DVD sales an issue for writers
You can count on writers to supply ample drama in the coming months.Front and center will be a major confrontation at the bargaining table, with the Writers Guild of America’s three-year contract expiring May 2. Key demands will include increasing the DVD residual, boosting health and pension contributions, and seeking jurisdiction over reality TV and animation. “These are really, really serious issues,” says negotiating committee member Phil Alden Robinson (“Field of Dreams”). “And the committee is going in with extremely strong support from the members.” The WGA’s pattern of demands received an unusually high 97% backing from the 2,410 members who voted. The endorsement is all the more impressive given the multiple distractions the guild has endured in recent months. Among them are:
- The usually convivial WGA West elections turned confrontational. Victoria Riskin stepped down from the presidency after an investigator found her active membership had lapsed when she ran for office in the summer.
- Riskin’s successor, Charles Holland, was then accused of misrepresenting his background, leading to a split 10-6 endorsement by the WGA West board and launch of a recall drive.
- The guild is facing a federal probe into how it conducted the Riskin election.
- The screenwriting credit determination process of the WGA West came under scrutiny as Michael Alan Eddy sued the guild, Warner Bros. and producers of “The Last Samurai” over the WGA’s failure to allow him a formal credit arbitration.
- The Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists undercut the WGA’s leverage at the bargaining table by launching negotiations Feb. 3, even though the actors guild contract won’t expire until June 30.
- “Finding Nemo” received an Oscar screenwriting nomination after being ineligible for a WGA Award because the work wasn’t performed under a guild contract.