16 February, 2008

WSC Show #99 - Interviews with Bobby Gaylor, Garrick Dowhen, and Janice Tidwell

In today’s episode I continue with a series of recordings made earlier this week when the membership of the Writers Guild of America voted to lift the restraining order, and end the strike during the ratification process of the proposed contract. Today I catch up writers Bobby Gaylor and Garrick Dowhen (both former guests on the podcast). Also featured is writer Janice Tidwell. Recorded Tuesday, 12 February 2008.

Producer/Host: Tanja Barnes
Music: "Ay Mambo" by Falik
available on

Heroes Fans Check It Out!

I just received an e-mail from Heroes fan Monique Darling, a guest on the WSC podcast who supported the writers by hitting the picket lines several times. She drove with her sister and her son all the way from Utah -- about a 8 hour drive one way -- just to do this. And she did this more than once!

Anyway, here's a snippet of the e-mail I received:

"Tanja, we just found out Ronan needs over $1,000 in dental work so we have put up a picket sign on eBay that has been autographed by some of the cast and crew of Heroes. If you could pass it on that would be awesome."

So there ya go! So sorry to hear about that, Monique. A big hug to you and to Ronan. I'm sure the sign will fetch a high price and a happy bidder.

15 February, 2008

WSC Show #98 - Interviews with Michael Perry and Remi Aubuchon

In today’s episode I continue with a series of recordings made earlier this week when the membership of the Writers Guild of America voted to lift the restraining order, and end the strike during the ratification process of the proposed contract. Today’s guests are writers Michael Perry (who was a guest on the show a few weeks back) and Remi Aubuchon. Recorded Tuesday, 12 February 2008.

Producer/Host: Tanja Barnes
Music: "Ay Mambo" by Falik
available on

14 February, 2008

love in a backwards world

This utterly charming short by filmmaker and graphic artist Chris Vincze, "EVOL" was shot in one day in the streets of London. Full credits here. And full story here.

Happy Valentine's Day!

WSC Show #97 - Interviews with Jeffrey Berman, Bruce Neckles and Alfredo Barrios

Today's episode features interviews from Jeffrey Berman from United Hollywood, writer Bruce Neckles and Alfredo Barrios recorded in front of the Writers Guild Theater when the membership was voting on whether to lift the strike action of picketing. Recorded Tuesday, 12 February 2008.

Producer/Host: Tanja Barnes
Music: "Ay Mambo" by Falik
available on

13 February, 2008

Comment Pending Approval.

David Plum of the New York Press recently posted the piece entitled THE CIEPLY SCENARIO with the description: "A New York Times reporter turned the Hollywood writers strike into a battle between good and evil." Entire article here.

A few days ago, I blogged that the TV Decoder, the New York Times blog covering all things television, recently cross-posted the original Michael Cieply piece.

I posted a comment on TV Decoder blog, asking them what Mr. Cieply's sources were in a media blackout and also asking if the NY Times had done a thorough fact check. I said the reason I was asking was because of the chatter I was reading on United Hollywood regarding this and actually posted in my comment a link pointing back to the UH discussion. Like the one I'm going to put here.

The comment was approved, but the link was editorialized and deleted for reasons I don't know why. I do not know what the NY Times standards and rules are for allowing links in a comment.

But, FWIW, it's worth noting that following my comment is a person who identifies themselves as "Citizen Kate". Citizen's Kate's comment contained a link to her YouTube channel and this link was allowed to remain in the comment.

I just posted a follow up comment asking the folks at the TV Decoder blog why my link was deleted. I also asked for a public posting as to what the blog's guidelines are for posting comments so that readers and the blog's participants may know what to expect to happen to their comments after posting.

So far, in my experience, TV Decoder has permitted one comment to feature a link pointing back to another site. But when I posted a comment with a link pointing back to United Hollywood, it was deleted. Draw your own conclusions, but I will wait and watch this blog post to see if a) my follow up comment was approved and b) what they have to say.

It's worth noting that in my follow-up comment on the TV Decoder blog I signed off with the following:
Tanja Barnes
So, I'm curious now if that link will remain or not. I'm also curious what the TV Decoder bloggers answer is to my podcast questions "Legacy notwithstanding, what is the more powerful invention: the Internet or the printing press"?

Just sayin'.

Oh, and hello TV Decoder bloggers if you're reading this. Please feel free to leave a comment here. My TOU is clearly stated when you go to post a comment but I'll copy and paste it below for everyone's benefit and so that you may know what to expect from me:
"Feel free to comment. I am a proponent of free speech and you may express your thoughts, feelings, views, and opinions relevant to the topic in whatever manner and any language you wish.

Here is my TOU: My goal is to create a respectful and considerate community. You may not post pornography sexually explicit content, racial and/or hateful comments, or anything that violates a copyright. I also reserve the right to delete spam."

