BACK to Blog Posts

Well, the three month old Writers Strike is at last over. Congratulations to the great victory of the WGA and it's supporters. Of course, they didn't get everything they wanted, but one rarely does. Didn't Voltaire say "There are no complete victories, or no complete defeats"? Every negotiation is winning and losing a few things, and all sides will spin it to sound like they won. But the WGA did get the expansion of residuals and recognition of their jurisdiction of internet downloads. The actors will demand the same thing and more this June.

There is lots of talk of how one thing they lost was the jurisdiction of animation, and the media portrays it as though there are no organized union writers. But the fact is animation writers have been unionized by the cartoonists guild since 1939. It's not WGA, because it was negotiated in a time when all writing was done on the storyboards. I feel for writers who are mad their animation payrates are not as good as the WGA, but a few hotheaded animation writers made my last year as guild president miserable. I hear there are still some who are mad at me.

I would be the first to cheer the success of the writers in getting better conditions. Hell, I'm a writer myself. These past weeks I juggled my schedule around so I never had to cross a WGA picketline. But my job back then was to be president of all the animation tribe. I was not going to destroy the livelihoods of three thousand animators and their families, because a dozen writers were unhappy, most of whom had double cards with the WGA anyway. I asked them then, would the WGA strike Hollywood for you? ( anim writers). Now we see they couldn't budge the studios this time either. I knew the animation jurisdiction would be a minor negotiation chip that would go away as soon as the real deal was made.

If you seriously want to resolve this jurisdiction problem, the only thing that would work would be a one time sit down of the WGA, the Studios and IATSE. And the WGA better have something to trade to IATSE in exchange. No one wins anything by offering nothing in exchange. Now that this current strike is over, I don't see that meeting happening anytime soon. The studios like splitting this hair, the way they keep a difference between animators doing cartoon animation and animators who do motion picture visual effects.

From my distant viewpoint, the thing that impressed me most about this strike was the writers solidarity. I heard very little, inside or out, of writers crossing the line and going back to work or writing under the table. And the support of the actors and celebrities was admirable. If anything, more employers scabbed on the AMPTP than writers breaking ranks with the Guild. The Weinsteins, UA, Lionsgate , RKO, Marvel and more crossed the line and made a deal. But the writers, including the celebrity writer-directors like Woody Allen and Chris Carter, all hung tough, even though half of their ranks are unemployed most of the time.

This strike is a great lesson to us animation people. You see what you can do when we all stick together? All you rugged individuals, can you think of a job that is more subject to personal ego and solo achievement than writing? Yet, they all understood if they stuck together, they would win for all. When I was animators union president, I had a steady stream of "arteests" whining at me " What has the union ever done for me?!" " I make my own deals!" and " If you guys strike, I'm working anyway and screw you!" then " why is our union so damn weak? It can't do anything!!"

Draw your own conclusions.

The big guilds like the Writers, Actors and Directors didn't become powerful overnight. They fought their way up from nothing as we did. But if you are willing to work for WalMart wages just to get to make cartoons, an employer will be more than willing to accommodate you. - TS

Quiz: Last time I asked if Sherlock Holmes was a real person. Now I’ll ask- was Robin Hood a real person?

Answer to yesterdays question below:
History for 2/13/2008
Birthdays: Giambattista Piazzetta, Bess Truman, Grant Wood, Lord Randolph Churchill- Winston’s dad, Fyodor Chaliapin, Peter Tork of the Monkeys, Oliver Reed, Chuck Yeager, Woody Hayes, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Carol Lynley, Kim Novak, George Segal is 73, Peter Gabriel, Jerry Springer is 63, Stockard Channing is 63, Kelly Hu

1503- Today during the endless string of Italian wars of the Renaissance, outside the town of Barletta things were interrupted by a unique event. Angered by a French captain who said that the Italians were a sissy people, thirteen Italian knights challenged thirteen French knights to single combat. Both armies lined up and cheered them on like a sporting event. They fought until all thirteen Frenchmen were down.

1547-Catherine Howard, the 5th wife of Henry VIII was beheaded. The execution was held on the exact spot where wife Number 2 Anne Boleyn was beheaded six years before.

