'Narc' writer-director Joe Carnahan dismayed with WGA leadership

While some righteous scribes dutifully showed up on the picket lines to fight the power and wave their placards, not all of the WGA membership was lighting candles and singing Kumbaya in solidarity. As the realities of the strike — and the lack of fat studio checks padding bank accounts — hit hard yesterday, some writers grumbled about the WGA’s hard-line negotiating tactics. “I feel like it was almost a fait accompli that the strike was going to happen,” says writer-director Joe Carnahan (Narc), who feels like
opportunities for resolution were botched in the heat of the negotiations. “It’s dispiriting. You hire a federal mediator, why not hash it out? If I’d had my druthers, they’d get into a padlocked room and nobody would emerge until you had an agreement. They owe it to the industry to figure it out.”

This kind of vocal dissent has been rare among the WGA’s rank and file. But Carnahan insists he’s not the only Guild member with grievances over the strict new policies restricting striking writer-directors from tinkering with their own scripts on the set. “Some writer-director friends of mine think the strike agreement is a little neo-fascist,” says Carnahan. “When people feel like there’s this overt control over their process, then there’s mutiny and rebellion. It’s catastrophic enough that people are out of work and lives are going to be hurt enough and irreparably changed.”

For now, Carnahan’s view seems to be a minority opinion. But more dissent like this would add to the union’s burden. “There’s a tremendous
responsibility on the leadership right now,” says Carnahan. “It’s
incumbent upon them to figure it out, bury the hatchet, and get this
thing resolved.” He adds dryly, “I can’t imagine my life without Two and a Half Men, and I don’t want to go through Charlie Sheen withdrawal.”

Comments (9 total) Add your comment
  • generic230

    Your assumptions are wrong. Most of the writers picketing do not have “fat paychecks” 48% of the guild is composed of non-working writers. There are writers who get paychecks in the 7 figures. And that skews the average. I understand Carnahan’s anger, but what he doesn’t know is that after the Guild took the DVD residuals OFF THE TABLE, because we’d ben told that was the sticking point, Nick Counter and the AMPTP still refused to budge from their “ZERO” figure for rebroadcasting in new media. They also wanted to pay ZERO into the pension and health fund. They currently pay 1.5% of a writer’s check into the fund. Basically, they took every point we had and said, “We want to pay nothing.” And they have not moved from that stance in 11 months.

  • generic230

    Your assumptions are wrong. Most of the writers picketing do not have “fat paychecks” 48% of the guild is composed of non-working writers. There are writers who get paychecks in the 7 figures. And that skews the average. I understand Carnahan’s anger, but what he doesn’t know is that after the Guild took the DVD residuals OFF THE TABLE, because we’d ben told that was the sticking point, Nick Counter and the AMPTP still refused to budge from their “ZERO” figure for rebroadcasting in new media. They also wanted to pay ZERO into the pension and health fund. They currently pay 1.5% of a writer’s check into the fund. Basically, they took every point we had and said, “We want to pay nothing.” And they have not moved from that stance in 11 months.

  • Kaplan

    The only way to get a better contract is to stop writing, and that has to include re-writing scripts on set — why wouldn’t it? There’s nothing fascist about that. If every individual writer is free to come up with his or her own definition of what counts as writing then there can be no union, since a union is based on collective action. But the members also get collective benefits — pension and health, residuals, minimums, credit arbitration etc.

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