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Mike Scully thinks out loud about the DGA deal

Mike Scully has been a staunch supporter of the WGA and its leaders during the strike. As a veteran Mikescullyc showrunner (“The Simpsons”) and writer, a dad extraordinaire and an all-around good guy, his opinion matters to the WGA faithful.

In a post on United Hollywood, Scully sez he’s got some hope regarding about the groundwork laid by the DGA, but urges members to hang tough until the WGA leadership has had the chance to parse the details. He’s got a number of unanswered questions in three areas:

1. The 17-day “promotional use” window for streaming of TV shows. “In my opinion, promotional use should have a limit of 3-5 minutes of program content, just enough to get the viewer to sample the show. However, if an entire episode is going to be made available, it should not contain any ads and should be limited to a window of no more than 48 hours. If they are being paid for promotional use, so should we.”

2. “How will the Internet be policed? “The Simpsons Movie” is currently the number one download rental on iTunes, but I have no idea if that means it’s been downloaded five thousand times or five million times (and I’m one of the writers and producers of that film). How will we get accurate figures so we know we’re being paid correctly?”

3. “$250 for a year’s use of a TV episode was a shockingly low offer. $1200 for a year is an ever-so-slightly-less shockingly low offer. Also, if $1200 is for a one-hour show, is it 50% less for a half-hour? Regardless, I don’t think these payments will replace residuals immediately as some are predicting, but over the next five years, a huge negative impact on TV writer residuals seems inevitable.”

Scully he wants to go back to work, mentioning that he has four kids in college, but asks that members stay patient with the WGA leaders for now.

“However, unless you have the answers to the above questions and understand every other aspect of the DGA agreement, we should not be encouraging our leadership to approve or reject the deal,” he said. “We simply don’t yet have the proper information to form a knowledgeable opinion. We’re certainly entitled to ask questions (and have been encouraged to do so by our leaders), but we can’t make critical long-term financial decisions based on bullet points, or the overzealous recommendations of those who may have something personal to gain by us settling quickly.”

Scully concludes the post with a shout-out to the WGA brass, SAG and DGA. He urges members to stay unified and predicting that doing so will pay off.

“Our leadership has done a great job of unifying a divided, demoralized guild that was so used to coming up short in negotiations that we had started to accept it as a way of life. They have brought pride back to our profession and shown us that we have the power to improve our lives. Aligning us with SAG was a brilliant and empowering move, and we should not make any deal without consulting SAG first because they have been so supportive of our cause.

The DGA benefited by our stand and, to their credit, hesitated before they started negotiations. When they finally went in, they were aware the outcome would be scrutinized by everyone in town and I think they did a good job making gains in areas where they wouldn’t have been allowed to without the actions taken by the WGA and SAG.

Every union starts a strike strong and unified, but it’s even more important that we finish strong and unified. Three years will go by quickly, and we will be back at the bargaining table again. If the AMPTP’s last memory of us is that of a fractured guild, filled with dissension and in-fighting, that’s how we will be treated in all future business dealings. If we are patient and continue to display the solidarity that’s been so impressive to me, while our leaders resume bargaining with the AMPTP, it won’t be long before we’re all back to work doing what we love: complaining about how much we hate writing and asking “Where the hell is lunch?!”