Monday, December 31, 2007

The History Of Animation - At Least According To Itunes

So, here's an interesting coincidence.

As I'm talking about it here, as I want to debate it with Stephen Worth elsewhere... Itunes has put up "The History of Animation" for sale. Since I can't copy and paste off Itunes, I'll transcribe as best I can. The bold stuff is ITUNES text, not me.


"While the technology of animation has changed radically during it's 100 year history, the goal remains the same: To create characters wth characgter. Take a time-traveling trip with us through some of the classic eras and key characters of Toontown - and meet some of the most compelling picks from the current crop. Below, you'll find animated shows and shorts that are classic and modern, hand-drawn and created on a computer, for kids and for adults only, but all memorable."

It breaks down as follows:

"The Golden Age"
Hand drawn animation dominated the screen from the nineteen-teens through the mid '50s in the Golden Age of Animation. Why are these shows and shorts golden? Because their luster has never tarnished - these timeless toons are every bit as funny today as they were decades ago."

Includes: The Three Little Pigs, The Rabbit of Seville and other Bugs Bunny Cartoons, The Brave Little Tailer, I Eats My Spinach, Duck Dodgers in the 24th and a half century, Dumbo, Donald's Crime, and Cinderella.

"The classic TV age"
When theaters stopped showing shorts in the mid '50s, animation found a new home on the smaller screen. These new cartoons, crafted specifically for TV, left behind a legacy of colorful characters from Yogi Bear to the Pink Panther to the retro-futuristic Jetsons."

Includes: Robin Hood Yogi and three other Yogi Bear shorts, A Scooby Doo, Several Pink Panthers, "The Birth of Astro Boy," "Elroy in Wonderland" from the Jetsons, A Jonny Quest and Birdman and the Galaxy Trio.

"The present: For All Ages"
If the Golden Age of Animation ended 50 years ago, the current state of animation must be the Platinum Age as cable TV, computer graphic imagery (CGI) and generations of viewers inject new life into the art form. Witty, warm and wonderfully imaginative, these entries are both kid-approved and adult friendly."

Includes: Fosters' "Good Wilt Hunting Part I," FOP's "Abracatastrophe," Pixar's "One Man Band," SpongeBob, Cars, AVATAR, a Jimmy Neutron and "The Danish Poet."

"The Present for adults!"
Foul-mouthed. Irreverent. Insane. Despite the often inapproproate language and behavior displayed in these cutting-edge shows, it somehow seems appropriate... cartoons started as entertainment for adults, after all, and now the medium has come full circle with these often brilliant and hilarious entries."

Includes: Southpark's "Make Love, Not Warcraft," Robot Chicken, Family Guy's "To Live and Die In Dixie," Aqua Teen Hunger Force's "Universal Remonster," Afrom Samurai's "Revenge," A Venture Brothers episode, a Morel Orel episode and "The Second Renaissance" from the Animatrix.

So... a lot of stuff chosen. A lot of stuff NOT.

Opening it up for discussion!

Saturday, December 29, 2007



I'm a member of ASIFA. I've hosted the Annie Awards. I like a lot of the people involved in it. I support the organization.
But god almighty, I cannot stand the narrow, if you can't draw you don't even deserve to be a part of animation history attitude of their Archive. So... I'm tossing it out here for debate.

To see their top ten "most important topics," click on over here. There is intelligent, decent commentary, as always. Stephen Worth is a library of information about the history of this business which - even though I couldn't draw if you put a gun to my head - I love being a part of.

But, as always, there's this abject hatred of animation script writers that drives me nuts. Apparently, here was the big point for the top ten discussions about animation: #8 - Animation writing.

That being said, I'm opening it up for discussion here. And, as a dues paying member of ASIFA, I figure I can cut and paste just like everyone else. My comments will be in BOLD AND ITAL.

2007 Review: 8 Writing Cartoons

As the ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive completes its second year in operation, it's time to review the accomplishments of the past year. Over the next week, I'll be posting a countdown of the ten most important subjects we've covered in 2007. See if your list matches mine. Click on the link to see more on this topic.

