For most of the week, the AMPTP seemed very much a Coalition of the Unwilling.
On Monday, on Tuesday, on Wednesday, they spent most of their time, and ours, reiterating in laborious detail their old positions. As Wolcott Gibbs once said, "backwards ran sentences until reeled the mind."
But then, yesterday, the AMPTP remembered--oh, yes, here it is--that they actually had a proposal. Not just any proposal: a fine fine superfine proposal, a comprehensive and epochal proposal, a proposal so large it deserved its own name. And so, with grand fanfare and the grand fluttering of press releases, the AMPTP unveiled...
[drum roll, please]
...the New Economic Partnership!
• A win-win! A grand, sweeping solution to everyone's problems!
• NEP: something Roosevelt would have loved!
• Economic Partnership--a choriamb followed by a dactyl! A phrase so mellifluous, it must be good news!
Alas, the New Economic Partnership--like, for instance, The Clear Skies Act of 2003, or The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, or Operation Enduring Freedom--is perhaps somewhat at odds with its own title.
Because when you Read the Fine Print, the New Economic Partnership offers this to its New Partners:
• No movement, not even a fraction of a fraction of a cent, on the core issue of these negotiations, internet downloads.
• For internet streaming of television programs, a flat fee of $250 for a year's re-use of an hour-long episode (compared to the current $20K for a network rerun).
• For internet streaming of movies: $0.00.
• And, oh yes: the companies can, at their discretion, deem any streaming internet re-use "promotional"--and pay nothing. Even if it is larded with ads. Even if they're making money on it.
David Mamet--who today celebrates his 60th birthday--in 1989 wrote the seminal essay Film is a Collaborative Business, in which he said, "From a screenwriters point of view, the correct rendering should be, 'Film is a collaborative business: bend over.'"
It becomes increasingly clear that to the conglomerates, "partnership," like "collaboration," is a term of art.
For writers, at this juncture, perhaps the most apposite disquisition on partnership was uttered by Hyman Roth (as written by Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola in Godfather II).
Roth put it simply:
"I'm going to take a nap. When I wake up, if the money is on the table, I'll know I have a partner. If it isn't, I'll know I don't."
Read more strike coverage on the Huffington Post's writers' strike page.