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    From: "" <>
 Subject: Re: JMS: Fugiting Tempus
    Date: 12/8/2007 2:47:17 PM  

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On Dec 7, 8:47 pm, "Jeffrey O. Gustafson" <>
> > First, it's important to emphasize that I suppport the strike
> > wholeheartedly, it's necessary and a decade overdue. I wish it
> > could've come at a different time, but everyone wishes that whenever
> > it does come.
> All the reactions I have seen online about this strike note how
> *different* it is, both in terms of the widespread blogging and use of
> online videos, the overwhelming public support of the strike, and the
> overall positive mood of the picketers. Joe, what have your
> observations and experiences been over the past month, and how does it
> differ from the '88 strike, in your opinion?

It differs in every way, which is what the studios haven't yet fully

During the shooting on TLT, I had dinner with several folks including
an exec from Warner Bros. when the subject of the coming contract
expiration came up. And the fellow from WB, whose name I'll omit for
now, was practically cackling about it...saying that they already had
their positions in place, and that they were looking to the WGA
fracturing and falling apart as it always had in the past during these
negotiations, splitting into factions and internal argumentrs and
dissension, while they just sit there and wait for the implosion to
tell us what the terms will be, and which we would then accept.

And I remember thinking, pal, you have NO idea the full extent and
nature of the wood chipper you're about to walk into face-first.

See, the thing of it is, on one level, he was right, that's how things
WERE. But things had changed. There is a tendency, in military
strategy, for the generals to fight each new war using the techniques
and tactics that had worked in the last war, often without
understanding that the shape of the battlefield had changed. We saw
it in the Revolutionary War, where British soldiers marched in strict
formation into the birth of guerilla warfare; in the Civil War, where
generals still had troops firing at each other from nearly point-blank
range without grasping that this wasn't necessary because the accuracy
of the weapons had improved by orders of magnitude leading to huge
slaughters, and in Vietnam, where we ended up playing the British to
the VC guerillas.

The shape of the battlefield had changed. In the past, yes, the
producers were able to divide the guild along set lines, pitting TV
drama writers against sitcom writers against feature writers against
unemployed writers against working writers.

But now we had a) more determined leadership and b) every writer in
each of those groups had sat back and watched as the DVD sales of
their work in every arena flew out of stores and made billions for the
studios while they saw nothing. It united the hell out of everybody.
So there ARE no fault lines this time for the producers to exploit.
But they're still running the same playbook as last time. And the
more it doesn't work, the more pissed off they become.

One side-effect of this...after the sales on B5:TLT came in, way
exceeding WB's projections, they initiated talks about what to do
next, including commissioning more DVDs. Looking at the calendar, I
suggested that they might want to hurry the bureaucratic process
because we were going to be in a strike situation soon, so if they
wanted to move, they'd better commision a script fast.

And they said in response, and I quote verbatim, "We don't want to be
pressured in the process because we know there's not going to be a
strike this year, we can handle the Guild."

Face, wood-chipper. Wood-chipper, face.

> you have any other non-TV/Movie/Comic projects that you are working on
> to fill the time, like that play you mentioned a few years ago?

The play is still ongoing, believe it or not. I keep trying to decide
if it's as good as I think it *might* be, or if it's too smart for its
own good and simply crap. At present it's about three-fourths done
and has been that way for over a year while I debate. So what I might
do during the break is to hire some actors, get a small space, and
just have a staged reading of what's there. Once I hear it, I can
decide what to do with the damned thing.


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