Cartoon Writers


One of the best things to happen to animation in the past few years is the growth of blogging among animation professionals. Topics that used to be discussed only in obscure trade journals or at private symposiums are now discussed publicly on the internet, where participants from all over the world can benefit from the exchange of information.

Agreed. Regardless of your opinions, it's been nice to share stories, history and information. Hey! So far, we're on the same page!

One of the principle catalysts for discussion on the net is John Kricfalusi's blog, All Kinds of Stuff. A series of John's posts on writing for animation created a wave of comment across the "blogosphere". (1)

Good god, I don't know where to start. But what the hell... lets try.

(1) Agreed. And I like John K's blog. Most of the time, it's informative. It's fun to read. Yes, everything is touched with his opinion and point of view, but the guy is talented and smart and I like to visit his blog. Besides, who's blog ISN'T touched by the bloggers P.O.V.? I'm just as guilty.

A prominent cartoon scriptwriter vehemently disagreed with John's opinion that cartoons should be written by cartoonists. (2)

(2) I have my doubts about this. I would be willing to say that "prominent cartoon script writer" (whoever it was) was more trying to make the point that there are more than one ways to write a cartoon. And if he disagreed with anything, it's the same thing I vehemently disagree with, which is that script writers have no place in animation.

Maybe that person DID say that cartoonists shouldn't write cartoons. But if he did, that makes him a moron. Okay? No animation script writer truly thinks cartoonists shouldn't be writing cartoons.

Are we clear? Can we move on?

But when he was asked to name his favorite golden age cartoon writer, the scriptwriter was unable to come up with a single name... This isn't particularly surprising because THERE WERE NO CARTOON SCRIPTWRITERS prior to 1960. (3)

(3) So what if there were no cartoon scriptwriters before 1960? What does that mean? There were no computers either. Or Wacom tablets. Or internet. Or, courtesy of the era, probably not a lot of minorities and women in positions to create cartoons either. Should we go back to that, or how about we just accept the fact that things evolve and there's more than one way to do something? Good Christ, it's like listening to my Grandfather complain about new music, children and all their "hipping and their hopping."

Many people working in animation today have very little idea of how cartoons were made in the first half century of the medium. But Walt Disney was happy to tell you how he wrote his cartoons...

...and it was the same at every other golden age animation studio...

Here's the Terry-Toons story department...

...and a "script" for an MGM Tom & Jerry cartoon...

...and a page from the "script" to Max Fleischer's Mr. Bug Goes To Town...

...and this one from Warner Bros by my pick as the greatest cartoon writer of all time, Warren Foster. Check out the link below for a complete storyboard by Foster from the pilot episode of The Yogi Bear Show.

For that, you should go to the ASIFA ARCHIVE SITE - It's their images and film, it's worth watching, and it deserves your support.

After the first of the year, I'll have some more storyboards to post.

Stephen Worth
Animation Archive

So, to Steve, I say this:

There are people who got into cartoons because of The Simpsons, or South Park, or Family Guy. THAT is the animation writing they aspire to. That's what THEY find funny.

There are also plenty of people who got into it for Spongebob, and Ren and Stimpy, and the Flintstones and the classic Warner Brothers cartoons. Hell, that's where my initial love of cartoons began.

But what *I* like in a cartoon, and what I enjoy seeing in a cartoon, is different now. It doesn't EXCLUDE the classics... but includes stuff being done right now that I think has it's own level of importance.

It doesn't make me the absolute authority on all things writing, it doesn't make me "the rightest person in the debate." But it doesn't make me wrong, either.

So I propose this to the director of my archive. Post five scripts you like. FIVE. Five scripts that were written since 1960 that you, as the director of this archive is open minded enough to look at words on a page that turned into cartoons and go "Hey, this is good enough to be recognized."

Use that encyclopedic knowledge of yours and give me some examples of scripts you think deserve to be archived as well.

Come on, man. I'm giving you 47 years of history to find five cartoons where the scripts were written first, and animated later. Give script animation writers some examples of what they can aspire to, since we're part of ASIFA as well.

I bear the Archive and it's director no ill will. And I also know, by the way, that I am WAAAAY out numbered in this discussion on the blog-o-sphere - that's simple math. The artist to writer ratio on any cartoon is heavily (and justifyably so) tilted toward artists.