UPDATE - 13 February 2008 23:08 -

Well it looks like my follow up comment was approved with the link intact. However, so far there is no formal reply to my question as to what the NY Times' TV Decoder blog's comment policies are. Perhaps they're reviewing it now and maybe they'll post a response later. I'd like to think so. Otherwise, why the hell have a blog if the precepts of Web 2.0 and the promises of new media are not utilized?

A long time acquaintance of mine, Xeni Jardin of BoingBoing.net put it so well when she said: "It's important that newspapers not launch blogs for the sake of launching blogs. There had to be a purpose to other than to have the ability to tell the world that you have a blog. What's the point of interacting with your audience? Is the point just to leave snippy comments on the blogs of your critics? Or is the point of interacting to provide bits and pieces and nuances of information that traditional newspaper reporting doesn't lend itself to?"

A note from Steve Leiva

Steven Leiva, a gate captain at CBS Radford and a writer who's been a guest on my podcast sent the following out to his list:

To my team and the good friends,

I made "On the Line" -- where you'll see a photo of yours truly with WGA president Patric Verrone!

I was asked to be a ballot counter last night after the vote. It was an incredible evening, calm, business-like, yet with an underlining emotion of happy, for some giddy, satisfaction. I counted ballots with Robin Swicord, Nick Kazan and Larry Gelbert, not to mention D.C. Fontana of the original Star Trek. It was an honor to sit at the table with these talents. As I was counting ballots I came upon one on which the voter had written HELL just before the YES box. And in the upper right hand corner the voter had written, PATRIC VERRONE IS A HERO! I could not agree more.

I then got to watch the press conference where Patric announced that the strike was over.

It was all a rather incredible experience. As the whole strike has been, especially as I -- and I think many of us -- came to the realization that we are all part of a community, and that that community is strong!

To all of you I wish the best of creative futures -- good writing, good pay, good times!


Harvard Faculty Debates Publishing Online

It's a little late and I'm burnt out so my fact checking may not be super sharp at the mo, but them good ol' boys Patric Verrone and John Bowman, aren't they Harvard graduates?

Well, looky here: I'm reading in the NY Times a piece by Patricia Cohen entitled "At Harvard, a Proposal to Publish Free on Web" about how Harvard faculty members are putting to a vote on whether to publish on the Web for free. Below is a snippet:
"Faculty members are scheduled to vote on a measure that would permit Harvard to distribute their scholarship online, instead of signing exclusive agreements with scholarly journals that often have tiny readerships and high subscription costs....Under the proposal Harvard would deposit finished papers in an open-access repository run by the library that would instantly make them available on the Internet. Authors would still retain their copyright and could publish anywhere they pleased — including at a high-priced journal, if the journal would have them."
Read the entire article here.

I've been aware for awhile that disruptive technology was opening up higher education. Last fall Yale University announced they were offering undergraduate courses freely available to anyone in the world with access to the Internet. But now the Harvard vote seems kinda coinky dinky with the strike and all.

And it sorta all dovetails with a conversation I had with some friends at my salon this weekend in which the topic was ""Intellectual Property: Art vs Ethics In An Era of Mashups". One concept I hadn't really heard before came from a librarian who said "information wants to be free". Of course, two i.p. attorneys in attendance argued against this and did so in quite entertaining ways. But here's the thing:

"On the one hand information wants to be expensive, because it's so valuable. The right information in the right place just changes your life. On the other hand, information wants to be free, because the cost of getting it out is getting lower and lower all the time. So you have these two fighting against each other." -- Stewart Brand

It just kinda got me thinking because so far, so much content on the Internet is free including many forms of entertainment. Not to mention news and information, which is totally killing the newspapers. So like, now higher education, too? This should be really interesting. I mean, if information really really wants to be free, then who the hell is going to pay for it? Just sayin'.

It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over

Just a note to my listeners to say that I'm taking the night off from podcasting. After uploading the ninety-sixth consecutive episode with Patric Verrone (that's currently live right now) I just hit a wall. I did manage to get at least a dozen recordings today from former interviewees of the podcast as they were exiting the guild's theater after voting. It's my plan to upload them in the following days leading into the membership's vote on the contract, so be sure to stay tuned. But tonight...I'm out. G'night!

12 February, 2008

3,800 Writers, No Trauma

The following recounting is written by Michael R. Perry, who was a guest on the Writers' Strike Chronicles podcast a few weeks back. I met up with Perry today for the WGA's vote on whether to lift the strike earlier this afternoon. I asked him to share with me what happened on Saturday night when the leadership of the WGA took the proposed contract to the membership and so he sent this to me. It was first featured in Remy Aubuchon's strike blog entitled "Walking the Line".

