my best birthday present


mouse and keyboardWell my best birthday present

Besides the gold, diamonds, and large quantities of cash —

The strike is over.




Every writer in town has been unable to accept writing work since November 5, 2007. And that goes on down the line, if the writers are not working, no one else works either. So there are a lot of people who have been out of work, or who work at or run or own businesses dependent on the motion picture and television industries that have been out of work or hurting. It will probably be a long time before things are anything approaching normal in Hollywood.

Though normal is maybe not something we should wish to return to.

Normal was not a good situation. “Normal” meant a few corporate personalities could reduce writers to a slave labor force, forced to take less and less each year, cut after cut in benefits and pay, and be glad to get it. That “normal” was not working. That “normal” was wrong.

And we will hopefully never return to that “normal” again.



SAG negotiations are on the horizon too. [That is the actors guild.] Their contract comes due in June. SAG supported the writer’s union so hard and strong during this strike. So did the Teamsters. So did unions across the country. Across the world. If the AMPTP tries to dick SAG around, there will be another fight.

I hope the AMPTP is not that stupid. I hope they lick their wounds from this fight, play their proud press spins, and smarten up and are nicer with the actors than they were with the writers. It would be a bad idea to force another fight.

[Also I am so glad in retrospect when I returned to Los Angeles and things were crazy with grocery store and transportation strikes I never crossed a picket line or entered a union business being struck against — at the time, I knew what those strikes meant on an intellectual level, I now know what they mean on a personal level.]



A lot of people deserve credit for bringing in a fair contract for writers and bringing this strike to a close: Patric M. Verrone, President WGAw; Michael Winslip, President WGAe; David Young, WGAw Executive Director & Chief Negotiator; John Bowman, WGA Negotiating Committee Chair and every member on the WGA Negotiating Committee who held steady in spite of attacks, slurs, retaliation and accusations of child pornography.

[Wow they do not even get that ugly in presidential debates.]

[On to more people to thank.]

Nikki Finke who has provided updates and information throughout the duration of the strike in spite of being in bed with pneumonia — and who is probably the only accurate reliable source of information available at any time throughout the strike besides the unions themselves.

[Los Angeles Times, blow me.]

Members of United Hollywood who kept providing not only information, but humor and solidarity. Guilds in Great Britain, Canada, Australia, and the world who stood up in support of U.S. writers. Every writer who manned a picket line. Every writer who wrote disseminating information that made the situation clearer and more discernible to people outside the industry. Every writer who held steady in spite of continuous rumors and attacks devised to split the membership.

Every driver who turned around and refused to cross a picket line. Every union member across the country who supported fellow union members.

David Letterman and Tom Cruise, the first motion picture entities to say “enough is enough” and turn their backs on the AMPTP and sign fair contracts with writers, the Weinsteins who were right behind them, and the many more company leaders who followed suit saying “We are here to make movies and television shows, not to inflate your already over-inflated personal and million dollar “smash the writer” bonuses — our writers deserve fair pay.”

Every actor and actress who refused to cross the line to pick up an award no matter how impressive the honor or the award.

So many many people.



Probably I am forgetting someone. I am a writer not a producer, we make mistakes when the awards come due, we get nervous. If I have forgotten to mention you I apologize. The WGA is only 12,000 bodies strong. But the solidarity of people backing writers during this fight for a fair contract made writers number many many more bodies than just 12,000 — and allowed us to bring home the first fair contract for writers since 1988.

Thank you to every person who supported writers. You know who you are. You make me proud. You are my best birthday present.


*i did forget someone, all the businesses that made discounts available to guild members during the strike to help out, thank you

*also my friend dog who brought me strike soup thank you dog


where the art work comes from :
that is mouse & keyboard by niquin

14 Responses to my best birthday present

  1. conundrum



    From a seriously selfish point of view, thank goodness my favorite shows will return soonish.

  2. Kym

    Yay, Max. It’s my personal feeling they ended the strike yesterday as a personal acknowledgment of you–as they should!

  3. good deal Max, and happy birthday as well.

    Is it ok if i still ignore the TV?

  4. max

    Thanks Con. Kym you are funny I am a little fish the big fish do not even know my name. Criminy of course.

  5. Great news Max, I was wondering what was your take on the end of the strike.

    Excellent post.

  6. max

    Thanks, Kitty. It is not a perfect contract. But it is a damn sight better than the rollbacks and complete intractability offered to writers going in. This is actual progress and it addresses new media. Which is all writers asked for in the first place. And something writers had to fight for just to see. It also draws a line in the future for other guilds which says, There is a point past which workers cannot be pushed by the conglomerates. And that is enormously important.

  7. Excellent… Congratulations, you deserved a better deal!

  8. Dan

    Congrats! I know it isn’t a perfect contract, but it’s a step in the right direction at least.

    Unfortunately, now I can no longer use the solidarity excuse as to why I haven’t been writing.

    Oh well…win some, lose some.

  9. Congratulations and Happy Birthday, max.


  10. I’m having a hard time understanding it all. Your links are great and they helped.

  11. max

    Well, boiled down, it comes down to, the Guild said, We think if you are releasing content over the internet you should pay a royalty for it just like you do for television and dvd release, and also we should get a raise from that royalty you gave us for DVD’s back in 1988 that was low because you said DVD’s were speculative and you did not understand the market but IF it panned out you would definitely raise it just take something real low now and we will see.

    And the AMPTP said, We are not raising the speculative royalties of 1988 we said we would raise if DVD’s panned out, we are not paying any royalties on computer released works we can release those as much as we want and not pay you a cent and we like it that way and also that is speculative too [editor inserts delicate cough here], and also we want you to take a bunch of pay and benefit cuts and if you do not say yes to all of that before negotiations begin — negotiations we have not bothered to enter even though we have had a solid year to discuss all this with you and instead blew you off until just days before the contract expires — we are going to walk out.

    And the Guild said, Um, we cannot agree to bad terms before terms have even been discussed as a prerequisite for discussing terms in the first place.

    And then the AMPTP did walk out.

    That was the strike sitch.

  12. I can’t think of a better gift for you at this time. [Ok, I can think of additional gifts but let’s not get sidetracked here].

    The universe was listening! Congrats!

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