Friday, November 30, 2007

Amendment to the Walk Of Shame

I was thinking about my advice for ladies who find themselves on the Walk of Shame and I forgot one thing -- Do all I said and then maybe cut one on the way out.

The Walk of Shame

My brother Chris replied to an earlier post where I talked about thefact that I'm starting to like getting up at 5am for my shift at Sony. I think Chris gets up at 4:30am everyday. He's at his desk by like 5:15am or something insane. He wrote this:

I find the best part of the early early morning commute to Boston (especially on Fridays) is when you are so early you are touching the end of night and can occasionally see the late late night partier sheepishly trying to make their way home before the sun rises. This morning just I saw a “business man” sitting on the bench in front of the statue of Sam Adams (the man not the beer) brief case at his side, neck tie undone, shirt unbuttoned, hair looked like it was combed with a shoe, one sock, and two more shoes. I wish I had a camera.

That is what we typically call the Walk of Shame. When I was training for a marathon, we used to run down the back alley to all the beachfront apartments in Marina del Rey. Around Saturday morning at about 7:30am, we'd inevitably see a girl in her Friday night's clothes, stilettos in hand, mascara smeared raccoon-like all around her eyes, tip-toeing down the back steps of some dudes place. We've all had those mornings. Some more than others. And you ladies know who you are. Next time throw those heels on, wipe your face clean, and stomp down those stairs with pride!


I was just finishing up an email to my sister in law Michelle explaining how one's picket line has become a real point of pride. Where you picket and who you're picketing with has become sort of a sport or at the very least a passive aggressive competition. Exemplifying how we here in Hollywood can turn anything into high school.

Anyway, I had sent off my email and then opened another from my friend Eric which contained this piece written by a guy named Jonathan Schmok. It's a little inside but pretty accurate Zagat-like reviews of each studio.


Once the "ultimate destination” for the “proletarian struggle,” now this “no frills” “bunker” is a “safe bet” for avoiding anyone you’ve “slept with.” “Ample construction dust” and “non-specific anxiety” make visiting the MacDonald’s bathroom a “high point” at this “bland”, “very casual” locale. “A gem.”

When it comes to “waving cardboard” at the shadow of a “frozen, Nazi-loving ghost,” the sine quo non is this “stand-by”, “folksy” institution. “A slice of Fascism” proclaiming “free air” and “live squirrels,” the Disney Imagineers seem to have “worked overtime” in providing “the feeling you are being recorded,” but more “for retribution than for pay.”

“Prius drivers and black women always honk” has never seemed truer than at this “one-of-a-kind” “propaganda stockyard.” You’ll “come for the principle” but you’ll “stay for the guilt” as host Rupert Murdoch serves up “no easy sneak out routes” and keeps “residual-philes” “hanging in till three.” Although CAA agents no longer “hand out pastry on trays,” those “in the Biz” may entertain the notion of “leaping into the fountain for a penny.”

Getting a school bus to honk has never seemed so “chic” as at the “legendary” Burbank “chez Leno.” “Enthusiastic die-hards” stand in “long lines” to “stand in a long line” as stories of “touching John Edwards” and “creepy Ambassador Hotel premonitions” make striking at NBC Burbank the West Coast answer to “yelling at any New York office building.”

Memories of Myrna Loy and Star Trek mingle with the aroma of “feet” and “that guy from that pilot” at this “clubby”, “old-school” “bastion of the corporate over-lord.” “Six miles of aerobic walking” and a view of “Mathew Modine in a sweater” seem a “nifty trade off“ for “your career.” Haute amenities include “shade” and “sitting on a planter.”

Enjoy the visual ambiance of “a plating company” and “people with jobs” as you “make eye contact” with “sassy moguls.” When I say “Union,” you’ll say “Kill Me“ as you “trudge” around this “larger than it looks” “Deco whale.” “How’s that iPhone?” and “What have you heard?” pepper the banter on this “seemingly endless death march.” Locals recommend the Paul Haggis.

