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Soap writers cross the picket line; Variety.com
Topic Started: Nov 13 2007, 02:43 AM (862 Views)
Nubia
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The Queen

Soap writers cross the picket line

'Restless' scribes opt for 'financial core' method

By JOSEF ADALIAN, JOSEF ADALIAN, DAVE MCNARY
Some soaps, like CBS' 'The Young and the Restless,' may continue with scab writers.



Several WGA scribes on sudsers have decided to cross the picket line to keep their jobs.
According to several people with knowledge of the situation, a high-ranking writer-producer on CBS's "The Young and the Restless" has informed the WGA that he plans to go "financial core" -- that is, give up full membership in the guild and withhold the dues spent on political activities in order to continue writing during the strike.

Another source with knowledge of the situation added that two other scribes on "Y&R" have also opted for financial core status, and one other is considering it. A writer on NBC's "Days of Our Lives" may also be considering crossing the picket line.

The WGA -- which recently formed a special committee to handle info about strikebreaking -- refused to comment Monday on whether any members have gone fi-core. "This is an internal matter that we choose not to discuss," guild spokesman Gregg Mitchell said.

Defections are still very much the exception to a strike that has, at least so far, generated widespread public displays of solidarity among scribes of all levels. There have been no reports of writers on primetime or latenight skeins picking up their pens, and a slew of top showrunners have continued to withhold producing services despite studio threats to hold them in breach of contract (Daily Variety, Nov. 7).More than one option(Co) Daily Variety
Filmography, Year, Role
(Co) Daily Variety

Daytime, however, is a very different beast.

Ratings for the daypart have been in decline for years, with several sudsers barely hanging on. NBC, for example, has made it clear that "Days of Our Lives" may not be renewed when its license agreement expires. There's been talk for years about CBS cutting one of its soaps, too.

That's one reason why networks have been scrambling to make sure their soaps stay in production. A long stretch of pre-emptions or repeats -- like the one that occurred during the O.J. Simpson trial -- could prove fatal.

Sudser producers have been saying for weeks that a strike wouldn't shut them down, but they've carefully avoided explaining just how they'd continue to operate sans scribes.

"ABC's daytime dramas are written well into the new year, and we will continue to produce original programming with no repeats and without interruption," the Alphabet said in a statement released last week.

During the 1988 walkout, network and studio execs -- along with non-WGA scribes -- were enlisted to keep the sudsers lathered up. There were also widespread reports of WGA scribes writing scripts at home and finding a way to get those scripts into producers' hands without physically crossing a picket line.

"You'd hear stories about scripts being dropped off behind a trash can or in an alley," one soap veteran said.

It's believed some scribes may once again risk the wrath of their union by working behind the scenes. One daytime insider said she's heard reports of scribes on Procter & Gamble and ABC-Disney-produced sudsers "working in the shadows."

What's surprising about the "Y&R" and "Days" scribes' moves is that the writers appear to be owning up to their decision to keep writing for the soaps rather than trying to hide their actions.

That said, the vast majority of soap scribes appear to be keeping their computers turned off.

In the case of "Y&R," production entities Sony Pictures Television and Bell Dramatic Serial Co. appear to have settled in for the long haul.

During a meeting last week, staffers on "Y&R" were all but told that the show would go on without exec producer-head writer Lynn Marie Latham. Latham ("Homefront") is known to be a strong WGA supporter, and producers have prepared for her absence by laying off her assistant, cleaning out her desk and assigning a Sony exec to work from her office, according to a person familiar with the situation.

As a hyphenate, Latham could still render showrunning services, but has opted not to do any work on "Y&R" during the strike.

"Bold and the Beautiful" showrunner Bradley Bell -- whose family owns the skein -- has also demonstrated allegiance to the WGA and the strike. He walked the picket line in front of CBS Television City on the first day of the stoppage.

Strike-breaking is a serious issue for the WGA, and its strike rules require members to report any activity in that realm. Discipline for violations can include expulsion, suspension, fines and censure; nonmembers who perform banned work during a strike will be barred from joining the WGA.

When the strike rules were issued a month ago, the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers responded with information on its Web site showing how to go fi-core and pointing out that WGA members who take that step can't be disciplined for working during a strike.

But, given the high stakes of the conflict, it's probable the WGA would move to publicly embarass members who take such a step. WGA West members received an email over the weekend from Dan Wilcox, chair of the newly formed WGA West Strike Rules Compliance Committee and a member of the WGA West's Board.

"The mission of the SRCC is to ensure that the Strike Rules are strictly enforced. The SRCC will primarily concentrate its efforts on unearthing and discouraging scab writing. There is no more fundamental working rule than the prohibition against a WGA member performing struck work."

Wilcox noted that the strike rule states: "You must inform the Guild of the name of any writer you have reason to believe is engaged in strike-breaking activity or other scab writing."

