Battlestar Galactica and the WGA Strike
Not long ago, Bradley screamed at the Sci-Fi Channel to show us the last season of Battlestar Galactica during the WGA strike (you can make a token show of support for the writers here). Well, that may not be possible.
As for how Battlestar Galactica is being affected, Moore said "We have an episode [filming] on the stage right now that will be the last episode. We don't have a script beyond that, so this will be it." There had been varying talk about just how many episodes Battlestar had completed of its 20 episode final season, but Moore told me the episode filming now "happens to be our mid-season cliffhanger, so it's just one of the quirks of the schedule that boom, we will finish our first ten and the network had planned to show just the first ten anyway. The airdate for the back ten was up in the air. Now it's even more up in the air."So there's some to show, but not all of them, and there's no real guarantee that the final ten will get made, though Moore seems to think it will happen.
In case there was any doubt over what this strike is over, Moore has first hand experience with the network. I remember reading a little about this back when it happened, but it's nice to hear the story fleshed out again.
Moore shared a story to illustrate the scenario, saying "I had a situation last year on Battlestar Galactica where we were asked by Universal to do webisodes [Note: Moore is referring to The Resistance webisodes which ran before Season 3 premiered], which at that point were very new and 'Oooh, webisodes! What does that mean?' It was all very new stuff. And it was very eye opening, because the studio's position was 'Oh, we're not going to pay anybody to do this. You have to do this, because you work on the show. And we're not going to pay you to write it. We're not going to pay the director, and we're not going to pay the actors.' At which point we said 'No thanks, we won't do it.'"That's what's at stake for these writers, and that's an even better reason (beyond my general support for strikers) to support them. It's just another attempt by corporate America to screw the worker, and the writers are right--if they let the networks get away with this, then the actors, and everyone else in the business will be toast as well.
"We got in this long, protracted thing and eventually they agreed to pay everybody involved. But then, as we got deeper into it, they said 'But we're not going to put any credits on it. You're not going to be credited for this work. And we can use it later, in any fashion that we want.' At which point I said 'Well, then we're done and I'm not going to deliver the webisodes to you.' And they came and they took them out of the editing room anyway -- which they have every right to do. They own the material -- But it was that experience that really showed me that that's what this is all about. If there's not an agreement with the studios about the internet, that specifically says 'This is covered material, you have to pay us a formula - whatever that formula turns out to be - for use of the material and how it's all done,' the studios will simply rape and pillage."
Moore, like most of his fellow writers, was extremely bothered by the studios attempting to designate content shown on the web as "promotional," even when that content has sponsors and advertisers. "Their position continues to be that this is 'promotional.' That they can have it promotional material, free of charge and they can make you do the work and they don't have to compensate you for it and they don't have to credit you for it. It's undercutting everything that the writers have built up in other media. The notion that just because it's on your computer as opposed to your television set is absurd. It's an absurd position for them to take, but, you know, if they can pull it off, they're at the moment of a watershed change of how your media is delivered to you. Your television and your computer are going to become the same device within the foreseeable future. That reality is staring us in the face."
Moore scoffed at the arguments given as to why no payment system can be worked out for new media right now, saying "They still fall back on 'Oh, well, it's all so unknown. It's all so new! We don't know what the business model is. It's strange!' They act as though this is 1992 and they're trying to figure out 'What is email and how does that work?' Somehow they know how to make money from iTunes, and everybody is tripping over themselves to sell this stuff to you and have downloads. NBC Universal has Hulu, their brand new site, and you can log on there and you can watch The Office and you can watch, probably, my show. I don't think we're on there yet, but we probably will be. And guess what? You have to sit through commercials when you watch them. Well, I doubt very much that those commercials were provided free of charge. So somebody's making money, somewhere. The studios really have only themselves to blame, in terms of the lack of trust of financial accountability and the fact that so many people that are on this line right now were promised net profits or profits from various things that never come to pass. So there's a certain level of 'Yeah, you want to wait to talk about this in three years, while you figure out the business model? Bulls**t. You're making money right now. You're going to make money, and you're just finding a way to hide it'"