Don’t let “searing asphalt” and “noxious fumes” deter you from this “centrally located” “barren intersection” which insiders have dubbed “Universal’s hind end.” Make sure you try the “sunscreen” as a defense against “le sol dangereuse.” “Bright” and “minimal”, Barham boasts of proximity to a “furnished apartment complex” as well as a “graveyard,” so “ingrate picketers” can see not only where they’re headed, but also where they’re ultimately headed.

“Kick back” as an “Asian girl” makes you “chant like a Marine” and crew guys give you that “hey fag” look as you sample the many entrances to this “lavish, animation-geared sweatshop.” “Giant, plentiful, life-like murals” of “other people’s hits” make you feel as if you are “walking in a circle in the sun.” “Free Pizza” and “limitless In and Out Burgers” have recently given way to “water” and “whatever’s in your pockets.”

Thursday, November 29, 2007

A Clarification

In a previous post regarding my recent trip to NY, I referred to Ivy's friend Maggie as "the hottie of (Ivy's) group." It has been brought to my attention that this may have hurt Ivy's feelings. Even though I referred to Ivy being the brains and the glue of her circle of friends, no teenage girl wants to hear that her friend is hotter. I did not mean this as a comparison of Ivy's and Maggie's hotness. My step-daughter is plenty foxy. She's the type of girl you always envied in high school -- hair conditioner commercial perfect hair (no blow drying neccessary), blue eyes, picture perfect without a stitch of make-up, etc. She's the girl who is the best friend to all guys in high school. The girl that gives all her guy "friends" advice about dating. (When they're really probably in love with her.) This is the girl that really comes into her own in college and then gets a marriage proposal about every other week. That is how hot my Dogger is. So make no mistake people, the girl is hot. But don't tell her father I said so. Here's a picture to prove it.

That's her with the braids. Did I mention style? Cuz yeah, she's got that, too. I guess the apple didn't fall far away from my tree.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A New Strike Routine

As most of you know I have given up picketing at CBS/Radford. I did so for a number of reasons, one of them being I was sick of driving to the Valley everyday. It's about twenty miles each way. Although our car isn't a gas guzzler, filling up for gas every week and a half when there is no money coming in seemed senseless, especially when I had other options. (No, spending money on food and booze every night doesn't seem senseless to me. But thanks for asking.)

Sam had been riding his bike down to Raleigh Manhattan Beach Studios for the first few weeks of the strike. Once all productions shut down there he was reassigned to Sony. My strike Captain gave me her blessing to picket with my husband. Being that Sony is only about 7 miles from our house, I knew Sam would insist we bike there so over the Thanksgiving Picket Break I turned my road/racing bike into a commuter bike.

A few years back I was really into racing triathlons. When you get into a sport like that, you suddenly find yourself getting all the tricked out gear so you can be faster: aero-bars, clip-in pedals, granny gears (for hills), computer for measuring your RPMs. (For maximum efficiency, one is supposed to pedal 90 rotations per minute -- apparently that's what Lance Armstrong did to revolutionize bike racing.) Guess what? I ain't no Lance Armstrong and I was never going to be faster. My ass is just too big. I could fit Lance's head inside one of my butt cheeks.
So I got rid of the aero-bars and exchanged them for uprights and had my pedals changed back into a pedal with a clip-in option (for when I need the extra pull going up hill. Sometimes pushing down isn't enough). When I picked the bike up from the lovely people at Bike Attack, I fell in love. My bike was perfect! I could pedal home without those stupid shoes and I wasn't hunched over the bike like one of those cartoon characters from the Triplets of Belleville.
So yesterday, Sam and I took our inaugural ride to our shift at Sony. The only problem was our shift started at 6am. SIX IN THE MORNING!!! This meant getting up at 5am so we could leave by 5:30am. I was successful at getting up but I'm not sure I actually woke up until I was about halfway there. It was at that point that I started to sweat, then I started to enjoy the ride and then I stopped and picked up a Starbucks and the whole day turn a turn for the better.

