01/01/2008 06:19 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Why the Writers are Still Striking

Why do children tease? Because it feels good. It's a substitute for having money.

If you've been following the Writers Guild Strike, you know some intemperate things have been said.

It's a strike, and it's been going on for a while, and the side that's striking can get carried away, especially when they're so obviously being dicked around.

So, yeah, things have been said.

The writers called the producers some names, and we got sarcastic, too. We spend too much time with other sarcastic people. We forgot, in the real world, being smarmy with someone gets your face pushed in.

Like what's happening now. In week nine. When the producers are scuttling the entire TV industry to teach us a lesson.

Take that, writers.

And, you know, shareholders.


I guess we were trying to be cute, too. I mean, with the videos and stuff.

I understand that Bob Kushell's wife wishes he'd leave her alone. I've worked with Bob. I'm not sure what that has to with residuals.

(Funny guy, though.)

I'm grateful that the actors are making "Speechless" videos, but the silence and the black and white can come off a little somber.

We're looking for a raise, not a cure.

But I can see how the celebrity videos hurt the producers' feelings, too. They show the actors hanging out with the writers even when they're not being paid.

Somewhere, in their injured high school hearts, the producers secretly fantasize that the actors like them, and not just for the money. They don't. Sorry.

And by "sorry," I mean "haha fuck you."

And there, see? I've lost my temper again.


So, of course, the AMPTP was going to react. They might have eaten it, and negotiated a deal and restarted the industry that pays them their salaries.

But that would have meant acting like businessmen.

Instead, they revamped their website.

They put up a big ticker -- like the national debt clock -- and last week, when it hit $151 million, they posted this:

"It's official: The people in charge at the WGA have led working writers into a strike that has now cost those working writers more in salary and benefits than the WGA's organizers ever expected to gain from the strike. And the strike continues because the union's leaders are focused on jurisdictional issues that would expand their own power, at the expense of the new media issues that working writers care most about."

I love any paragraph that begins: "It's official." Official according to whom? Jehovah? The NBA? You might as well just type:

Signed, A Jackass

It doesn't even have the ambition to be the hackiest opening of all: "It was bound to happen."

I guess the ticker is supposed to make us mad at the Guild's leadership: "Look what they've made management do to us." But it's a little like blaming mom for all the crying. If she'd just get a grip, maybe dad wouldn't hit her so much.

Also, this isn't about jurisdictional issues. It's about a multi-issue negotiation that one side keeps leaving. And "the new media issues that working writers most care about?" Those are the ones where the AMPTP has come up from an initial offer of "zero" to "$250... reducible to zero."

But let's look at the deeper meaning of the big number, $151 million dollars.

Let's say the writers have lost $151 million dollars in eight weeks. (It's official!) And let's say that $151 million dollars is what it would have cost the producers to give us what we want. It's a three-year contract. That's 156 weeks. This allows us to work back from the AMPTPs own numbers -- let's see, eight goes into 156 19.5 times -- and see what the AMPTP believes the WGA's demands would cost them.


According to their own moronic ticker, on their own fatuous website, the AMPTP has calculated that the WGA is asking for a raise of 5%.

Over three years.

That's less than inflation.

So, maybe the producers want to explain to the stockholders that they'd rather shut down than pay that.

Or that they have to shut down, because they're running the business with such catastrophic stupidity they couldn't even afford to pay it if they wanted to.

Or maybe they just don't care. They're children. And it's not their money.


Bob Kushell does a room bit about a genie that's one of the four or five funniest things I've ever seen.

Read more strike coverage on the Huffington Post's writers' strike page.