11.08.2007

Hi Catherine---


thank you for your take on this (I'm backchanneling because I used my allotment today)
Knowing people in the industry, you have a different take...
I like to think I'm pro-union, and want some solidarity with other writers, etc.


Yet, I have so many playwright friends who tried to get into TV (once the NEA cuts crippled playwrighting)
who might now have an opportunity...

My husband was a playwright. He had to find work, of course. Not that he doesn't still write experimental plays and fiction. Not that he loves the movies he's been able to see through the process. But hey, Suzan Lori-Parks: Girl 6. Need I say more? He got a job leveraging his knowledge of form and dialog and character development that will last until he allows his grey hair to show. His union covers health insurance, which we need. Part of what he had to do was 1) move from New York where his then-partner -- me -- had a six figure career, 2) spend his life savings, 3) take a "class" at a studio. The studio charged him money for this "class" (even though he has two advanced degrees, productions, etc.) so that they could hire him below scale after the class.

But something else is going on with the webisodes: our government, in its infinite wisdom, gave certain rights to creative material "created for" to the studios, as though they were, say, marketing brochures, rather than, say, characters. So then, there's this erosion of rights to writing.

This is essentially like the word processing job (another field that I think should be unionised) I had once; even though I had degrees, five years of wp, etc. behind me, I had to work for free for two weeks as "training." It chansed off my other part time jobs, and made me dependent on a single one. So I guess, if your friends want to break into a business that, on average, doesn't pay a living wage, takes the rights to your work, fires you when you're 50, and -- without a union -- doesn't give you health insurance, pension, or other benefits...


I think about how the "musicians strike" of the 40s had the effect (unwittingly) of leading to both the birth of be-bop as well as of early rock and roll.

Our current house was owned from 1941 until about 1989 by a family headed by a former musician and orchestra manager -- I think he was associated with Tito Puente and many others. I think the story is that he would not let the orchestra have uncompensated practice outside of union-controlled locations & time-frames -- during that strike. Anyways, he was never a musician or orchestra manager again, and sold golf equipment for the rest of his life.

Before that it was owned by the head of the west coast for Western Electric. During WWII he was promoted from movies to... defense contracting....

Not so much a fan of much of the writing that is done for hollywood product today, there's a side to me that hopes that maybe this strike
could lead to the industry taking a little more chances in terms of content.

They have just fired the production staffs. Those will no longer be salaried positions. If the last strike gave us reality tv, because it is largely unacted and unwritten, how can studio motivation this time be toward more risk? Part of the strike is to try to help break the monopoly six conglomerates have over creative content. Monopoly = no risk. Companies tend toward monopoly.

That probably won't happen when media conglomerates are owned by defense contractors.

Universal = NBC = GE. What does general electric make?

GE requires Universal to interview 6 off-shore engineers for each open engineering position. Even when the position requires native-speaker English language skills. I know; I wrote about their proprietary residuals system the last time I worked for them (no one was on strike). As a consultant. The engineers who didn't need English skills were brought onto the lot in on a bus everyday from the corporate dorm they were housed in.

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