It's fun riding around the dark and cold city streets with my husband. We are sweaty and wide awake by the time we put our bikes away and pick up our signs. Before you know it, our three hours are over and we're headed home.

I never thought I'd say this but I like getting up that early. Now the only problem is when I get home the minute I step in the door I fall asleep for an hour. Maybe a little more. I'm working on that.

Oh and if you haven't seen the Triplets of Belleville, you have to rent it. It's whole family friendly and just about the sweetest movie in the world. Here's a picture of two of the characters who are so cute, you'll run out and rent it tonight.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Back On The Line

Today was my first day back on the line in a bit. 5:15 am certainly came early this morning, but as always once you get there, it's never as bad as you imagined it would be. Today Danny Zucker was on our line. He's kind of a celebrity comedy writer. Everyone knows him and loves him. Turns out he made this video about the strike with another writer I sort of know, Zach Rosenblatt. Zach is married to this fantastic woman, Kourtney Kang who is also a comedy writer. And being that she a woman AND a comedy writer AND I like her -- you know she's gotta be great. So without further ado, here's Zach and Danny's video.

Friday, November 23, 2007

My Trip To NYC

As promised, here is the fantastic view from Paul's apartment.

His apartment is on Howard Street and this is his view looking north up Crosby. Pretty fantastic, huh? I just emailed Maura for some pictures of her view, too. In the meantime, I'll post some pictures of my time spent with my step-daughter ("Dogger" for short), Ivy.

That's Ivy on the right. The other chick is Maggie, Ivy's best friend. We were at Balthazar celebrating Paul's (Uncle Balls') birthday on Saturday afternoon. Friday night was all about Ivy. It was my belated sweet sixteen present to her. We went out to dinner in the city and then had a sleepover at Uncle Balls' house. But before all that I got to meet her crew.

Like most 16 year olds, Ivy travels in a pack. Maggie and Ivy make up one half of that pack. Here's the other half. That's Peter on the left and Jared on the right. They're not as retarded as they look. I don't think. I was actually pretty impressed with all of Ivy's friends. They try and make conversation with adults and look them in the eye when they do. That right there is half the battle with any teenager, right? These kids were smart, funny and gracious. Maggie is the hottie of the group even though she's coming in at just about 5 feet tall. Ivy is the brains and the glue. Without her, there might not be a fierce foursome. She keeps them focused. Jared is the personality and Peter is the male hottie. Although as I told the girls, focus will switch from Peter to Jared very soon, that kid's got swagger. And girls love swagger.

Here's a picture of the king of swagger.
Yep, that's my step-son, Nate. This dude is funny, good-looking, (getting) tall, and can dance his ass off. He's nice to girls and boys alike. He's the guy everyone wants to be best friends with. Thoughts of him at 18 terrify me.

All in all the trip was a success, I spent some quality time spent with the kids, with Paul, with Maura... the one thing I didn't get to do was walk the picket line. Thursday was my only opportunity and I slept through it. Sometimes that city takes hold of you, plies you full of drink and then spits you out nude on the wrong side of 3am. Good times, indeed.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Another Link For Strike News

Here's another link for strike stuff that's pretty interesting; United Hollywood. I put it up a while ago when the strike was just a rumor. It was my agent who reminded me to look at this blog. She prefers this one to Nikki Finke because she says Ms. Finke hates agents. Welcome to the "Hated On" club, Kath. Second only to agents are writers. I'll put it under my permalinks to the right so you'll always have it.

Here's some Daily Show writers doing their thing from the picket lines. I think those dudes can't help themselves. They have to work everyday no matter what. Wish I was like that.

Long Distance Blogging

I'm in New York and have been since Wednesday. It's so great to be in the city. I came here because I promised my step-daughter that I'd have "girl's weekend" to celebrate her 16th birthday (which was in September).