1863-President Lincoln hosted a wedding reception at the White House for P.T. Barnum star attraction General Tom Thumb and his bride. Lincoln was heavily criticized at the time for having such a frivolous party during the depths of the Civil War.

P.T.Barnum and Tom Thumb

1866-The first daylight bank job. In Missouri the Clay County Savings Bank is robbed of $60,000 by a young ex confederate guerrilla named Jesse James.

1867- The Blue Danube Waltz by Johann Strauss Jr premiered in Vienna.

1886- Artist Thomas Eakins resigned his professorship at the Philadelphia Academy of Art in disgust when he was attacked for having male nudes in his art class with women as students.

1914-ASCAP founded.

1917- German spy H-21. Also known as the beautiful Mata Hari, was arrested in Paris.

1932- Free Eats, the first Our Gang short comedy to feature Spanky MacFarland.

1933-comic character Blondie married Dagwood Bumstead.

1939- Producer David O. Selznick replaced directors on Gone With the Wind. George Cukor was out, Victor Fleming was in after completing The Wizard of Oz. Vivien Leigh liked Cukor who was known for directing women, but Clark Gable convinced the producers that they needed an action director. About 15 minutes of George Cukor’s work remains in the picture. Victor Fleming loved Clark, but didn't get along with Vivien Leigh and came to hate the controling Selznick. David O. brought in Sam Wood to direct second unit when Fleming fell behind. At the end Victor Fleming had one more tantrum when Selznick proposed giving Wood and Cukor co- screen credit.. Yet despite it all Gone with the Wind became a box office phenomenon. Years later Clark Gable came up to Selznick at a party and said: "Maybe I'm wrong about disliking you David, 'Gone With the Wind' keeps getting re-released and keeps me a star." Selznick once said:” My biggest fear is that all I shall ever be remembered for is producing Gone With the Wind.”

1935-German immigrant Bruno Richard Hauptman found guilty of the kidnap-murder of the Lindbergh baby and electrocuted. The chief of police in the town of Bergen New Jersey where the murder occurred was the father of Desert Storm General Norman Schwarzkopf.

1937- Hal Foster's comic hero Prince Valiant first appeared.

1945- THE FIREBOMBING OF DRESDEN.- Some experts say the annihilation of this militarily defenseless city was an act of revenge for Rotterdam and Coventry, the fact was at the Yalta conference several days earlier Stalin had asked that the major German cities on his eastern front be bombed by his Anglo-American Allies to delay Nazi divisions withdrawn from Norway and Holland to be used to slow the Red Army 's advance. Dresden was to be a major assembly point for these new reinforcements. Still, it's a legacy the Allies find troubling. On this day in the early evening 845 British bombers followed by 700 American dropped thousands of tons of incendiary bombs in a pattern calculated to cause a firestorm. The temperature reached 800 degrees, the church bells melted and the oxygen was literally sucked out of the air by cyclonic winds. By conservative estimate 35,000-100,000, mostly civilians, died. Young American P.O.W. Kurt Vonnengut was in a group made to help dig out bodies. The experience changed his life and he later wrote his accounts in the classic anti-war novel "Slaughterhouse-5"

1959 -Happy Birthday BARBIE ! Mattel introduces the plastic nymph, originally named by the German artist who created her 'Lily" but changed to 'Barbie" by an exec who's daughter Barbara was nicknamed that.

1964- The Invention of Cool Whip.

1996- Off-Broadway musical Rent by John Lawson, premiered

1996- In an airport in Thailand eccentric Icelandic rock and roll star Bjork attacked a journalist, beating her and dragging her by the hair.
Yesterday’s Quiz: What is the origin of the rounded shape with the point at the bottom that symbolizes a heart?

Answer: When Saint Valentine was imprisoned, he passed little notes out to his brethren. Not having paper, he wrote on little leaves, that are that shape. They were from the heart of Valentine, thus valentines. The earliest known regular valentine card was sent in the 1400s.

Uhh...I'm not sure this is what Saint Valentine had in mind...