This "blog" or "webblog" or "internetwebblog" or "interwebblognetwebblog"
will feature the thoughts and observations of Late Show writers Eric Stangel, Justin Stangel, Bill Scheft, Steve Young, Matt
Roberts, Tom Ruprecht, Jeremy Weiner, Lee Ellenberg, Joe Grossman and Bob Borden regarding the current writers strike.
There is a lot at stake with this strike and these are serious issues. The Late
Show writers are on the picket lines every day they are scheduled. We are not making light of this situation. One way to get
people to pay attention to the strike and its issues is through humor.
THE LATE SHOW WRITERS
Thursday, February 28, 2008
End of strike announcement
9:18 am est
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
A New Direction For Lateshowwritersonstrike.com
8:45 pm est
by Steve Young
With the strike over and the new Writers Guild contract ratified, we here at lateshowwritersonstrike.com
are faced with a dilemma. What kind of website do we want now that our original concept is obsolete? We've
had a lot of fun with the site and we'd hate to lose this creative outlet. Clearly, it needs to evolve. After
much discussion, we think we've got the the new theme that will carry us through the rest of 2008 and beyond.
soon, look for our focus to shift completely to the massive beef recall. We believe our fans will enjoy our satiric
takes on the USDA's largest-ever recall of 143 million pounds of possibly tainted beef. We're confident that
we'll still get plenty of plugs from Nikki Finke and other top news and entertainment outlets as we spoof the deliberations
of Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer and his staff, post fake press releases from Steve Mendell, president of Hallmark
Meat Packing and its distributor, Westland, present the lighter side of regulations pertaining to downer cattle entering the
food chain, and much, much more.
You can still visit us here, but shortly all the hilarity will be taking place
at lateshowwritersdiscussthemassivebeefrecall.com. Bookmark it now!
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Thanks a lot jerks!!
10:38 pm est
Listen up- my Academy Awards party was not canceled. That was a stupid rumor. The only person who bothered to show up was
Cuba Gooding Jr and you can imagine how that went. Thanks for the support, jerks. Don't count on getting an invitation
PS Oh, and we had onion dip and everything.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
AIR OF RESIGNATION?
10:06 am est
BY BILL SCHEFT
So, all of sudden, Fidel Castro decides he's not
interested in dictating anymore? If it all seems a little too convenient, it is. LateShowWritersOnStrike has learned that
El Presidente was shown the El Evator after he gave away the store in the latest contract negotiations with Los
Scriptos Guild de Cubana. Castro's normally loyal henchman were shocked at the generous concessions the once ruthless
despot doled out in every phase of the Cuban New Media, including wireless, telex, telecopiers, victrolas and princess
We salute our union brethren 92 miles south of Florida. Fair deal, si!
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Today's Top One List
7:00 pm est
by Steve Young
Signs A Nintendo Wii Owner Has Been Reading Too Much deadlinehollywooddaily.com
NikkiFinke's current high score in bowling is 206.
Sunday, February 17, 2008
TOLDJA!! Kosovo declares independence from Serbia
2:38 pm est
As reported here last week after talking with my sources in the now disbanded Kosovo Liberation Army, Kosovo's parliament
officially declared the disputed territory a nation on Sunday, mounting a historic bid to become an "independent and
democratic state" backed by the U.S. and European allies but bitterly contested by Serbia and Russia.
still be having upfronts, but the date is to be determined
Friday, February 15, 2008
4:58 pm est
IN the next few days we'll be offering some quality LateShowWritersOnStrike.com material that we didn't get a chance
to post. Some might seem dated, but hey it's free!
BILL SCHEFT'S STRIKE-RELATED DAVE-TYPE MONOLOGUE JOKE OF
I don't know if this has anything to do with the writers strike or the stagehands
strike, but the Knicks are running a weird promotion this Friday at Madison Square Garden. "Scab Appreciation Night."
then there's this!
Everybody in New York City is doing their part to show support for the writers. I took a cab
today, and I was pretty sure my driver hadn't showered since November 4.
Both by Bill Scheft. The strike's
over, but he will forever be the Late Show Strike Captain
The blog will continue...