Wednesday I got in a little late and spent the night with Maura who is renovating her awesome brownstone in the West Village. This apartment has the best roof deck in the world. It's not very big and if you lean over the edge a little you can see the Empire State Building but it is cozy and comfy and full of green plants. They are all dying at the moment but you get the feeling. Being in that apartment for five minutes makes me want to live in NYC again. Of course, I don't think I can afford the million dollar brownstone on one of the greatest block in the city. I think Gwenyth Paltrow used to live on the block. Sarah Jessica Parker, too. You get the idea. It's amazing. Then I got to Paul's place. A whole different amazing.

Paul lives in Soho at Crosby and Howard. I wasn't sure where that was so I found Crosby between Broadway and Lafayette and walked south. To my surprise Crosby ended at Howard. I found Paul's apartment directly in front of me. A quintessential Soho building; diamond pattern metal stairs that lead to the front door of building and all the precious stores that have one item like a twisted piece of cardboard shaped like a turd and dipped in and costs $5 thousand dollars. I get buzzed into Paul's apartment, head up to the second floor and walk into a palatial two bedroom loft with the most gorgeous floor to ceiling windows that have an unobstructed view that looks north up Crosby Street. it's the kind of apartment you only see in movies. This is living, people.

Paul promises to send me pictures of the view from his apartment. I won't hold my breath. And I know Maura has some lovely ones of her deck that I'll try to get my hands on so you can see what real New York living is all about. And when I say real I mean rich.

More to come... I need to make some garlic bread for the kids while the oven is hot. Here's a picture of my hungry birds.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Best Strike Blog Out There

There's a lot of reporting going on out there about the strike. When I talk to people on the picket lines about fair reporting one name keeps coming up: Nikki Finke. Her Deadline Hollywood Daily blog is devoted to what is going on between writers and producers. Right now, it's the best place to get information. Also, it's amazing how many times a day she updates her site. Check her out. I'll keep her link on my "Places To Procrastinate" section to your right.

In other news, I'm going to NYC tomorrow. I'll be picketing there on Thursday and Friday. I'm kind of looking forward to it. I'll see how easy we have it picketing in the warm sun all day. I'm back on Monday and then I believe I work Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at Vito next week. My hands are going to be a scaly mess.

A Little Inspiration

During the last half hour of four hours on the picket line, you really start to lose it. No one is funny to you anymore and nothing anyone has to say seems interesting. You just want to go home and nap. But from now on, I'll think about this video when negative thoughts like, "Why the f*ck are we doing this?" start to creep into my head.
I picketed today at Sony with Sam. We did the 6am to 10am shift. By the time I actually woke up, it was about 8:30am. I'll post more about today's line later, after a nap.

Monday, November 12, 2007

DAY 6 (or 8 if you're counting weekends)

It was an all time low turnout for The Game writers today. There was a new schedule set by the WGA for all the studios. Two shifts: 6am - 10am then 10am - 2pm. At CBS Radford, the studio where I have been picketing, they broke the day down into three 3 hour shifts: 6am - 9am, 9am - 12pm, 12pm - 3pm. I thought I might be able to make the early shift but then I realized I'd be in the height of traffic on the way home from the Valley. And traffic in that direction if horrible in the morning. I see it when I'm going to work and often think, I'd kill myself if I was stuck in that every day. So I decided I'd do my own thing; 10am - 1pm. Sam, however, got up at 4:45am and rode his bike to his newly assigned studio, Sony. Turns out there were a lot of people we knew at Sony working the early shift. I was envious when I heard because no one from my show, except Sara, showed up at my gate. I guess they figure they've done enough picketing or someone else will do the picketing for them. Erica texted me and told me that her dog walker called in sick so she'd have to do a "double" tomorrow. Yeah, right. Jeni told me she "ditched" at Paramount. That means she went to Paramount, signed in, and then left. Little does she know the WGA is onto her kind, we now have to sign in and sign out with a time attached. Kenya claims he went to another studio although he lives about two minutes away from CBS Radford so I highly doubt he went anywhere but the movies. Joe (who doesn't work with me but is an honorary member of my show's picketing staff) showed up at 1pm with a massive hangover. I was done with my shift and, after complaining to Sam that Joe didn't show up, I took Joe away from the picket line and fed him a beer and some sushi. He was looking like he might throw up, I knew a beer would help and Katsu-Ya (some of the best sushi in LA) is spitting distance from my line. I know stealing picketers doesn't help the eroding lines but Joe was in such a state he would have been worthless anyway. There was no way he could have gotten even a single car to honk this afternoon.

