Variety is reporting that despite rumors to the contrary, the WGA has "blasted" the studios' latest proposals, which the studios themselves describe as "groundbreaking."

Currently, the negotiations are on "pause" while the WGA presents the offer to its members, but things definitely aren't looking good for a quick return to work.

From the article:

The WGA also released details of the moguls' new proposal, delivered after three days of glacially paced talks that yielded little more than a restatement of previous positions. The three key areas:

* For streaming television episodes, the companies proposed a residual structure of a single fixed payment, based on 1.2% of producers' receipts after a six-week promo window, amounting about $250 for a year's reuse of an hour-long program.

* For made-for-Internet material, they offered minimums starting at $800 for five minutes up to $1,300 for 15 minutes and granted jurisdiction on derivative material.

* No change in the Internet download formula, currently paid at the DVD rate.

If the sides do not make progress next week, it's most likely that the AMPTP would opt for launching negotiations with the Directors Guild of America. The DGA's contract expires June 30, and the directors have indicated they're ready to start talks even if the WGA hasn't made a deal -- a move that could undermine the WGA's leverage.

Speculation has also emerged that the WGA could call off the strike and tell writers to return to work, leaving open the possibility that the strike could resume at any time. Meanwhile, the guild's continued to mount an active campaign of picketing and rallies to keep the public pressure on the companies to make a deal.

I'm no economics expert, but $250 for a show to be streamed for a YEAR seems pretty lame to me-- I can understand why they'd be annoyed by this latest offer.  If that last part is true about the writers returning to work, it certainly seems to weaken their position even further in my mind.  We already know that actors/SAG members have supported the writers in this strike, so will the DIRECTOR'S "queer the deal," as it were? Will the actors walk in June as well? The mind boggles.

It's clear the studios are making money.  It's clear they can afford this.  As an average TV viewer, the longer the strike lasts, the more I'll look for something ELSE to do with my time.  Prolonging the strike seems to be to the advantage of no one. 

Category:general -- posted at: 10:32am EDT

Just a few other little stories today:

1) Netflix and NBC have struck a deal to allow Netflix subscribers to have online access to HEROES episodes the day after they air.  Subscribers can also access previous seasons of THE OFFICE, 30 ROCK, or FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS either online or with traditional DVDs.

2) Pete Mongillio of the Austin American-Statesman offers up several "emergency viewing" suggestions for those of us missing THE OFFICE.

3) Kate Flannery appeared on LOVELINE last night (11/28).  Hit the LINK to listen to the show.

Category:general -- posted at: 7:58pm EDT

The LA Times did a cover story today on where to celebrate Christmas in the Los Angeles area, and they asked Jenna Fischer for some ideas.

From the article:

YOU can imagine the poor schlubs from "The Office" throwing their annual office party.

"If Pam was planning it," says Jenna Fischer, imagining her role as the receptionist on the popular television series, "she'd probably book it at Poor Richard's. Poor Richard's is a real place in Scranton, and it also has a bowling alley attached. So it would actually be ideal because everyone from the office could eat and then bowl together."

It might get a lot of laughs, and surely it would turn out badly, as things invariably do on the beloved sitcom.

But it's much more festive to imagine Fischer, the ascendant actress, feting and feeding her family and friends from the Midwest in the warm confines of Vitello's Italian Restaurant in Studio City, as she has in years past. It's likely to remind her of the family eateries in her adopted hometown of St. Louis -- and "great, because you can be loud in their private area upstairs," she says.

Indeed, the holiday season is upon us, and with it the desire to make merry outside the home . . . in a manner that doesn't involve days of preparation or hours of cleanup. But how to do so without subjecting the general populace to your obnoxious co-worker Michael's bad Santa jokes? You can reserve a private room at any number of Los Angeles bars or restaurants and party like a star, or at least a Midwesterner-made-good.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

Category:general -- posted at: 7:29pm EDT

Well, it's Thursday again... and no new OFFICE to help brighten the dreary autumn days.  While pondering this tragedy, I started to wonder what YOU guys were doing to fill your TV watching time.

Me?  Not watching much TV at all anymore.  I'm hoarding all my HEROES episodes from this season until episode #11 airs (the mid-season finale), since I think the show plays much better in one long viewing. 

Despite really hating the guy on Fox's "Hell's Kitchen" show, I have sort of become addicted to watching Gordon Ramsay's "Kitchen Nightmares" shows (both the US edition on Fox, and the UK version on BBCAmerica).  The US version really amps up the conflict, but I'm still enjoying watching old Gordon raise hell in these failing restaurants (the UK version IS much more enjoyable, though).

Other than that... not much.  Lots of Simpsons and Family Guy reruns.

So again, what about you guys?  Have you switched to DVDs? Are you watching lots of reality shows? foregoing TV entirely? Are you actually -- gasp! -- reading?  Inquiring minds want to know.

