WGA scores *HUGE* independent deal with United Artists!

by Paul William Tenny

united-artists.jpgI'm sorry I missed (only by an hour..) that Deadline Hollywood is reporting that the Writers Guild of America has signed or is about to sign (within 36 hours) an independent deal with United Artists, the film studio that Tom Cruise and his partner took over after being ejected from Paramount.

If this is true -- and that's anything but certain given how unreliable Nikke Finke's sources can be -- it's every bit the huge news she says it is.
Since she has a tendency to rewrite posts without leaving a record of what was changed, when it was changed, and even posting and then deleting them at random intervals, I've saved a copy of this post for local reference just in case it disappears.

Here's the good stuff, care of DHD:

WGA sources just told me that the guild has clinched an "Independent Agreement" with Tom Cruise's and Paula Wagner's re-started United Artists. This now means that UA has a leg up on every other Hollywood studio because it will be able to hire the striking writers. This is to date the first so-called side deal cut by the WGA with a movie studio since the strike began on November 3rd as part of the guild's newly articulated "divide and conquer" strategy. The WGA's first side deal with a production company was an "interim agreement" with David Letterman's Worldwide Pants which owns both The Late Show and the Late Late Show airing on CBS.

I'm told that, like Letterman's company, UA has accepted the very same proposals that the WGA presented to the media conglomerates when the Alliance Of Motion Picture & Television Producers walked out of contract negotiations back on December 7th. "It's the same kind of agreement that the guild made with [David Letterman's] Worldwide Pants. But 'interim agreement' is not the right word," a WGA insider explained to me. "At the end of the day, once an overall agreement is done between the WGA and AMPTP, if the terms and conditions of that agreement are more favorable to UA, they will be able to enjoy that. This essentially means that UA has the ability to be in business with the WGA."

There isn't a whole hell of a lot else that need be said about this. That small number of supposed A-list feature writers that wanted to go fi-core and/or push the WGA to accept an inferior deal via whatever the DGA negotiates just had their nuts cut off and handed right back to them.

This is why you have leaders in the first place, and not back-seat negotiators.

Feature writers (not the ones looking to go fi-core) that were unhappy with the Letterman deal, that made them feel somewhat left behind while other writers were going back to work (forget that we're only talking about a single show's staff, not the every TV writer in L.A. here) now have a new home at which to set up residence: UA.

They'll have unparalleled access to every spec floating around and they can choose the cream of the crop, and pay whatever they want for it because writers will have no other place to go.

I don't see how the other studios can stand by and watch UA reassert itself in the game by having first dibs on *everything* not holding up somebodies wobbly coffee table.

Don't believe for an instant any FUD about how UA is a has-been studio that "doesn't matter" and is "just another sign of desperation" from the guild -- as Finke said, UA landed half a billion in new financing for production when Tom Cruise took over and his and Paula Wagner's short reign at the top can hardly be used to judge that studios potential, especially with this new revelation.

Compared to the Letterman deal, this signifies a best-case-scenario for the WGA that would have been nothing more than wishful thinking a week ago.

A deal like this could sustain the writers' resolve indefinitely, even if the majority of the guild is made up of television scribes. One TV deal and one studio deal is more than enough.

Castigate Verrone and Young all you want for screwing up the initial attempt to unionize reality, but with new results coming in like this, you have to acknowledge their success stories as well.

Obviously neither Letterman nor UA have anything to do with reality programming so the matter of jurisdiction never came up as a point of contention. Whether or not that is a true stumbling block between WGA and the rest of AMPTP is not really clear, but I'm guessing it's probably something that will be bargained away eventually.

Either way, there are other studios that while they may not be as artist-friendly as Worldwide Pants, and United Artists, they are in just as a precarious position as UA was, and even more so now that there's only going to be one production shop in town making movies.

Depending on how long the other companies hold out, this could give UA a leg up for decades.

Supposedly this deal will be announced on Sunday, to takeover the Monday news cycle. Keep an eye out peeps...this is definitely huge.
in Film, Labor


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