Thursday, November 29, 2007

An “Open Letter” to Carolyn Hinsey

In response to Carolyn Hinsey's remarks in the December 4th issue of Soap Opera Digest, The Daytime Committee of the Writers Guild of America East and West have written a letter in response which was mailed to Ms. Hinsey today.


An “Open Letter” to Carolyn Hinsey, Soap Opera Digest

Dear Ms. Hinsey,

Daytime “scribes” everywhere were disappointed to read your column in the December 4th Soap Opera Digest suggesting that we have no stake in the current contract negotiations between the Writers Guild of America and the AMPTP, and have been forced to walk away from our jobs simply because we are WGA members.

Nothing could be further from the truth. For the first time in years, our issues are exactly the same as all writers in every genre -- we want Guild contracts and fair compensation for our work whether it’s aired on TV, streamed on the net or downloaded to a cell phone or other device. Our position is basic: If it’s on a screen and it moves, the Guild covers it. And we want residuals for the re-use of that work. Residuals can be a boon to daytime writers between jobs and are a long-established cost of airing our work in other markets.

What that means in real terms for writers is the difference between being able to provide for your family -- or not. Having health insurance -- or not. Becoming seniors with a Union-provided pension -- or not. Daytime writers share these concerns with every other writer in the industry.

You contend that “soaps are not released on DVD or streamed onto the Web,” but even a cursory cruise around the internet would have revealed otherwise. You can now buy any one of several Dark Shadows DVD sets on Amazon for up to $54.99, and fans are clamoring to have their currently aired soaps follow suit. The reason more soaps aren’t released on DVD is because complete episodes can already be downloaded on NBC, ABC and CBS websites. Advertising is being sold on these sites and often imbedded into the show itself. But even though companies get revenue from advertisers, still there’s no universal agreement for compensating the writers for the re-use of their work.

You suggest we exempt ourselves from this strike. But why? We’re steamed. Days of Our Lives has been available for sale on the net for over a year. Writers’ share? Zilch. And though Televest entered into an agreement with us, other producers have yet to do the same. You suggest daytime writers are ill-timed in their demands? We say we’ve been extremely patient.

You assert we’re “screwing the pooch” with this labor action and that If “the shows get worse and ratings fall there will be fewer jobs in daytime” But the reality is that there will always be a demand for romance and serials. Audiences aren’t shrinking, but the way they access content is diversifying. The internet is the future of soaps. Sure, daytime TV has taken a “hit”. But not from the writers. As the last twenty years has shown, networks certainly don’t need us to strike to pull the plug on a show.

NBC recently cancelled Passions -- a Guild-covered show. Then they created a new soap for the internet called Coastal Dreams. The writer, though paid, gets none of the benefits that a Guild contract would have provided. More and more serialized shows are being created for the net without proper compensation for the writers who create them, and that is why action now is both sensible and necessary.

Over 130 daytime writers signed an ad taken out in the Nov. 30th Variety pledging their support for the strike and the issues about which all writers are passionate. We urge you to consider it.

The Daytime Committee of the Writers Guild of America East and West


  1. You tell her daytime writers. Hope you get back to work soon. I have a feeling we're going to miss you!

  2. I'm glad someone finally put Miss Carolyn in her place! Go writers!

  3. Carolyn Hinsey's major problem is that.....she is telling the truth. I hate to say it, but daytime drama is in the dumper. Those of us still watching (fewer every year) are watching it die.

    Writers and producers and directors aren't listening to what viewers want. Also, they need to write what is cheaper and more popular (more love, more relationships, more dialogue, more characters that viewers are invested in) and skip the expensive stuff that is only good for for a day or a week (big special effects, lots of gunplay, newbies, new sets, surprise resurrections of characters whose ship has totally sailed a decade ago - like Brenda. Its over, give it up.)

    Carolyn Hinsey got a column in SOD for the simple fact that people read her comments and like her and agree with her. Writers should cop to that fact and listen to her warnings.

    Also, anyone who writes soaps for a living and expects benefits and a pension needs to get real - fast. Benefits and pensions are reserved for people who get up at 5am, commute for an hour, and work at a real (read boring) job. They have an exciting, cool sounding job. Be happy with that and don't make unrealistic expectations. Especially when the shows you are writing for are doing a death spiral.

    Want a pension and benefits? Do like me and work at a nursing home. Exciting, no. Rewarding, sometimes. Boring, often. That's why they pay me a good salary and give me benefits and stuff - because people aren't beating the doors down wanting this job. I love my job and know I am making a difference, but cool and fun it is not.

    Carolyn, you may quote me on this.

    Just my opinion, lowderra

  4. Ms. Hinsey wouldn't know the truth if it bit her in the butt. She only writes whatever escapes as she stands up!

    I agree the soaps are losing viewers rapidly and they writing can use work. The focus on big events and the fascination with the young and untalented isn't helping but it's not all the fault of the writers. If they're bosses are being compensated they should be as well.

    Very few people I know take what this Hinsey person has to say seriously. We just figure the soap media are just to lazy all around and just can't be bothered to hire people who know what they heck they're doing and she's been there forever so they keep her.

    She reports false information all the time but her bosses don't seem to care. Maybe like your job many writers aren't beating down doors to work for a genre that most call "rags".

    And it's sad that one thinks one should only get pensions when they find their jobs boring. Maybe you should find a job you actually like? Some of us love our jobs and we have pensions and are compensated really well for it.

    I hope the WGA get what they want which isn't too much IMO. And I'm glad they told off this hack in a respectful but honest way. More than she can ever do. Maybe now someone of importance at the NY Daily news and the magazine she "edits" will notice and put her out to pasture.

  5. I actually DO love me job. I'm sorry I didn't make that clear. But it's hard to recruit nurses, and any job that finds it hard to recruit and retain employees - is going to offer "perks" to draw the few that there are. Those perks are good salaries, insurance, and 401K/pensions.

    If they had NO trouble recruiting nurses, trust me, we would be paid a lot less, and have no benefits. We only get benefits as employers if recruitment is a sticky issues. Either their aren't enough applicants, or a strong union is demanding benefits.

    The problem is, people are finding out that you CAN beat the writers unions. They contracted out all kinds of jobs overseas. Go look at all the old manufacturing towns if you doubt me. Call a service center and listen to all the heavy accents.

    Soap writers can be replaced too - very easily. Heck, they could even contract out the writing overseas. With the internet and videoconferencing, it wouldn't be that be that tough. But it's much more likely that they will just cancel the shows (they aren't profitable like they used to be) and put on another tacky judge show in replacement.

    Let's see how supportive all the actors are of the striking writers then - when they are all givn pink slips and told "sayonara! you guys are more trouble than you are worth!"



  6. I don’t know a lot of places where you are rewarded when you loose business for your company.

    The soap writers and their lack of creativity and their holier attitude and frankly their contempt for the viewers, are in the core problem of why people are not watching soap! We want good storyline and you frankly don’t deliver!

    Do your job, and do it well, and then asks for more. Not the other way around!