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WGA quietly girds for next negotations

Prexys say 2007 walkout left ranks more united

Three years after a memorably raucous strike, the Writers Guild of America has dialed back its profile considerably.

That may change significantly in the coming months, as the WGA squares off for negotiations on a successor contract to the deal that was hammered out at the end of the 100-day strike in 2008 — an intensely emotional episode that was so consuming that the WGA West wound up pulling the plug on its own awards show. The WGA East went on with its Feb. 9 show, with guild leaders reaching a deal to end the strike the next morning.

Still, going through the strike has forged much closer ties within the guild — an invaluable commodity when negotiations start, according to WGA East president Michael Winship.

“For us, the strike explained our position on many levels,” Winship adds. “It really created a community and galvanized everyone.”

The passions that surged through many of the 12,000 guild members in 2007 have yet to be fanned, even with the looming May 1 expiration of the master contract.

Unlike four years ago, the companies have neither angered the writers with inflammatory rhetoric nor proposed to ditch the residuals system in favor of a much-reviled recoupment-based system — which galvanized the writers, along with the insistence on spelling out jurisdiction and compensation over new-media work for the Internet.

Instead, both sides have stayed calm, with the WGA articulating its “pattern of demands” and emphasizing the importance of employers boosting their pension and health contributions.

“At this point, we don’t have the kind of bumper-sticker issues that we had last time,” WGA West president John Wells says. “We don’t want to be trading barbs with the companies. There’s no longer a question of Internet coverage, and the companies haven’t done anything yet to indicate that they are going to seek a fundamental change in the minimum basic agreement.”

That’s not to say negotiations will be smooth sailing, Wells notes, particularly as the economy continues to be balky at best.

“Late pay for writers is more pronounced in a down economy,” he adds. “It doesn’t seem like business as usual yet.”

In a touch of ironic timing, his recession-based drama “Company Men” — Wells’ first feature directing gig — opened recently. He believes that the WGA members face a significant amount of worry as the entertainment industry goes through constant transformation.

“Everybody’s concerned,” he notes. “You have a lot of people competing for fewer jobs. Business has changed because there are fewer film scripts and fewer of the network TV jobs that have 22 shows a season. Cable tends to have less than half that number, so there’s less money for writers.”

Winship and Wells remain unapologetic about the strike, which many WGA members continue to blame on the companies’ hardline stances.

“Because of the strike, members are very much more engaged and the level of communication is much higher,” Wells says.

Winship and Wells both admit that new-media compensation — the touchstone issue of the strike — remains somewhat elusive at this point, though Winship’s quick to point out that Internet content delivery is accelerating, as is guild jurisdiction. The WGA East has over 70 deals with new-media signatories.

Winship also believes members in the East have seen a decent recovery in films and TV work, including “Blue Bloods” and “Boardwalk Empire.”

Most notably, Winship points out, is that WGA East closed new deals for members at PBS, ABC and CBS — with ratifications of 100% at PBS, 89% at ABC and 83% at CBS.

Both branches of the WGA have achieved visibility for campaigning in Washington D.C. for net neutrality and journalistic quality. And the WGA East is in its first year of new digs after moving its Manhattan headquarters to the Tribeca district.

“We have a lot more space, and I now have an office,” Winship says. “It’s right above Tribeca with the rest of the independent film community, and it’s a great place for the members.”


“Black Swan” (Mark Heyman, Andres Heinz, John McLaughlin)
“The Fighter” (Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson, Keith Dorrington)
“Inception” (Christopher Nolan)
“The Kids Are All Right” (Lisa Cholodenko, Stuart Blumberg)
“Please Give” (Nicole Holofcener)

“127 Hours,” (Danny Boyle, Simon Beaufoy)
“I Love You Phillip Morris” (John Requa, Glenn Ficarra)
“The Social Network” (Aaron Sorkin)
“The Town” (Peter Craig, Ben Affleck, Aaron Stockard)
“True Grit (Joel Coen, Ethan Coen)

“Enemies of the People” (Rob Lemkin, Thet Sambath)
“Freedom Riders” (Stanley Nelson)
“Gasland” (Josh Fox)
“Inside Job” (Charles Ferguson, Chad Beck, Adam Bolt)
“The Two Escobars” (Michael Zimbalist, Jeff Zimbalist)
“Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him)?” (John Scheinfeld)