But what I'm asking doesn't seem unreasonable. Can you do it? Will you even try?

Friday, December 28, 2007

Re-evaluating my "it's not good"

I was going to respond to Hulett's response, but... figured, what the hell. Lets put it all in a topic.Steve posed the question:

"So ... does this '07 strike have the trajectory of the '88 strike?

1988: WGA goes on strike. Carson returns (writing his own monologues.) WGA settles.

2007: WGA goes on strike. Jay, Conan, and the rest return. Letterman's writers writing, everybody else adlibbing? WGA ... ???"

I have my doubts about that now, as I reconsider things. Part of that reconsideration is the E-mail update I received from the WGA about the matter. I'm sure it will be on DeadlineHollywoodDaily by this time tomorrow, so I have no problem posting to discuss:

"To Our Fellow Members,

We are writing to let you know that have reached a contract with David Letterman's Worldwide Pants production company that puts his show and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson back on the air with Guild writers. This agreement is a positive step forward in our effort to reach an industry-wide contract. While we know that these deals put only a small number of writers back to work, three strategic imperatives have led us to conclude that this deal, and similar potential deals, are beneficial to our overall negotiating efforts.

First, the AMPTP has not yet been a productive avenue for an agreement. As a result, we are seeking deals with individual signatories. The Worldwide Pants deal is the first. We hope it will encourage other companies, especially large employers, to seek and reach agreements with us. Companies who have a WGA deal and Guild writers will have a clear advantage. Companies that do not will increasingly find themselves at a competitive disadvantage. Indeed, such a disadvantage could cost competing networks tens of millions in refunds to advertisers.

Me: I sort of agree with this. Yes, it will be seen by the vast majority of the American public as a chink in the armor. And unless people are sampling late night shows, and realizing "Oh, shit... Letterman is getting better jokes, better bits and better guests," it will continue to look like a chink in the armor.

But I also trust Letterman to beat this topic to death because not only can he and only he, do it from a moral high ground... What's to stop Judd Apatow, or Joss Whedon, from writing a piece for his show and freelancing under the new WGA contract? Or celebrities helping? Or constant, incessant top ten lists and sketches that point out the writer's side of the debate?

CBS is now in the hellacious position... of giving an hour a day to someone who is going to tear them apart for their corporate CBS position.

Thoughts continue:

"Second, this is a full and binding agreement. Worldwide Pants is agreeing to the full MBA, including the new media proposals we have been unable to make progress on at the big bargaining table. This demonstrates the integrity and affordability of our proposals. There are no shortcuts in this deal. Worldwide Pants has accepted the very same proposals that the Guild was prepared to present to the media conglomerates when they walked out of negotiations on December 7.

This is a big piece of what's swaying me. They cracked someone. They made the deal work. And Letterman, who gets more of his show in success, and was paying the rent on the Ed Sullivan Theater while this was all going down, had the most to personally lose.

And yet, they did the deal with the WGA.

Finally, while our preference is an industry-wide deal, we will take partial steps if those will lead to the complete deal. We regret that all of us cannot yet return to work. We especially regret that other late night writers cannot return to work along with the Worldwide Pants employees. But the conclusion of your leadership is that getting some writers back to work under the Guild’s proposed terms speeds up the return to work of all writers.

And there's something to that, provided the American Public that watches Dave, Jay, Stewart, Colbert, et al see the difference in quality and react to it. Think about this bullshit with the NFL on the Patriots game. Greed would have said 60 percent of the country would have missed it. Pressure changed that.

It also lets other shows that might not be "#1" realize... if they play ball, if they do what's right, if they try to find a way to make the WGA deal work... maybe they get to start working on their shows again.

You gonna tell me the guys at CSI don't have the ability to push for change? Isn't that how Family Guy/Futurama/Simpsons and the PJ's (yikes) finally went WGA?

Side-by-side with this agreement, and any others that we reach, are our ongoing strike strategies. In the case of late-night shows, our strike pressure will be intense and essential in directing political and SAG-member guests to Letterman and Ferguson rather than to struck talk shows. At this time, picket lines at venues such as NBC (both Burbank and Rockefeller Center), The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and the Golden Globes are essential. Outreach to advertisers and investors will intensify in the days ahead and writers will continue to develop new media content itself to advance our position.

