Tony Gilroy addressed the picket line in a fiery speech earlier today that evoked his Star Wars series, Andor. Gilroy was in attendance at the Screenwriter’s Solidarity Picket in NYC, and when he was given the mic he didn’t hold back from letting the members of both the WGA and SAG-AFTRA know how he really felt about the AMPTP.
Gilroy said in his speech that one of the greatest strengths of the writers and actors is that they have learned their own value. And the AMPTP “knows it and the directors know it and the producers know it. We are the content. It is our ideas that fill the theme parks and the toy stores; it’s our characters on the lunch boxes and Halloween costumes.” And he’s not exaggerating. The prison break costumes from Andor were all over Star Wars Celebration this year.
He continued, saying that the AMPTP “gaslights us and they set the guilds in opposition to one another, and they try to use the press as wind-up toys to spread fear and we are not having it any more. We are the natural resource from which the product is made and we are tired of being strip-mined.”
This isn’t an unfair statement. After agreeing to meet in early August only under the condition of a media blackout, sources “close to the situation” with the AMPTP continued to talk to the trade publications, leaking “insider knowledge” about the goings-on between CEOs and in negotiations. It’s not cute, and the WGA isn’t here to play games in the trades. Instead of releasing a press release responding to the AMPTP’s announced counterproposals, the union went directly to the folks they serve.
The WGA reiterated its commitment to get a deal that works for all its members, not just some of them. The new AMPTP offer, which initially seems like it has moved forward, leaves out key issues that would allow for workarounds in practice. The WGA would not be combing through contracts like this if it did not have reason to believe that members would be taken advantage of; the guild points out that these studios earn billions in revenue, and that no single company would have to adjucate more than half a percent of its yearly earnings to meet the WGA’s demands.
What Gilroy emphasized in his speech, and what is made clear by the way that the AMPTP and the WGA are moving through bargaining, is that the AMPTP is not prepared to bargain fairly, and never has been. The AMPTP thinks that it has control over the situation, that it can wait until people are forced out of their homes or starving before they make a move—but Gilroy states that the CEOs in charge now have no idea how to deal with the WGA. Gilroy said that the AMPTP has “almost nothing in common but greed.” He emphasized that “we’re working with people who have never done this before.”
The AMPTP is attempting to force the WGA and SAG-AFTRA to eat themselves alive before responding to the demands on the guilds, who are looking out for the members that literally create the value studios have attempted to exploit since inception. “What we have to do now is play long. The longer this goes the harder we have to be,” Gilroy said towards the end of his speech, to raucous cheers and honking. “We’re here, it’s our show, we cannot wait we cannot stop we cannot get weak. One way out.”
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