The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) is a ragtag clan of production companies and studios whose members huddle for warmth around a burning trashcan in Encino, California. Operating under the slogan "We's jus' tryin' ta get by", the alliance negotiates with nasty entertainment industry trade unions in an effort to put food on their families' tables and socks on the feet of their young ones.
Its 350 or so members are dedicated to bringing America the very best in television and movies. However, that mission has recently come under siege in a sneak attack from the Writer's Guild of America (also known as "The Axis"). In a typical money-grubbing scheme, the WGA and its brutal gang of 12,000 bloodthirsty scribes have decided to shut down production of shows and films nationwide in an effort to gain some sort of compensation for what can be tenuously described as their "work".
The life of your average AMPTP member can only be described as a day-to-day struggle. Viacom Chairman Sumner Redstone awakes each morning in a pool of his own excrement in the back alley of a Thai restaurant in East Hollywood after a long night of selling his body, a job Redstone has had to do to make ends meet since Paramount's 2005 purchase of DreamWorks SKG.
Harry Sloan, Charmain and CEO of MGM, says that he has to scrape change together just to buy a single Lexus automobile. Robert A. Iger of The Walt Disney Company wanders up and down Sunset Boulevard with a "Will Chair for Food" sign on weekends, hoping to sway tourists to find it in their hearts to donate even the smallest morsel of nutrition. NBC co-chairman wunderkind Ben Silverman summarizes his plight and the plight of his comrades thusly:
It's always been my dream to swim in a sea of gold coins, like Scrooge McDuck, you know? But being a network exec is tough. When I do a backstroke in my quaint above-ground pool of silver coins, I can't help but think "Man, I sure wish these coins were gold."
Recently some producers have even gone so far as to sell their summer homes or not buy all of their friends Jet-Skis for Arbor Day. Such social and financial disasters are just the kinds that the Alliance works to fix. Needless to say, AMPTP members can hardly operate on their average shoestring budget of $28 million per year and couldn't possibly be stretched any further.
However, the cruel, heartless members of WGA East and West have no care for the stories of CEOs wandering aimlessly in a never-ending search for peace and prosperity, their wretched souls mired in a dark sea of economic uncertainty. On November 5, 2007, these pen-wielding cash-mongers banded together to demand pay for DVDs and this one thing they claim is called The Internet.
Led bravely through negotiations by AMPTP President Nick Counter (except in those situations in which they decide not to negotiate at all), the Alliance has been met with unreasonable demands, harsh accusations and swashbuckling from the writers.
Writers claim they deserve profits from the sales of DVDs in order to sustain income during times of unemployment, requesting an increase from four to eight cents per DVD sold. What these writer fail to realize is that with production costs on the rise, CEOs need that revenue to afford suits up to par with the AMPTP Suit Spiffiness Standards . If a chairman shows up to a board meeting with a cheap suit, he can suffer irreparable psychological damage. Fox chairman Peter Chernin recounts a tale of sorrow:
My financial situation led me to fashion a three-piece suit out of lint and earwax. The materials cost eight cents total, and that was all my budget would afford. So I show up to a board meeting and just get laughed out of the place. Those guys are like high school students, except they make fun of you for not wearing a suit.It should be noted that if the writers had their way, Chernin wouldn't even be able to afford the lint-and-earwax suit he managed to cobble together, forcing him to attend the board meeting stark-naked. Unless, of course, you expect him to buy anything less than the finest quality lint and earwax available. And that's just foolish.
So, to counter-act the WGA's unscrupulous assault on suit selection, the AMPTP smartly took the DVD issue off the table before negotiations even started. Such craftiness demonstrated that despite their disadvantaged nature, they still maitain intellectual superiority over the writers. Yet another victory for the little guy!
