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November 19, 2007

The Writers’ (WGA) Strike

This seems rather an obvious solution to me — but I’m sure I’m not the first person to think of it, so there must be some defect in my reasoning that I’m sure somebody will point out to me…

What would be the downside of the writers asking that their payment for a script be increased 30%, or 50%, or 100%, or whatever the appropriate figure might be, and then the hell with the residuals? It comes out to the same money and they’d have it in-hand, and no worries about what the studios claim they’re making money on, or their creative accounting techniques, or new technologies that nobody is anticipating yet (“Oh yeah, we agreed to pay you 6 cents for every DVD sold, but the contract says nothing about holographic presentations”)

I can’t imagine the studios agreeing to this, because it would eliminate some of their potential to screw over their creative people, but still…

There are two inarguable facts: With a long-term contract in effect, new technology will always benefit the studio, because they have physical possession of the completed work; and studio executives have an inherent advantage over writers because the studio executives know business and contracts and the writers know punchlines.

This is by no means a criticism of the writers, of course: Business is easy, comedy is hard.

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