Life in Hollywood, below-the-line

Life in Hollywood, below-the-line
Work gloves at the end of the 2006/2007 television season (photo by Richard Blair)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Christmas, the WGA, and the Great White Whale

Christmas approaches like a giant snowball rolling downhill, picking up speed and mass with every turn, crushing all in it's path. And we, my fellow citizen/consumers, are the path...

There won't be the usual Sunday afternoon post this week, since I'll be working long hours Friday and Saturday on yet another idiotic piece of crap (read: non-union, low-pay, 12-hour rate bullshit job -- but hey, it's work...), my last moments of gainful employment before slamming the door on 2008, then packing up and fleeing The Southland for the cool damp hills of Northern California. I've had quite enough of palm trees decked with tinsel and holly, thankyouverymuch... Which means Sunday is Prepare for Liftoff day, with blast-off Monday morning at T- Minus 0800 , more or less. Assuming all goes well, that is. At any rate, there will be precious little time to post -- so more than likely, this is it for a while, one last quickie wherein I (again) harangue my three hapless readers about how they should be listening to Rob Long.

If you work in the business (especially if you work in the arena of television), and you aren't listening to Rob Long's Wednesday evening commentaries on KCRW (89.9 FM in LA, and easy to find on the internet) -- then you are missing something good, especially with the strike dragging deep into it's second month. Long has been writing and producing television for nearly two decades, giving him a Big Picture perspective on the biz in general, and the strike in particular. Unlike so many TV writers, he didn't drink the WGA Kool Aid in declaring Holy Jihad against the Powers That Be, and thus his take on the current state of the Industry remains more balanced and honest -- and much less emotional -- than most. His top-of-the-fence view of the strike is one you won't find elsewhere.

The WGA representatives keep prattling on about how they feel for the poor below-the-line slobs who have been thrown out of work --ahem, just before Christmas -- by the strike. I'm sure they do care, albeit in a"Gee, dear, isn't it awful what's happening over there in Darfur?" sort of way -- the distant empathy of higher beings peering through the wrong end of the telescope at the earthly troubles of those hapless mortals down below.

The truth is, most writers don't have the faintest idea how much sweat and effort it takes to put their ideas to the screen, or what the human costs of doing so might be. In that worn and hackneyed phrase, they "just don't get it." Not that they should, necessarily -- after all, their job is to write, not hump cable and sandbags -- but I do get rather chapped when I hear certain writers proclaiming that "we're doing this for you too..."

I grew up in the sticks, where we had a barn full of goats and pigs and cows , so I'm intimately familiar with the smell of animal exhaust -- and to me, these pious, mewling bleats from the WGA have the unmistakable reek of bullshit. The WGA is acting in what their leadership regards as their members' best interests: not yours, not mine, but theirs and theirs alone. Maybe they're right, and maybe they're wrong -- the truth will be revealed in the fullness of time, as they say. This doesn't make them bad people. They're taking a very gutsy stand and putting their livelihoods on the line. I admire them for that, and hope they win -- and soon, because they've also put our livelihoods on the line, whether we like it or not. It was they, not we, who decided to harpoon the Great White Whale, but we too are going along for the ride.

Rob Long gets it. He understands what damage this strike will do to the Industry should it drag on. He also demonstrates a modicum of appreciation for the many below-the-liners who work so hard to help bring his words to the screen -- an appreciation many of his fellow WGA members don't seem to share until they suddenly want a little support on the picket lines.

If you work in Television, you really should listen to his four minute commentary from last night. So here it is:

I may post an item or two during the holidaze, but maybe not. In any event, Blood, Sweat, and Tedium will be back in January of the Brave New Year, gearing up for what promises to be a long cold winter.

But that will be then, and this is now -- and now, it's Christmas. May you all have a great holiday season.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Hey Michael,

Great blog. Please keep it up. I'm sure you have more than 3 readers by now.

And happy holidays! :-)