Power and Politics - I am Not the Yellow Peril

The life and times of an Asian American activist who tells all the truth (and dishes news and analysis) but with a leftwards slant.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Letterman reaches deal with Writers Guild

This is pretty cool and HUGE, because this way the writers can hope to fragment the media companies (not a huge chance but good luck and a step forward.)

It sucks that they haven't been able to do the same with with Colbert, who I am still on record as supporting for President, and with Jon Stewart, because we kinda NEED their rapier wits to skewer the GOP over this next year. (Please please please let's get this thing settled by the start of GOP convention - there's so much material there, especially since Larry Craig hoisted his infamous petard in the Minneapolis airport!!! We could say that the GOP candidate has a wide stance on [pick your issue cos they all flip-flop routinely.])

Of course, neither Colbert nor Stewart own their own production companies, and are being forced to return to work, without their writers. So maybe this will push them in that direction, as they are mightier than most real pundits, as voted by the Associated Press. (Read the AP story for a damn fine tribute to Colberto, the anti-Alberto.)

But I'm enthused because it shows that the Guild is willing and able to make deals and also play hardball. I buy blue, and I try my darnedest to vote with my cash and to take my business to progressive companies that honor my business. As the United Hollywood blog says:

Like the waiver for the SAG awards, it lets people know that, when we are able to, we honor those who honor us.

(Trust me, I have been in both airline and wireless provider hell for the past few weeks. I will GLADLY pay extra to find companies in both fields that meet my needs and provide ACTUAL customer service without screwing their workers. Strangely the two often coincide - for some reason companies that think it's worthwhile to treat their employees right get employees who are willing and able to treat the customers right. Full circle, you know? Southwest is one that does it right, and American Airlines is currently on my shit list.)

So I'm glad to see that Letterman and Ferguson, both of whom are more on the progressive side of things, are getting a decided market advantage, and that it's one which honors the writers. Imagine that the writers actually got a friggin' voice in all this, that they might be able to use this power to divide and conquer versus being divided and conquered, which is usually what happens.

Because at some point, all the media companies who need to shill their movie stars and the conglomerates who need to promote their books and gadgets and gizmos aplenty are going to be burning up the lines to place their clients on TV. And since most stars are unwilling to cross the picket lines, but are willing to elbow out their competition, producer's lines for these two talk shows are going to start burning up, right about now. Laeta over at United Hollywood says it all better than I ever could, including these key grafs:
Leno, Conan, Kimmel and others have been staunch supporters of the writers, even digging into their own pockets to pay their non-writing crews. The sacrifice they’ve made by staying out this long in support of writers is an incredible thing. But unlike Letterman, who can thumb his nose at CBS because he owns his own company, the other late-night hosts are effectively hostage to the position of their employers, like NBC and ABC.

And since all the hosts are being forced to go back in January anyway, the income stream they provide to the conglomerates will come back no matter what, albeit (we hope) reduced by advertisers rebelling.

So denying Letterman a deal wouldn’t actually have deprived CBS of a revenue stream. At best, it would have reduced the revenue stream. And again, tremendous advertiser pressure will now be put on NBC and ABC to settle this.

. . . This is the kind of behavior that Wall Street often rewards. But that doesn’t make it actually good for business, much less for the people who make the product the business relies on for its profits.

We want to go back to work, and we want the town back to work – with a fair deal for everyone. Personally, although I know there will be frustration for some members that we made this deal, I think it was the right thing to do.

When one of the majors comes to the table and makes a deal – and I hope they will – odds are that I won’t be one of the writers who gets to go back to work. I won’t like it, because I have a movie in preproduction right now that I've had to walk off of. But I’ll live with it, if it serves the larger good of all of us getting coverage.
I'll just add that Letterman is really pissed at CBS because they want to replace him in 2009 with Conan, so he has lots of impetus to screw the eye. (Sounds nasty, I apologize.) But also that his added cachet what with being able to draw higher ratings with his writing staff in place might change that game plan as well, and I wouldn't be surprised if he didn't consider that factor.

But this is excellent news, a nice way to start the New Year and it gives me hope. Plus it gives me some light at the end of this very long and depressing tunnel called the winter doldrums. Please for the love of god, don't make me face the bizarre global warming storms that keep me indoors without SOME kind of quality entertainment!!! Apart from re-watching Arrested Development, I just don't know what I am going to do. Maybe I'll brave the long lines, stand outside, and buy a Wii if I can get one. Am desperate for entertainment and means of procrastination!!! So desperate I started blogging regularly again . . .

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