The Hollywood Reporter REALLY Doesn’t Want You To Read Our Perspective
Our response to their garbage article was deleted TWICE from THR’s website
[These comments are in response to a completely biased and factually inaccurate article from The Hollywood Reporter posted on 4/10/17: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/writers-guild-talks-resume-but-demands-are-triple-studios-offer-992347]
1. It’s clear from the article that the author has no understanding of basic math. As another commenter pointed out, the actual increase in minimums is not 18.4% over three years, it’s 9.27%. So, you were only off by 98.5%.
2. To understand how you came to value the WGA increases over three years, you state: “That calculation, which a source confirmed, is understood by first looking at the increases…” So the math for your calculations relies on a number that is off by 98.5%, making everything else that follows incorrect. Apparently, your “source” had the same math teacher you did.
3. Given that you have no basic understanding of math, it’s hard to put faith in ANY of your numbers — even for a ballpark estimate. Especially when your “computations” include technical math terms like “let’s split the difference and guesstimate” or “it’s probably fair to assume” or “so let’s suppose they want to triple that figure” or “we threw in $30 million as a rough guess.”
4. You say that revisiting the WGA’s 35-year-old anemic pay TV residuals formula is “extremely unlikely to find traction.” Why? Because it’s decades old. That makes zero sense in a rapidly changing world, with technologies that weren’t even dreamt of 35 years ago.
5. You say that what the WGA is asking for “…would result in management paying three times to five times the norm.” What is the norm? Who decides what the norm is? Does the norm increase in good times and decrease in bad times? We are not beholden to the past. Netflix didn’t exist 20 years ago. The world is changing rapidly and we will change with it, whether the AMPTP likes it or not.
6. Your disingenuous sub-headline, “Profits or Not? It Doesn’t Matter” is supported by the comment, “The bargaining room at the AMPTP’s Sherman Oaks offices simply doesn’t function as a referendum on corporate profits or income inequality.” We think your statement would be more accurate if it read, (and we hope you don’t mind the rewrite) “The bargaining room at the AMPTP’s Sherman Oaks offices simply doesn’t function as a referendum on corporate profits or income inequality UNLESS IT SUITS THEM.” Remember 2007 when the sky was falling and the financial markets were imploding and the AMPTP demanded rollbacks because of the terrible state of the industry?
Or how about when the WGA granted significantly discounted script fees to the fledgling cable industry so they could be financially healthy while able to compete with the big networks. Guess what? The cable industry is doing fantastic! The Walking Dead regularly beats nearly all network programming. Most (if not all) of the big cable networks are now owned by the likes of Disney, Fox, etc. But have they changed those script fees to bring them in line with network script fees, now that they’re incredibly successful? Of course not. But they had no problem demanding financial rollbacks when they were struggling.
Look, we don’t blame them for using economics to bolster their bargaining position — we’d do the exact same thing. But it’s a double edged sword. You can’t ask for rollbacks in bad times and then refuse increases in good times. Unless you’re the AMPTP.
7. You seemingly dismiss the companies record-breaking operating profits of $51 BILLION (of which the WGA is asking for 1/3 of 1%) by the statement that “that figure includes income from non-core areas, which can include theme parks, cruises, local cable systems…” So here’s a question: Where do you think the theme parks got the idea for the Back to the Future ride, or The Simpsons ride, or the Star Wars Launch Bay or Dumbo the Flying Elephant? What do you think those local cable systems would be airing 24/7 without writers? Our guess is a lot of cooking shows. How many parents would take their kids on a Disney cruise if Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and the rest of the cast of characters didn’t exist? Content fuels nearly all of their business and to dismiss it by saying their income from non-core areas is to purposely not recognize what fuels those areas: content. You can look at the numbers in many different ways, but the inescapable fact is that AMPTP members are making massive record profits and will continue to do so in the near future.
8. Every one of the major studios’ shareholder letters point to the one thing that is fueling their growth and record profits: content. The content that WGA writers provide. Without content, this industry doesn’t exist. And it doesn’t provide employment to hundreds of thousands of talented and hard-working people who bring that content to life. And to read the shareholder letters, the good times will continue into the future.
9. The top six executives at Fox, Disney, Comcast, CBS, Viacom and TimeWarner made $308 million dollars in 2016 (the WGA is asking for $117 million from those six companies). That’s six people, total. For ONE YEAR. Now, whether Les Moonves deserves to make $70 million dollars for one year is not the issue. But Les made that money based on one thing: content. As he says himself in his 2017 letter to shareholders, “Premium content is the driving force behind our success. It all starts with the CBS Television Network…” The most talented media executive in the world can’t do anything without scripts.
10. If other guilds and unions want to make a poor deal, that’s their prerogative. But to say that the WGA is beholden to those deals that we had no input on is archaic thinking.
11. You say that writers asking for a triple-size package (based on incorrect math, ballpark figures and just flat out guesses) “…may be the path to studio hardball and then a strike with an outcome unlikely to favor the writers.” Did the AMPTP provide that line for you or did you come up with it on your own? How would you or anyone know that IF there was a strike, the outcome would be unlikely to favor the writers? And what parameters do you use to come up with “unlikely.”
12. NO ONE wants a strike. No one. But make no mistake — if there is a strike, it will be an AMPTP strike. The corporate greed of their members is unparalleled. The WGA is asking for a tiny slice of a massively gigantic pie that owes its size to the content created by WGA members. If the companies don’t want to give up that tiny slice, that is their call. But their greed will impact hundreds of thousands of people (and their families). We suspect they’re okay with that because they’re making more money than they’ve ever made before, they will continue to do so into the near future, and if they have to take a hit to ‘get those damn writers in line,’ they’ll take the hit without regard to collateral damage.
These comments and opinions are our own. We are not affiliated with the WGA, they are not the opinions of all writers, they are ours. We are just writers trying to make a living doing what we love to do. But make no mistake — if the AMPTP forces a strike, we will proudly be out on the picket line. We hope and pray that it’s not necessary but we will be there if it is. We are the beneficiaries of writers before us who risked their financial livelihoods so that we might have health care and residuals and other benefits. And we will pay it forward.