"If you have suspicions about a particular writer or project, the best way to report them will be to call our hotline," he added. "We'll handle your call discreetly. Our purpose is not to punish people; it is to head off scab work before it can undermine the strike."

Wilcox also said that leaders of WGA are eager to keep the strike short.

"Unfettered scab writing will only lengthen it," he added. "The simplest and most effective thing you can do to speed things up is to share information with the SRCC."
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px780
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Streetcorner Philosopher

Wow. If they can't even keep their group solid for a couple weeks...

Or at least keep the illusion. Hire a PR firm, WGA! Or, y'know, write your own press and get it out there.
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King
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I was just coming to post this!

I can't believe it!
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Sephora
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King
Nov 13 2007, 07:26 AM
I was just coming to post this!

I can't believe it!

I can simply because soap writers don't want and can't necessarily get what the Prime Time and Movie writers can, residuals. You'll likely never see a boxed set of Days DVD's so why picket so others can get money while you lose money. I certainly wouldn't do it.
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Mason
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I can understand why they'd do it. It's not like soap writers have all that much to gain from this strike.
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bellcurve
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But there's still the whole internet thing! If TV and the Internet end up merging(and more than likely they will), no doubt the studios, without the latest strike, will find a way to fuck over the writers and everyone else.

And if soaps *do* eventually decide to do a Best Of...you better well believe the writers, actors, and directors will want their cut.

I think it's scummy for the writers to continue to write during the strike. It's just very two-faced and they aren't revealing their identities. They still WANT the WGA benefits, but they don't want to walk the picket line, support their fellow writers, AND not give the networks what they want.

If it's true, I find it appauling that the BI-ed Y&R producer-writer is Josh Griffith. He has worked in both daytime and primetime.

It's just sick. I don't like the strike as much as anyone else, but at the same time, I'd like to see daytime pull together for this. No matter how shitty the writers are.
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Sephora
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Are you honestly suggesting that some day the internet will merge with television and the only way people will watch shows is on their computer? NO WAY!!! There is no way I'm giving up my 52 inch flat screen HD TV that 20 people can watch at one time to start watching shows on my 17 inch laptop screen. It's just not going to happen at least not any time soon and even IF it does, people aren't going to switch to watching shows on their PCs. Broadcast television will always be.

Soap writers don't make the money prime time writers do. Why should they go without so their higher paid peers can get something they likely will never have a chance at getting.

Sorry, the writers are just being greedy and more power to the soap writers for crossing.
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bellcurve
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No one is saying you will or that you have to give up your "52 inch flat screen HD TV that 20 people can watch at one time." What if cable companies make internet available through the programs you watch. Microsoft did it with WebTV. Apple has come up with a TV/Internet linkup device.

And what about the writers and people in charge of GH: NIGHTSHIFT? I heard that was made without a union agreement due to a loophole. Should Elizabeth Korte, Karen Harris, etc.(who are all soap writers, mind you) get screwed out of DVD Residuals and the streaming of episodes on SOAPnet's mobile service, SOAPnetic? They are soap writers and this strike affects them.

Rick Draughton writes NBC Online's COASTAL DREAMS on non-union pay and doesn't see a dime of any kind of internet ad revenue. Same with the writers for Innertube's L.A. Diaries.

Lots of people watch TV via the internet. I'm forced to watch B&B online when I can because I can no longer watch it on TV.

Crossing a picket line does not make a soap writer courageous. It makes them a scummy bastard.

And the thing is that *EVERYONE* is going without! The primetime writers have abandoned ship and people are getting fired left and right. These writers shouldn't have joined the union if they planned on betraying the very people who make sure they get health benefits, pension plans, residuals, etc.

Without a union, we'd probably have even more passionless writers because of all the people who would work for little pay.

I don't see what's so greedy about doubling residuals from DVDs and getting paid residuals from internet streamings. And I don't see why or how this doesn't affect soap writers?!

Granted, I am not a member of the WGA, but I can understand where they are coming from and I sure as hell can understand loyalty to your allies. You don't betray your union.
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GatsbyGirl
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bellcurve
Nov 13 2007, 11:46 AM
Crossing a picket line does not make a soap writer courageous. It makes them a scummy bastard.

And the thing is that *EVERYONE* is going without! The primetime writers have abandoned ship and people are getting fired left and right. These writers shouldn't have joined the union if they planned on betraying the very people who make sure they get health benefits, pension plans, residuals, etc.

Without a union, we'd probably have even more passionless writers because of all the people who would work for little pay.

I don't see what's so greedy about doubling residuals from DVDs and getting paid residuals from internet streamings. And I don't see why or how this doesn't affect soap writers?!

Granted, I am not a member of the WGA, but I can understand where they are coming from and I sure as hell can understand loyalty to your allies. You don't betray your union.

