Wednesday was Sci-Fi day on the picket line at NBC and man alive, what a blast! Not only were there tons of fans bearing food — the pizza and brownies rocked, the cupcakes, not so much — but the event was attended by writers and creators of some of TV’s biggest Sci-Fi hits as well.
Jaime Paglia, the co-creator of the Sci-Fi channel’s “Eureka” (pictured above with me and Joss) made the rounds with the strike-bearded Ronald D. Moore (below), executive producer/writer of the cult hit “Battlestar Gallactica”, but for me the highlight was my old pal, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, “Angel” and “Firefly” creator, Joss Whedon.
Not only did these guys sign my geek-tastic hand-crafted picket sign — which read: “GUILD WARS, The WGA Strikes Back!” — but they also signed just about anything else the fans or fellow writers brought with them. Awesome!
So, in honor of Jaime, Ronald and Joss’ gracious, kick-ass appearances on the picket lines Wednesday afternoon, wanted to reprint something Joss Whedon wrote later that day for United Hollywood.
I have been a huge Whedon fan since the wacky feature version of “Buffy” and after reading his fiery, impassioned letter to the WGA membership (printed in vampire blood red below) my esteem for the dude has reached kinda epic proportions.
With every carefully chosen word, Whedon beautifully sums up the feelings of many of us hard-core picketers at NBC. So, for that and so much more, we salute you, brother Whedon…long may you reign!
I have good news. I have lots of good news. In fact, I have way too much good news.
The strike is almost over. A resolution is days away. Weeks. Friday. Valentine’s day. Two weeks exactly from whenever my manager/agent/lawyer told me. Yes, after talking to writers and actors all over town, I’m happy to report that the strike is going to end every single day until March. Huzzah! All of this entirely reliable information means that at last the dream of the writing community has been realized: the Oscars will be saved..
Let’s step back..
The Oscars seem to be the point of focus for a lot of this speculation. That either they must be preserved, or that the studios feel they must be preserved, and therefore this terrible struggle will end. There is an argument to be made for wanting the show to go on: it showcases the artists with whom we are bonded (there’s no award for Best Hiding of Net Profits), and it provides employment and revenue for thousands in the community that has been hit so hard by this action. Having said that, it’s a f%$#ing awards show. It’s a vanity fair. It’s a blip. We’re fighting (fighting, remember?) for the future of our union, our profession, our art. If that fight carries us through the Holy Night when Oscar was born, that’s just too bad.
And the studios? Well, the Oscars provide advertising revenue and a boost for the films that win. But the studios have shown impressive resolve in ignoring short-term losses in order to destroy us. I don’t hear any knees knocking in the Ivory Towers over that night of programming. Hey, I wish I did. I wish, like a lot of people, I could hear anything from in there besides that weird clicking sound Predator makes.
I ask you all to remember: the studios caused an industry-wide shutdown. They made a childishly amateurish show of pretending to negotiate, then retreated into their lairs (yes, they have lairs) to starve us out. They emerged just before Christmas to raise our hopes, then left in a premeditated huff. They Force Majoured with gay abandon, cutting deals and ‘trimming the fat’ (I’ve met a couple of ‘the fat’ on the picket lines. Nice guys.) and made every selfish, counter-intuitively destructive move in the Bully’s Bible. They met with the DGA and resolved quickly, as expected.
We have been advised to tone down the anti-studio rhetoric now that a deal might be progressing. Our negotiators have the specific task of forgetting the past and dealing only with the numbers before them. Their ability to do that impresses me greatly, but I maintain that it’s their job to treat the studios like business partners and it’s our job to remember who they really are. The studios are inefficient, power-hungry, thieving corporate giants who have made the life of the working writer harder from decade to decade. They are run by men so out of touch with basic humanity that they would see Rome burn before they would think about the concept of fair compensation. I maintain that they have never revealed their true agenda in the causing and handling of this strike, and to expect them to now is cock-eyed optimism of the most dangerous kind.
I have heard people both in and out of the industry say, “But that’s enough now, right?” I have seen the thing I fear most: that whatever their agenda, they are beating us down. With hope. With rumors. With Time. The mindset seems to be shifting to one of relief and even unspoken gratitude for their return, instead of flaming indignation that they ever (illegally, do you recall?) left the table in the first place. It’s the mindset of the victim. The lethargy of limb that strikes the fighter as he unconsciously lets himself lose. The studio strategists have worked this scenario as carefully as they have everything else. It is so crucial that we outside of the talks remember that, and let them know we do.
This is not over. Nor is it close. Until the moment it is over, it can never be close. Because if we see the finish line we will flag and they are absolutely counting on us to do that. In the room, reason. On the streets, on the net, I say reason is for the ‘moderates’. Remember what they’ve done. Remember what they’re trying to take from us. FIGHT. FIGHT. FIGHT.
I have been mugged an embarrassing number of times, even for a New Yorker. I’ve been yelled at and chased, beaten down and kicked, threatened with a gun and the only mugger who still hurts my gut is the one who made me shake his hand. Until there is a deal – the right deal, not the DGA deal – held out, let’s keep our hands in our pockets or on our signs. Let’s not be victims. Let’s never.