Tomorrow I'm going to Sony for the early shift with Sam. I definitely looking for some inspiration since I'm so disgusted with my co-workers. After that I'm headed to NYC. I will fulfill my picket obligations while in New York. Apparently the WGA East is so small they picket en masse. Thursday they are picketing at the Disney Store on 5th Avenue. It seems kind of weird to me to picket at a store but I'd show up at the Pottery Barn and picket pillow shams if they asked me to -- I'm determined to give the WGA the 20 hours a week they are asking of every member.

As you all know I like to always have a picture to go along with my post. I don't have any pictures from today but I do have this video. It's how I feel on the picket line sometimes. And it's only week two.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

A Few More Pictures From Day 5

Jeni, one of my co-workers, sent me a couple of pictures of our writing staff at yesterday's big rally for the WGA strike. From left to right is: Hale, Kenya, Jeni, me, Sara.

And who is this foxy middle-aged couple?

Here's another picture of Jeni and Hale but what I'd like you to really notice is the small man over Jeni's shoulder. Yes, that's Booger from Revenge of the Nerds.

My favorite Booger roles were when he played second banana to John Cusack in all those Savage Steve Holland movies from the 80's.
These movies still kind of hold up. Savage Steve Holland might have been ahead of his time with the animation and live action integration part of these movies. Find some time some rainy afternoon to treat yourself to a Cusack/Holland/Booger Fest sometime soon.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Day 5 -- The Big Rally

Today was the big rally for the WGA strike. It was held outside of Fox Studios, actually more accurately, outside of Fox Plaza which was the building called Nakatomi Plaza in the first Die Hard movie. 4,000 writers showed up. Most of them wearing the red strike t-shirts. With all these writers it seemed more like the parting of the red bad body sea. Wow, we are an ugly union. We should have hired some stand-ins to protest for us.

Sam and I took the bus up to Fox. It was the first bus ride I have ever taken in the 13 years I have lived in L.A. I liked it fine although waiting for the bus brought up some stress reminiscent of waiting for the bus for high school after I took the stand not to ride with my father. (Who dropped me off in the same spot as the bus anyway and the bus driver didn't light up a heater at 7:15 in the morning.)

Anyway the rally was sort of like a really fun high school reunion. Walking down the closed streets of Century City I saw people I haven't seen in years. Larry Jacobson was a writer I knew at Letterman. He was the first guy to "go west" to succeed. He worked on Married With Children for a few years, then had a development deal for a few more and has spent the last 11 years working on Leno. He went "west" to do the same thing he did 13 years ago. It was good to see him nonetheless.

Kelsey Grammar spent a few minutes walking beside the entire writing staff of The Game and Girlfriends -- both shows on which he is an Executive Producer -- he had no idea that millions of his dollars were striking beside him. When I told my boss Mara that I saw him she said that if I had introduced myself as a writer from The Game he would have said, "What's that?" His two "urban comedies" on the CW are basically money printing machines for him. He don't need to know the serial number of those machines.

Patrick Verrone, president of the WGA West looked alarming like Hitler minus the mustache. He told us we were winning this fight. I have to say it felt a little like Bush on the Aircraft Carrier pronouncing "Mission Accomplished!"

I ran into my old bosses from Veritas: The Quest, my first job writing when I had a partner. (Holla, Steph!) Patrick Masset and Jon Zinman are now on Friday Night Lights (and you all know how I feel about that show) which means I got to gush all over the writers from that staff. They had no women representing them besides Jon's hot wife Amy who only seemed to be tolerating these boys. I think they might need the lady touch on staff. Look no further, boys. Although I am sure that show will be a real casualty of this strike. It's doing so poorly in the rating I doubt it'll come back even if we do. Shouldn't keep you from watching it, though. I'm just saying.

