Sunday, February 10, 2008

In Praise of Patric Verrone

From comments at United Hollywood:

Don't think for a second that AMPTP entering "informal" talks was not conditional on reality and animation being dropped. AMPTP has been allowing Verrone et al to save face, because membership goodwill toward Verrone is helpful when he champions this crappy contract.

Make no mistake. Verrone is owned by AMPTP now. He may not like it, but AMPTP has more control over his opinion than he does now. Because when it's about face-saving, the one who allows you to save face controls everything. The NegCom is essentially AMPTP at this point.

Not hardly ...

Mr. Verrone is like most other union officers in the United States today: He leads an organization that is badly overmatched against corporations that have the deepest of pockets and the basest of motives.

At every turn, in every circumstane, they quite simply want it all. And today in Hollywood, the only groups that keep them from devouring the entire enchilada happens to be labor unions, yet unions operate on a playing field that's about as level as the upper elevations of Everest, and almost as treacherous.

I'll be crystalline here. I don't agree with the WGA's grabs for other unions' and guilds' jurisdictions. I couldn't agree and remain an employee of the IATSE. But Patric Verrone played his hand -- given what it was -- about as well as it could be played.

* He orchestrated a job action when the companies didn't expect it.

* He held his unit together for thirteen weeks.

* He initiated events that provided the Directors Guild of America maximum leverage at the bargaining table ... and the directors' result contributed greatly to WGA's ultimate success (just as John Wells said).

To be sure, there was pain and collateral damage with this strike, but there could have been more. And the pattern of agreements that has now been stitched by the WGA and DGA will (probably, hopefully) preclude an actors' walkout in July, for by then other unions will have hammered out new contracts with the AMPTP based on the writers' and directors' precedents.

What some union and guild members don't understand is that the power entertainment unions enjoyed when movie studios teetered on bankruptcy in the early sixties was far greater than it is in 2008. A long strike then meant death for a Warner Bros. or Twentieth Century-Fox; today all it means is a mild head cold.

So. Is Patric Verrone a tool of the AMPTP? Only if you dwell in some alternate universe that is now sixty years behind us.


Anonymous said...

Well said.

hoopcooper said...

Yeah, Steve, thanks for that. As a guy in both unions, it's important that we find common ground. Sure, I'll reserve my right to disagree with you in the cases of some written material, but our differences matter a hell of a lot less than what we have in common.

onward & upward...

Anonymous said...

Yes, well said. And certainly the WGA has made their statement.

However, the media spin the WGA and Verrone are putting on the deal is re-writing things. There is a lot being made about how new media and the internet was what this was about and it is here that they gained jurisdiction, a start in securing a future for their membership and a template for others. But they made a big play for reality and animation from the beginning, big sticking points for the studios. The DGA changed that dynamic overnight. And animation became just another bargaining chip. And this was done while WGA members waved the flag that "everything has to be written first." For animation, such a statement directly devalues the art created in the animation process.

If Verrone were serious about organizing animation, he would have included artists in his dialogue - would have really reached out to TAG for public dialogue. Even leading up to the negotiations. Did he? Did artists just not know about it, or were the lines of communication just not there? And not just reaching out to animation writers - animation artists as well.

Perhaps that is Tom Shorts fault, and if that line in the sand weren't drawn so early, maybe there would have been a chance for both organizations to actually have a real conversation about protecting artist interests.

Perhaps if Verrone emerged from a more collaborative artist/writer environment he would have understood that he needed to vigilantly defend more than just the writers he worked with. It certainly would have stung less to hear him speak about the artist before they threw animation on the table and "defended it."

hoopcooper said...


I couldn't agree with you more. After years of this, I know one thing...that the kind of deal creatives get in live-action scripted television should be extended to creatives in animation as well. It's impossible for anyone to draw the line creatively...and there won't be forward motion until writers acknowledge that. Well said...

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