Report from the picket line: WGAE's Michael Winship and Amy Sherman-Palladino

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Despite reports of dissension among members of the Writers Guild of America, (not to mention overall strike fatigue), many scribes at the WGA East picket line yesterday still seem spirited — and hellbent on doing whatever it takes (read: picketing in really cold weather) to get a good deal. Hollywood Insider caught up with WGA East president Michael Winship (pictured), director-writer-producer Amy Sherman-Palladino (Gilmore Girls), and newbie writer Jim Juvonen (The Philathropist) to see what they had to say about where things stand.

The interviews after the jump.

ON STRIKE FATIGUE:

Winship: Spirits are still very, very strong. The fact that all of these folks are out here today — we didn’t even publicize this one as widely as we [usually] do, and we still have hundreds of people here. We had guys from UAW [United Auto Workers] here, we had guys here from the Pilot’s Association, all of the other unions — not to mention SAG [Screen Actors Guild] and AFTRA [The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists]. They’re all here today.

Sherman-Palladino (has a new show scheduled to air on Fox titled The Return of Jezebel James): I think our representation this year is doing a great job. I think they’re being tough, but they’re not being crazy. People just aren’t used to writers being tough. We’ve been p—–s for years. I think everyone’s just a little surprised that we’re like, “You know what, we just don’t want to bend over and get a broom stick up our a– again.” Make sure you put that in… that’s for the kids. Writers have been sold out for years. And I’m sorry about all the people out of work, but as anyone in show business knows, you get on a show and a show is canceled after one episode and everyone’s out of work. No one’s in show business for security. I think they’re just used to writers not asking for their due.

Jim Juvonen (writer for The Philanthropist, a one-hour drama NBC purchased in September and is yet to air): I am fatigued by the producers’ [willfulness] with us, but not as far as our resolve as a union. I see increased unity and belief in what we’re doing and in the argument. As time passes, it becomes more clear that we’re right and what we seek is fair.

ON WHERE THEIR SHOWS STAND:

Juvonen: This is my first thing that I’ve sold, and then four weeks later, we went on strike. It’s on hold right now because no one’s working on the show. We were supposed to shoot our pilot last week. So what has been sold and what exists is Tom [Fontanta’s] pilot script, and then myself and the other writers on the show had outlines for the scripts that we planned to write when the strike began.

Sherman-Palladino: Now, supposedly, we’re premiering after American Idol in March sometime, and then they’re moving us to Friday. But Fox literally keeps changing their schedule every day and a half. I’ve never watched American Idol.

ON ISSUES RELATED TO AWARDS SHOWS:

Winship: The decisions that have been made about various awards shows have been based on the nature of the awards and the nature of the organization requesting the waiver. In the case of the Independent Spirit Awards, you’re dealing precisely with that — the independent spirit — and we want to encourage independent filmmakers and filmmakers who are apart from the system. In terms of the NAACP Awards, as Patric [Verrone] said yesterday, there’s a difference between an organization like the Grammy’s or the Oscars that incidentally does good work on the side but whose primary purpose is to give out awards as opposed to a group like the NAACP, whose primary purpose is human rights and justice, and which tangentially also gives awards that honor programs and actors and actress that promote those values. In terms of the interim agreements with the studios and independents like Worldwide Pants, that’s all part of an overall strategy of how to deal with all of the big six media conglomerates. It creates leverage, it creates a wedge, it creates a divide and conquer strategy. We hope [it will] make them realize that the companies getting the deals are creating pressure on those other ones. Second, it demonstrates the fact that we’re capable of making a deal and making a deal that’s fair and respectable to our relationship. The deals that those companies have been taking is identical to the deal that was on the table when the studios and networks walked out on Dec. 7.

Sherman-Palladino: The Golden Globes didn’t shut down because of us. The Golden Globes shut down because Johnny Depp stayed in Tokyo. The thing is, if we lose, [actors also] lose. They have the same issues. They need us to win or make some progress, because otherwise they’re in trouble too. My personal feeling is this strike is going to go on until SAG goes out, and when SAG goes out, then that’s it. If [people] can’t go to a movie theater and see George Clooney or Brad Pitt running around, clearly the country will fall.

ON PINNING HOPES TO THE DIRECTORS GUILD’S NEGOTIATIONS:

Winship: We said to them god speed, and we wish you well and hope that you will come up with a deal that will be good for everybody. What little I know about their study on new media, because they’ve kept it close to their vest, is it completely duplicates the findings that we came up with. The interpretation might be different, but the basic research is the same. Residuals are somewhat different for them than they are for us. So we’re very hopeful. We’re going to see what they come up with and see if it’s something that’s good for us.

Sherman-Palladino: I would not pin my hopes on the DGA — ever. They have a different kind of union. And the DGA has always just made a deal and gone golfing. Look, it would be delightful, it would be the greatest thing in the world if the DGA actually negotiated something that helped us move forward. I have zero faith that’s going to happen. But I believe the worst in people.

Juvonen: There are rumors and stuff flying around all of the time. The DGA has a much closer relationship with the studios and networks than the writers. So it’s not a surprise that they’d sign first. There are fewer of them and they are much more in cahoots with the studios, so it makes sense. Hopefully, they get a great deal and hopefully it helps to get our deal and SAG’s deal signed. [Apple CEO] Steve Jobs yesterday also announced that [iTunes] has movie downloads available from all of the studios — and that’s what we’re talking about.

