Bloodbath on the Boulevard

Hollywood Boulevard, that is. According to L.A. Weekly's Bill Bradley (no, not the basketball player-Senator), the studio heads have hired former Clinton spinmeisters Mark Fabiani and Chris Lehane to put down the Writers Guild strike. Up to now, I have refrained from taking sides on this one; I grew up in a union household, my old man worked for unions, I've held numerous offices in the National Writers Union at both local and national levels, but I cover these people as a journalist, so I've kept my opinions on the strike to myself. I have also refrained from taking sides in the Democratic primary fight -- mainly because I don't know who I will support (I'm just hoping for a big shakeout before the NY primary).

But this latest development does bring to mind a few things. First, despite the whining and sniveling from Chris Lehane, the overwhelming majority of WGA members are not making $200,000 a year, "more than teachers and pilots" as he put it. As was, and is, the case with the freelance journalists and authors of the NWU, most of them are scuffling to make ends meet most of the time, or earning their living from something other than their writing. And when Fabiani and Lehane are pulling down $100,000 a month for their work for the studios, they're not exactly the right people to go to bat for the forgotten poor. Oh, and the studio heads from whom Fabiani and Lehane are taking their money and lines aren't exactly missing any meals either. I made a very cursory attempt to find the numbers and so far the best I could do is this item from a 2005 International Herald Tribune story: "Pay for Walt Disney's chief executive, Michael Eisner, rose 14 percent to $8.31 million in 2004 as the world's second-largest media company posted record sales and profit, Bloomberg News reported." Now, in all fairness, Eisner is no longer the head Mouseketeer, but those numbers are fairly representative.

As for the forgotten poor, well it was the Clinton administration's gutting of welfare rights that helped get them forgotten. I wish someone would ask Hillary about that. At the very least, Fabiani and Lehane provide a vivid reminder of where the Clintons really are at politically. Or as a dear friend and colleague aptly observed several years ago, "Bill Clinton has been one of the best moderate Republican presidents we've ever had."

On the positive side, thanks to the strike NBC is apparently preparing to drop the telecast of the Golden Globes on the 13th. Surely even die-hard union-haters can agree that this is a step in the right direction for America and the world. Now if we could only do something about the People's Choice Awards, the Grammys . . . .

Finally, I commend you to the following strike-related blogs:
United Hollywood
Speechless Without Writers
Strike Points

Yes, they are all pro-union. This is a blog, a vehicle for my opinions. It is not objective reporting. It doesn't claim to be. If you want the other side, just turn over a rock and ask Fabiani and Lehane.

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