The Theory of Chaos

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Here's why I actually love Tom Cruise today

United Artists to Announce Interim Agreement with WGA
This is unconfirmed, but Nikki Finke has a pretty uncanny track record when it comes to strike rumors, and she wouldn't run with something like this without solid sourcing.

The Guild's "divide and conquer" strategy has caused no small amount of contention, I can tell you. Are we weakening our position by allowing a trickle of content back out into the marketplace? Are we pitting TV writers against screenwriters? Why can't the company I'M working with get an agreement, and preferably nobody else?

But the truth is, these agreements prove that a) our terms our reasonable, and b) we are perfectly capable of making a deal if someone actually joins us at the table to make one. The AMPTP's absence from negotiations only gets more conspicuous, and the proposals these individual companies accept only seem more safe and sane, with each targeted contract.

I understand that we can't give a deal to just anyone. In spite of their amusing scraping and begging I have no problem with denying the Golden Globes a waiver, or putting up a "black tie" picket line for their ceremony, or graciously accepting the Screen Actors Guild's encouragement to its members to honor the line and not give NBC famous faces to dazzle their audience with. Let's not pretend the Golden Globes - voted on by a tiny, closed, ethically-challenged clique of foreign "journalists" who may or may not actually write anything - have ever had any critical merit. They exist because the "Hollywood Foreign Press" loves sucking up to movie stars, and is willing to foot the bill for an open bar. And we get to watch the zany antics of Big Stars boozing it up. I won't deny it's good television when it works, but you're not going to convince me it's worth giving NBC a ratings freebie when we've already got them sweating about Leno and Conan's weakened, writer-less shows.

Once we struck a deal with David Letterman's company, the question was "who's next"? We wanted a big scalp. The rumor for a long time was Lionsgate, whose DVD pipeline needs an enormous amount of product. But what makes better sense than United Artists, which was founded by artists like D.W. Griffith, Mary Pickford, and Charlie Chaplin, who were sick of being kicked around by the studios? They're still forming their new identity under the producing partnership of Paula Wagner and Tom Cruise, and being able to ramp up production while the rest of the town plays solitaire 'till dawn with a deck of 51 puts them in a pretty sweet place.

And like I said, it proves that
what we are asking for will not bring any company to ruin. And now we've proven it on both the TV and feature side.

And I wonder if United Artists might want to read my script...


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