Last Tuesday I was mentally debating whether to take one last road trip before the strike ended, or go to the big WGA meeting at the Shrine and attend what was certain to be the Woodstock of self-unemployed writers, when Kim Hoffman from the Guild called.

"Michael, are you going to be at the Shrine this weekend?" she asked.
I hedged. "Probably. I think maybe."
"Can you be on-call to do first aid at the meeting Saturday?"
"Sure, of course," I said. In the next nanosecond all my little little reveries about driving up 395 to Lone Pine, or Highway 1 to Big Sur, or taking Old Route 40 out to the Trilobite Wilderness in the Marble Mountains popped like a soap bubble.

During one of my sabbaticals I took about 100 hours of first aid training, and in a moment of indiscretion revealed that to the W.G.A. Since then, they have asked three times if I could be on call for first aid, and I said yes all three times. It's not much for them to ask and I'd always rather be a participant than a spectator.

Saturday, I met Kim from the Guild, who handed me off to Seamus from the Guild, who gave me a headset and ID pass and a facility tour: backstage, where the Guild officers and committee members were gathering; Tunnel 9 where the disgustingly ancient Shrine first aid room is; and upstairs to the Ladies Lounge, where the Guild had set up a child care area. Everyone else at the place was thinking, "I wonder what the deal is going to be?" and I was thinking, "What will we do if someone has a heart attack, head injury or loss of consciousness?"

Seamus took me everywhere. Backstage, none of the Guild officers looked like they were about to succumb -- good! The child care area had more than enough adults to handle the number of children -- good! The child care volunteers were level-headed and sober -- good! The Shrine doesn't have an Automated External Defibrillator -- bad! (They ought to.) I did one last tour before the meeting began, making sure the child care people had working phones and instructions to call 911 before doing anything else if there were an emergency.

The Shrine employs a twentysomething man in a suit to operate the automatic elevator. I saw him four times in ten minutes; as I was riding down the last time I said something like, "looks like the place is going to be full. That's a lot of writers in there, don't you think?"

"What writers?" he asked.
"All those people are writers."
"What kind of stuff do they write?" he asked.
"Pretty much every television show and movie you've seen."
"No way."
"What about Lord of the Rings? Are the guys who wrote that movie here?"
"They might be."
"Wow. That's cool."
I left for the meeting, pondering what a crappy job it is to operate an automatic elevator. Or a great job, I suppose, if you want to be totally oblivious to everything around you.

There were no emergencies of any kind, but the headset gave me an alternate audio channel for the duration of the meeting, and what I was hearing was -- there were a lot of us. More than anyone expected. The Guild staffers kept reporting, long into the meeting, that lines of cars were still streaming in from Jefferson and 32nd street. They unexpectedly had to open the balcony and put a microphone up there for questions; and that filled up, too. The tally was 3800 writers, the biggest Guild gathering, ever.

And, mercifully, it was all business. Verrone and Young and Bowman ticked off the proposals one after another, registering which they were pleased with, and which disappointed them. And we listened. And at the end of the reading, they had a quick round of thank-yous to behind-the-scenesters like Chuck Slocum, and people started to file out, even before the question period. They'd heard what they'd come to hear. We had a deal, not the best deal in the world but the one we could secure in February of 2008 after three months of striking.

I stayed until almost eleven o'clock, when 90% of the auditorium had cleared out, and the questions were growing repetitive. I figured, if there were no more small children in child care, the staff could handle any first aid issues that might arise, and I could go with my friends Rusty and Darrin to House of Pies to debrief.

I went to the Ladies Lounge Child care area, where there were two babysitters and two remaining children. One was a girl of around eleven years old, who was about to leave with her parents. The other was a preternaturally composed twelve-year-old boy, a neat kid in a blazer holding a stack of papers. I wanted to make sure he would be around people, so that if there were any first aid issues (I didn't think there would be) someone else would be there. I asked the adults on call if it would be possible to close down child care and have this last kid sit in the main auditorium for the duration of the meeting. They weren't sure.

"His parents are downstairs at the meeting, right?" I asked.
"His father is, yes."
"Well he's old enough, he could just sit in the auditorium until it's over, right?"
"It's supposed to be Guild members and staff only at the meeting," was the reply.
"Who's his father?"
"Patric Verrone."
"I think we can make an exception."
I walked across the Ladies Lounge and shook the hand of the last boy in child care. "Your father has done a great job."
"Thank you," he said.
"Thanks for letting us have him for so long."
"That's okay."
"This is an historic night. And your dad is a big part of it. You should go down and watch him for a little while."
"Thanks. I think I will."

