Tag Archives: WGA

VanityFair.com ♥’s our protest pic!

I don’t know what I was more excited about a couple weeks back, the fact that the Motion Picture and Television Fund has reversed it’s decision to close their beleaguered hospital and retirement home in Woodland Hills, or the fact that VanityFair.com used my picture (from a 2009 protest rally we attended there, shown below) for their story about it.

Just kidding. I mean, sure, it was kinda cool to be asked by the editors of VanityFair.com to use my pic, but, come on, that doesn’t even compare to the real good news story of the week!

That’s right, amigos, after an epic, two-year battle by the teamsters, every major union in Hollywood, and most importantly, people like Nancy Biederman and her rocking “Saving the lives of our own” campaign, the MPTF finally came to their senses and found a way to save the home and do the right thing. Yee-haw!

And though I’m sure some changes lie ahead for the home and its occupants, the good news is that the facility will remain open to the very-deserving elderly members of the entertainment community for years to come.

I was out there recently for an appointment and let me tell ya, that campus is plush, yo. Really a gorgeous place to grow old. So, here’s hoping the facility stays solvent till I need it too!

To read the full VanityFair.com article on the subject, click here.

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WGA Screenplay Nominees (2011)

Most years, I have a hell of a time narrowing the nominated films on my awards ballot down to ten, but, this year…well…let’s just say it was a struggle to find ten worthy films to nominate.

That’s not to say that there weren’t some really great movies released in 2010, but, the good ones (“The Social Network”, “Inception”, “The Fighter”, “Black Swan”) were so good that the rest of the nominees felt like total filler.

And when you couple that with the fact that several of the biggest Oscar-bait flicks this year (“The King’s Speech”, “Winter’s Bone”, “Toy Story 3”) were considered ineligible for WGA nominations, well, the list of nominatable films was pretty damn slim this year.

That said, this was the first year since I can remember that almost every single movie I voted for got nominated (rock on, “I Love You, Phillip Morris”!!) so, that’s kinda fun for a change.

In any case, congrats to all the nominated writers and here is this year’s freshly-minted list of WGA nominated films. Enjoy!

Original Screenplay

Black Swan (Mark Heyman, Andres Heinz, John McLaughlin)

The Fighter (Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson, Keith Dorrington)

Inception (Christopher Nolan)

The Kids Are All Right (Stuart Blumberg & Lisa Cholodenko)

Please Give (Nicole Holofcener)

Adapted Screenplay

127 Hours (Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy)

I Love You Phillip Morris (John Requa & Glenn Ficarra)

The Social Network (Aaron Sorkin)

The Town (Ben Affleck, Peter Craig, Aaron Stockard)

True Grit (Joel Coen and Ethan Coen)

Documentary Screenplay

Enemies of the People (Rob Lemkin & Thet Sambath)

Freedom Riders (Stanley Nelson)

Gasland (Josh Fox)

Inside Job (Charles Ferguson, Chad Beck, Adam Bolt)

The Two Escobars (Michael Zimbalist, Jeff Zimbalist)

Who is Harry Nilsson (And Why is Everybody Talkin’ About Him)? (John Scheinfeld)

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Greta’s first protest rally…

She may have missed the Writer’s Strike of 2007-2008, but Greta got to stick it to the man anyway this week at her first official protest rally! That’s right, amigos, our little red-shirted cutie joined Mommy and Daddy at the “Hole in the Heart of Hollywood” rally in support of saving the beleaguered Motion Picture and Television Hospital in Woodland Hills.

MPTF protest #1

MPTF protest #2

For those of you who might be unaware of the situation, the MPTF Hospital has been a Hollywood institution since the 1940’s and a place where elderly actors, directors, writers and other film industry veterans can retire among their peers. Set on a sprawling campus in Woodland Hills, the home is now in danger of disappearing forever sometime very soon.

The bigwigs at the Motion Picture and Television Fund are crying poor and saying that in today’s economic climate, they just don’t have the money to keep the home open. But the problem with that claim is that when the families and supporters of keeping the home open approached the MPTF about starting up some possible fundraising efforts, the board declared that no amount of money could keep the home open. Huh?

If the problem is money and you won’t let anyone from arguably one of the most creative communities in the world help you raise it, then what is really going on here? My guess is that the MPTF has already sold the land — which they own outright, by the way! — to some developer and therefore has no real intest in keeping the home open.

