as well. Indeed, network orders for reality TV shows are pouring into the agencies right now. The studios and networks also are intent on changing the way they do TV development so they can stop spending hundreds of millions of dollars in order to see just a few new shows succeed. As for advertising, the CEOs seem determined to do away with the upfront business and instead make their money from the scatter market. Spin or not, it is still a likely and viable scenario. One that will rock the union to its core. All the fucking solidarity in the world does not pay mortgages or school tuitions. Yes, eventually producers will need content and eventually we will have to go back to work. However, we are all painfully aware that the writer's "eventually" has a much shorter lifespan than Big Media's. What happens if there is no settlement by March or June or August or December 2008? Clearly, I have no solution, only angst. I have no educated guess, only terrifying speculations. I am trying to trust that from these unfortunate circumstances there is a higher solution. That regardless of the result, the process will bring enlightenment. I have no doubt that when the dust settles and the keyboards are once again clacking, there will be lessons learned. Hard lessons.