November 12, 2007
The public has been led to believe that we independent producers are sitting opposite the writers at the bargaining table (or across the picket lines). It is not true.
We respectfully ask that your publications and reporters cease referring to the ongoing negotiations between the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers as between “writers and producers.”
The Alliance represents the studios, the networks, and the international conglomerates that own them, not working producers. Creative producers are not directly involved in this dispute: we do not receive any residuals, nor are we stakeholders in the studio profits (excepting where some powerful producers do have back-end holdings in particular studio shows and films, just as do powerful actors, writers, and directors). We do not dispute the need for residuals, including those from DVDs and new media. Residuals are important and significant revenues. It is only fair that the creators of films and television share in the proceeds from all of the ways the product they create may be exploited. We support our wonderful writers, directors, and actors. We are also happy to pay benefits to the fantastic tradespeople on our films.
It is entirely inaccurate to equate us with the entity (or entities) in negotiations opposite the writers. Stories and opinion pieces in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, on television, and on NPR have almost all referenced “the producers” when they should, in all accuracy, refer to the studios, networks, and conglomerates. Independent producers have been inaccurately referred to as represented by AMPTP (by almost all publications, television, and radio outlets). We have been further characterized as “greedy” (a letter in the Los Angeles Times), and even “Scrooge-like” (a reputable columnist in The New York Times. These last characterizations are particularly galling. The work of independent producers is typically a creative endeavor that is widely understood to be an enormous financial gamble.
It serves the studios’ interests to pretend to represent individual producers instead of corporate entities. We would ask that you, as responsible members of the media, stop abetting this charade and call upon your reporters to cease equating independent producers (who are not negotiators or direct stakeholders in this process, and the vast majority of whom side with the writers) with international conglomerates.
Effie T. Brown
Linda Goldstein Knowlton
Mary Jane Skalski
Susan A. Stover
Yalda T. Uhls