Writers strike Day Four: Kaling and Scully on the scene at 20th

Mindy Kaling sure is glad that Steve Carell came down his case of “enlarged balls” when he did.

The writer/thesp from “The Office” is convinced that she, B.J. Novak and Paul Lieberstein would have quickly been relieved of their acting duties on the show if Carell had not also balked at crossing the WGA picket line.

“They’d have fired us so fast,” she said Thursday morning as she made the rounds outside of 20th Century Fox. Kaling said she and the others were heartsick at having to abandon their primetime baby just as “Office” is enjoying the strongest ratings momentum it has ever had. The gang was just about to break the Christmas seg when the strike bell rang, and we all know how funny those Dunder Mifflin holiday parties have been…

Also on the scene this a.m. at 20th: “Simpsons” vet Mike Scully, on crutches. (He’s just in the thick of man-made disasters these days, having broken his foot a week ago when he tripped on a rock while he was hosing down his backyard to keep a wildfire at bay.) But his handicap didn’t prevent him from eloquence when asked what it was that made him join the line.

“We just can’t accept the studios’ offer as it stands,” he said. “If we don’t stand up for ourselves now, it’ll lead to the dissolution of the guild and we can’t let that happen.” As far as Scully’s concerned, the solution to the digital divide is simple: Give us our royalties on a percentage basis. If there’s no business there, writers will get a percentage of little to nothing.

“All we’re asking for is our fair share,” he said, adding that he has “1000 percent faith in (WGA West prexy) Patric Verrone and the negotiating committee.”

–Cynthia Littleton

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  1. Timothy J. Carroll says:

    The stakes are high. The rise of New Media has begun.
    Check out my full take:
    Writers, Strikes, and the Web’s dissolution of Television.
    the memeticians

  2. unsympathetic says:

    HI —
    Actually, it is the writers who are striking, not the assistants, photogs.,camera crew, etc., who never get the residuals that writers do. Most of them, and most people generally, work for their salary and do not get any further piece of the profits made by our employers from our work. And most of them have salaries that are paltry compared with what the writers get. The writers get paid very very nicely for their work when they are working. They already have more than a “decent” paycheck [when they are working] — it’s a pretty great deal — great money, great health care, a job in a field they like, built-in time off. There are, in fact, countless people who love to do that job (and for much less), but you don’t get to be in the WGA until you actually have success.
    As for the writers who had success but aren’t working now …. you know what I’m going to say here …. get a job.
    I’m with time-waster in believing that strikes are an effective tool for people who are in an intolerable position with respect to their hours, conditions, salaries, whatever. But this strike is not that. And while the Studios are undoubtedly greedy, too, this strike isn’t the only way to achieve the writers’ goals. The studios are as aware of upcoming negotiations with the other guilds, but evidently those guilds’ leadership are viewed as more reasonable negotiating partners. Verrone loves to say that the studio broke off talks, but that was after the writers announced their strike and then presented the studios with a proposal as an ultimatum to “avoid” the strike. Nice negotiating.

  3. CultureClutter says:

    Grow up, this is all about big bucks for the networks. The networks clutter our screens with reality garbage tv and then want to tell the writers from decent shows they won’t pay them a small fraction of the billions each network collects off the work the writers, directors, actors, and others create? How many people would get up and go to work each day if they knew they would only be paid SOME of the time for the work they were doing? The networks want to raise profits? Cut the RIDICULOUS fees they give the execs that are feeding off the company like leeches. Why don’t they go on strike, what a worthless lot, no one would notice if they went missing.