ON STRIKE FATIGUE:

Winship: Spirits are still very, very strong. The fact that all of these folks are out here today — we didn’t even publicize this one as widely as we [usually] do, and we still have hundreds of people here. We had guys from UAW [United Auto Workers] here, we had guys here from the Pilot’s Association, all of the other unions — not to mention SAG [Screen Actors Guild] and AFTRA [The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists]. They’re all here today.

Sherman-Palladino (has a new show scheduled to air on Fox titled The Return of Jezebel James): I think our representation this year is doing a great job. I think they’re being tough, but they’re not being crazy. People just aren’t used to writers being tough. We’ve been p—–s for years. I think everyone’s just a little surprised that we’re like, “You know what, we just don’t want to bend over and get a broom stick up our a– again.” Make sure you put that in… that’s for the kids. Writers have been sold out for years. And I’m sorry about all the people out of work, but as anyone in show business knows, you get on a show and a show is canceled after one episode and everyone’s out of work. No one’s in show business for security. I think they’re just used to writers not asking for their due.

Jim Juvonen (writer for The Philanthropist, a one-hour drama NBC purchased in September and is yet to air): I am fatigued by the producers’ [willfulness] with us, but not as far as our resolve as a union. I see increased unity and belief in what we’re doing and in the argument. As time passes, it becomes more clear that we’re right and what we seek is fair.

ON WHERE THEIR SHOWS STAND:

Juvonen: This is my first thing that I’ve sold, and then four weeks later, we went on strike. It’s on hold right now because no one’s working on the show. We were supposed to shoot our pilot last week. So what has been sold and what exists is Tom [Fontanta’s] pilot script, and then myself and the other writers on the show had outlines for the scripts that we planned to write when the strike began.

Sherman-Palladino: Now, supposedly, we’re premiering after American Idol in March sometime, and then they’re moving us to Friday. But Fox literally keeps changing their schedule every day and a half. I’ve never watched American Idol.

ON ISSUES RELATED TO AWARDS SHOWS:

Winship: The decisions that have been made about various awards shows have been based on the nature of the awards and the nature of the organization requesting the waiver. In the case of the Independent Spirit Awards, you’re dealing precisely with that — the independent spirit — and we want to encourage independent filmmakers and filmmakers who are apart from the system. In terms of the NAACP Awards, as Patric [Verrone] said yesterday, there’s a difference between an organization like the Grammy’s or the Oscars that incidentally does good work on the side but whose primary purpose is to give out awards as opposed to a group like the NAACP, whose primary purpose is human rights and justice, and which tangentially also gives awards that honor programs and actors and actress that promote those values. In terms of the interim agreements with the studios and independents like Worldwide Pants, that’s all part of an overall strategy of how to deal with all of the big six media conglomerates. It creates leverage, it creates a wedge, it creates a divide and conquer strategy. We hope [it will] make them realize that the companies getting the deals are creating pressure on those other ones. Second, it demonstrates the fact that we’re capable of making a deal and making a deal that’s fair and respectable to our relationship. The deals that those companies have been taking is identical to the deal that was on the table when the studios and networks walked out on Dec. 7.

Sherman-Palladino: The Golden Globes didn’t shut down because of us. The Golden Globes shut down because Johnny Depp stayed in Tokyo. The thing is, if we lose, [actors also] lose. They have the same issues. They need us to win or make some progress, because otherwise they’re in trouble too. My personal feeling is this strike is going to go on until SAG goes out, and when SAG goes out, then that’s it. If [people] can’t go to a movie theater and see George Clooney or Brad Pitt running around, clearly the country will fall.

ON PINNING HOPES TO THE DIRECTORS GUILD’S NEGOTIATIONS:

Winship: We said to them god speed, and we wish you well and hope that you will come up with a deal that will be good for everybody. What little I know about their study on new media, because they’ve kept it close to their vest, is it completely duplicates the findings that we came up with. The interpretation might be different, but the basic research is the same. Residuals are somewhat different for them than they are for us. So we’re very hopeful. We’re going to see what they come up with and see if it’s something that’s good for us.

Sherman-Palladino: I would not pin my hopes on the DGA — ever. They have a different kind of union. And the DGA has always just made a deal and gone golfing. Look, it would be delightful, it would be the greatest thing in the world if the DGA actually negotiated something that helped us move forward. I have zero faith that’s going to happen. But I believe the worst in people.

Juvonen: There are rumors and stuff flying around all of the time. The DGA has a much closer relationship with the studios and networks than the writers. So it’s not a surprise that they’d sign first. There are fewer of them and they are much more in cahoots with the studios, so it makes sense. Hopefully, they get a great deal and hopefully it helps to get our deal and SAG’s deal signed. [Apple CEO] Steve Jobs yesterday also announced that [iTunes] has movie downloads available from all of the studios — and that’s what we’re talking about.

Comments (5 total) Add your comment
  • Nate

    I love love love how Amy Sherman-Palladino just tells it like it is. She doesn’t hold back, and that’s really refreshing to hear from somebody in the business!

  • Mark

    Let’s hope the writers and the producers resist the temptation to ridicule, and demean. We’re all hurting, and both parties need to meet in the center.
    Fingers crossed!

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