Pressure. Clout. It's what Steve Hulett says the WGA needs to win their fight. Interesting point: Letterman is NOT number one. Leno is. Where's the clout in getting Letterman to agree to the deal?

The clout is... he can BECOME #1. The clout is, the other shows will look weak in comparison. Maybe this is a chink in the armor. But I think - as I spend the day thinking about it - that it's not. I think, maybe, it will make anyone else that doesn't try to do the same thing look like colossal dicks.

Perhaps corporations don't care about that.

But showrunners? Executive Producers? Stars of popular anythings? They do. They want to be back to work. Back to creating. Back to being able to prattle on about how cool they are in "Desperate Housewives."

And I think that's about to become very apparently with Letterman's return.

Should be interesting to watch.

It's not good.

Even if Letterman spends 60 minutes an episode making fun of the AMPTP for their antics, tactics and tantrum...'s still brought us the writer-free return of Leno, Conan, The Daily Show and Colbert. (How is Colbert going to play a character when that character isn't him? How does he do that and not write it?)

At least the NFL network got a big dose of "screw you and your alleged monopoly" this week. Somebody got told that regardless of their power, they couldn't just do whatever they wanted to.

Shame that windsurfing idiot John Kerry couldn't have a little more passion about the television industry as a whole, as opposed to one f***ing football game. But hey! Look! Our government cares about something! Sort of.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas, and merry 100th post! all of you.

Even those of you I periodically disagree with.

Today, for me:

1) Got a JVC HD Hard drive camcorder so I can (but probably won't) make my own short films.
2) Got a book on raising your dog Jewish, which I found to be hilarious.
3) Made an artichoke soup.

Four is more amazing than anything else.

I hope all of you have a great holiday. I like the fact that the 100th post here is venom free. Can't promise that will be the case for the comments, but the post... wishes you all well. :)

- Steve

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The bummer that is the return of late night talk.

So, total bummer.

I know the other side.  "People are out of work" but we know what it's really about: "The networks are putting pressure on the hosts."

I suppose it starts with Letterman - the fact that the WGA is making a deal with him and his company, which they can do fair and square, didn't put pressure on the other late night networks to make deals... put the networks in the position to put pressure on their hosts to get back to work.

Yes, only Letterman will have writers.

But Jon Stewart's mind isn't going to simply shut off because he doesn't have writers.  This is a funny, brilliant comedian who can think and write on his feet... and now will, in the midst of the strike.

Yes, only Letterman will have the good guests.  Because the "A" listers aren't going to want to cross a strike line.

But if Viacom and GE can force their hosts back to their hosts chairs, don't you think they're going to do the same to the rest of the talent in their stables?  Or anyone else who wants to be on TV?  Fox is about to create a whole pack of new psuedo stars, just as NBC with celebrity apprentice.  

Here comes the "B" team.

The problem here is that these shows are the crown jewels of their networks, whether you like them or not.  Leno and Conan are the faces of NBC.  Letterman, that of CBS.  Kimmel, ABC. Carson Daly, the face of... shit, I don't know.    

NBC is already advertising "ALL NEW!"  You think America is going to give a crap that there are no writers?  You think the hosts are going to intentionally suck to prove the point that they need those writers?  It's going to be business as usual, but at a much lower standard.

I don't have an answer.  I'm just tossing it out there for discussion.  This feels like rank-breaking, no matter how it spins.  It's the beginning of something... but of what, I don't know.

IA, AP, WGA and minimums

So, Yahoo/AP was doing a story about what a bleak Christmas it was going to be for Hollywood. Since this started, I think, in a pretty fair manner, I read it.

Liked some, annoyed by others, had my own very unscientific calculations I wanted to toss out based on what they were tossing about as fact. Why not? Everybody's doing it!

"By SANDY COHEN, AP Entertainment Writer Sat Dec 22, 12:39 PM ET

LOS ANGELES - Nearly two months without paychecks. Scores of shuttered shows. Thousands out of work. The Hollywood writers strike suggests a bleak Christmas for many in Tinsel Town.