“Boardwalk Empire” (Meg Jackson, Lawrence Konner, Howard Korder, Steve Kornacki, Margaret Nagle, Tim Van Patten, Paul Simms, Terence Winter)
“Breaking Bad” (Sam Catlin, Vince Gilligan, Peter Gould, Gennifer Hutchison, George Mastras, Tom Schnauz, John Shiban, Moira Walley-Beckett)
“Dexter” (Scott Buck, Manny Coto, Charles H. Eglee, Lauren Gussis, Chip Johannessen, Jim Leonard, Clyde Phillips, Scott Reynolds, Melissa Rosenberg, Tim Schlattmann, Wendy West)
“Friday Night Lights” (Bridget Carpenter, Kerry Ehrin, Ron Fitzgerald, Etan Frankel, Monica Henderson, David Hudgins, Rolin Jones, Jason Katims, Patrick Massett, Derek Santos Olson, John Zinman)
“Mad Men” (Jonathan Abrahams, Lisa Albert, Keith Huff, Jonathan Igla, Andre Jacquemetton, Maria Jacquemetton, Brett Johnson, Janet Leahy, Erin Levy, Tracy McMillan, Dahvi Waller, Matthew Weiner)

“30 Rock” (Jack Burditt, Hannibal Buress, Kay Cannon, Robert Carlock, Tom Ceraulo, Vali Chandrasekaran, Tina Fey, Jon Haller, Steve Hely, Matt Hubbard, Dylan Morgan, Paula Pell, John Riggi, Josh Siegal, Ron Weiner, Tracey Wigfield)
“Glee” (Ian Brennan, Brad Falchuk, Ryan Murphy)
“Modern Family” (Jerry Collins, Paul Corrigan, Alex Herschlag, Abraham Higginbotham, Elaine Ko, Joe Lawson, Steven Levitan, Christopher Lloyd, Dan O’Shannon, Jeffrey Richman, Brad Walsh, Ilana Wernick, Bill Wrubel, Danny Zuker)
“Nurse Jackie” (Liz Brixius, Rick Cleveland, Nancy Fichman, Liz Flahive, Jennifer Hoppe-House, Mark Hudis, Linda Wallem, Christine Zander
“The Office” (Jennifer Celotta, Daniel Chun, Greg Daniels, Lee Eisenberg, Brent Forrester, Amelie Gillette, Charlie Grandy, Steve Hely, Jonathan A. Hughes, Mindy Kaling, Carrie Kemper, Jason Kessler, Paul Lieberstein, Warren Lieberstein, B.J. Novak, Peter Ocko, Robert Padnick, Aaron Shure, Justin Spitzer, Gene Stupnitsky, Halsted Sullivan, Jon Vitti)

“Boardwalk Empire” (Meg Jackson, Lawrence Konner, Howard Korder, Steve Kornacki, Margaret Nagle, Tim Van Patten, Paul Simms, Terence Winter)
“Justified” (Dave Andron, Wendy Calhoun, Benjamin Cavell, Fred Golan, Gary Lennon, Benjamin Daniel Lobato, Chris Provenzano, Graham Yost)
“Men of a Certain Age” (Bridget Bedard, Tucker Cawley, Warren Hutcherson, Rick Muirragui, Jack Orman, Ray Romano, Mike Royce, Lew Schneider, Mark Stegemann)
“Treme” (Lolis Eric Elie, David Mills, Eric Overmyer, George Pelecanos, Tom Piazza, Davis Rogan, David Simon)
“The Walking Dead” (Frank Darabont; Charles H. Eglee, Adam Fierro, Robert Kirkman, Jack LoGiudice, Glen Mazzara)

“Breaking Bad” (“I See You,” Gennifer Hutchison)
“Breaking Bad” (“I.F.T.,” George Mastras)
“The Good Wife” (“Boom,” Ted Humphrey)
“House” (“Help Me,” Russel Friend, Garrett Lerner, Peter Blake)
“Lost” (“The End,” Damon Lindelof, Carlton Cuse)
“Mad Men” (“The Chrysanthemum and the Sword,” Erin Levy)