MPTF protest #3

MPTF protest #4

MPTF protest #5

MPTF protest #6

But no matter what the back-all shenanigans are here, the situation for the folks still living in the home is dire to say the least. Of the dozens of residents who have already been “removed” from the home, 18 have died within a matter of weeks due to something called “transfer trauma”. WTF, man?!!

These people paid their dues, worked for years in “the biz”, prepaid for their care and are entitled to live out their golden years with their peers. I don’t pretend to know all the details on this one, but what I do know is that if there is a way to keep this place open then we need to do it! If for no other reason than because it is the right thing to do.

I mean, seriously, the motto on the sign out front says it all “Taking Care of Our Own”! So, come on, guys, let’s put the greed aside for a change and get back to the business of doing just that.

MPTF protest #7

MPTF protest #8

For more information on what you can do to help save the home, please visit SavingTheLivesOfOurOwn.org. And to see more pics from Greta’s first protest rally, including many more shots of the celebrity guest speakers, John “Dukes of Hazzard” Schneider and Frances “Titanic” Fisher, click here.

And in the meantime, que viva los viejos a la casa de MPTF!

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Slamdance or bust!

Hola, amigos! Just wanted to remind you guys that my movie “Not Forgotten” will be having its world premiere this Saturday night at the 15th Annual Slamdance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Hooray!

I’ll be staying at the posh Best Western in Coalville, which I hear is where all the big Hollywood stars bunk up. Not! But hey, hotels in Park City proper are expensive, yo! But seriously, if you’re thinking of coming out for the festival, the floor in my room in swinging Coalville is all yours, baby!

Slamdance!

Sadly, Christine will not be coming with me this time as she is what we call “very pregnant” and for some reason, the idea of riding on a plane to Utah and then trying not to slip and fall on snowy Main Street is not exactly appealing to her at the moment. Weird, huh?

Actually, I don’t blame her, I can’t tell you how many times I slipped and fell in snowy Santa Fe last year…yikes! Guess I’m more of a warm weather walker…or maybe I just shouldn’t wear my flip-flops in the snow…hmmm.

Anyway, if any of you are seriously considering making the trek to Park City for Slamdance (or Sundance for that matter!) you can purchase tickets to either the Saturday or Monday screening here. Also, there will be a filmmaker Q&A after both screenings, so if you’ve ever wanted to heckle me…now’s your chance.

And if you really wanna throw tomatoes my way, make sure and swing by the WGA-sponsored Screenwriter Fireside Chat on Tuesday the 20th at noon. Since most of America will be watching our first African-American President take the oath of office around that time I think the crowd at the Fireside Chat will be a little lean…so, you’ll be able to throw shit at me pretty easily. Yay!

Hope to see you there!

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“Not Forgotten” to premiere at Slamdance Film Festival

Found out earlier today, just hours before a rocking cast and crew screening at Raleigh Studios, that my movie “Not Forgotten” will have it’s world premiere at this January’s Slamdance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Yay!

Long considered sort of the spunky, younger sibling of the Sundance Film Festival — which is also held in Park City every January — Slamdance has come into it’s own in the past couple of years and is celebrating its 15th Anniversary this year with all sorts of special events and screenings.

"Not Forgotten" movie poster #2

And, as luck would have it, “Not Forgotten” is going to premiere at one of those special screenings on Saturday, January 17th, 2009. As you probably know by now, the movie stars Simon Baker (“The Mentalist”), Paz Vega (“Spanglish” and the upcoming “The Spirit”), Claire Forlani (“Meet Joe Black”), Chloe Moretz (“Dirty Sexy Money”), Ken Davitian (“Borat”) and a slew of other cool actors. I’m not sure who all is coming out for the premiere, but it should be fun!

Christine and I haven’t started making travel plans yet — still kind of reeling from the shock of it all, I guess — but I will be attending the Festival for sure. In fact, I’ve already agreed to speak at a Screenwriting Fireside Chat sponsored by the WGA’s Indie Film Department, on January 20th at noon. Crazy, huh? I guess no one else was available to speak that day…ha!

Sadly, Christine might not be able to fly out for the Festival — she will be well into her third trimester by then, so, our doctor may put the kibosh on travel plans — but I will be there in my snowy weather finest. So, if you happen to be in Utah in January, come on down to Slamdance, amigos!

To see a full list of the movies screening at Slamdance this year, click here. And if you wanna check out the groovy new “Not Forgotten” website, click here.

