WGA Vs. The Studios: Why I Blame the Studios

In more than forty years of WGA membership, it seems there’s a strike threat with the expiration of every contract as talks between the studios and the WGA went into a two week recess in mid-February. Nobody ought to be surprised that I blame the studios.

An ancient movie executive characterized writers as “schmucks with Underwoods.” (For the younger among you, Underwood is a brand of typewriter. Visit Wikipedia for ‘typewriter.’)

Irving Thalberg, the head of production at MGM during Hollywood’s Golden Age, said that the most important people in the business were the writers, and that every step must be taken to prevent them from knowing that.

Surely the biggest mistake writers ever made was to assign copyright of our material to the studios. This is not true for playwrights or authors of books. That’s why no editor can simply throw me off a book I’m writing and bring in a team of punch-up artists to add some spice. This is why Neil Simon can’t be kicked off his play so that the producer’s pal from the gym can rewrite him.

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