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Oscars: ‘Manchester By The Sea’ Writer Kenneth Lonergan Says Creative Control Is A Vital Point In WGA Contract Talks

Deadline logo Deadline 2/27/2017 Anthony D'Alessandro
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“I don’t think anyone should strike now.”
That was Manchester by the Sea screenwriter Kenneth Lonergan’s response tonight in the Oscar press room when asked about the looming threat of another WGA strike as the labor union sits down with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers to hammer out a new film/TV contract on March 13.

While the guild has specified several needs including larger earnings for TV writers in the face of shortened series, heightened residuals for streaming and new media and changes to the pension plan, Lonergan called for a vital point that seems to be overlooked in negotiations: “creative control” for scribes.

“We want to get as much as we can for ourselves without screwing anybody else,” he said backstage at the Dolby Theatre. “But I like to see negotiations for more creative control for screenwriters working in the studio system. Creative control is still the bottom rung when it comes to working in the studio system. … It would be nice if that could change,” said Lonergan who won Best Original Screenplay tonight for his movie Manchester by the Sea.
Last week when Deadline was at the WGA Awards West at the Beverly Hilton, some members echoed the guild’s wants in the upcoming round of talks. However, there were still a number of prolific screenwriters and filmmakers — including some Oscar nominees — who confessed to being out of the loop and not in the know of what was at stake in the next TV/film negotiation.
Lonergan’s call for no strike jibes with another successful screenwriter-director who we spoke with last week who pointedly advised the guild, “Don’t strike if we’re not going to go the whole way. I believe that the major corporations in the long run can afford to shut down the business, rather then shell out true residuals. They can outlast us. Personally, I can afford to go on strike for a year, but how many writers in our guild can? They have mortgages. Does the guild even have a war chest?”


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