Monday, November 5, 2007

No Words For You!

The Writer's Guild of America, of which I am not a member, is on strike starting today. At issue, primarily, are the "zero" dollars received from the studio-sanctioned streaming and downloading of shows on the Internet. Especially where the viewer is charged a buck or two. Also at issue is receiving an appropriate share of DVD revenue.

Writers, like actors, only get paid when they are working and when the use of that work is protected with residual pay. The median yearly salary for a WGA writer is $5,000. As with acting, there are those who strike gold, but it's a small percentage and you never know when that vein will run dry.

Writing, like improv, stand-up, and comedy in general, is one of those professions that many people look at and think "I could do that." And they continue to think that until they actually do it. That usually shuts them up. Unfortunately, many of the people who think that it's easy - namely, producers or bank-rollers - never give it a shot and continue to live in the delusion that a writer is just a typist. It usually takes something like a strike to get across some appreciation.

The first casualties will be the talk shows and strip (five days a week) shows like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. Most of them, if not all, will go into reruns this week. Soap operas will feel the pinch in a week or two. I'm not sure how they handled it last time (20 years ago, but I believe a lot of "winging it" was involved. The prime time shows all may have enough episodes in the can to finish out the year. The good news, is that it's unlikely the networks will cancel any shows during the strike. Why cancel a show that has eight episodes in the can? Some of them may have to go into production with scripts that are first drafts and they are, legally, not able to change them. That will certainly affect the quality as television writers work up til the last minute. Films, too, in production or going into production, will have to go with what they have. Although, due to the nature of the director's role in a film, they could have actors improvise scenes. Many actors would like to think they are brilliant at this, but we've all seen scenes of Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson, or Robin Williams going way overboard and confusing ad-libbing with improvising.

For more information on the strike, read The Huffington Post's Writer's Strike Opinion page HERE.


My friend Lori from Portland sent me a link to this hysterical trip down memory lane. Johnny Virgil of the blog 15 Minute Lunch found a JC Penney catalog from 1977 and he shares some of the incredible fashion photos with some hilarious commentary. If you were born after 1980, yes, we really did dress like this and, yes, we really did think it looked cool. Read the whole post by clicking HERE.


On Saturday, I asked...

"The man whose fabricated story of Iraqi biological weapons drove the U.S. argument for invading Iraq was known in intelligence circles by what name?"

40% answered "Deep Camel"
- A good guess, Watergate will live in infamy via nicknames with prefixes like "Deep-" and suffixes like "-Gate."

20% "Big Fat Liar"
- While informally they affectionately referred to him as "my BFL," it is not correct.

No one went for "Snowman"
- Not even The Hawk.

40% identified him correctly as "Curve Ball"

According to CBS News, Iraqi Rafid Alwan arrived in Germany by car and requested asylum at a refugee center outside Nuremberg. He told the Germans fabricated stories about Hussein and a biological weapons plant. Alwan’s story fit what Western intelligence agencies feared: that Saddam might turn to mobile weapons to evade American bombs. He was given a code name: Curve Ball. The Germans shared their info with the US, and even though the Germans told the CIA none of his story could be verified, George Tenet went ahead and told Powell and Bush that showing the United Nations Saddam had weapons of mass destruction would be a "slam dunk." And it was, except that it was all lies.