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Proxy Voting Fine Print--Trouble Ahead?
by Steve Young
11:36 pm est
I voted by proxy today in the vote on whether or not to end the strike. Only after I'd
filled out and sent my proxy off with Strike Captain Bill Scheft did I take a close look at the fine print. What I read
PROXY-- In accordance with the Constitution and By-Laws, Article VII, Sec. 4(c): “Any
member having a right to vote at a meeting pursuant to the provisions of this Section, who is absent from such meeting may
vote by giving a written proxy to any other member who is entitled to vote and who will be present at such meeting, provided
that a proxy may only be given to be voted at a particular meeting, the date of which is to be specified in such proxy. Any
proxy purporting to authorize its holder to vote at more than one meeting is null and void. By submitting a proxy vote,
member agrees that WGA East President Michael Winship may at his discretion make love to their spouse or significant other,
at a time and place deemed convenient by Guild leadership.”
Oh well, at least the strike might be over
Sunday, February 10, 2008
3:29 pm est
By Late Show Strike Captain Bill Scheft
I have been waiting to write this report for about 95 days. Saturday afternoon,
I had the honor of attending the WGAE membership meeting, where we were presented with the terms of our tentative agreement
with the AMPTP. The meeting was held in the Broadway Ballroom of the Crowne Plaza Hotel and there wasn't an open seat
in the house. 800-1000 people. This is significant, but many of the Late Show writers were in the same location on the evening
of Day 3. Only that time, there were maybe 200 people in the ballroom and we faced a dais made up of members of the negotiating
committee, who spent an uncomfortable two hours defending their decision to call a strike and trying to convince us that they
had at most a plan and at least a clue.
Same hotel, same ballroom, same people on the dais. But this time,
they were not defensive. They were confident, proud and yet realistic. They presented the deal points to us unabashedly and
spoke of what we gained and what we lost, as is the very nature of a serious labor negotiation, something this had not been
until two weeks ago. They did not, as some members believed would happen, ram the deal down our throats. But they were frank.
This was clearly a limited offer by the producers, and they believed our leverage (the Oscars, the rest of the current TV
season, the end of the pilot season) was never stronger. To continue the strike to get a better deal without leverage until
the SAG contract was up June 30 was risky, even reckless. No, the deal wasn't perfect, but as WGAE President Michael Winship
misquoted Bill Clinton (it's actually Voltaire) "Don't let perfect be the enemy of good."
Many people had reservations and concerns about actual language and numbers. They were not shouted down. Their questions
were answered respectfully. In many instances (like about the notion of sympathy strikes) people needed to be educated (like
the fact that sympathy strikes no longer exist). But the majority of people who got up behind the three microphones set up
in the ballroom did so to express their gratitude and admiration for what had been won.
An informal poll
was taken over whether or not to abide by the recommendation of the executive board and negotiating committee and end the
strike Monday or wait 48 hours for a vote of the membership. Overwhelmingly, members want to end the strike and go back to
work Monday. (Out West, they decided to wait 48 hours. So, it looks like Wednesday.
If you had 100 days in the strike
pool, congratulations!!! Collect at your local Writers Guild office, or any participating AutoZone....)
I stopped gambling 12 and a half years ago, I am no longer a numbers guy. I never cared about the specifics of the new contract.
All I wanted was a system in place for a piece of New Media profits that could grow as the technology grew. Not something
as in the past, the producers either ignored, stalled or equivocated away. As negotiating committee member Melissa Salmons
(one of the unsung heroes in securing the interim agreement that allowed the Late Show writers to return January 2) said,
"I lived in dread that the hated DVD formula (4 cents for every $29 DVD) would follow us my whole life. No more. This
is a deal with movement in it."
I'll be honest. I was shocked. I went to the Crowne Plaza (accompanied
by Thurber Award winner Alan Zweibel) pit of my stomach petrified that I would be in for five hours of rancor broken up by
fits of righteous victimization. But it was just under three hours. Not one chair thrown. No scalding coffee in anyone's
eyes. And we call ourselves a union?
Yes, we do. Ten minutes into the meeting, Terry George, the negotiating
committee's bare knuckles Irishman, crystallized the journey that began as a Quixotic venture eight months ago and 98
days ago became a historic pursuit. "With this deal, we have defeated a tradition of rollbacks that began with the air
traffic controllers." That was all I needed to hear about how far we had come.
