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CONTEST THE RIGHTS OF THE
OWNERS OF ART
SELL, SHOW OR NOT TO BUY,
AT THE DGA, DO NOT (INCLUDING FILM) TO BUY, WHAT THEY OWN. BUT WE FEEL THAT THEY SHOULD (AND MUST BE MADE TO) ACKNOWLEDGE THAT THERE IS A MORAL COMPONENT IN THEIR OWNERSHIP A CUSTODIAL RESPONSIBILITY TO PASS ON THE WORKS THEY HOLD ΤΟ THE NEXT GENERATION, UNCHANGED AND UNDISTORTED. IN TRYING TO PROFIT FROM THE PRESENT, NOT BREAK CONTINUITY INTO THE FUTURE BY GREEDILY DEVOURING-IN FACT, CANNIBALIZING OUR OWN PAST.
OUR ADVERSARIES IN THIS HEARING ARE APPARENTLY INSENSITIVE TO ANY SUCH MORAL PRINCIPLES WHICH MIGHT GUIDE THEIR ENTREPRENEURIAL ADVENTURES. THEY HAVE SAID So. THE BUCK IS THEIR ONLY BIBLE,
NO MATTER HOW THEY RATIONALIZE IT. BUT THAT IS NOT ENTIRELY CORRECT.
MR. TURNER, WHEN ASKED WHY HE WAS COLORING THE CLASSIC FILM SAID HE WAS DOING IT BECAUSE "HE LOVED THE IRRESPONSIBLE AND
WE FIND THAT
ΤΟ SUM UP, MR CHAIRMAN, SOME THINGS HAVE A VALUE BEYOND PRICE.
WE LOOK TO THE CONGRESS, WHICH, THROUGH ITS LAWS,
VALUES WE ALL SHOULD HOLD MOST DEAR, TO TEACH THE NATION THAT IT SHOULD GIVE CONSIDERATIONS OF POTENTIAL
PERMANENT CULTURAL LOSS
TERM BUCCANEERING PROFIT
PRIMACY OVER THOSE WHICH PERMIT SHORT
PERCEPTION OF THE PUBLIC
MORAL RESPONSIBILITIES RATHER NARROWLY AND SOLELY IN TERMS OF THEIR
OWN ECONOMIC INTERESTS.
SADLY, WE HAVE SEEN RECENTLY MR. CHAIRMAN, EXAMPLES OF CASUAL ADHERENCE ΤΟ LONG TREASURED AMERICAN VALUES OF FAIR PLAY AND INATTENTION TO THE PUBLIC GOOD. FAILURES HAVE EXTENDED FROM WALL
STREET TO THE MILITARY. FROM RELIGION TO INDUSTRY. HOWEVER MODEST OUR PLEA IN COMPARISON ΤΟ THE GREAT QUESTIONS THAT ARE BROUGHT BEFORE YOU, WE SUGGEST THAT THE CONGRESS HAS AN OPPORTUNITY WITH THIS ISSUE TO REMIND THE NATION THAT SOME VALUES ARE MORE IMPORTANT MATERIAL REWARD. THAT SOME THINGS ARE JUST NOT FOR SALE.
RITERS GUILD OF AMERICA, west, Inc.
Affiliated with the Writos tould of America cast. P
8955 BEVERLY BOULEVARD LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA 90048-2456 (213) 550-1000 Cable: INTWRITER, LOS ANGELES
ALFRED L. LEVITT
Executive DirCROP JANE NEFELDT
Assistant Executive Director ANN MIODEN
The following written statement is submitted for the record:
The Board of Directors of the Writers Guild of America west, representing six thousand five hundred screen, television and radio writers, opposes any alteration or cutting of film and/or dialogue without the prior approval of the writer and director.
It is the position of the WGAW that any material alteration of
We applaud this committee for taking up the issue of "computer alteration" of which color-conversion is only a part. The changes and alterations that developing technologies will produce present a danger far beyond the issue of damage to artists and their work. We hope to be a part of future discussions in this important area of law.
We thank the committee, and the efforts of the Directors Guild of America, for the opportunity to present our position in the public record.
Senator LEAHY. Mr. Silverstein, let me play the devil's advocate just a bit.
Directors do allow others, certainly the TV networks, to tamper with their movies all the time. I won't watch movies on television because they get chopped up, edited, changed, the dialog is squeezed down, and pictures are taken out. You have got many ads for things that nobody wants to see. The broadcaster will cut out parts of the movie which may be offensive so that they can fit in an ad that would offend virtually anybody.
What about that? Movie directors allow that all the time.
