Letter from President Michael Winship

 

Fellow Members of the Writers Guild of America, East:

Solidarity and strength have gotten us to where we are in this strike so far. We have, as Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, organized our strength into compelling power.

Patience and perseverance, added to that unity and power, will now take us the rest of the way.

As you know, last week, informal talks began in Los Angeles between the Writers Guilds and some of the studio and network heads with the goal of returning the AMPTP to the bargaining table.

This is not a time for doubt, baseless speculation or second-guessing. All is being done to achieve a contract that is fair and respectful to writers. Leadership is moving forward with caution and diligence.

More than ever, it is critical that we keep up the pressure on the media conglomerates and various struck shows with our picket lines, rallies and other actions that convey our message and demonstrate our impact on the entertainment industry.

Last week, here in the East, two events were especially significant, capturing the attention of the media and public.

On Tuesday, when the Academy Award nominations were announced in Hollywood, we held a press conference at The Players Club on the south end of Manhattan's Gramercy Park. Assembled were forty or so writers and actors who arrived with all their awards – Oscars, Emmys, Tonys, Writers Guild Awards – the works.

They held them high for the cameras as they announced that glittering prizes are wonderful to receive and that they're grateful to have their work recognized, but they'd trade all the gold and brass and bronze for a decent, fair resolution to the writers' strike. Among the attendees was Tony Gilroy, fresh from two Oscar nominations for "Michael

Clayton." Sitting in front was 90-year-old, three-time Academy Award nominee Celeste Holm. Her best-supporting actress Oscar for the 1947 movie "Gentlemen's Agreement" is out on loan. For our occasion, she borrowed one that had belonged to Gary Cooper.

The following day, we traveled to Washington with eight striking writers from "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" and "The Colbert Report." Serious talks about the strike were held with various members of Congress but the centerpiece was a mock debate staged in a House committee hearing room by the Stewart and Colbert writers.

Three of the Stewart gang – Tim Carvell, Rob Kutner and Jason Ross – represented the writers. Three Colbert writers – Michael Brumm, Peter Grosz and Tom Purcell — stood in for the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). Former Clinton White House Press Secretary DeeDee Myers moderated, Kevin Bleyer of the Stewart show and Colbert's Peter Gwinn played hecklers in the audience. You can view

highlights at:

http://unitedhollywood.blogspot.com/2008/01/daily-show-and-colbert-writers-mock.html .

What's more, we continue to announce interim contracts with a variety of independent production companies, many of which are active not only in television and motion pictures but in the very areas so important to us in our proposed contract – the Internet and new media. The latest companies to sign include Lionsgate, RKO, Marvel Studios, The Weinstein Company, Spyglass Entertainment, MRC, Jackson Bites, and Mandate Films.

This week's picket information can be found on the Guild website, www.wgaeast.org. Smaller pickets continue Monday through Thursday at various struck programs. The week's "big" picket will be on Friday, February 1, from 11-2 outside the "One Life To Live" studios, 55 West 66th Street between Columbus and CPW.

Continued thanks to all of you – members and Guild staff alike – who continue to work so hard to make this strike a success. Babe Ruth used to say that it's hard to beat a person who never gives up. You're proving him right. Patience, perseverance and courage will carry the day.

In solidarity,

Michael Winship

President

Writers Guild of America, East