Tuned In

Strike Watch: If You Liked the Globes…

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…you’ll looooooove the strike-era Oscars, which, Variety reports this morning, are going on whether you like it or not. Plans are in the works for an “alternative” ceremony, for which details are vague but might involve “industry heavyweights penning their own speeches and presenting the awards.” Ooooh! Can’t wait to hear that Jeffrey Katzenberg speech!

If the writers and studios strike a deal before the awards–the most optimistic scenario being the writers accepting a deal currently being negotiated by the directors’ union–the question is moot. If not, though, it looks as though there’s little chance of the writers granting the awards a waiver “for the good of the industry,” an idea that’s been floated hopefully lately. Says WGA head Patric Verrone, it’s deal or no deal.

Which is a good thing.

As you know if you’ve been reading me, I don’t agree with everything the writers have done. I believe they’re entirely right in their demands, especially for Internet revenue. The studios are being greedy, are trying to restructure the business to screw over creatives, and have not been bargaining in good faith.

But tactically, the writers have made mistakes. First, they may have been better off waiting to strike (or threaten to strike) until the Screen Actors’ Guild contract deadline in June, thus threatening Hollywood with a double whammy. As it is, they appear to have struck against an industry that–arrogantly and deludedly, but still–has practically welcomed the strike, using it to kill writer-producer deals, flood the screen with cheap reality and turn the page on a weak fall TV season. You strike against someone who wants a strike, you have less leverage. Whether that’s fair or not is irrelevant.

Another mistake the writers have made is to act if if public opinion matters. If we make some cool videos and throw some creative pickets, the people will line up behind us! Sweet baby Jesus, this is not a Frank Capra movie. Strikes are about putting a hurt on the other guy, period.

Which is why taking a hard line on the Oscars is a good idea. Yes, if the Oscars are ruined, people will be angry, and, unfortunately, many will blame the writers. Oh, well. The studios have already proved themselves willing to be hated all the way to the bank (or, perhaps, to the poorhouse). The Oscars are a prime chance for the writers to hit them the only way that matters.

As for pulling off an inspiring victory on the shoulders of a mobilized public–that’s a movie script. And they can write that one after they get a fair deal and go back to work.