Opinion: Strike report, day <i>74</i>!!!


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DGA and AMPTP settle

Contract negotiations between the directors and producers have concluded. Details from the DGA site:


Increases both wages and residual bases for each year of the contract. Establishes DGA jurisdiction over programs produced for distribution on the Internet. Establishes new residuals formula for paid Internet downloads (electronic sell-through) that essentially doubles the rate currently paid by employers. Establishes residual rates for ad-supported streaming and use of clips on the Internet.

Pickets’ charge

Only eight picketers on the line at Paramount when I went by at 8:30 this morning. I didn’t stop to say hello. As Dean Martin says in some movie: ‘I don’t go into Hollywood anymore. Too depressing.’ It looks to me like the picket schedule is getting leaner too, but I don’t have much historical data to go on.

Then again, don’t believe any numbers coming out of me...

It’s the 74th day of the strike, right? Not the 84th or 85th. I don’t know what’s more discouraging: that I keep getting this simple figure wrong or that nobody bothers correcting me.

Shield honcho: They’re all against us!

Shawn Ryan, creator of The Shield and dead ringer for Michael Chiklis, believes the L.A. Times, Variety and the rest of the MSM are all against the Writers Guild, strongly implying that it’s that ol’ consolidated media at its shadowy work. Interestingly, he and his interlocutur in this interviewer both seem to think Nikke Finke, whom I would have characterized as pretty much a pushover for the writers’ view, is a studio stalking horse. Nikki vants to be alone right now, so in the absence of a response I’m chalking this up to the writers’ engorged sense of embattlement.

More persuasively, Ryan makes an interesting point about how the importance of secondary and international markets means American Idol‘s success doesn’t count for as much as it might seem. As it happens, The Shield frequently films around the the L.A. Times building, and I am always impressed by the huge amount of waste that can be supported by a cable show: Double-digit numbers of large vehicles, scores of idle cast and crew members ambling around, and most importantly the catered breakfasts — and I’m talking about real breakfasts, with sausage and eggs and pancakes. Can a spot in the FX lineup, just a click or two away from a Deep Space Nine rerun on Spike, really generate such a vast economy? Apparently it can, thanks to secondary markets — though I had thought the point of this whole long-tail thing was that it didn’t depend on blockbusters with big up-front costs.

More economic ignorance partially corrected

Boy do I not know how many people are entitled to catered meals in this town! Devoted Opinion L.A. readers, if such people exist, remember that I tried to dope out the average salary of late-night gabfest staffs back in December, by doing some back-of-the-envelope calculations from Bill Carter’s claim that the hosts were paying figures ‘from about $150,000 a week to as high as $250,000 a week’ to keep their non-writing staffs off the dole. This is now old news, but a quote from Jay Leno in an L.A. Times business story earlier this month makes a mockery of my confidence that you could pull off one of these shows with no more than 50 people. Said Jay: ‘We had to come back because we have essentially 19 people putting 160 people out of work.’ So that means the average Jay Leno non-writer is making anywhere from $48,750 and $81,250 per year. Much smaller ranges than I had guesstimated, but with a much, much larger staff.

So there you have it: 160 people, plus 19 writers, plus Jay, plus Mavis, to put out The Tonight Show. I repeat my earlier question about the lean, mean agility of this dynamic and rapidly changing industry.