Category:general -- posted at: 3:03pm EDT

The Perils of Product Placement
I found this article on today, talking about the increasing link between product placements and our favorite prime-time shows.  Sure, we've made fun of and pointed out the obvious ones (like the Staples Shredder or the Blackberry) and the not so obvious (like the bailer from "Safety Training"), but I was staggered to read this paragraph:

So far this season, the Hollywood Reporter says there have been 142 product placements on 30 Rock and 381 on The Office - but NBC says it has always included these promos to up the funny, and Office showrunner Greg Daniels has said his show will no longer do these deals because he "found it pretty impossible to balance the desires of the ad agencies and their clients with the needs of the show."

THREE HUNDRED EIGHTY ONE product placements JUST THIS SEASON? Really? That blew my mind.  Wow.  In this age of TiVo and skippable commercials, I guess this is the next logical step in the evolution of TV advertising... but yeesh!

As sort of disgusted as I am by that number, I'm also surprised and intrigued by the comment that Greg Daniels is no longer allowing these deals on THE OFFICE.  I'm surprised that he can say "no," frankly, especially since new chief Ben Silverman has been a pioneer in the product placement realm.  Whatever the reality may be, I applaud Daniels for putting the needs of the show over the needs of the sales department. 

Category:general -- posted at: 10:33am EDT

As you may recall, negotiations between the WGA and the studio heads resumed officially on November 26th.  Apparently, word has leaked that negotiations are "done," and that a deal is already in place between both sides. From Nikki Finke's DEADLINE HOLLYWOOD blog:

a very reliable source tells me that there appears to be a deal seemingly in place between both sides [...] my source thought it was possible that the strike could be settled before Christmas.  Look, I don't want to raise false hope here. But this source has been very accurate in the past.

John over at isn't too optimistic, however:

What if this round of negotiations falls apart? Personally, I didn't think it would come to a strike in the first place. It seemed inconceivable that the conglomerates would stand by a platform that was so -- no other word for it -- evil. But they did. And we went on strike. Had the AMPTP proposal been only 60% evil, who knows what would have happened [...] am I optimistic we'll have a fair deal by the end of the week? Nope. I'd love one. But I'm afraid after how the companies have behaved so far, I'll feel enthusiastic when there's a joint announcement about a deal and not a moment sooner.

There's still a media blackout over the negotiations, so for now we'll just have to rely on blind faith, hope and scuttlebutt to get us through the cold, looming months ahead.

WGA and studios -- It almost physically pains me to type this -- just "get-r-done."

Category:general -- posted at: 3:37pm EDT

Paul, an assistant Sunday editor for the Boston Globe, sent in these links for a "tour of Scranton" piece that they did with Mindy Kaling back during the convention.

Says Paul:

"At the recent Office Convention, we got Mindy Kaling to show us Scranton -- the only thing is she'd never been there before. It's so funny. Here are the links. Both the story and slide show (which is partly narrated by Mindy) are so fun. We get all her first takes on the Radisson, Steamstown Mall, Poor Richard's ("a bitchin' bar''), Cooper's, and a bunch of other places (Alfredo's Pizza Cafe, University of Scranton etc etc). We also get the lowdown on the local urban legend of where the "real' Dunder Mifflin is.

Here's the LINK to the story, and to the AUDIO SLIDE SHOW (the stuff at Poor Richard's is the best, and you'll never listen to John Mellencamp the same way again)"

Thanks for the links, Paul! The weird thing is, I was IN the food court of the Steamtown Mall when Mindy walked in-- I looked over and did a double-take as she was suddenly a few feet from me, posing next to the Scranton sign.

Category:general -- posted at: 2:37pm EDT

As confirmed with US magazine this past week, Angela Kinsey's "people" have revealed that the actress is indeed pregnant.  Due in May, Kinsey and husband Warren Lieberstein have apparently been "trying for some time."

Congratulations to one of the nicest people in television.

That aside, this also brings up a lot of possibilities as to what would have happened during the season to cover up or explain her real-life pregnancy.  Would they have just dressed her in bulky sweaters and had her carry a lot of boxes in front of herself, or would they have written it into the show somehow? Would this have brought Angela and "D" back together?  Somehow, I just can't imagine Dwight spawning.  But I suppose stranger things have happened...

Category:general -- posted at: 3:27pm EDT

Looking to make it a "Dunder Mifflin" Christmas this year?  Perhaps a fluffy robe, a fun run wristband, a Michael Scott bobblehead, or a warehouse shirt will make your Hanukkah happier? Maybe a set of DM golfballs will help make it a crazy Kwanzaa?

Regardless of what holiday you celebrate, the NBC/Universal store is now offering free shipping for orders over $50 from now until November 30th.

Enter code BLACKFRI at check-out.

Category:general -- posted at: 3:16pm EDT

The NBC auctions site went live yesterday, and some of the items are already through the roof (as predicted, the paintings from HEROES are currently fetching several thousand dollars, with two weeks left to run).

Most of the THE OFFICE items are more reasonable than that, but they're still in the $150-250 range.  I guess if you really want to own Roy's warehouse shirt, this is your big chance.

Dunder Mifflin Polo Convention Shirt

Category:general -- posted at: 7:29pm EDT

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