Friday, December 28, 2007

Letterman and the WGA cut a deal

Over at the NJ.com blog, news of Letterman's production company and the WGA reaching an interim agreement to let him and Craig Ferguson return to work with their writing staffs. Could be great for the WGA (if Dave and Craig destroy Jay and Conan), or could be awful (if Jay and Conan continue to win even without writers).

23 comments:

dez said...

Go, Dave!

Any ideas why the WGA would work with Dave and not Jay & Conan (or Jon and Stephen)? Besides Dave's complete and utter support of the WGA, that is :-)

Alan Sepinwall said...

Like the story says, Dez, Letterman owns his own show (and Ferguson's, too), and can therefore negotiate directly with the WGA, whereas all the other talk shows are owned by the mega-congloms.

Andrew said...

dez, the WGA can't individually negotiate with Jay, Conan, and the rest. The only reason they were able to cut a deal with Letterman is because Letterman owns his and Ferguson's show through Worldwide Pants, his production company. All the other hosts' programs are owned by the respective networks and therefore can't negotiate individually.

dez said...

Thanks, Alan and Andrew. I didn't see the whole story, just Alan's blurb and one other blurb that didn't go into details.

LA said...

Definitely an interesting development to the strike saga. I hope the World Wide Pants agreement will get both sides back to the bargaining table and soon. Have you seen the ads for the winter television season. Dismal programming is right around the corner.

BigTed said...

The problem with this is that Jay continually gets higher ratings than Dave, despite the fact that Dave's show is much smarter and higher in quality.

(Of course, that's just my opinion, but I think it's one that's shared by most people who've seen both shows. Many of the people who watch "The Tonight Show" regularly do so because something so innocuous and barely entertaining helps them get to sleep at night.)

Jay may not need writers to make obvious jokes about the newsmakers of the day and then breeze through witless banter with big celebrities. Sadly enough, this might even cause his ratings lead over Dave to grow.

Matt said...

Don't forget the other factor--Letterman beat Leno up until Leno started getting the better bookings (the turning point is generally seen as the Hugh Grant interview after the Divine Brown incident. Now, those tables are turned--many guests are likely to honor a picket line and may go out of their way to do Dave rather than Jay to promote stuff. (And political candidates certainly won't cross.)

Among the folks who will be junketing in January for a movie who I'd guess will do Letterman, and not Leno--Katherine Heigl, Morgan Freeman, Katie Holmes, Diane Lane, and Jessica Alba.

Crewgrrl said...

Oy. I want to support the writers by watching Letterman but I just can't do it. I just don't find Letterman remotely funny or entertaining. Leno is better and Conan is my favorite. I will just have to boycott all late night shows until they settle this.

But can I not watch the Daily Show? Not sure that is possible. I am also curious to see how they will produce a show at all without writers.

Matter-Eater Lad said...

Would this deal let WGA members develop a pilot with Worldwide Pants?

Filipe Furtado said...

Definitely an interesting development to the strike saga. I hope the World Wide Pants agreement will get both sides back to the bargaining table and soon.

Actually, it's more likely to do the opposite. I think its time for people to accept that this will not get settle before its time for the SAG negotiations to start.

Undercover Black Man said...

I'm hoping that one of the side effects of this deal will be that Letterman and his writers will refer to the strike on air... poking fun at the corporations, winning hearts and minds for our side.

The other drama, as Matt says, will be seeing which stars will cross WGA picket lines to do Jay's and Conan's shows.

Oh... and may I also say that Alec Baldwin is a douchebag?

Dan Jardine said...

Alec's not being a very good lefty, is he? Do you suppose that all those really nifty paycheques from NBC have tainted his street cred?

Undercover Black Man said...

^ Or something. I can't figure it out, Dan.

But I do know this: Alec Baldwin wouldn't be jack squat without David Mamet, Aaron Sorkin, Eric Bogosian, William Monahan and Tina Fey.

dez said...

Why is he a douchebag for saying the current WGA negotiators aren't effective and should be replaced? Is there something behind the scenes that I am missing? Thanks!

Undercover Black Man said...

I'll gladly explain, dez. First, who is he to pass judgement on the leadership of a guild he doesn't even belong to? Why doesn't he shit-talk the president of his own guild (SAG's Alan Rosenberg), who has voiced his strong support for the WGA before and throughout this strike?

Second: Baldwin followed that initial HuffPost post with two others, claiming that the studios and networks are loving this strike, and badmouthing writers who have spoken up in support of the strike.

