Paul Haggis Is Suspicious

Posted on January 20, 2008

Stories have appearing in the trade papers saying how great the DGA deal is and that the WGA should gratefully accept the same deal. There are also stories about how a secret cabal of top screenwriters has banded together to force the WGA leadership to crawl back to the negotiating table and beg for forgiveness from the kindly and benevolent AMPTP. Oscar winning screenwriter Paul Haggis (Crash, Million Dollar Baby, Letters From Iwo Jima) doesn't believe a word of these stories, which are written to force the WGA to take a terrible deal just because the directors did. In fact, he can't seem to find one top screenwriter who doesn't stand behind the WGA's leadership.

He's very suspicious...and quite sarcastic. Here is an excerpt from his post on the United Hollywood blog:

Yes, there will be many different opinions about the DGA deal and whether we should take it or not. But that is not what is being reported. You would think that Jim Brooks, Steve Gaghan, Eric Roth, John Logan, Robin Swicord, Susannah Grant, Aaron Sorkin, Callie Khouri, Tony Gilroy, Ron Harwood, Diablo Cody and a coterie of other highly-paid, award-clutching scribes are circling the Guild offices in black Priuses, waiting for the right moment to pounce and pressure us into taking the DGA deal verbatim.

Those are top screenwriters, no doubt, but I would find it strangely ironic if they were plotting subversion while picketing, working tirelessly on various Guild boards, and openly expressing their support for the strike.

So here is where my mind started to go: Could this reporting have anything to do with a well organized and very expensive PR campaign to convince WGA members that we should shut up and be grateful for what we got? But then I thought, "Come on, these are The Trades and other very reputable newspapers -- top media sources that we rely upon not just for local news, but for well-researched and independent reporting on international events. Whether it is Burbank or Baghdad, they speak with integrity, they check their sources, they get things right or they don't print it.

Seriously, what would this town be like if we couldn't trust our newspapers, our well-meaning agents and producer friends?

So, you have my apologies for questioning this undisputable fact that is so well reported. This powerful group of influential screenwriters not only exists, we should be very, very afraid of them.

Stand strong, writers! Don't get sucked into the hype from the DGA or the AMPTP. When the actual contract is finally drafted, it will quickly become clear if there is any teeth in the audit provisions of the new contract. And as for the numbers on new media: they don't look any better than the DVD numbers to us.

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