On Monday, the Los Angeles Times used Lost exec producer Damon Lindelof as emblematic of how the Hollywood writers were screwed on digital. “I felt like somebody was trying to pull the wool over my eyes,” he said of the deal that put ABC’s deal to put his show for sale on Apple’s (AAPL) iTunes.
Today, NYT reported ABC actually gave Lindelof a pretty good deal on a series of online shorts, Lost: Missing Pieces, that could serve as a template for how the WGA and the studios could get out of this mess. Writers for the 2- to 3-minute episodes got $800 for a 13-week run on Verizon Wireless phones. After that, repeats on other media, including the Internet, generate residuals of 1.2% to 2% of the fee the studio receives to licence the shows. That’s short of the 2.5% the guild is seeking, but Charles B. Slocum, assistant exec director of WGA West, called it “the pattern we are looking for in our negotiations.”
But as Paid Content points out, this deal was negotiated outside the union structure. Indeed the very nature of the fast-changing digital environment resists templates, drawing into question whether a single (union negotiated) deal can could work today, let alone into the future.