Archive for 2007

Happy 2008

31st December 2007 by Maura McHugh

May all Guild members have a happy and prosperous 2008!

Arts in January

19th December 2007 by Maura McHugh

According to IFTN the new series of RTÉ’s Arts Lives will begin broadcast on January 8th, and will feature seven profiles: writer and director, Graham Linehan (Father Ted, The IT Crowd); singer and performer Noirín Ní Ríaín; author John Banville (2005 Man Booker Prize winner for his novel The Sea); Dubliner Ronnie Drew; screenwriter and author Patrick McCabe (The Butcher Boy, Breakfast on Pluto); pianist John O’Conor; and poet Paul Muldoon.

Writers Look Beyond Studios

18th December 2007 by Maura McHugh

The L.A. Times reports that striking writers in Hollywood are looking for new opportunities for income from the Internet.

Seven groups have been created that are looking for venture capital to create alterative Internet-based businesses, and three of the groups are hoping to create models based on the United Artists production company started eighty years ago by Mary Pickford, Charles Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, and D. W. Griffith.

Silicon Valley investors historically have been averse to backing entertainment start-ups, believing that such efforts were less likely to generate huge paydays than technology companies. But they began considering a broader range of entertainment investments after observing the enormous sums paid for popular Web video companies, including the $1.65 billion that Google Inc. plunked down last year for YouTube, a site where users post their own clips.

They also have been emboldened by major advertisers, which prefer supporting professionally created Web entertainment to backing user-generated content on sites such as MySpace that can be in poor taste.

“I’m 100% confident that you will see some companies get formed,” said Todd Dagres, a Boston-based venture capitalist who has been flying to L.A. and meeting with top writers for weeks. “People have made up their minds.”

What effect this would have on the strike is unclear. So far, the percentage of the guild’s 10,000 striking writers who are in discussions with venture capitalists appears to be small. Any deal of this kind, however, could put pressure on the studios and help the writers’ public relations campaign. Writers who are talking to venture investors say the studios would suffer a brain drain if high-profile talents received outside funding and were no longer beholden to them.

WGA Files Suit

14th December 2007 by Maura McHugh

United Hollywood reports that the WGA has filed a lawsuit against the AMPTP with the federal government for breaking off negotiations:

The AMPTP and each of its member companies have a legal obligation to bargain in good faith with the WGA. Their unilateral walkout from negotiations last Friday and their on-going refusal to bargain is illegal under the National Labor Relations Act. Therefore the WGA today filed Unfair Labor Practice charges against the AMPTP with the National Labor Relations Board.

MTV Back Down

13th December 2007 by Maura McHugh

United Hollywood reports on a success story from New York, where freelance writers and staff walked out en masse this week from the offices of MTV and VHI after being handed a diktat from the management that reversed many of their basic work rights:

The offense that originally prompted action on [the employees'] part occurred December 4 when they were instructed to pick up their holiday party invitations. They were then instructed to fill out “additional paperwork,” that was due two days later on Thursday, December 6. This paperwork contained the news that they were no longer entitled to their 401(k) plans, dental insurance, paid vacation days (of which they had five, and now have 0), holidays, and that the 50-hour workweek would become the norm, after which hourly wage earners were eligible for overtime. Says one freelancer, “They’ve just informed us that if we entered the company less than one year ago and work for an hourly wage (as most people under management-level do), we will not get paid for one day off.”

The demonstration caused Viacom (the company that owns MTV) to reverse its decision and return the benefits of their employees.