Writers/Producers: From TV "No Shows" To Best Press Release?
What you don't see on CNBC-TV are all the calls, meetings, emails, etc, initiated by reporters and producers and bookers and anchors, all trying to convince people to come on our air. I've been going 'round and 'round for a week to get the head of the Writers Guild of America West, Patric Verrone, to come on our air for a live interview.
We are in the seventh week of a debilitating strike, no new talks are scheduled, and the rhetoric is heated, even by Hollywood's overheated standards.
I was told by the WGA that Verrone wanted to do the interview, but I soon discovered that wanting, and committing, are two different things--aren't they always? In order to accommodate Verrone, we booked a studio off our property so he would not have to cross a picket line. We were even willing to bring a live truck to his office.
The WGA PR person told me CNBC's early shows probably wouldn't work because they are...early. So we agreed to try to have Verrone on "Power Lunch" today. On Monday, the WGA said that would be too early, still, so we pushed it back to "Street Signs." Then yesterday, I learned there would be meetings that might conflict, so we re-booked the studio and changed production plans to accommodate Verrone for "Closing Bell."
You know what happened, don't you? There's no clever writer's twist to this tale. This morning, as I prepared to promote Verrone's "First on CNBC" live appearance, I got a call saying, "Patric is really sick, and there are more meetings, and I wanted to let you know I'm concerned he may not make it." So I cancelled and said, "Let me know when he really wants to answer questions and we'll be happy to have him on. We have CEO's who don't change things around so much."
Now, I don't think I'm being jerked around or anything mean like that (and, believe me, there are people in Hollywood who will do that to you). I just think they're a little... disorganized for an organized labor organization.
I've also asked Nick Counter from the other side, the AMPTP, to come on separately. They offered up a spokesman (I declined) because Counter is busy--busy doing what? There are no negotiations going on.
So, in the absence of interviews, I'm busy pondering the press releases each side churns out daily. Which release from yesterday is written better?
From the WGA: "Striking Writers Give AMPTP Opportunity to 'Cop A Plea,' Crime and Police Show Writers Rally in Los Angeles and New York," which goes on to say that yesterday "The 'Criminal Writing Division' of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) today announced a three-count Bill of Indictment against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) and eight unnamed co-conspirators."
Ok, that's kinda clever.
From the AMPTP: "In the category of Worst Supporting Union, the nominee is the WGA. The union, which initiated this strike, continues day in and day out to make good on its commitment to, in the words of a leading WGA organizer, 'wreak havoc,' even though those being hurt include WGA's own working writers, the below-the-line workers and their families, the broader Los Angeles region - and now the creative artists who deserve to be honored for their work over the last year."
Actually, that's not bad either. I wonder who's writing their stuff?
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