Monday it's back to the picket lines. Everyone is ready to move around to different studios and walk around in circles for 4 hours with different people. I will be sure to do the same but I'm not going anywhere without Joe.

This is a picture I took of myself and Hale, one of my co-workers. He's dressed in all black cashmere. It was 80 degrees today. That's Sam over the man with the green sweat shirt's right shoulder. He has on a beige cap and is wearing a full beard. And that's a zit on my chin.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Day 4

Day 4 was more uneventful than day 3. Joe didn't show up until later in the day and Erica decided that after her doctor's appointment, she'd strike at NBC Universal where it was rumored that Ellen Degeneres was going to cross the picket line to film two of her shows. Well, Ellen showed up but I'm not sure Erica did.

Anyway turns out that I spent some nice time chanting like a fool with my boss Mara. (This is her. Yes, my boss is hot.) The mornings at the Colfax Gate are nice and rowdy. The woman who run the room at Girlfriends, Mara's other show, take charge of the megaphones and chant and sing for 4 hours straight. When they leave at 1pm it's time for the afternoon shift to take over. Mara and I saw that no one else was going to do it so we did. It's all fun until the old angry men who are picketing with you won't respond to your chants -- ME: "When I say Union, you say Power! Union! Them: (silence) Me: Union! Them: (silence). -- but these guys demand to hear certain ones. A favorite of one 75 yr old gentleman who was working the line (and the 50 something lovely next to him) was: "We are the writers, we tell the story, we"ll tell the whole damn world this is Union territory!" I think he liked the curse word. It all seemed like a great thing.

Then you stop for a minute and you realize that someone cooler than you or someone who just knows you through your husband has entered the line and you kinda just sound like a dick.

Since I have no pictures of me chanting, here's a picture of Lew and Joe chanting. p.s. I made Joe's sign. Yesterday he added the red line under "Honk" after holding the sign for about an hour. I'm so happy the sign made it through the night. Joe is the official favorite striker of The Game writers. Today when he wasn't there, they stood on the corner in honor of him. In fact, this one woman I work with, Sara, said: "Your friend Joe is onto something with this honking thing." That's right, Professor Honkenstein, you sure are.

From The Front Lines

Okay, so everything Jimmy said about a strike is true. No one wins. This is not fun. not fun at all. I didn't expect it to be all shits and giggles, I didn't know what to expect. But walking in a very small circle (think about the length of your driveway) for four straight hours trying to make small talk with other people walking in small circles for four straight hours is a f*cking drag!

The first day everyone was more curious than anything. That feeling lasted about 15 minutes. Then the complaining set in. "My legs hurt." "Do we really have to do this tomorrow too?" "This sign is heavy." "The wood handle hurts my hands." The list goes on and on. I served margaritas on the first day but we quickly realized that that buzz that was fantastic at 2:30pm? Not so great at 5:00pm. Nothing like picketing straight through the buzz into the hangover.

Day two I decided to throw myself into it. Joe didn't. (As you can see from his picture.) I made him his own "HONK FOR A WRITER" sign and let him stand on the corner by himself asking cars to make some noise. Amazingly enough, Joe's little tactic of noise paid off. CSI:NY which shoots inside the studio we were picketing was shut down due to "traffic noise." Very satisfying.

Day three I went out and made coolers for each gate at the studio and dropped them off before my shift. I was amazed to see how sedate the other picketers were. They were like fat little red t-shirted lemmings quietly following one another in circles. Our gate, Colfax Gate, is the loudest and the proudest. Which is good because we're the gate that the actors and the teamsters have to cross all day long. By the end of the day yesterday, I was assigned the bullhorn to lead the chants. Instead of the usual "Hey hey, ho ho, we won't write your TV show." I decided to get creative. "Crossing or line is the pits, Jimmy Smits" was my favorite. Although Joe's "We won't write a script for you, David Caruso" was a close second.

