Response to WGA-AMPTP dispute

A letter to the editor

Important executive for three major studios and two television networks.

Member of the WGAW for over 40 years.

I have lived on both sides of this fence for over 50 years and learned that both sides are never totally right; both sides are never totally wrong. I’m sure members of the AMPTP do not want a strike. Regardless of their vote, I’m sure members of the WGA East and West do not want a strike.

No longer living in Hollywood, I read the releases, the newspaper stories, the commentaries and the emailed comments of industry friends. Having a foot in both worlds, I hopefully see with objectivity and understanding.

I know Nicholas Counter to be an intelligent and capable man as well as a very good and very experienced leader of the AMPTP. However, at a time when the film and television industries face financial and marketing unrest, at a time when competition grows from quality films and television series produced in other parts of the world, is it not time to put away the hostility and ratchet down the rhetoric and seriously approach the dispute?

Mr. Counter’s knee-jerk reaction to his self-conceived “enemy moves” was particularly obvious when reading his comments on the result of the WGA strike vote.

Was there not a better opportunity to publicly and respectfully acknowledge WGA member rights and writer’s issues and, at the same time, publicly ask the writers to respectfully understand the needs of the AMPTP and issues important to its members? Was there not a better opportunity to point out to those 90% of writers agreeing to a strike that the member companies of the AMPTP join with them in not wanting a strike?

Instead, Mr. Counter again accuses the guild of, in essence, not knowing what they’re doing, running a dishonest vote, etc.

Why must the “Waiting for Lefty” rhetoric continue? Is this really necessary? Is this really smart? You probably will not find more intelligent yet more emotional “union” membership than motion picture and television writers. Stirring the “stupid” pot doesn’t work as it may have worked many, many years ago.

Writers in tattered clothes don’t stand around an open fire in 50 gallon drums keeping warm while management sends out paid enforcers to break heads. That’s in the movies.

Neither side of this labor unrest is stupid or underhanded. Once that’s accepted, there’s no reason why intelligent men and women cannot settle the issues at hand. If they can’t be settled now, then there’ll be a work stoppage. And the issues will be settled sometime in the future. We all know they’ll eventually be settled. There’s too much investment in studios to turn them into storage warehouses and tennis courts and too many writers’ mortgage payments to make every month.

But, please, in the interim, no more insults and a little more equal respect?

Thank you.
Herbert F. Solow