Amen, bellcurve! Great post. Yeah, whatever happened to loyalty and solidarity? These scabs are just weakening the strike. I don't see what's greedy about wanting a more fair contract either. The studios are the greedy ones in this situation, not the WGA.
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Mason
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The WGA isn't greedy, but I really don't see the big deal about the daytime writers. Yeah, in a perfect world there's loyalty and solidarity and whatnot, but let's get real. This strike is going to have no effect on probably 98% (if not more) of soap writers. They can still support their fellow writers and the strike, but I really would not call them traitors for not participating. And frankly, I don't care if that makes me sound like a horrible person.
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Steve Frame
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No Mason that is not true. All the soap writers will be affected by what they are striking for. They are wanting their part of the money that networks are making for selling their product on the Internet. Right now the writers are only getting paid for what is shown on the TV. The networks make money off that and then turn around and sell it to the Internet but they keep all the profits and writers are not being compensated for that.

If the prediction is true that many soaps will move permanently to the Internet, the WGA will have no control over how these writers get paid. Plus these writers will not even have the privilege of joining the WGA. Just like the writer of Coastal Dreams. He/she is not eligible for WGA membership and thus can get paid less for his work than industry standards demand.

Writers are just trying to protect their rights if and when more and more stuff moves to the Internet, podcast, etc. Right now there are no guidelines at all. Soaps will be the first to go exclusively to these routes I'm sure.
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Mason
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Well, if and when soaps do go exclusively to Internet broadcast, THEN I will agree with you.
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Y&RWorldTurner
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Sharongate, bitches!

Mason AKA Hogan
Nov 13 2007, 01:34 PM
Well, if and when soaps do go exclusively to Internet broadcast, THEN I will agree with you.

CBS, the network with the the most soaps and the two highest rated soaps have been repurposing their entire soap lineup online. Apparently, the writers don't get any of the profrit from the online distribution of those shows, so it's a big deal to them. They might exclusively be online, but they are watched by a significant amount of people online, yet the networks get all the ad revenue and the writers get nothing.
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Steve Frame
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Then won't matter. Sure put it off to the future and then worry about it. That is what the writers did in 1988. They listened to the powers who said that let's settle the contract now and we will worry about that stuff later. Things were already in process then and writers were worried about it then. The heads of the networks and studios told the writers that they would take care of them when it happened. Well they didn't.

And you better believe that if they don't settle it this time they won't be taken care of either. If they sign the contract it will be a long term contract. They can't just renegotiate it as things come up. What they agree to now is for the long haul.
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Sephora
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Mason AKA Hogan
Nov 13 2007, 12:55 PM
The WGA isn't greedy, but I really don't see the big deal about the daytime writers. Yeah, in a perfect world there's loyalty and solidarity and whatnot, but let's get real. This strike is going to have no effect on probably 98% (if not more) of soap writers. They can still support their fellow writers and the strike, but I really would not call them traitors for not participating. And frankly, I don't care if that makes me sound like a horrible person.

I disagree with the greedy part but agree with the rest.

I also don't think someone crossing so they can support their family is scummy. When you know someone who lost their home during the grocery clerks strike that they didn't necessarily support, you tend to see things differently. ~~~~
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Mason
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Sephora
Nov 13 2007, 12:59 PM
Mason AKA Hogan
Nov 13 2007, 12:55 PM
The WGA isn't greedy, but I really don't see the big deal about the daytime writers. Yeah, in a perfect world there's loyalty and solidarity and whatnot, but let's get real. This strike is going to have no effect on probably 98% (if not more) of soap writers. They can still support their fellow writers and the strike, but I really would not call them traitors for not participating. And frankly, I don't care if that makes me sound like a horrible person.

I disagree with the greedy part but agree with the rest.

I also don't think someone crossing so they can support their family is scummy. When you know someone who lost their home during the grocery clerks strike that they didn't necessarily support, you tend to see things differently. ~~~~

Thank you!
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Kevc1980
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Days is available on Itunes though...So they have some stake in this strike..and most of the soaps are available online to download..
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Steve Frame
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While I cannot fault them for crossing the lines. You do what you have too when you have a family to feed. But there is also the long term they have to think about. They are protected now but after the strike they can lose their WGA membership - even if they take the financial core thing. The WGA can choose after the strike is over to cancel the membership of any writer that does this. If they do they will no longer be able to work for the daytime shows because they can only hire writers who are members of the WGA. So yes they are protected now but they are taking a big risk that they could lose their job later.
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Rick
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Dreamlander

If they do cross the picket lines, DAYS and Y&R will no longer be eligible for the WGA Awards

Not sure about writing for the Daytime Emmy's? Do you have to be in the guild?
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bellcurve
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Rick
Nov 13 2007, 03:30 PM
If they do cross the picket lines, DAYS and Y&R will no longer be eligible for the WGA Awards.

For reelz?!
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