Mr. SILVERSTEIN. Senator, you just outlined a series of some of the most anguishing events that occur to us in our professional lives. We have tried over the course of the past 12 years across the negotiating table to achieve some prohibition against these things but, in some cases, they are beyond the disciplines of mandatory subjects of bargaining, and in other cases the Producers Association has said to us that, particularly with regard to the screening of these films in syndication, they agree with us, that their own products are being destroyed, but they have difficulty in policing it. If they had a policing organization, that they would see that this butchering of films, particularly on syndication TV, would be prevented. And, of course, if the Congress saw fit to provide some legislation that would supplant that policeman, we would be very happy about it.
Senator LEAHY. But that is not really the issue, if I might. How do you respond to those who say, well, they are willing to have the movie chopped up on television, interrupted by ads, scenes taken out, shortened, lengthened, whatever, but they are getting paid a great deal for that. They are not willing though to have a movie made into color from black and white because they are not being paid for that.
How do you respond to a question like that?
Mr. SILVERSTEIN. Senator, you use the word "willing." There is a question of how much control we have over that. The colorization process is the lightning rod offense that brings us here today, but there are a large series of offenses, many of which you have just listed, which precede it. This, as you would have heard in a moment later in my remarks, was the last straw that brought us here. We do not like these interruptions. We refer to them as butchering. We have tried for years to do something about it. We cannot do anything about it across the bargaining table.
We have been advised by legal counsel that would be difficult. The other side says they have difficulty policing it. We are in effect helpless.
Senator LEAHY. The way to police it is not to sell the film to the TV networks, not to sell it to the airlines who are going to chop them up the same way to show them on their airplanes.
Mr. SILVERSTEIN. Yes, sir, but we do not have control over the buying and selling of these films. We are artists. We do not buy them and we do not sell them.
Senator LEAHY. But your company and your producers do, and they have not shown any interest in slowing that up, have they? Mr. SILVERSTEIN. Yes, sir, they do, and there are some basic prohibitions against that. They are not very strong prohibitions and
they do not answer the objections you just outlined. There are some, however. There was one airline, Continental Airlines, which used to cut the films in order to fit the flight schedules, and Continental Airlines is specifically mentioned in our labor contract as an example of what we do not want to have happen.
We have tried every way we can, sir—
Senator LEAHY. I do not know why anybody who has any interest at all in the work, the artistic work of a film, would ever bother to watch it on television or on an airplane knowing the film has been chopped up. It is like being given a book and being told a whole part has been taken out of it.
Mr. SILVERSTEIN. I think you will hear in a moment from my colleague, Mr. Forman, about some of his personal experiences in this regard, but I know I did a film once, "Cat Ballou," which was a series of three jokes, and almost inevitably the people who cut up these films-you would set up joke one, two, and just before the punchline, there will be a deodorant commercial. Right afterwards, the punchline comes and nobody knows what happened.
Senator LEAHY. If you would allow just a personal comment, about 4 or 5 weeks ago, on a snowy night at my farm in Vermont, all the kids were around, so we decided to get a videotape of the movie "Cat Ballou."
"Come on, dad, give us a break. It's a 20-year old movie, a western."
I said, "Watch. Show some consideration for the old man. Watch the movie."
They sat and watched the movie and loved it. The next day, our 16-year old was going down the halls of the high school humming the theme from "Cat Ballou," and his teacher, who had sort of looked at him wondering if this kid was ever going to amount to anything, spins on his heels and sings the words. The son has been doing a lot better in school. He thinks the old man is a genius. Mr. Pollack, could we go to you, please, sir?
STATEMENT OF SYDNEY POLLACK
Mr. POLLACK. Senator Leahy, I would like to take a few moments, if I can, to show you a short piece of film that has been prepared to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Directors Guild. Some of it is in black and white and some is in color, but for the moment that is irrelevant. It only lasts 61⁄2 minutes.
Senator LEAHY. For the record, what we see today in color and in black and white is the way it was originally made.
Mr. POLLACK. That is exactly right. These are all in their original versions, some in black and white and some in color. For the moment that will be irrelevant. This is just a small part of the Library of American Film Art, and it's entitled "Precious Images. Lower the lights to run that film, please.
[A videotape entitled "Precious Images" was shown.]
We have grown up with movies, lived our lives with them, and
These are just eleven of 458 memorable images from American
us, and delight us.
The Directors Guild of America, in honor of the Fiftieth
PRECIOUS IMAGES was directed and produced by Chuck Workman, a
DIRECTORS GUILD OF AMERICA, 7950 SUNSET BLVD., LOS ANGELES, CA 90046