I was less than flattering to producer Gavin Polone for his opinions expressed on the Fox Business Network yesterday. Now Polone has made contact with me to more fully explain why he’s not just Another Attention Hog Blathers On Strike as I accused him of being. He’s now allowed me to post the two comments he made after coming under attack from, among others, Jorge A. Reyes, the creator of Kevin Hill.):
“Hey, thanks for all of the attention. I want to make sure that I get more than Ari.
I wanted to clarify a few things. First, that I am not saying the studios will never be hurt by the strike. Probably in 9 months to a year when the feature film pipeline dries up, they will have a big problem. Before that time, they will not be producing expensive new scripted shows and they will cut overhead drastically, using force majeur to get out of contractual obligations. This cuts the expense side of the profit equation drastically. The revenue side will not be damaged significantly. Look at the network numbers right now: same as usual. You’ll see them hold for quite a while. They have a lot of sports coming up and more reality programs on tap, including Idol. Ad dollars will continue to pour in. Procter and Gamble has to sell their soap somehow. Yes, people who are fans of particular shows will not watch the reruns of those shows but they will watch reruns of shows they haven’t seen before. I’ve seen every I Love Lucy and every Bewitched but I never saw them on their first runs. Therefore, the networks will continue to make money. During the last strike, the big three networks ratings dropped slightly but Fox and the cable nets went up a lot. If fewer people watch NBC but many more watch USA, Zucker may still show overall profit stability. And, I don’t think NBC will be hurt that bad, anyway. Sunday night football will do even better opposite reruns on ABC.
Also, these companies have many ways to earn money. CBS owns a huge outdoor advertising business: if companies move away from TV advertising they’ll buy more billboards and radio (CBS also has radio). Fox owns MySpace: they’ll also benefit if ad dollars leave broadcast TV. Maybe people will go to theme parks because they’re sick of reruns: good for Disney and NBCUni. Maybe people will read more: CBS owns Simon and Schuster and Newscorp owns Harpercollins.
I do think the WGA has taken the wrong course in being so aggressive and vituperative. They just encourage the studios to dig in deeper, so they don’t show the other unions that they will bend to pressure. And, as I said, those companies are run by tough individuals who aren’t afraid of fighting it out.
So, in short, the WGA will have to hang in for a long time to hurt the big entertainment companies. During that time, many writers will get into bad shape financially. People who are in related businesses will be hurt even more, as they aren’t getting residuals from the reruns that will be all over the schedule, like many writers do. Did you know that writers on Letterman are probably getting $2500 in residuals per week, and up, for every week that he stays off the air? When people at panavision or catering companies start losing their jobs because of the strike, there will be a backlash against the writers. I don’t think they can hold out under the resulting personal or outside pressure of a long strike. Some will scab. Others will protest within the guild. The end result will be they will go back, on bended knee, and negotiate the deal that they probably could have made had they not gone out on strike and just kept negotiating.
Finally, to those of you who said shit about finding out where I live or blackballing me, I want to say that this is the kind of behavior that causes most people to lose sympathy with your cause. The guild’s telling members to turn in others who they think will scab is particularly repugnant. Is this a writer’s union or the Soviet Union? I should be threatened because I expressed my opinion? Really, calm down and act like adults. If your ideas and leverage are so strong, you don’t need to threaten people to win the battle.
And then, then inimitable Polone responds this way to the re-start of WGA-AMPTP talks:
“There are many reasons that the AMPTP would start negotiating. My guess is because it looks good. They do have a lot of interaction with the FCC right now and want rules changed. Appearing reasonable is smart business. I am very confident because they are not being hurt, right now, by the strike. There is no evidence of that. Movies are coming out and TV ratings haven’t dropped.
When you say “the eyes of Hollywood,” whom are you talking about. The AMPTP is Hollywood. They are not “Humiliated and embarrassed.” I have spoken to many studio people recently and I don’t get any of that. I think they’ll come back with a similar proposal to what they had the Sunday before the strike and be willing, later, to get to a slightly higher proposal that, pretty much, applies the current residual plan to downloads.
Speaking of embarrassed, why don’t you print your name on your posts? If you’re so confident about your views, put your name behind them. It is pretty easy to name call and take a stand anonymously. If you think it is okay to accuse other bloggers of not being “real writers” why not let us all assess if you are a “real writer.” So far, I can only go by the fact that you wrote “peace, out” at the end of your post, which makes me believe that nobody has ever paid you to write anything.”