Spare the Writer

Regarding “Double-Cross at the WGA” [May 4–10]: The “mind-numbing” detail the WGA and its union bosses wanted to spare the common writer/members about blatantly shady dealing with the writers’ money is nothing compared to the greed of those at the top who are hoarding likely millions due to others while raking in their $300-an-hour to upward of $1-million-a-year salaries. Saying “shame, shame, shame” to these characters is pointless. Why not let the thousands of writers have their due? If we say we want a better world (as these men probably do!), let’s start by returning what’s owed to those who earned it.

Stephen JerromeLos AngelesThe Guild Age

After reading Dennis McDougal’s story “Double-Cross at the WGA,” I wanted to correct some inaccuracies in its description of the Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA). IFTA is the global trade association that represents the companies that produce and distribute independent films and television programs and the financial institutions that engage in film finance. Contrary to the story’s assertion that IFTA’s members are “not bound by guild contracts” and the organization “remains the strongest voice in the U.S. for nonunion production,” our U.S. members routinely enter into guild agreements with respect to their productions and accept the obligation to pay residuals. These companies include such major producers and distributors as, among others, Focus Features, HBO, Miramax, Morgan Creek, Lionsgate, New Line and the Weinstein Company. To imply IFTA and its members do not abide by existing union agreements is incorrect and we request that this factual error be clarified to your readership.

Jean M. PrewittPresident and CEO, Independent Film and Television Alliance

McDougal replies: Nowhere in its nonprofit description, filed with the Internal Revenue Service under penalty of perjury, does the IFTA claim to represent “financial institutions that engage in film finance.”

Further, the IFTA says that it has more than 150 member companies, and while some may abide by provisions negotiated between the guilds and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, many do not. Unlike the AMPTP, the IFTA does not collectively bargain with guilds. While some of its members may be AMPTP members and voluntarily abide by guild contracts, IFTA does not. Of the companies Ms. Prewitt names, five are subsidiaries of MPAA studios. In addition, her board of directors is larded with independent producers like Roger Corman and Mark Damon who do not “routinely” enter into guild agreements.

Regardless of this hairsplitting, the issue of residuals wasn’t even addressed in “Double-Cross at the WGA.” The article was about foreign levies, not residuals. Prewitt asks for a clarification of factual error, but cites no errors. At a reported annual salary of more than $120,000, one would think Prewitt would get her facts straight.

Griffith at the CrossroadsJudith Lewis has used the Griffith Park fire to illuminate L.A.’s historic misunderstanding and neglect of this extraordinary natural asset [“Cut the Mustard,” May 25–31]. Although the park has somehow managed to survive a century of short-term thinking and skewed priorities, it is now at a critical juncture. It is regrettable that informed park advocates — including homeowner, environmental and neighborhood groups — have to “shoulder” their way into the decision-making process for a public park, but that has been and continues to be the case. Articles like hers are immensely helpful.

Bernadette SoterLos AngelesThree Takes on FilmWhenever I see Ella Taylor review a film by Paul Verhoeven or Oliver Stone, two directors who are considered subversive or over the top by her, I know the review will be negative. Her review of Black Book [“Guerrillas of Orange,” April 6–12] stems from the viewpoint that WWII had no gray areas. Contrary to her comment that it was slipshod and lacking in moral relativism, I found Black Book entertaining and morally relevant to the times it portrayed.

Dennis WongVan NuysElla Taylor’s review of the film Once [May 18–24] captures not only its right-brain stream of consciousness but also the unspoken yet vital meanings that are the film’s real presence. Taylor’s piece was surely an art form — just like the film.

Jeffery WiegandMarina del Rey

I love movies, but after reading L.A. Weekly’s reviews I just want to slash my throat. Don’t you like any of them, even a little?

Paul KrehbielPasadena

Taylor responds: I’m afraid Mr. Wong has it backward. Far from complaining that Black Book was “lacking in moral relativism,” I complained the movie was riddled with it — not a good thing when the subject is the Third Reich. And let me head off Mr. Krehbiel from slashing his throat by calling his attention to my rave reviews of Knocked Up and Once.

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