5.24.2007

Julie Talks Shop

I don't tend to dwell on industry issues here, since it's the only place in the world that actually is all about me so I don't have to waste energy feigning interest in things that might detract from that happy delusion. However, with all the talk about the looming writers' strike--the male posturing in the trades, the accusatory he said he said e-mails, the foreboding "Pattern of Demands" postmarked today that requires my urgent attention and support--I figured I'd offer a shout-out to the guys in charge. We don't care.

We want to care. We know we should care. But inasmuch as we can't imagine any of it ever applying to us, we can't seem to get invested in figuring out just what it is you're getting at. There are 13,000 WGA West members and 12,910 of us are really busy looking for our next jobs. As for the remaining ninety of you, I am dubious about your steadfast insistence that I receive "the first opportunity to write the interactive game" based on my feature films and original television series.

The thing is this hasn't come up lately--okay, ever--nor have "certain ancillary uses" of my comedy-variety materials, since only one in seventeen writing jobs in this particular area go to a girl in the first place. When's the last time you saw one of us standing up there in a tux behind Jon Stewart at the Emmys? If The Daily Show had seventeen girls on staff, it would be known as the biggest dykefest on the airwaves. Most perplexing of all is some obtuse demand for increased funding of showrunner training. This comprises the most exclusionary and highest paid of all branches of the guild, so it's unclear as to why these guys should receive more money to find creative new ways to shun me.

Don't get me wrong, boys, I'm very pro union, and you can rely on my vote to support whatever agenda you ask me to support. I will vote to strike and I will walk the picket line, as long as I get the free sunscreen and t-shirt. I mean, "Norma Rae!" and all that. How cute was Sally Field, fists raised, in her blue collar belly shirt and tight little Jordache jeans? No wonder Charlize Theron copied her hairdo when the movie was re-made as North Country, also formerly known as Erin Brockovich. My point being that there is strength in numbers, and I am damn happy to finally have defied my age and gender to be counted among the ranks of the "working" Hollywood writer.

I also know that without the union screenwriters would routinely be expected to clean the producer's pool when delivering a two hundred million dollar Jack Black vehicle we were hired to write for ten bucks an hour plus lunch and gas. For that, I am forever grateful to the Hollywood Ten and the rest of the McCarthy-era organizers who risked being branded commie pinkos in an effort to seek fair treatment for generations of writers to come. I just think we should all be focusing on things that are more important to moi.

My personal Pattern of Demands begins with certain improvements to the Health Plan. I think it should include free plastic surgery treatments for underemployed female writers approaching forty. There are only twelve members who meet this general description, so really, what could it cost? I think spa treatments should be covered at ninety percent after meeting the lowered annual deductible, along with manicures, pedicures and the removal, shaping, or conditioning of any and all unwanted hair. The Pension Plan should kick in at thirty-eight, but you should only have to admit to thirty-four in order to become fully vested. One-hour television episodes should include a new pair of shoes of the writer's choice, and the minimum basic agreement on original features should be expanded to require daily deliveries from California Pizza Kitchen. Re-writes, well, they shouldn't be allowed at all. In the event I ever want another writer's opinion on my work, I'll be sure to ask for it and get back to you.

That's about all I can think of for now, but I will not be ignored, and I will not go away. One person's voice is where it all starts, and mine will be raised until somebody sits up and takes note. Imagine my twelve-year-old wiener dogs' surprise when I lie in bed with them chanting--Norma Rae, Norma Rae, Norma Rae--until one or both roll over and fart to express unflinching support of my cause.

21 comments:

  1. I had a feeling this one would bring out the chick power in my readership.

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  2. There's a good girl. Fight for what the gentlemen tell you to.

    I still get to come back, right?

    The line about "admitting to 34" was an especially good one.

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  3. You go, Norma Rae! Not yet even being close to the crap you went through to get where you're at now, I feel fully justified in offering to make your sign. You want that in pink sharpie or lipstick?

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  4. Hey, could you ask them to hire a black writer over at Jon Stewart's Daily Show while you're at it?

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  5. How about a writer who comes in the shape of, say, Venus Williams strutting up there? She'd represent a good sixty percent of the population and wouldn't even have to open her mouth to prove herself stronger (and cuter) than the rest of the weenies combined. I'm going to write her Website and see if she wants to partner up.

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  6. Anonymous3:57 PM

    I've noticed a pattern of digs aimed at Jon Stewart whenever this blogista raises issues of sexism in Hollywood. As painful as it is for this Stewart fan to admit, I guess he deserves the criticism since he earns his bread and butter making liberals laugh and conservatives cringe. I mean he's supposed to be "the progressive one".
    Still, should he get a pass for airing leftie issues that might never see the light of day without him? Can we forgive his foibles as long as he mocks Bush's to such devastating effect? Or does being the liberal politico-comedic standard bearer actually raise the bar for him?
    Oh hell, skewer them all JGTH, they deserve it until a more enlightened day arrives.