Perhaps the one thing that has maliciously perplexed the AMPTP is the murky netherworld some cyber hackers refer to as "The Inter Net". This strange new world of wonder and bewilderment also carries copious amounts of risk and ambivalence. Recently the AMPTP took the initiative in testing the (possibly e-Shark-infested) waters of this "Net" by providing viewers with the option to "stream" or "download" shows on their very own personal "computers". The WGA claims that since ad space is being sold and (via services such as iTunes) money is being charged for episodes and movies, they deserve a cut of the revenue. All this for merely writing the products, a task that could be done by anyone with a can of Red Bull and a keyboard.
But, the AMPTP argues, how do you know what the "Interns net" is actually worth? It's such a new medium (so new it's categorized as "new media") that there's no way of properly gauging how much money is to be made from this peculiar venture, and therefore writers can't possibly be paid for it.
While some WGA members might point out that Viacom recently sued YouTube for losses of $1 billion due to infringement on online content as some sort of appraisal of its value, the AMPTP is quick to point out that one billion can't really be considered an actual number so much as an abstract concept. Think about it: have you ever seen one billion of something? Then how do you know it's there, huh? Since "one billion" both exists and doesn't exist  it can't be considered as an actual amount. Ditto for Disney's $1.5 billion in digital revenue, which is actually 50% more paradoxical.
The AMPTP has also brought into consideration the fact that this so-called information superhighway may very well be a passing fad. What makes it any different from Betamax or Laserdisc? Does anybody remember that crap? Of course not. The Alliance feels the need to make sure that the "Web pod.com/www" isn't the next Pogs. This thoroughness and foresight provides further justification for the AMPTP's stances. Why risk spiraling further into poverty by paying writers for something so vaguely profitable?
Dedication to providing excellent programming despite the lack of writers, and who needs them anyway?
Of course, the AMPTP's members have pledged to come together and provide America with high-quality television even without writers, whose shows tended to make people think too hard anyway. Using resourcefulness garnered while at Network Exec Sleepaway Camp, these valiant princes have worked through their hardship to create reality shows such as Baby Borrowers, America's Top Juggler, My Dad Is Better Than Your Dad, Eating Disorder Challenge, Dance War: Bruno vs. Carrie Ann and Peruvian import Extreme Stain Removal.
The AMPTP has established an organization called "Studio Kidz!" devoted to preparing youth for the cold, bleak world of motion picture and television production. Using the philosophy that irrationality begins at home, Studio Kidz! encourages youth to gain the upper hand in negotiations with parents by never acquiescing to even the most basic of demands. Instructed to do the dishes? Explain that "Dishes have not, as of yet, been proven to be a viable asset in this household and thus at the time cannot be dealt with in such a manner." Grounded for the F you got on that logic test? Assert that lunch cost too much so you had no time to study. Told you can't leave the dinner table until you've finished your vegetables? Leave the table.
These life skills are imprinted in the minds of America's youth through after-school programs and summer schools that often include combined movie test screenings/ice cream socials.
The AMPTP is already a favorite to win "Most Noble Trade Association", a category recently dominated by the Recording Industry Association of America, at next year's Employer Awards. Beyond that, the Alliance has stated plans to help the entertainment industry grow and expand to new and exciting media, so long as the writers don't screw it up. The AMPTP hopes to continue in supplying the public with the optimum in entertainment while trying to make it to tomorrow.
- ↑ Don't look at me; I've never heard of it, either.
- ↑ Real reason Michael Eisner left Disney? Shitty suits. Couldn't handle the shame. True story.
- ↑ Like, really foolish.
- ↑ Or "iStingRay-infested".
- ↑ All I need is some Red Bull.
- ↑ I mean c'mon, the word "new" is right there in the name.
- ↑ A concept known in science circles as "Schrodinger's Billion-cat Paradox"
- ↑ Rupert Murdoch lost $78,000,000 on Pogs in the mid-90's. His collection is now buried somewhere in the Outback
- ↑ Just for fun, try and guess which shows are real.
- ↑ Just don't expect anything when holograms start out