But just like a movie script, this story has a twist: many striking writers remain upbeat despite the financial and emotional strains the walkout has brought to the season."

Hey, now that's a pleasant surprise. Most of these articles go into the strike talking about how the writers strike is screwing over everybody and NOT the writers. At least this one is taking pains to point out, hey, the writers are feeling financial and emotional strains as well.

And it's talking about them being upbeat. Usually it's how, now that the strike is nearly 50 days old, the writers are starting to fold. So, two paragraphs in... maybe this will be a little even handed!

Since members of the Writers Guild of America went on strike job Nov. 5, more than $350 million in wages have been lost, said Jack Kyser, chief economist for the Los Angeles Economic Development Committee.

Ouch, there's a pretty big number with no real breakdown on what that means. Writers wages? Producer wages? Studio bonuses? A little help here. That's a mighty big number. Eeep. This article might be teetering.

Writers, though, are accustomed to sporadic employment and saving their pennies, and they're inspired by the feeling that they're helping their profession and the labor movement at large.

Yay! Something that doesn't portray writers as effete hat wearing idiots! We actually DO understand that our jobs are transient! And we do believe that this strike is about more than whether or not have to choose between Bentleys and Lamborghinis! I like you Sandy Cohen, AP writer.

"We're swept up by the romantic notion of being on strike and doing the right thing," said Luvh Rakhe, a writer and strike captain for the ABC show "Cavemen." "By strengthening the union movement in Hollywood, everyone who's in a union benefits."

Ugh. "Cavemen." Still, "Everone in a union benefits." This is true. After all, for every one cent the writers guild manages to secure, every other guild gets their raises as well, including IATSE (who gets 4.5 cents, really.) So, hey! Maybe IATSE'll figure out that this is everybody's fight!

But not everyone sees it that way.

Oh, balls.

The strike against the studios has also forced nearly 40,000 "below-the-line" workers — including electricians, carpenters, welders and prop masters — out of work, according to the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. Unlike the writers, who are buoyed by feelings of righteousness and will presumably benefit from the strike's outcome, these workers are simply jobless at what should be a festive time of year.

Um... the writers are jobless as well. And the writers are jobless because they're fighting for something they believe in. Just because they're on strike, doesn't mean they have jobs. By the very definition of strike, they don't.

The strike has been "devastating" for IATSE members, said spokeswoman Katherine Orloff.

"They've not only lost their paychecks, they're losing hours that contribute to eligibility for health insurance and pension coverage," she said. "Everybody wants to go back to work, whether they support the strike, don't support the strike, are angry at producers or are angry at writers."

Thank you, Katherine Orloff. Yes, everybody wants to go back to work. While we're pointing out the obvious, we all need air, puppies are adorable, and cancer is bad. But it sure would be nice if IATSE could muster even the tiniest piece of support for the WGA by digging at the AMPTP for their part in this.

But as we've seen before, nobody in IATSE management seems to be wired for that. It's too much of a pissing match now.

Christmas presents are hardly a concern when "people are going to start losing their homes and their businesses," she said. "Gifts are almost frivolous ideas at this point. This is about survival."

So the WGA is responsible for the sub-prime mortgage crisis? Who knew?

Most writers and below-the-line workers earn middle-class incomes. The average writers-guild member's salary is $62,000 a year, according to the WGA. IATSE salaries are similar. Strike or no, employment is inconsistent for both groups, with nearly half of writers-guild members and 10 to 15 percent of IATSE members without work during the year.

Anybody else catch that?

Writers make what IATSE people make, but 35% MORE WGA people are out of work than guild members. Especially when we start, WE MAKE THE SAME MONEY. WE HAVE THE SAME UNPREDICTABLE LIVES. WE'RE THE SAME F***ING PEOPLE TRYING TO MAKE DO HERE.

"As a writer, you have to develop the instinct of squirreling money away," Rakhe said. "You're just used to a lot of uncertainty in the first place."

The WGA prepared its members for the possibility of a strike a year in advance, so many writers saved money and started buying Christmas presents early.

And what did our guys do in IATSE? Saved up venom. You would think with ten times the members, maybe they could have armed their weapons and took a defensive crouch.