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  7. Anonymous11:57 AM

    He could probably still mock Bush were he to enlist the aid of people with vaginas. That way we wouldn't have to forgive his foibles, and he wouldn't have to be a sexist disguised as a liberal, otherwise known as a hypocrite.

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  8. I love it that Liz and me are the only girls unafraid to announce ourselves as such in so public a forum as my little Hollywood chick blog. Of course there is Les, but she's got a guy's name. On top of that, she's Canadian.

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  9. I have a half-written post about the (lack of) chick screenwriters and the obstacles faced by those of us who try, especially if we're thirty-something and don't have the rack of a stripper. Maybe I'll finish it this weekend...

    So, amen. I too second the line about admitting to 34. Still, I refuse to lie about my age, but each year it gets harder. This year, I'm thirty-fuckin'-eight.

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  10. Anonymous12:23 PM

    Hi, this is Dakota Fanning. I'm twelve. Alright, fuck, I'm thirteen, you got a problem with that? Go union.

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  11. Hey, Jules... can I get away with calling you that? I so agree about the equal opportunity thingie and one day I will share a line with you...

    Not that line, I mean picket line

    BTW, Les and I come from the same hometown, The Sault, only she is still there...

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  12. That's it, I'll go by Jules. As in Verne, who was a dude, and therefore the superior writer even though he's dead. Quick, somebody call Jon Stewart!

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  13. Do those Norma Rae t-shirts have built in shelf bras for those of us over 40? And by "shelf" bra, I mean held together with nails and constructed only after a building permit is issued.

    Gravity is a bitch.

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  14. If this is has devolved into a Women in Film meeting, apologies to those of you who liked me better when I hated everyone in Hollywood rather than just the ones with weenies. No worries, I'm still an equal opportunity hater. Don't get me started on people who get in front of you around The Farmer's Market and drive slow because they think they might spot Sanjaya on the CBS lot. As if they'd let that guy near a lot any more.

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  15. I guess I'm just a "stupid girl" when it comes to gender bias issues. I hear how hard it is for women to get hired -- especially in comedy, and I suppose since I haven't gotten a professional gig as yet I am one of the unemployed masses, but I just don't feel discriminated against.

    It is appalling, I suppose, that there are SO MANY white males working as writers in this town, but one reason why is that this business is still about who you know. If you are comfortable making contacts and following up on them, you are more likely to get read and probably get work. As a gross generalization, I think women shy away from being assertive in this regard for fear of being considered too 'man-like', a shark...a BITCH. But tenacity isn't a gender defined trait...at least not to me. I don't feel it is overbearing to keep a contact and do what it takes to make it work for you.

    I think the cry for diveristy is troublesome. I believe in a meritocracy -- best writer for the job wins. Of course, that rarely happens (see aforementioned reason). I could be the best writer in the world but if I'm banging out screenplays in my basement with no interpersonal skills, I'm not likely to get hired on talent alone. I also believe there is merit to having diverse viewpoints and experiences to craft interesting narratives. There's a fine line however between diversity for its own sake and diversity for the sake of writing.

    Personally, I don't think there will be a strike. The Writer's Guild has exactly zero leverage methinks. If there is a strike, we will all be subjected to reality shows, or any of the myriad scripts bought and awaiting a greenlight. I don't think anyone feels threatened by a writer's strike. Which is SAD.

    I've had too much sugar today and had to take an exam regarding ITIL certification. My head hurts.

    And if I really am being discriminated against, can someone let me know?

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  16. I had my first ever mexican food at the Farmers Market on a family trip out there in 1983. It holds a special place for me... in my bowels... do those writers still do their meetings there somewhere?

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  17. Chick here. Power...well, I'm trying, I'm trying.

    There's that thing about power in numbers. We've got to get the numbers up, and I mean waaaaaaaay up.

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  18. Shawna, honey, I like your spunk. Should you ever become a bitch, however, don't let anybody hire you because of it. They should do that because you are talented. The only other routes are nepotism or whoring and we all know I'm up for either one.

    Speaking of which I don't know about the writer's group at the Farmer's Market, but I imagine they find themselves totally cool. Regardless of my bitter rebel chick image here in the Scribosphere I'm just not.

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  19. Shawna has a point in that I don't hear the strike being taken seriously and nobody seems to feel threatened by it. It's certainly not getting the kind of press you'd expect.

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  20. "I think it should include free plastic surgery treatments for underemployed female writers approaching forty."

    Nah, just tell them that you are actually twenty-eight and that you were living la vida Lohan in an effort to really get behind your characters.

    Do they make Beano for dogs?

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