Heads of studio-parent conglomerates have been mostly silent about the prospects for ending the four-week-old writers strike, quietly assuring Wall Street all would be OK. But it appears that pinstriped group has issued a collective "No more Mr. Nice Guy."
In a plan orchestrated after the last bargaining session between the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers, several top company heads smiled and dialed members of the Fourth Estate, letting the press corps know how management feels about the guild and its chief negotiator, WGA West exec director David Young.
"I do think this whole thing calls into question David Young's ability to make a deal," one top management exec said. "He has no experience in these sorts of negotiations, and so perhaps there is something to that theory that they're not being capable of making a deal.
"You can say what you want about the AMPTP, but for 20 years they've been able to make a deal," the exec added. "The fact is that you have to wonder about the current leadership at the WGA and its ability to get something done here."
TONIGHT SHOW CREW LAID OFF
A couple of days after the WGA strike began Nov. 5, the star of "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" told about 80 of his staffers that they need not worry about their finances. Leno was so adamant about paychecks being safe, many didn't bother looking for new jobs even though NBC was forecasting layoffs.
So it came as quite a shock Friday when the entire staff was told that they were not only out of a job but also that they weren't guaranteed of being rehired once "The Tonight Show" returns.
"Some people were crying. Some people were screaming," said one employee speaking on the condition of anonymity.
Jay Leno has since decided to pay his non-writing staff on "The Tonight Show" out of his pocket through next week, sources said Saturday. That could be extended if the strike is not resolved by then.