I am a writer, which
means my very nature is to be a self-obsessed isolator whose most free exchanges are among the voices in my head. If this
is indeed over, the end is even more humbling than the hours spent walking in circles toward it. The best definition of success
I ever heard was service plus faith. By our actions and the belief in our actions, we have taken care of ourselves and the
generations of self-obsessed isolators who will follow us.
EXCLUSIVE REPORT: WHAT HAPPENED AT SATURDAY'S WGAE MEETING AT THE CROWNE PLAZA
1:57 pm est
by Steve Young
Just as at the November meeting, they had those hard candies with the jelly centers. I
especially enjoyed the pineapple flavor. Ice water was also available.
more to come...
Reuters breaks down deal points
FACTBOX: Provisions of screenwriters' labor deal
10:52 am est
Sat Feb 9, 2008 9:21pm EST
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The following
is a summary of key provisions in the tentative contract deal between the Writers Guild of America and major studios, stipulating
how writers will be paid for work distributed over the Internet.
The pact doubles
the rate for reuse fees, or "residuals," paid for TV shows and films sold as Internet downloads, from about 0.3
percent of a distributor's gross revenues to roughly 0.7 percent. But the higher rates would kick in only after the first
50,000 downloads of a film or the first 100,000 downloads of a TV show.
This is essentially the same deal secured
by the Directors Guild of America for its members last month. The Writers Guild originally had sought download residuals of
2.5 percent of distributor's gross, about eight times the current rate.
PRIME-TIME TV STREAMING
deal establishes a new residual fee structure for advertising-supported online streaming of network prime-time television
For a one-hour prime-time drama, the new residual would amount to about $650 per episode for 26 weeks of
streaming, or $1,300 for a full year's worth of streaming.
But those fees would only be paid after an initial
"promotional" window of up to 24 days of free streaming. A year after the initial window, the residual fee would
jump from a fixed sum to 2 percent of distributor's gross revenues.
In the third year of the WGA contract,
the favored rate of 2 percent of distributor's gross would kick in immediately after the promotional window ended, rather
than a year later.
But the contract contains one further caveat to this benefit. It sets an "imputed"
value for the 2 percent residual at a fixed sum of $800 for each 26 weeks of streaming in the first year after the window,
unless the network's exclusive license for the show expires before then.
OTHER TV STREAMING
TV shows are excluded from provisions that pay streaming residuals as a percentage of distributors' gross. Instead, writers
earn a fixed sum, similar to those established for the first year of streaming broadcast network series.
streaming of "library" shows produced after 1977 are payable at 2 percent of distributor's gross receipts.
A union summary of the proposal did not clearly define what constitutes a "library" show.
The agreement requires studios to hire union writers when producing made-for-the-Internet content,
whether it be original Web-based TV shows or "derivative" material adopted from existing programs.
the contract exempts low-budget original shows in which production costs are less than $15,000 per minute, $300,000 per program
or $500,000 per series -- whichever is lowest.
According to leading TV producer and past WGA West President John
Wells, the popular Web-based drama series "Quarterlife" is being produced for three times that much.
RIGHTS FOR NEW MEDIA
The deal preserves for creators of Internet content the concept of "separated rights"
that already exist for creators of film and TV material -- retaining for them the rights to adapt that material for a stage
play or novel. They also retain rights to characters they create for the Web.
The WGA is
guaranteed full access to new-media deals, financial data and distribution statements to allow the union to evaluate and enforce
the contract's revenue-based residual formulas for the Internet.
New media residuals based on transactions
between related parties are subject to a test of "reasonableness" when compared to transactions between unrelated
parties. The idea is to prevent the value of residuals from being manipulated through sweetheart deals.
Monday, February 4, 2008
More Tantalizing Rumors!
6:12 pm est
by Steve Young
According to sources who were with him at the Super Bowl, Fox honcho Peter Chernin assured his
friends that "The Patriots won."