As I turned in my headset and prepared to leave I tried to imagine how this strike will be remembered when this twelve-year-old is eighteen years old; thirty years old; forty years old. I think we'll come off well. I believe this is a contract for the future, for the transition to the world before us. And from that perspective, I came to realize -- this was an historic night. And I'm glad I was there, even if it meant I didn't get to go collect trilobites in the Marble Mountains. And I was glad that no one, of any age, suffered any traumatic injury.

WSC Show #96 *SPECIAL EDITION* - Press Conference with Patric Verrone, President of the WGA West

In this special edition of the Writers' Strike Chronicles podcast, we’ll hear Patric Verrone, President of the WGA West, speaking at a press conference earlier this evening at the Writers Guild Theater. The press conference took place around 7:00 p.m. following the vote by the WGA membership on whether or not to lift the strike. Please note, there is some interference with the recording from an unknown source but my guess is somebody left their cell phone on (and it wasn't me). Recorded Tuesday, 12 February 2008.

Producer/Host: Tanja Barnes
Music: "Ay Mambo" by Falik
available on

WSC Show #95 - Interviews with Brooks Wachtel, Bill Taub, and Steve Leiva

In today’s episode I meet up with writers Brooks Wachtel, Bill Taub, and Steve Leiva to hear stories about what happened at the "Big Meeting" they attended this past Saturday. Then we'll hear how they felt about the proposed contract. Recorded Monday, 11 February 2008.

Producer/Host: Tanja Barnes
Music: "Ay Mambo" by Falik
available on

11 February, 2008

Hulu Opening Up To More Users

The website Hulu -- the so-called YouTube killer (not!) -- is opening itself up to new users. It's still in beta but who cares? Personally, I haven't given it a second thought after checking it out over the holidays because it features ad supported programming of NBC and News Corp content. I think it's obvious why I've been ignoring it. At any rate, I have 9 invitations to give away. Hit me up with an e-mail (see masthead) for an invite. First come, first served.

WSC Show #94 - Interviews with Michael Tabb, Bill Taub and Garrick Dowhen

Today's episode is a wrap up of a series of recordings made at the last big picketing event in front of Disney Studios. Here we’ll talk to strike captain Michael Tabb and writers Bill Taub and Garrick Dowhen. Recorded Thursday, 7 February 2007.

Producer/Host: Tanja Barnes
Music: "Ay Mambo" by Falik
available on

10 February, 2008

Breaking News!

United Hollywood is reporting that the WGA is having a press meeting in about 4 minutes. God damn it! FFS!

Oh well. ...

What happened? What's the story? What's the deal?

Wow, did I get an insight from writers and strike captains who e-mailed me to tell me how it went down at the Big Meeting last night! Go read what professional writers and story tellers have to say at United Hollywood. They can tell it so much better than any crappy ass cut and paste job I could do in this blog.

So, since I wasn't there, I can only blog about what I did last night instead. For those of you who care to know read on. But I swear it's not as exciting. Really. I urge you to go to United Hollywood and get the scoop.

While writers met at the Shrine Auditorium last night some friends of mine helped me put together party to celebrate my birthday and we kept our fingers crossed. The theme of the party was an 18th-century-style literary salon in which all my guests were encouraged to participate by presenting or facilitating a discussion lasting no more than five minutes on the topic for the evening: "Intellectual Property: Art vs Ethics In An Era of Mashups". The talks were followed by a screening of the The Dark Side of the Rainbow which is the mashing of the 1973 Pink Floyd album The Dark Side of the Moon with the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz.

I got home around 2:00 a.m. and went to record the lede of the next podcast. Like I said, I received a fuckton of e-mails from writers and strike captains as to what happened at the Big Meeting, so I was going to report that it was pretty positive EXCEPT that I had differing reports as to whether picketing was over. Rather than pull a classic Nikki Finke and go "I'm told that...bla bla bla", I decided to hold off and point my listeners to look for official word from the WGA. So I recorded the voice over, mixed things down, put it up on the Internet, typed a few words in the WSC blog and went to bed at 6:00 a.m.

See? I told ya. It's way more exciting on the United Hollywood blog.

Oh, and thank you WGA for the bestest freakin' birthday present evarrrr!

WSC Show #93 - Interview with Roy Barnes (Pt. 2)

In today’s episode, the second of a two part series, I have a conversation with my late father Roy Barnes in which he discusses the collaborative process in filmmaking from the perspective of the art department. We’ll also hear stories about what it was like to work with Clint Eastwood, Robert Redford and Sylvester Stallone. Recorded Monday, 16 October 2006.


Producer/Host: Tanja Barnes
Music: "Dunya Salam" featuring Baaba Maal
from the album "1 Giant Leap"

Used with permission by Jamie Catto

Dedicated in loving memory to Roy Lee Barnes
9 Feb 1936 - 29 October 2006
Ars Gratia Artis

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