"This is the worst holiday in this town that I've ever experienced," said Jim Brooks, longtime writer and producer of "The Simpsons." "This is not dancing-in-the-street time. This is shuffling in a line, carrying a sign time."

Studios, though, are still celebrating, with Disney, Universal and Paramount throwing big holiday bashes like they do each year.

Of which I went to one of those parties. It was nice. I had a lovely slice of Turkey and a whiskey sour. And then I went home.

Those same studios, said "Law & Order" scribe Joe Reinkemeyer, are the "Grinch that stole Christmas from all of Hollywood."

However, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents the studios, blames the writers.

"Because they walked off the job, tens of thousands of other people who had no stake in this dispute are losing hundreds of millions of dollars," said spokesman Jesse Hiestand. "Many of those other workers will never have the kind of six-figure incomes enjoyed by WGA writers and it is a real shame that the holiday season is being dimmed by the writers' decision to go on strike."

Note here that when the studios talk about it, the writers are now making six figures and the IATSE folk will never see that kind of money. That's gotta be encouraging for IATSE members to know they have a ceiling that they'll never break out of and, chances are, their union probably won't strike over.

It's still horsecrap. Anybody want to toss out some numners as to what Editors make? Animation writers? Animation people? All sorts of other IATSE jobs? Using their minimum agreements to see how it goes? Let me help here.

Six figures is about 1923.00 per week. However, when I was struggling, I didn't take my vacation week. So I made 54 weeks of checks over 52 weeks. Now, that weekly goes to 1851.00.

My choice, but if we're in a world where we're tightening belts, that's a good way to do it. Anybody want to fill in the blanks with some real numbers on residuals?

Not minimums, but what working IATSE people are paid on a weekly basis. For the sake of our discussions: Board artists, color stylists, art directors, Prop designers, etc.

How close are WGA and IATSE when we're in the world of minimums?

The difference is, I think, the WGA low number may very well be the IATSE high number when it comes to the creative side of the entertainment industry.

But it's also the difference between working on an idea and creating it. The person who created it - be it Caveman, Law and Order or Judging Amy - will ALWAYS get more because they're at the top of that pyramid, with writers pretty close behind. So to me, this article says a few things:

* Writers and IATSE members aren't as far apart as you'd think, especially fiscally. Remember, these agreements are about minimums, not maximums... so we're all starting at the same place.

* Writers and IATSE members start to take different roads when there's opportunity to be exploited. Writers created starts them reaching for higher rungs on a ladder, and those rungs get pay increases on an exponential level, because those pay increased are negotiated by agents, not someone willing to say "2% more? Sure, that's good this year for everyone."

* Writers and IATSE members are at the mercy of each other. If IATSE were to go on strike for something, WGA would shut down as well. The only difference is, if there were a different union that was less contentious, you would see writers support. Imagine how fast this strike would have been over if IATSE's 150,000 members started backing it.

- Marmel

Tired. But wanted to post a non-micah post. Let the clearly less explosive debate begin.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Of course SAG gets a waver

The fact is, SAG is backing the WGA across the board and if this strike doesn't settle by June, the WGA and SAG will more than likely be striking together.

The Emmys, and the Oscars? Networks make money on those shows. And as much as I want to see Bruce Villanch write "He does (fill in the blank), she's (pun based on the previous fill in the blank)," the WGA would have been fools to cut them wavers.

More to the point, anonymous poster number 428 made a valid comment: Nobody's really watching the SAG awards for entertainment. So why shouldn't they be kind to people who have been kind to them?

Needless to say, if the "IATSE AWARDS" were being televised, and needed writers, they'd have to see if Carson Daly's dad was free.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Micah's Post

(Steve's preamble)

..because things don't go away on the internet, they simply get shuffled lower on the Google search. Outside of the Army Ranger stuff which you can read about HERE and draw your own conclusions, here is his POV'd blow by blow about what happened at Nickelodeon back in 2001. I have my own points of view, which I will save for later in the debate.

(Note: I changed the link to Micah's actual comment on it, per his request.)

