Well, What Do You Know…

Apparently my analogy of comparing the AMPTP to litigators wasn’t entirely the result of an old head injury. Former corporate attorney and current WGA strike captain Alfredo Barrios explains the method behind the madness that is the Hollywood Writer’s Strike. Check out the rest of the article here.

BASIC RULES

First, understand the relationship between Nick Counter and the studios. It’s essentially a lawyer-client relationship. The AMPTP is run by lawyers like Nick Counter and Carol Lombardini. Think of it as an in-house law firm. Their goal is to “negotiate” deals with unions on behalf of their clients – the studios.

As lawyers, Counter and Lombardi have to justify their paycheck. What does that mean? They have to add value. They’ve promised to deliver a more favorable labor deal than the studios would get without them. Otherwise, there would be no point in hiring them (or more aptly, keeping them around). So our loss is their gain. And the bigger our loss, the bigger their gain.

Now here’s the thing to remember, fairness and reasonableness have NOTHING TO DO with their approach. No corporate lawyer I’ve ever known has ever met with a client and promised to get them the most “fair and equitable deal” possible. That’s not their goal. Instead, they promise to save them a lot of money – remember, added value. If the studios were genuinely interested in reaching a fair and equitable deal, the CEOs and their CFOs would talk directly to our negotiating committee and financial people, and a deal could be reached today – by the way, this is what we’re driving towards.

2 thoughts on “Well, What Do You Know…

  1. Ted

    Of course, the corrollary to the story is that the union doesn’t want a fair and equitable deal either. It wants the best deal it can get. This is the way that people do business, especially in the world of labour negotiations. The union bosses have to add value as well. So this is a bit of the pot calling the kettle black.

  2. James Post author

    That may be the case in some labor negotiations, but later in the article the author states that the union negotiators left DVD sales off the table, a medium from which writers take no royalty revenue. The AMPTP left the table entirely, because their mandate was that they could deliver the same contract as they had before (No DVD royalties, no Internet royalties). If it the deal wasn’t so severe, you wouldn’t have the Director’s guild and Screen actor’s guild worried about the precedent it might set.

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