We haven’t talked about the Lost Missing Pieces webisodes, have we? Probably because there’s not so much to talk about. In the first installment, Jack gets a watch, and another heapin’ helpin’ of daddy issues. The second is more appealing, simply because we get to meet Neil Frogurt and discover that he something of a d-bag. But if we learned anything–other than that, before Hurley’s picnic with the doomed Libby, he packed a bag–I missed it.
But whatever, right? It’s November, and it’s more Lost, and I will happily lick at whatever dribs and drabs we get, like a dog happily slopping up drips of melted ice cream on the kitchen floor. Hell, I was even more excited about the teensy preview commercials ABC’s been running. It’s Hurley! In a hatch! With water! And, um, a hatch! Oh, God, give me my show back already!
Which brings us to the newsy aspect of the Missing Pieces bits. You know how the networks were all, “We can’t possibly pay writers for Internet video yet! It’s too untested a revenue stream! There’s no profit in it! Do you know how much it costs to register a domain name at godaddy.com?” Turns out that’s not exactly true. According to the New York Times, the Lost writers managed to negotiate a deal with their studio to get paid for the webisodes–$800, hardly a princely sum, but one they, and ABC Studios, are apparently happy enough with.
The article goes on to lay out in greater detail the disagreements between the writers and the studios and the complexities of figuring out an appropriate basis of payment, and certainly it’s not a simple, cut-and-dried issue.
But still: eight hundred bucks and a percentage of future transmissions? This is what we’re shutting down the 2007-08 TV season for? Yes, yes, I know this is about much more than two-minute webisodes. But complexities or not, it just shows how monumentally stupid this impasse is. I still think that, tactically, the writers’ decision to strike as soon as their contract expired was potentially disastrous–like David Carr, I suspect they overestimate their leverage. But ethically, I can completely understand their being ticked off at the studios’ poormouthing themselves (all in the interest of keeping as much cash for themselves once the Web does start generating money).
All this, while the moguls fret that they’re losing the PR war while the writers are off cutting clever YouTube videos, “succeding in painting them as greedy.” Maybe they need to step up their PR game–for instance, by actually not being greedy. Call me crazy, but it just might work.