Wednesday, Nov 07

(Micah's commentary, copied from
I came to this guild having had a "successful" career writing Animation for $1400/week for five years. During that time, I wrote on several of Nickelodeon's highest-rated shows. My writing partner wrote and directed 1/4 of the episodes of SpongeBob SquarePants and I was responsible for 1/5 of the episodes of The Angry Beavers. The current value that those shows have generated for Viacom? $12 Billion dollars. My writing partner topped out at $2100/week. In the year 2001, tired of not receiving residuals for my endlessly- repeating work (even though the actors and composers for my episodes do), I joined with 28 other writers and we signed our WGA cards.

So, Nickelodeon quickly filed suit against our petition for an election, and set about trying to ferret out who the "ringleaders" were. In the meantime, they canceled the show that I had created 4 episodes into an order of 26. Then they fired the 3 writers who'd been working on my show. Then they fired 20 more of my fellow writers and shut down three more shows, kicking almost their entire primetime lineup for 2002 to the curb, and laying off 250 artists.

Then, once the WGA's petition for election was tied up in court over our illegal firings, Nickelodeon called in the IATSE Local 839 "Cartoonists Guild" — a racket union which exists only the screw the WGA and its own members — and they signed a deal which forever locks the WGA out of Nickelodeon, even though we were there first. Neato!
Then Nickelodeon's brass decided--out of thin fucking air-- that myself and two other writers had been "the ringleaders" of this organizing effort, so they called around to Warner Bros. Animation, the Cartoon Network, Disney Animation, and Fox Kids, effectively blacklisting the three of us out of animation permanently.

And why did Nickelodeon do this? Why were they so eager to decimate their own 2002 schedule, fire 24 writers, break multiple federal labor laws, sign a union deal, and to even bring back the fucking blacklist? They did all of that to prevent us from getting the same whopping $5 residual that the actors & composers of our shows get.

For five lousy fucking bucks, they destroyed three people's careers and put 250 artists out of work and fucked up their own channel for a year.

Ahh, but my episodes run about 400 times a year worldwide, though, so obviously Sumner Redstone (Salary in 2001: $65 million dollars) and Tom Freston (2001 salary: $55 million) were right to do what they did... myself and those other 23 writers might have broken the bank, what with each of us going to cost them another TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS each! OH NO! That... that's... FORTY EIGHT THOUSAND DOLLARS!A YEAR!

So don't come crying to those of us who have EXPERIENCED what the AMPTP plans for all of the rest of you, that people who are deciding to stand up to bully-boy tactics like that are the crazy bunch of "horads" lustily marching "through" the streets searching for blood. The AMPTP are the barbarians sacking Rome in this scenario.
The AMPTP and their glittering-eyed weasel lawyers are a bunch of lying, blacklisting, law-breaking scumbags, and the fact that they haven't budged off of ANY of their proposals in the last three months proves that what they have in store for EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU is exactly what they did to us at Nickelodeon, and what they can do any day of the week in daytime animation. Or reality.

Strike or no strike. That's their plan: to winnow down your membership, to snip away at your MBA, to chew away at your health & pension plans until there's just nothing left of the WGA. Why? Because they've had a good strong drink of how much money they make off of animation when they don't have to cut the creators in for any of the cash, and now they want to extend that free ride to all of live action as well. THAT is why they have pushed for this strike at every step, with their insulting press releases, with their refusals to negotiate, etc.--because they're HOPING we go on strike, and that enough cowards and Quislings come crawling out of the woodwork after six weeks that they can force us to accept the same deal that Reality TV show writers have.

If you doubt me, go read their contract proposals again... there's not ONE of them which isn't an insult and a deal-breaking non-starter.
So can we PLEASE stop hearing about how it's the current WGA management which is the fucking problem here? Because, frankly, that canard is getting a little stale.

Or perhaps you prefer presidents like the President of the Guild back in 2001 who just threw up her hands when we were fired and blacklisted out of our careers and said, and I quote, "oh well, it was a good try"

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Answering Alex' Question

"Why are the studios (at least by what I've read) coming across as such miserable Scrooges"

In my opinion, it's because there's a gigantic disconnect between what the writers see as money they deserve, and what the studios feel is a new deal.

For example:

A script pays 21K. A residual for the first reuse of that show pays 10.5K.