Sunday, February 3, 2008
NEW STREAMLINED PROCESS MOVES TALKS ALONG
2:02 pm est
BY BILL SCHEFT
Promising stories published by the New York Times and the Associated
Press Saturday indicated that we may be nearing the end of strike, thanks to the development of "creative solutions"
to the most contentious sticking points between the Writers Guild and the AMPTP.
Not only are the solutions creative, but scientific. Very simply, if Nikki Finke's phlegm turns green, the deal is a go.
Brown, it's el paso.
Here's the complete color chart-
Nikki Finke Phlegm Color
Go (or Good)
Shitty (or Bad)
Proceed with caution
Strike ends Memorial Day Weekend
Friday, February 1, 2008
Strike Day 89: Some Perspective
5:14 pm est
By Eric Stangel
The writers strike has been going on for 89 days. To
illustrate how long it has been, you’ll be amazed by how the world has changed since November 5th
When the strike started on November 5th…
of gasoline was just $3.13
…Britney Spears did not speak with an unusual fake British
…There was no such thing as “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew Pinsky”
…Dennis Kucinich still thought he had a chance to win the Presidency… or even a Primary
…Jessica Simpson was just an airhead, not an airhead bad luck charm for the Dallas Cowboys
…I was not friends with Justine Bateman
…Jamie Lynn Spears
was considered “The Normal One”
…We all thought Hulk Hogan and his wife
Linda had the perfect marriage
…There were no mysterious deaths which had anything to
do with Mary-Kate Olsen
We were so innocent then. If only we knew then what we know now
(Justine, call me)
Click here for all December posts
Click here for all November posts! You'll be glad you did!
As seen on Variety.com, Nikki Finke's DeadlineHollywoodDaily.com, Time, Hollywood Reporter, MSNBC, New York Magazine Online, Aint It Cool News, Gawker, Defamer, Washington Post, New York Times, Wahoo Gazette, MediaBistro.com, IMDB.com's Hit List, Bloomberg News, Associated Press, FilmDetail.com, Broadcasting and Cable, TV Week, TV Squad, TV Barn, Forbes, Guardian Unlimited, CNN, Huffington Post, The Nation, Slate, E! Online, Entertainment Weekly.com, Chicago Tribune.com, Rolling Stone, Crain's, New York Daily News, San Diego Union-Tribune, Philadelphia Daily News, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Sacramento Bee, The Canadian Press, Best Week Ever, BBC Radio (well, we were heard on BBC Radio) Howard 100 News, and many others
A message from Late Show writer Bill Scheft....
This letter originally was posted on the late show newsgroup
and the late show website.
I am the union rep for the show, and felt compelled to
bring you up to date on the writers strike. Our guys have been so much better represented on the picket line than all the
other NY shows. I am really proud of them.
lest you think we are a bunch of spoiled brats just looking for a raise, the big issue, money from original content shown
on the Internet and other new media, is our way of replacing the money we are losing over the disappearing residuals. Residuals
are not a bonus. They are the way writers live when they are between jobs. The standard writers contact is up for renewal
every 13 weeks. You can have a five- year contract, but they can let you go every 13 weeks without paying you any more as
long as they give you a month's notice. That is the deal we all enter into. There are 12,000 writers in the guild. You
need to make $30,000 a year in guild earnings to keep your health insurance. Last year, 6000 didn't reach that figure.
I have been lucky enough
to have a job for 16 years. That simply does not happen. So this is what we are fighting for. Believe me, we would love to
be in the office, writing fun facts, actives with Rupert, illegally doctoring footage or downloading porn, but this is the
frontline fight for all the other union contracts that come after us. The late night writers are the first ones affected by
a strike, and the ONLY ones who will never recoup the money we lose because we do 10 times as many new shows per year as any
drama or sitcom. But we go out in support of our fellow union members and pray this thing ends soon.
One more thing. To a man, all of the writers are deeply concerned
about the collateral damage if we stay out too long. We think of the 150 people who work at the Late Show whose fight this
is not and believe they will be taken care of. They are all embarrassingly supportive of us. No one any more so than Dave.
It is quite humbling.
Sorry to be so serious,
but this is serious business. I wanted to write you people because this site has loyally and relentlessly followed the show
since we came to CBS. I felt you were owed as much of an explanation as anyone outside the negotiation room can give.
Feel free to ask any questions and I will try to respond.