THE BLOG
11/15/2007 01:56 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Nick Counter Must Go: A Writer's Plea to the Studios

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

There has never been a more galvanizing figure for the talent pool in Los Angeles than Nick Counter, the so-called chief negotiator for Big Media in the ongoing labor dispute with the Writers Guild of America. The collective distaste for this man among those picketing the studios and networks is so palpable that firing him alone could get these negotiations back on track before you can say "Alberto Gonzales" or "Donald Rumsfeld."

Like Gonzales and Rumsfeld before him, Nick Counter has come to personify the evil caricature of his employer. And the AMPTP is as sluggish and tone deaf in responding to the increasing hostility toward Mr. Counter as Bush was in removing Gonzales or Rumsfeld before their respective lightning rods had burned the house down.

A wise producer once said to me that the key to his success came down to one thing and one thing only: his ability and willingness to sublimate his ego for Talent. For the uninitiated, "talent" in Hollywood has two meanings (both don't always apply to the same person). Talent with a capital T generally refers to writers, directors, and actors.

What nobody seems to have told Mr. Counter is that, while he may be sitting across the table from the WGA's designated representatives to discuss issues that are all business, he's also speaking to Talent in the form of thousands of writers who don't often instinctively think about business first. On a daily basis they (we) think about things like: breaking a story, hearing dialogue, making it funny, or setting off the emotional land mine in the third act that we set up in the first. I can guarantee you that we're generally not thinking about percentages and profits and market share.

Contrary to what Mr. Counter would like you to think, the real bread and butter of our lives is not the money, it's the work. No writer chooses this profession to get rich. They choose it because they love it and because the only limit to their imagination is in imagining any other way to spend their lives.

We'll work eighty hours a week, spend years on a project we love, or turn something around in a just a few hours if that's what it takes. We'll work tirelessly and endlessly in a business that often seems designed to break one's heart, connecting the dots between paying jobs over months and years without work, and all we ask in return is that we be properly recognized and respected for the work we do.

In my experience, the people I've worked with at the studios have an innate understanding of this, and that includes the studio heads that we're currently striking against. But there is one person who clearly doesn't get it. There is one person who makes statements in the press that mock, disrespect, ridicule, and taunt us. That person is Nick Counter.

A strike is a war of wills. And wars end in one of three ways: one side is defeated, both sides are decimated, or everyone works to find a diplomatic solution. That third way is the only one for a community like ours, a community that needs each other like no other.

My plea to the AMPTP is to bring in a new representative, someone who understands that making an acceptable deal for all sides demands not just a negotiator but a diplomat.

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