But if the network is reairing that on the internet, that 10.5K goes away. But for the internet reuse, the studios offer $250. To a writer, that's a $10,250 pay cut. To a studio, that's $250 for something they've never paid for.

Clearly, I side on the "10.5K" part. Somewhere in the middle is where this will probably end up.

But to answer your question: Why are the studios being so prickish?

Well, I think their Bullying, demanding, walking out - and then attempting to pin the blame on the WGA... all that might have worked in 1988, but the same New Media that the studios want to keep for themselves is the same new media that allows writers to communicate with each other, get their words out in the 'blogosphere, and not be rolled over by the fact that the people they negotiate against have a stranglehold on main stream media.

And because of that, people who are not used to being poked and made fun of, or being called into account for their words and actions, are suddenly finding themselves in the spotlight by a group of people who make fun of things of a living. It's making them testy.

So that's where this is all coming from:

Moguls with thin skins (some thinner than others) are battling cynical writers with short fuses and plenty of time to push their buttons.

Go team cynic!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Much ado about animation and reality

A response to




"As a non-prime time/non-guild covered cartoon writer, I hope the WGA gets Feature Animation. There's no reason for it not to.

TV Animation - at least for those of us stuck within IATSE - is a dead/done deal this round (in my opinion), because the WGA can't fight for what they deserve AND wrestle IATSE/Union 839 writers into their guild at the same time.

It would be a waste of energy and a division of focus to do that. Writers have momentum and unity on their side - I hope the WGA doesn't let the AMPTP divide them over something that's basically an issue of labor law.

The studios picked our union for us - in 1940, and (in the case of Nickelodeon) in 2001 - regardless of what they might say.

But getting out of a union, or changing unions, is a much bigger fight than fighting with your union for things your union can fight for.

That being said, aiming for the things that haven't been decided yet? Reality? Feature Animation? New Media? Go for it. That's a battle that can be won.

And that's a battle for the future of all writers - day time animation, prime time animation and feature animation alike.

You guys can check out the TAG board:

Or the blog written by the TAG's rep, Steve Hewett: see the union that non-prime time animation writers are working with.

It's a branch of Tommy Short's IATSE, and none of us are happy with the contentious relationship he's got with the WGA..."

Friday, December 7, 2007


You're fighting over animation?

I had no idea, and nobody contacted me.

Maybe, by those standards, I'm already in!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Make No Mistake of Where I stand

Just because I opine about the WGA's actions toward animation, and how I wish things were different, doesn't mean I don't back the strike, the strikers, and their goals 100 percent.

I do.

But this forum is about a very specific subsection of the writing community, and I try to keep the debate specific and honest to my feelings about that issue.

But when push comes to shove, I am a card carrying member of both unions, which means in a strike, I support my union... and in a non-strike enviornment, I wish improvement in the guild that represents me.

The strike is the right strike at the right time for the right issues. And while I might wish that strike included us, the WGA still fights the good fight, none the less.

And I hope, in 18 or so months when it's our turn to put these issues on the table, our union/guild/alliance/etc fights with the same passion.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Sitting at the Children's table

So, a disheartening story.

There was a point where all the writers at Comedy Central walked, pushing for WGA coverage for their shows. Including animation.

Comedy Central correctly gave the Daily Show and the Colbert Report the WGA status they deserve, just like Leno, Conan, Letterman and all.

And then, at the point where it was time to push for animation? Everybody went back to work. Ta da?

If you want to know why animation writers are disheartened with the WGA - why while I enjoy the vibrant conversation, I just don't have the patience to spend time with their animation caucus, it's stuff like that. What's the point?

We all band together and then, once the popular kids get what they want (and deserve, BTW), the nerds are left out in the bleachers with their shorts hiked over their heads.

It's also ill-conceived.

In a world where residuals are going away because the second and third window is being placed on the internet, kids cartoons are RUN INTO THE GROUND, over and over again. Think about residuals on Spongebob, or Fairly Odd, for God's sake.

It's a bummer - because I belong to both unions. I personally think the WGA fights harder for it's members than 839 fights for theirs... but the WGA loves to dump us out at the last minute, to lighten the load for liftoff.

Change, I think, will have to come from within.