“30 Rock” (“Anna Howard Shaw Day,” Matt Hubbard)
“30 Rock” (“When It Rains, It Pours,” Robert Carlock)
“Modern Family” (“Earthquake,” Paul Corrigan, Brad Walsh)
“Modern Family” (“Starry Night,” Danny Zuker)
“The Sarah Silverman Program” (“Nightmayor,” Dan Sterling)
“The Office” (“Wuphf.com,” Aaron Shure)

“The Special Relationship” (Peter Morgan)
“You Don’t Know Jack” (Adam Mazer)

“The Pacific” (“Part Four,” Robert Schenkkan, Graham Yost)
“The Pacific” (“Part Eight,” Robert Schenkkan, Michelle Ashford)
“The Pillars of the Earth” (John Pielmeier)
“Temple Grandin” (Christopher Monger, William Merritt Johnson)

“Futurama” (“Lrrreconcilable Ndndifferences,” Patric M. Verrone)
“Futurama” (“The Prisoner of Benda,” Ken Keeler)
“The Simpsons” (“Moe Letter Blues,” Stephanie Gillis)
“The Simpsons” (“O Brother, Where Bart Thou?” Matt Selman)
“Back at the Barnyard” (“Treasure Hunt,” Tom Sheppard)

“Penn & Teller: Bullshit!” (Penn Jillette, Teller, Star Price, David Wechter, Michael Goudeau, Steve Melcher, Tom Kramer, Rich Nathanson)
“Saturday Night Live” (Seth Meyers, Doug Abeles, James Anderson, Alex Baze, Jillian Bell, Hannibal Buress, Jessica Conrad, James Downey, Steve Higgins, Colin Jost, Erik Kenward, Jessi Klein, Rob Klein, John Lutz, Seth Meyers, Lorne Michaels, John Mulaney, Christine Nangle, Michael Patrick O’Brien, Paula Pell, Ryan Perez, Simon Rich, Marika Sawyer, Akiva Schaffer, John Solomon, Emily Spivey, Kent Sublette, Jorma Taccone, Bryan Tucker)
“The Colbert Report” (Barry Julien, Dan Guterman, Eric Drysdale, Frank Lesser, Glenn Eichler, Jay Katsir, Max Werner, Meredith Scardino, Michael Brumm, Opus Moreschi, Peter Gwinn, Rich Dahm, Rob Dubbin, Scott Sherman, Stephen Colbert, Tom Purcell)
“The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” (Rory Albanese, Kevin Bleyer, Richard Blomquist, Steve Bodow, Tim Carvell, Wyatt Cenac, Hallie Haglund, JR Havlan, Elliott Kalan, Josh Lieb, Sam Means, Jo Miller, John Oliver, Daniel Radosh, Jason Ross, Jon Stewart)

“National Memorial Day Concert 2010” (Joan Meyerson)
“Jimmy Kimmel Live: After the Academy Awards” (Tony Barbieri, Jonathan Bines, Will Burke, Gary Greenberg, Sal Iacono, Jimmy Kimmel, Jonathan Kimmel, Jacob Lentz, Molly McNearney, Bryan Paulk, Rick Rosner)
“The Simpsons 20th Anniversary Special — In 3-D On Ice!” (Jeremy Chilnick, Morgan Spurlock)

“As the World Turns” (Susan Dansby, Lucky Gold, Janet Iacobuzio, Penelope Koechl, David Kreizman, Leah Laiman, David A. Levinson, Leslie Nipkow, Jean Passanante, Gordon Rayfield, David Smilow)
“General Hospital” (Meg Bennett, Nathan Fissell, David Goldschmid, Robert Guza, Jr., Karen Harris, Elizabeth Korte, Mary Sue Price, David F. Ryan, Tracey Thomson, Michele Val Jean, Susan Wald)
“One Life to Live” (Shelly Altman, Ron Carlivati, Anna Theresa Cascio, Aida Croal, Carolyn Culliton, Frederick Johnson, Elizabeth Page, Gordon Rayfield, Melissa Salmons, Katherine Schock, Scott Sickles, Courtney Simon, Chris VanEtten)