  4. YouSmellLikeTide says:

    I’m actually amazed that you think that the “new media” is so new that the studios don’t know how much money they are making off of the content they are putting online. Here’s an example of how they know exactly how much money they are taking in: last year there were seven billion downloads of NBC’s “The Office” on iTunes. Each episode cost about $1.99 to download. Seven billion x $1.99 = a hell of a lot of money for someone. NBC decided to end the contract with iTunes and just show ad-supported free streaming of their shows online but without paying the writers, actors, directors, producers, assistants, teamsters, etc., etc., any money. So, they are making money from the ad revenue without giving any of it to the creators of the content. Pretty lame. Another example is “Lost” — the bigwigs decided to only show one airing of it on tv and then no repeats, but put the show online. Where the creative talent behind the episode would get residuals for the repeats on tv, they get absolutley nothing for the show being on the internet.
    Most of the people that are striking are not the big wigs that make a lot of money. It’s the assistants, the photogs and camera crew, etc. that are getting hit hard by no residuals from the internet and cheap residuals from DVD sales. It’s not the people that make a lot of money that are being hit, it’s the middle class of the television world. And it’s not because the writers are striking that is causing these people to lose their jobs and money. It’s because the money-hungry media conglomerates aren’t willing to give up the money that the writers, actors, directors, producers deserve for their creative content. If you’ve done any research at all on this (and from your post, it doesn’t seem that way) you will know that this strike is just the first wave of strikes if the bigwigs don’t get their acts together and give fairly to the poeple who create their content for them. If the writers hadn’t gone on strike and had backed down instead, then it would have been the actors that would have to go on strike in June of ’08 and the directors soon after that. This strike sets a precedent for the rest of the industry and to blame the writers for trying to earn a decent paycheck is ridiculous. If you’d really like some more information about the strike from people who aren’t controlled by the money-hungry media conglomerates, try reading a few of these blogs:
    But don’t just eat up what the media conglomerates want you to hear, do your own research and find your own facts before assuming the writers are horrible, money-hungry people when in fact they’re just trying to get paid fairly.

  5. timewasting says:

    Sorry, but I agree with most of the public perception as stated by TakeFive. The hours can be long on certain days, but can be very short on others, and TV writers who qualify to be in the WGA get a LOT of money for the total hours spent. I don’t think most writers think their employers are totally evil congolomerates who want to screw the writers — in my experience, they take pretty good care of the writers they are employing, residuals aside. In fact, I support the writers’ effort to get a piece of the internet pie, but this strike is ill-conceived and unnecessary and does wind up putting people with far less money and far fewer perks and NO residuals out of work permanently. It IS the WRITER’S STRIKE that is causing these people ot lose their jobs, home’s, etc. I think of Strikes as occurring when people are truly desperate — they can’t live with the conditions they are subjected to or can’t sustain their families with the compensation or benefits paid even though they are working as hard as they can. That’s just not the case here, except for people who fail to budget their earnings well.
    Who even knows what the Internet “pie” looks like — TV content is increasingly available, but how many people actually pay for it, and how much do they pay? Most people want their content for free (e.g., 60% of Radiohead fans so far have opted to pay $0 to download the recent album rather than opting to pay Radiohead for that music) or cheap (the other 40-ish percent paid an average of $6 for the album). I would really like to know how much the big media conglomerates are earning from online content before I went on strike to get a piece of it (rather than just asking for even more money and waiting to see how it shakes out or working while the parties studied those issues together). The studios themselves are struggling to figure out how to monetize that stuff because, even as they pay more and more to make TV shows, the audience they can grab on TV is, for the most part, falling, and I don’t blame the writers for that (as others have been). The writers are shooting the studios and themselves in the feet with this strike, and the entire industry will pay.

  6. TakeFive says:

    Man, the writers need to get on the ball here. Chanting things like: “We write the story-a, Eva Longoria,” just makes them look childish, amateurish, and pathetic.
    Even now, look how the news is spun against them – the WRITER’S strike will cost people their jobs. Some many loose their homes because of the WRITER’S strike. See the pattern?
    Right now the public perception of writers is that of a bunch of whiny, rich folks who want to out-greed the studios. Oh yeah, and they sit around in a room and BS with each other all day long – just like on the Dick Van Dyke show (hey, it’s the only glimpse of the profession the public has!).
    So first thing Writers, you’ve got to get your PR game on. Get the public to understand the hours you put in, the long waits between shows, the uncertainty of income, and how residuals are like a retirement plan, because right now the studios are making you look like the bad guys here.
    And for god’s sake, hire some negotiation talent.

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