This has only one conceivable purpose: to weaken the resolve of striking writers, and thus to make it more difficult to end up with a fair deal.

Baldwin hasn't even made a cogent argument against the strike. Think about it: the bosses' opening position regarding Internet revenues was, "Let's study the issue and talk about how to share the money three years from now, during the next round of contract talks."

Should writers have accepted that?

If the studios and networks are loving the strike... then what-da-flunk were they willing to give us without a strike?

Baldwin should know that, if not for the actors and writers who struck (for months) back in 1960, actors and writers would be receiving no residuals at all. Nor would we receive pension or health benefits.

We are striking because we have no choice. The corporations will not share their Internet income with the creative community without a fight.

Anonymous said...

So no one but a member of WGA can criticize the WGA? That's handy.

If my show were shut down because of the WGA strike, and I wasn't a member of the WGA, I an unqualified to comment? Wow.

Tom said...

UBM,

Why shouldn't the WGA have accepted the AMPTP's proposal to table the download issue for three years? They could have insisted on making any future agreement retroactive for three years. Hell, this was Nikki Finke's suggestion back before the strike began, and she ain't exactly a shill for the AMPTP. Anyway, the internet download business is in its infancy and its future prospects are cloudy, at best. (see: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22413031/)

Anyway, Baldwin's point, if I understand it correctly, is that the WGA negotiators have handed the AMPTP a ready-made excuse to essentially lock out the writers by keeping jurisdictional issues on the table along with money issues. Combine that with their bizarre decision to cave on DVD residuals (still a cash cow) before even beginning to negotiate and I'd say there is plenty of reason for someone to criticize the WGA leadership's handling of the strike without necessarily being a stooge for management.

Undercover Black Man said...

Anon wrote: "If my show were shut down because of the WGA strike, and I wasn't a member of the WGA, I an unqualified to comment? Wow."

No, anon. You or anyone else -- inside or outside of show business -- is qualified to comment on the strike.

But to attack the Guild leadership in the midst of a strike has only one conceivable purpose: to divide writers so that management may conquer.

Hence: douchebag.

yet another anon said...

But to attack the Guild leadership in the midst of a strike has only one conceivable purpose: to divide writers so that management may conquer.

Really? There's only ONE reason? So, it's inconceivable to you that there might be other reasons like, say, trying to get the WGA to look at the fact that they might be better served by more skilled and qualified negotiators? To consider that the current WGA leadership has possibly put the writers in a more vulnerable position, and that the WGA may want to reconsider its strategy in order to regain some strength?

I don't think it's unreasonable to question authority, even on the union side. Critical thought should never be abandoned.

For the record, I'm 100 percent pro-writers and utterly neutral on Alec Baldwin.

Undercover Black Man said...

Y.A.A. opined: "... that the WGA may want to reconsider its strategy in order to regain some strength?"

As Mr. Baldwin hasn't bothered to explain how ending the strike might strengthen the writers' position, I'm left to conclude that he wants us to fold like Superman on laundry day. Funk dat.

The only strength we have is to remind the bosses that they're in the business of selling stories. And stories begin in the minds of writers.

I say again: They give up nothing without a fight. They think we're weak. They want to break us. This is obvious.

So damn obvious that I can't figure what the hell Baldwin is thinking.

Y.A.A. said...

UBM - While my interpretation of the issue pretty much aligns spot on with tom's (a few comments above), I certainly understand why you are so passionate about your cause, and I sincerely wish you the very best outcome.

Undercover Black Man said...

^ I'll take that. Thank you.

Nicole said...

I really hope that this gives Dave the ratings boost he deserves. He has always been funnier than Jay and so much smarter. I like snark though and don't like the constant ass-kissing Jay does to his guests on the show.
I presume all actors are SAG members, at least those who star in movies, and so they should refuse to cross the picket line and only attend Letterman and Craig Ferguson's shows. If they don't, maybe they should be openly condemned to get this moving along. Ratings equal money and the only way talks will start up again will be if the networks start to lose money.

I think that commenting on the WGA leadership is fair, only because mistakes have been made, but I would hope that Baldwin made those remarks privately to the WGA leadership directly prior to putting it in the press. There will however, be no question of his douchebagosity if he dares to appear on any NBC talkshow before this strike is resolved.

Now since Jon Stewart owns Colbert's show, I wonder if there is anyway the WGA will negotiate for at least that show...