So I go back today and try and find ways to entertain myself for another long stretch. We may all lose our minds if this goes on as long as predicted.

One more thing: striking in the morning and bartending at night equals 12 hours on your feet. HOLY SHIT! I can't believe some people actually stand for that long for a living. It really knocks it out of you. That's why the blog hasn't been updated in so long. I had no idea what was coming my way. I'll be pissed if I get varicose veins after all this.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

The Shock Settles In

At about 2pm on Friday, the Writer's Guild of America called for a strike against the American Motion Picture and Television Producers. It begins on Monday at 12:01am. This means no writer shows up to work on Monday or any day after that until a deal between the two is agreed upon.

I've been a bit cavalier in talking about the strike on my blog. I think I've been trying to avoid really considering what being out of work for an indeterminate amount of time means. I guess the truth is, I don't know how I feel about it or what to expect. Part of not knowing is what is exciting to me. It might push me to do something different, find something new, shake me out of this sitcom stupor I've been in for a couple of years.

My brother Jimmy sent me a very astute email regarding strike situations. Apparently negotiating contracts between laborers and UPenn is what Jimmy does for a living. Now I knew he worked at Penn and I knew he was head of all Operations there but I was never quite sure what that meant. And being totally self-involved, never bothered to ask. Turns out my brother is kind of a big wig over there. Oh, and he's wicked smaht. Here's his email:


I just saw the blog, boy I hope you're wrong. Nobody really wins in a strike. Hopefully if it happens, it will be like most and be settled within 7-10 days. It all depends on how smart the negotiators are; they have to separate themselves from the celebrity of carrying the flag for the cause and realize that in order to settle any labor issue both sides have to have some give to them Probably the biggest part of my job is dealing with labor contract interpretation and negotiations. The negotiations are always tough, mostly because people do not understand how to place themselves in the other side's shoes. I've learned that even a win is not a win unless both parties can walk away with some level of self respect. The problem on the Left Coast is that everyone is an actor in some regard, so this gives them a stage to parade on.

It sounds like your battle is about the changing paradigm of entertainment payment and compensation (pretty Ivy League - huh?). I was going to delete this but after a few VO's I decided to leave it in.

Do you think your side has identified clear money trail that can be better distributed? Has they quantified the value? If so, what are the growth estimates?

What term is the Guild looking for?

Sorry for the quiz, but this is what I do for a living - believe it or not, its like a fight without the sore hands and bruised nose.

Don't worry, how many reruns of "Dancing with the Stars" can America stand?


I've read Jimmy's email a few times to see if I can answer these questions, because f*ck, if I have to walk the picket line everyday this week, I should be able to.

1) Do you think your side has identified clear money trail that can be better distributed? Has they quantified the value? If so, what are the growth estimates?
The quantified money trail and it's growth estimates is the deepest issue up for negotiation. The "new money" trail begins with Internet downloads (or "new media" as they call it). The producers are claiming that they have no way of quantifying how many downloads or viewings a product might have on the Internet. They view the Internet as a strictly promotional tool. And they believe they have the right to put anything we write for them on the Internet for free and then charge you for it or make you watch commercials at every break. Commercials you can't fast forward over. So they are making money from either the advertisers or a straight charge (like iTunes) but are telling us that they can't quantify downloads. Hmm... well you seem to be able to quantify it when you're telling Target how much they have to pay you for advertising on their site. And I can tell how many people look at my blog everyday. Seems like they might have an idea how to quantify their new media. The Writer's Guild knows that the second we fold on this bullet point, the producers will go, "Oops, we just figured it out! Sorry, suckers!" I believe the Guild is right.

