19 September 2005

We Must Unite Against the Common Enemy

The People's Front of Judea?

No, the film studios!

So maybe my choice of films for entertainment over the weekend was a bit stranged, but then so was an article in today's NYT regarding long-overdue underpayment of deferred compensation to screenwriters.

Mr. Hughes, who remains something of a watchdog within the guild, is critical of the union's stewardship of those funds - particularly when it has collected money due to writers who have worked for the screen, but are not members and thus often have no address on file. "What they're doing is stealing from dead people and nonmembers," Mr. Hughes said in an interview.

Charles Slocum, an assistant executive director of the union, said it was prederable to have the guild accumulate money for those who do not belong to it than to leave the money unpaid by the foreign governments. "Actually, nonmembers are better off," he said, "because we get it and we will hold it until we find them. It will always be available for the person it was intended for."

Dennis McDougal, "For Hollywood Writers, a Whiff of Unclaimed Foreign Gold" (19 Sep 2005) (paragraphing corrected for clarity).

Maybe those photos I have of the last three presidents of WGA on pilgrimmages in Giants Stadium near the fifty yard line might be worth something…

The real problem here is that the guild is acting exactly like the studios: Maybe, if nobody asks and we make a token effort, we can hold onto the money longer. What I find most striking is that the WGA's strike fund is around $8 million, while the amount of these funds being held for distribution is about three times that much. It makes one wonder about the Copyright Clearance Center, the Authors' Registry, WGA(e), and so on. Or at least it makes me wonder about that.