Friday, November 2, 2007

Halloween and Other Frights

Halloween is over, but I just found this link to a photograph of a pumpkin that comes via Neil Gaiman's website. You can see why. I then went looking for the rest of the geek pumpkins, and there were more at this location on Wired's blog site. We could have used the Yoda to go with or Chewbacca on Sunday.

No trick or treaters showed up at our house on Wednesday. A major disappointment. We've got about 4 pounds of miniature candies to eat now.

I'm always disappointed when my husband doesn't update his website regularly. Actually, I'm disappointed when any of the blogs I read regularly aren't updated. How incredibly silly of me to think that these people should inform or entertain me each day, especially when I can't do a daily update on mine. I believe that Viggo Mortensen is off in New Mexico making a movie, which is why I was actually surprised to see an update at the beginning of the week. Mostly, he posts links to other news stories, but occasionally he puts in a line or paragraph of his own at the Perceval Press website. I know Melinda Snodgrass is off to Saratoga, NY for the World Fantasy Convention, which starts today (hello to all my friends there; wish we could be with you.) But Len's at home and should be able to post something. Mark Evanier manages five or six posts a day.

We are waiting for the official word on when the WGA starts its strike. Len hasn't written much for TV or film for a while, but part of the issue is other media and he was about to start work on a webisode project and the WGA leaders don't want members writing for the web or games or animation until this thing is sorted out. The Teamsters have said they will honor the picket lines, but the head of IATSE has told his members they can be permanently replaced if they do honor the picket lines. Nice. I'm sorry I paid my quarterly dues to IATSE Local 600 (which covers still photographers and publicity people, along with all the other moving camera persons). The Animation Union (Local 839) is part of IATSE, even though every writer I know who belongs hates the fact that they are stuck with people who don't respect writers and who don't believe that writers of animation are entitled to residuals. On the few animated shows which are under WGA jurisdiction (most of the prime-time animated shows like Simpsons, Family Guy, etc.), the writers do get residuals. I do believe that voice actors get residuals for everything they do, but, somehow, the folks responsible for those words don't. (Given enough time and space, I can discuss what happened under the union-busting Reagan-era when the WGA was about to cover animation writing and the Reagan goons stopped it in its tracks. Reading the ruling makes my blood boil.)

The news is making the writers look like bad guys--probably because the companies that own the news also own the studios--or at least some of them. The huge demands of the writers basically boil down to $0.04 per DVD. Admittedly, this would double the amount of money the writers get for DVD sales, but the royalty is based on 20% of the price of a DVD, not 100% of that price. A book writer would have a fit if their 10-15% royalty on cover price was limited to 10-15% of 20% of the cover price because of "breakage" or "production costs." The cost of producing DVDs has dropped dramatically since this royalty was foisted upon writers and the profits from DVDs has replaced box office for films and probably actual watchers of the shows on TV. One report or article said the strike is about greed, laying it on the writers. It's about greed alright, but it is the greed of the corporations which has caused this strike. Few stockholders seem to have a problem with nine-figure golden parachutes for studio heads, but $0.04 a DVD for the writer is a major problem. As far as I'm concerned, the writers should have demanded the residuals for DVDs be based on 100% of suggested retail price. Then it might have been easier to compromise on that additional $0.04 a unit.

Monday is Bonfire Day. I think the writers should be burning effigies of studio logos in the parking lot of Farmers Market (across from the WGAw headquarters) to raise a little team spirit.

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