Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Hollywood Babble On & On... #50: What the Zucker?

Just when I thought that the inevitable exit of Bob Shaye from New Line was going to cause me to lose material for this blog, but as always, something bubbles up to the top.

Nikki Finke reports that NBC-Universal and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association are considering suing the WGA over the cancellation of the Golden Globes broadcast.

If this story turns out to be true, things will get ugly, and not for the WGA.

If the lawsuit goes forward NBC and it's many cable outlets can look forward to not only souring relations even more with the WGA membership (which includes show-runners the people who create and produce TV shows) but will probably get the federal government involved.

It will also cast the spotlight on Zucker's business record, which some folks more in tune with showbiz says is a marked ability to land a promotion just before all his plans implode. Many of these same folks put the blame on him for the NBC network's dismal showings in the ratings as well as losing around $1 billion.

And then there's the legal arguments.

1. The WGA did not cancel the Golden Globes, NBC did. All the WGA could do in relation to the Golden Globes was picket, which they were legally allowed to do. NBC and the HFPA cancelled it of their own free will because the unionized actors weren't going to cross the picket line, which they were legally allowed to do.

2. A corporation that sues a union for engaging in legal strike actions is automatically considered as engaging in labour intimidation, and will be investigated by Local, State, and Federal labour relations agencies, and any judge will throw their suit out of court.

If this story is true, it's like where five countries go to war with one country. The war is costly, and all five make a peace agreement, then, before the ink is even dry, one five allies leaves the others and re-declares war.

I'm torn in my own way about this story. If it's accurate, and NBC goes through with the lawsuit, it will do nothing but open old wounds, but I will have lots of material to talk about.

But I really don't want anyone to take Bob Shaye's place as my cautionary example. Hollywood is toxic enough, especially to itself.

I'm still the cock-eyed optimist that hopes that common sense, and not petty ego will somehow win the day.


I'm not all that cock-eyed.

Reports are now coming out that none of the parties (NBC, HFPA & Dick Clark Prod.) involved intended to sue the WGA. Read the details here.

Now some may say that folks like me just overreacted to a false rumour, but I think I'm just part of a larger process.

I think the lawsuit story was a trial balloon.

Government agencies in Canada do it all the time, and I'm sure businesses do it to.

Here's a brief explanation for the uninitiated:

Say you're running a business, and you have a plan that could work out, or it could make you the heel of the month.

So to test the waters you have someone leak out bits and pieces of that plan and see the level of outrage it generates.

If the level is too much, you simply deny that such a plan ever existed.

So I'm not at all troubled by commenting on a rumour that is denied. Just because the lawsuit plan doesn't exist now, doesn't mean that it never existed, even if it was only in the fever-swamp of executive minds.

I'm not a dupe. I'm an agent of outrage that keeps things on an even keel.

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