“Imagination Movers” (“Happy Ha-Ha Holidays,” Michael G. Stern, Randi Barnes, Rick Gitelson, Scott Gray)
“True Jackson, VP” (“True Magic,” Andy Gordon)

“Avalon High” ( Julie Sherman Wolfe, Amy Talkington)
“The Boy Who Cried Werewolf” (Art Brown, Douglas Sloan)

“Frontline” (“The Card Game,” Lowell Bergman, Oriana Zill de Granados)
“Frontline” (“College, Inc.,” Martin Smith, John Maggio)
“Frontline” (“Flying Cheap,” Rick Young)
“Frontline” (“The Quake,” Martin Smith, Marcela Gaviria)
“Frontline” (“The Vaccine War,” Jon Palfreman)
“Frontline” (“The Warning,” Michael Kirk)

“American Experience” (“Wyatt Earp,” Rob Rapley)
“Baseball: The Tenth Inning,” (“Episode 1,” David McMahon, Lynn Novick, Ken Burns)
“Bill Moyers Journal” (“LBJ’s Path to War,” Bill Moyers, Michael Winship)
“Dolley Madison” (Ronald H. Blumer)
“Nova” (“Hubble’s Amazing Rescue,” Rushmore DeNooyer)
“Nova” (“Riddles of the Sphinx,” Gary Glassman)

“CBS News” (“The Flash Crash,” R. Polly Leider)
“CBS Sunday Morning” (“Sunday Morning Almanac,” Thomas A. Harris)

“Bill Moyers Journal” (“Democracy for Sale,” Bill Moyers, Michael Winship)
“Good Morning America” (“Making the Band, Making the Difference,” Mary Pflum)
“60 Minutes” (“Resurrecting Eden,” Jenny Dubin)

“CBS Radio News” (“2009 Year in Review,” Gail Lee)

“CBS Radio News” (“CBS World News Roundup,” Paul Farry)
1010 WINS Radio (“Evening News Headlines 7/28/10,” Bill Spadaro)

“CBS Radio News” (“Dishin Digital,” Robert Hawley)
“CBS Radio News” (“Passages,” Gail Lee)

“CSI” promos (Anne de Vega)
“NBC News” promos, (Jennifer Kaas)

“CBS Sunday Morning” (“Sunday Morning, By Design,” Bob Pook, Diane Robinson)

“Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood” (Patrice Desilets, Jeffrey Yohalem, Corey May, Jeffrey Yohalem, Ethan Petty, Nicholas Grimwood, Matt Turner)
“Fallout: New Vegas” (John Gonzalez, Chris Avellone, Eric Fenstermaker, Travis Stout, Tess Treadwell, George Ziets, Jason Bergman, Nick Breckon, Matt Grandstaff, Will Noble, Andrew Scharf)
“God of War III” (Marianne Krawczyk, Stig Asmussen, Ariel Lawrence, William Weissbaum)
“Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands (Wii)” (Benjamin McCaw, Marianne Krawczyk)
“Singularity” (Marc Guggenheim, Lindsey Allen, Emily Silver, Jason Henderson, Adam Foshko, Michael Cassutt, Adam Foshko)
“Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II” (Haden Blackman, David Collins, John Stafford, Cameron Suey, Tid Cooney, Ian Dominguez, Tony Rowe)

“Anyone But Me” (“The Real Thing,” “Identity Crisis,” “Girl Talk,” “Naming Things,” “Curtain Up,” Susan Miller, Tina Cesa Ward)
“All’s Faire” (“Episode 1,” “Episode 4,” Episode 5,” “Episode 6,” “Episode 7,” Thom Woodley, Bob McClure, Matt Yeager)
“Concierge: The Series” (“Episode 1: We’ve Got Flash,” “Episode 2: Complimentary Sandwiches,” “Episode 3: Perfect Resume Builder” Timothy Cooper)
“Madison Avery” (“Zac,” Gregory Storm)

More from the WGA Awards:
WGA quietly girds for next negotations
Steven Zaillian | Diane English | Susannah Grant | Seth Freeman | Mike Scully

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