Friday, November 02, 2007

Hollywood writers poised to strike over royalties

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Hollywood writers are poised to strike after their negotiating team recommended a walkout in a dispute over royalties at a Thursday night meeting of the union membership.

The Writers Guild of America board will meet on Friday to make a formal decision and set a strike date against producers. It would be the union's first strike in nearly 20 years.

Steve Skrovan, a screenwriter for the Fox show "Til Death," said after the meeting that a strike is all but inevitable.

"We've never been more united and we are willing to deal -- and our decision makers are at the table," said Skrovan. "Their decision makers are not at the table, and that tells you pretty much all you need to know about how the companies are pushing this."

Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers President Nick Counter said the news was no surprise.

"By the WGA leadership's actions at the bargaining table, we are not surprised by tonight's recommendation," Counter said in a written statement. "We are ready to meet and are prepared to close this contract this weekend."

The labor impasse concerns royalties from DVD sales -- last negotiated in 1988. Writers also want royalties from the so-called new media -- all the various places their works are now distributed, including Internet downloads. Watch how a strike could affect your favorite shows »

"The future of TV is not going to look like what it's been for the last 30 years," said TV writer Dave Schiff, who has penned scripts for "King of the Hill" and "That 70s Show."

"So, you know it's not just for us who are currently working, but writers down the line, that we make sure that we get a ... piece of the pie."

But CBS President Nina Tassler said not enough is known yet about new media revenues.

"We don't know what the pie is yet, in order to determine how to cut it up," she said recently.

Hollywood producers say the issues are non-starters.

"We want to make a deal," Counter told the writers on Wednesday, according to a written statement. However, he added, "No further movement is possible to close the gap between us so long as your DVD proposal remains on the table."

Writers accuse producers of being non-responsive.

"After three and a half months of bargaining, the AMPTP still has not responded to a single one of our important proposals," a statement from the WGA said.

"Every issue that matters to writers, including Internet reuse, original writing for new media, DVDs, and jurisdiction, has been ignored. This is completely unacceptable."

TV writer Bryce Zabel said that producing companies "have decided to force the writers into a situation of a strike."

"Our choice right now is to accept a completely unacceptable deal or to go on strike," he said. "Strike is the only option."

If the roughly 12,000 writers do go on strike, late-night television hosts like David Letterman, Jay Leno and Jimmy Kimmel, as well as programs like "The Daily Show," would feel the pinch first. Because of their topical nature, these shows are not typically written or recorded in advance.

Daytime soaps normally stockpile about 30 days in advance, and most prime time shows would likely make it through the end of the year without any impact on programming.

But networks would have to resort to reruns, news programs and reality shows to fill the schedule in 2008 if a strike were to drag on.

The film industry has also been preparing for a possible strike.

"Everyone is sort of madly scrambling to get scripts into production, sometimes a little ahead of what might otherwise be prudent," said Gavin Hood, director of the film "Rendition."

The film and television industry is responsible for an estimated 1.3 million jobs in the United States.

The union's most recent strike, in 1988, lasted five-and-a-half months. Industry estimates say a half-billion dollars was lost because of that strike.

Giants defeat Dolphins in a nail biter 13-10

By David

If the NFL’s brain trust had envisioned displaying a sloppy and unentertaining matchup between the league’s perennial loser and one of their most pedestrian team’s, they should have thought twice last summer about marketing their brand on an international basis with the Dolphins and Giants being their spokespersons.

As unfortunate as it played out to be, both squads were relegated to the roll of showcasing their sport in front of 81,176 animated fans at London’s Wembley Stadium. Through the mud, rain, slippery conditions and uncountable forecast big blue prevailed in a squeaker 13-10. It was not the kind of performance coach Coughlin expected from his team that had averaged 33 points per game during the course of the past three weeks. Still, the Giants determined and didactic leader will take a victory whether he receives it state side or overseas as he molds his team into an elite force in the National Football Conference.

Lead by 290 pound running back Brandon Jacobs and former Miami Dolphin Sam Madison the Giants registered their sixth consecutive victory of the year. Jacobs rushed for a season-high 131 yards on 23 carries against the still-winless fins. Quarterback Eli Manning struggled exponentially and recorded his worst start in his brief football career. With 59 yards passing, a completion percentage of 36.4% and one fumble, Manning was unable to capitalize off a Miami defense that ranks towards the bottom of the league in many majors categories.

While the league did a poor job at acclimating Europeans to American football, they succeeded at increasing the attention and notoriety that the United States will receive in the years to come from interested owners who want a Super Bowl to be played outside of the hollow grounds of North America. Also succeeding were the Giants who improve to 6-2 and are now a half game back of the Cowboys for the lead in the NFC East.

