Striking TV writers and studios Tuesday kicked up the creativity – and the humor -- a notch in terms of their acrimonious, back-and-forth battle.
A Web site has been created, by an obvious supporter of the Writers Guild of America, that spoofs the official Web site for the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents TV and film studios.
The site, www.amptp.com, is a parody of the studios’ real site, which is actually www.amptp.org. It’s the latest in a series of examples of the writers or their proponents using the Web to advance their case.
“We are heartbroken to report that despite our best efforts, including sending them a muffin basket, making them a mix CD, and standing outside their window with a boombox blasting Peter Gabriel songs, our talks with the WGA have broken down,” the spoof AMPTP site says.
“Quite frankly, we're puzzled as to why this happened. We talked about it all the way home – after we walked into their hotel room, slapped our list of demands on the table and abruptly left the negotiating session – and none of us could figure out what went wrong,” the site says.
Talks between the WGA, on strike since Nov. 5, and the AMPTP collapsed last Friday. Since then, both parties have done a lot of finger-pointing, and issued numerous statements back and forth blaming each other for negotiations derailing.
The phony AMPTP site also pokes fun of the issue that has hung up talks: compensation for use of content on new-media platforms. The writers want a sliding scale based on viewing for video streaming TV shows, while the studios want to pay a flat $250 fee.
“Their [the writers] proposal for Internet compensation could doom the Internet media business before it ever gets started. [Projected start date: Oct. 4, 2012,]” the spoof site says. “We have already offered the writers a very generous $250 per episode for using their work on the Internet. Sure, $250 may not sound like much, but it adds up – a whole season of Heroes would cost NBC.com nearly $6,000! Who's going to pay that money? Go look at the Heroes Web site – unless you count Nissan, Cisco, Sprint, and American Express, nobody's willing to step up and advertise on such a risky and unproven medium.”
The spoof studio site said in ending, “We urge the WGA's pedophorganizers to abandon their Quixotic pursuit of radical demands. We will not let you tilt at windmills. [We have placed all studio windmills under heavy security]. The fact of the matter is, we're going to win this thing. We've got enough material to wait out the strike. On the feature side, we've got great scripts ready to shoot. How do we know they're great? Because they were already hits! Get ready for Talladega Nights starring Dane Cook! Wait until you see Titanic with Keira Knightley and Zac Efron!”
The AMPTP got creative on the web Tuesday, as well. On its real site, AMPTP posted a real-time calculation of what the strike is costing the writers, headlined “Pencils Down Is Adding Up,” a twist of the TV writers’ slogan, “Pencils Down.”
The meter is represents estimated losses “based on data supplied by WGA West on initial compensation paid to its members in 2006. For the purposes of this estimate, last year's reported initial compensation of $1,051,320,000 is averaged over a 365-day year beginning when the WGA went out on strike on Nov. 5,” the AMPTP said.
Also on Tuesday, almost 300 striking WGA East writers picketed at ABC Daytime in Manhattan. They were in front of the studios where The View and All My Children are produced.
Pickets included Pete Hamill, Dana Delaney, Nora Ephron, Seth Meyers, Tom Fontana, and the writing staffs of all the New York-based Late Night shows – Saturday Night Live, Late Night with David Letterman, the Late Show With Conan O’Brien, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and The Colbert Report.
Whoopie Goldberg sent out hot chocolates for the striking writers, and after the show, she, Joy Behar, Bill Geddie and several other staffers stopped by the picket line briefly, according to a WGA spokesman.
Thursday is “Future of the Guild Day” when striking writers will be joined on the picket line by college and high school students and future writers [and WGAE members]. The pickets will be at Viacom’s headquarters in Manhattan.