2) What term is the Guild looking for?
The Guild would like to increase the percentage of money made off DVD's and New Media. A few years back the Guild folded to a shitty deal regarding DVD's. Off every DVD sold the writers make like .3% (point three!). It costs about 50 cents to manufacture a DVD. Everything above and beyond that is profit. The Guild estimates that by not making the deal they wanted last time around writers lost about 1.5 billion dollars. BILLION! They'd like to try and amend that deal somewhat and get a fair percentage of the profits being made off Internet downloads and viewing. Remember, it costs nothing, not even 50 cents, to put something on the Internet once it's produced.

People watch "TV" in a totally different way now. I download entire seasons of shows I missed and watch them on my computer. I slip on my headphones and snuggle in front of the fire with my computer and a martini. It really puts the "Friday" in Friday Night Lights (Which is the best show on television bar none. Download the first season or get the DVD's. You will not be disappointed. See?! I can't help myself. I promoting against the cause!! But is sooooo good.)

That's all for now. Sorry for all the heavy stuff, but I wanted to answer Jimmy's questions the best I could. I'm sure I'm missing some really important facts but these are the ones I know and these are the ones that'll get me to the picket line every day this week. Well, that and it's mandatory. Everyone has to do four hours a day, five days a week. Should be very interesting.

Friday, November 02, 2007

The Strike Meeting

I went to the strike meeting last night at the L.A. Convention Center. I parked at the Holiday Inn and met Sam at the bar so we could walk over together. I had a margarita and some nachos. For those of you who, like me, love a margarita but suffer from terrible heartburn, I found a solution: no sweet and sour mix! What? Yep, yep. No mix, here's what you do instead. Ask for a margarita made with Patron and Cointreau (Grand Marnier will do if no big C) and then tell them that instead of mix you'd like it made with orange juice and cranberry juice. The sweet and tart of the combination makes for a really lovely margarita. I hear you skeptics already, "I don't like orange juice, blah, blah, blah..." I'm telling you, you don't even know your sipping on the O.J.

So the meeting. It was by turns inspiring (in the turnout - an estimated 3,000 members), horrifying (we are going to strike - it will be announced today for Monday most likely -- in true White House form, you bury news on Friday not announce it) and infuriating. Infuriating because you look around and you understand why everyone in Hollywood hates us. A lot of posturing, a lot of schmoozing, and a little more posturing. There was this one guy who just kept sort of pacing in the middle aisle looking around making sure everyone was looking at him. I would have thought he was security if it wasn't for his douche-required uniform: corduroy blazer, crumpled button down shirt, over priced khakis and the sneaker/shoe hybrids on his feet. Yes, D-bag, everyone saw you. NOW SIT DOWN.

Here's a picture that'll give you an idea of what 90% of the room looked like:
Seriously, this is who I have to picket with??!! I've told a few people who'll be picketing at CBS Radford that I'm going pull my car up close to the picket line and have a fully stocked bar running out the back. Coffee cups and lids provided to hide the roadies.

See? Every cloud does have a silver lining.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Strike News

Well, it looks like we writers are going to strike. Tonight there is a big meeting downtown at the Convention Center for all members of the Writer's Guild. Initially I wasn't going to go as we are shooting a show tonight but then I really thought about it and realized, how could I not go? This is the only time in my life I'll ever be part of a union. And, hopefully, the only time in my life I'll go on strike. I curious to see the machinations of a union when it's about to take an action. I mean, isn't this kind of mobilization of members for a purpose the exact reason a union is formed?

We've been told to pack up our offices tonight in case a strike is called at the end of the day. I look around my office and I see nothing of real importance except of few photographs from my wedding and of course, pictures of the dogs. The rest I am completely happy to walk away from.

Sam & I will probably lose our house if this strike goes too long. I can't imagine the ripple effect it will have on people who are making less than us: the PA's, the Writer's Assistants, shit, even the people who clean the offices! Ugh.

If you're interested here are a few links to websites that have been talking about what's going on in a fair or, at least, understandable way.

The Artful Writer
United Hollywood
The Huffington Post

On the bright side, I will be able to pick up a few more shifts at Vito! It won't pay the mortgage but I'll certainly have more time to blog and pour.