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The “American Idol” Truth Tour

This Wednesday, the Writer’s Guild of America launched its first ever “American Idol Truth Tour” with a fiery press conference at WGA headquarters in the Fairfax district. Designed to promote awareness of the gross mistreatment of workers on Fremantle Media’s top-rated “American Idol”, the Truth Tour will follow this year’s “Idol” auditions from city to city to promote the cause.

And what a cause it is. Since “Idol” is a defiantly non-union show, the producers routinely break California and Federal labor laws by forcing many of their workers to pull 36 hour shifts with no breaks, no overtime and worst of all, no health benefits or residuals for the work they do on the show.

One former “Idol” production assistant revealed to the crowd on Wednesday that after factoring in all his time spent working on the show, he averaged about $4 an hour. That’s less than half the California minimum wage!

And as several of the Teamsters in the crowd pointed out, “Idol” is also one of the only shows in Hollywood to use non-union drivers. I think WGA Vice President David Weiss said it best when he scolded Fremantle for preying on the starry-eyed new-to-Hollywood crowd when hiring and then systematically using these people up and spitting them out at the end of each season.

Not only is this practice morally wrong, but it’s also illegal and with scores of pending lawsuits and labor board cases against Fremantle and several other producers of so-called “reality shows”, the heat in this kitchen is about to get pretty damn unbearable.

I guess the thing that really galls me — and I am a huge “Idol” fan by the way — is the fact that Fox and Fremantle spend so much time and money touting their massive “Idol Gives Back” charity each year, while at the same time denying their own workers the most basic of benefits. It’s just kind of mind-boggling that the same people that raise millions of dollars every year for charity could be so goddamn greedy when it comes to paying their own workers. Insanity!

So, though I did not get my act together in time to get on the Truth Tour bus to San Francisco — the site of this year’s first round of “Idol” auditions — my friend Patty and I did attend the early-morning press conference on Wednesday to show our support for our WGA brethren.

And I mean to tell ya, that crowd was fired up, baby! Slipping on our new Truth Tour t-shirts, swapping war stories with my fellow WGA strike veterans…man, it was like old home week at the WGA. And even though I didn’t bring much more than a camera with me to the press conference, I have to admit, I was pretty tempted to jump on that bus at the last minute and call it a day.

But to the hardy souls who did get on the bus and staged a rowdy protest at the “Idol” auditions yesterday at the Cow Palace, I say, rock on, writerly soldiers! Here’s to showing the world what really happens behind the scenes at the top-rated show in America!

All we can hope for now is that the press actually covers the Truth Tour events — stories about the press conference were virtually non-existent on the local news last night — and that maybe, just maybe, the soulless bastards at Fremantle will do the right thing and go union.

I know it’s a tall order, but hey, sometimes a little bad publicity is all it takes to make these corporate robots quake in their boots…so, for now, que viva la WGA Truth Tour!

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SAG readies for war…

The leadership of the Screen Actors Guild might be saying publicly that talk of an impending actor’s strike is a “distraction” during their difficult ongoing negotiations with the AMPTP, but if you ask me, SAG created this distraction on their own, and they are loving every minute of it.

But if the rumors are true, and SAG truly is readying their troops for war, then why not just call a spade a spade and get on with it. Ain’t no shame in your game, SAG, just come out with it already!

Sure, another major strike right now would suck, but if you ask me, I say burn that mutha down, actors! After watching the DGA, my beloved WGA and even SAG’s crazy-eyed sister-union, AFTRA literally take it up the ass from the studios, I’m aching for someone to take a real stand against those greedy bastards.

And who better to do it than the biggest guild out there? SAG has 120,000-plus members, which is like ten times the size of the WGA. That is some serious union muscle, baby! And while the studios are always quick to undercut writers and directors, if they skimp on actors, well, they’re gonna feel that burn pretty quick.

With the ratings for last year’s TV season pretty much demolished by the WGA strike, I’m guessing the AMPTP might actually give this guild what they want this time. And, if it takes a strike to do it, then strike away, amigos. Like I’ve said before, I know a lot of writers who will be out there supporting your pretty faces on the picket lines every day, and, trust me, we have plenty of red t-shirts.

So, do what you gotta do when that deadline hits, Mr. Rosenberg — SAG’s current deal ends at midnight tonight — and know that whatever happens, we got your back! Go, union!

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