American Gangster Is Amazing - Just Saw It At Metreon Premier

I was invited to see American Gangster at a special premier at Sony Metreon and I must report that I was blown away. I've seen a lot of movies, but this one hits you between the eyes from the start, and just increases the presure.

Denzel Washington and Russell Crow are excellent, especially in one interrogation scene. The whole movie is full of great actors giving awesome performances, from Cuba Gooding, Jr. , to Armand Asante. American Gangster is a must see movie that's also a social lesson in the stupidity of racism.

If the police largely paid attention to Frank Lucas, who's played by Washington, his crime organization would have been stopped as it grew. But because few could believe a Black man could generate an empire that would take out the Mafia, let alone earn $250 million in assets.

American Gangster is a treasurer.

Hillary Clinton Under Fire By Justice Department For Alledged Fundraising Coercion - AP

Hillary Clinton

in fundraising controversy

Questions raised about Hillary Clinton's big Chinatown fundraiser

The Associated Press
Published: November 1, 2007

NEW YORK: On the wall of Hsiao Yen Wang's New York apartment, a cramped, 17th-floor public housing unit, are photographs of her husband, David Guo, a cook who specializes in Fujian cuisine.

One photo stands out: Guo shaking Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's hand, a memento from a $1,000 (€693)-a-person fundraiser for the New York senator held in New York's Chinatown last April.

Last week, Wang got another memento — a calling card from a Justice Department criminal investigator. The investigator asked Wang if she was coerced into giving money to the campaign and whether she knew of anybody else who may have been forced to contribute.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Wang said she and her husband had given willingly and that she knew of no coercion. A Justice Department spokeswoman would not comment on the inquiries.

"I want to see her become the first female U.S. president," Wang, a hospital worker, said of Clinton as her daughter translated.

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Still, less than three weeks after the April 9 fundraiser, the Clinton campaign's vetting operation had flagged the check and returned it. Wang's contribution, delivered by Guo, was one of a handful obtained at the Chinatown event that the campaign turned back, citing an "abundance of caution."

Clinton has tapped a vein of support among ethnic, minority and immigrant communities with vigorous outreach that has helped her become one of the best-financed candidates in the presidential field. Under federal law, donors do not have to be citizens to contribute but must be in the United States legally.

The April fundraiser, held in Chinatown's Golden Bridge Restaurant, illustrates both the pitfalls and the success Clinton has experienced with her fundraising operation.

The event attracted nearly 300 donors from as far away as Maryland. Shortly after, about $380,000 (€263,468) poured into the Clinton campaign from attendees and their families. Many were owners or managers of other restaurants. Among the rest were lawyers, business owners, real estate agents and artists.

According to reports filed by the Clinton campaign with the Federal Election Commission, seven donors identified themselves as cooks, three as chefs, three as servers, two as cashiers, one as a dishwasher and cook and one as a waiter.

Details of the event were first reported by the Los Angeles Times.

FEC records show that the campaign returned at least $8,000 (€5,547) in checks to at least eight donors, most of them at the end of June. Among those donors were four identified as cooks and one as a cashier. The campaign also returned $4,600 (€3,189) to a donor who appeared to have earlier given the maximum allowed by law.

The campaign appears to have missed some others.

In one small store, a woman said she donated to the Clinton campaign but did not have citizenship or a green card. A man living in a Brooklyn boarding house who identified himself as an artist said he also gave $1,000 (€693), but said he, too, has no citizenship and no green card.

Clinton campaign spokesman Howard Wolfson said in an e-mail response to the AP that all donors are asked to fill out cards that state they must be citizens or green card holders. "Is it possible that out of more than 200,000 donors, two may not be? It is," he said. "Of course we would refund any such contributions."

The Associated Press conducted a spot check of 44 addresses listed in campaign finance documents as belonging to donors at the April 9 fundraiser. All the addresses checked out and reporters spoke to 19 persons who said they donated.

Associates of some people listed as donors said they were in China and could not be contacted. Others did not return messages left with families.

Chung Seto, the organizer of the Chinatown event, said Chinese have a culture of thrift and it would not be surprising for workers with meager wages to make $1,000 (€693) donations. She said donors stood in line for up to three hours waiting for the fundraising event to begin. Any mistakes in vetting contributors, she said, were a result of enthusiasm, not coercion.

"Some people were very eager, and some were overeager," she said in an interview, acknowledging the returned checks.

Seto, an activist in the Chinese-American community and a former executive director of the New York Democratic Party, said Chinatown residents hold Clinton in special esteem. They particularly remember her help during the economic downturn that hit the lower Manhattan neighborhood after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.