« Have Issues, Will Travel | Main | AFTRA's Ready for Primetime »

Great Expectations--Or, You Know, Not

Strikewatch_blogI used to be the night sports editor at The Washington Post. Once in a while the phone would ring, about 45 minutes after the first edition had closed. From the other end of the line I'd hear a somber, gravelly voice, and a chill would go up my spine.

No, it wasn't Mark Felt, or even Hal Holbrook. It was Bob Kaiser, the managing editor, telling me that someone in my section had committed the sin of writing the phrase, "expected to." (As in, "Calbert Cheaney is expected to be the Bullets No. 1 draft pick," or "Cal Ripken is expected to break Lou Gehrig's record in early September, " or "The Capitals are expected to choke in the first round of the playoffs.") Bob_kaiser

Mr. Kaiser hated that term, and I suspect he still does, because, as he used to say, sometimes acidly, "It is lazy. It is a way of writing around the absence of sources, and it creates in the mind of the reader the question of, 'Just who, exactly, is doing the expecting?' "

Having gone the long way around the barn, I noticed in today's Daily Variety that Dave McNary turns the phrase, "It is widely anticipated the terms will be accepted." He is writing, of course, about the ratification vote of AFTRA's broadcast prime-time TV contract, which, some of you may have heard, SAG has a few objections to and has been trying to defeat. Results are scheduled to be announced some time tonight, according to an AFTRA spokeswoman.

I am in no way impugning Mr. McNary's reporting skills or his reading of the landscape here. He has significantly more experience than I. I merely posit that "anticipate" and "expect" are synonymous and that nothing at this point should lead anyone to anticipate or expect anything, even though Strike Watch itself has predicted passage. (One of us with the Red Bull-and-vodka-influenced prediction of 70-30, the other with the Welbutrin-induced 54-46.)

And, as it has been written here several times over the past few weeks, SAG does, indeed, face an uphill climb, given the arithmetic involved. But in casual conversations I have had with four actors in the past eight days, I would place no money on passage. Each of these actors was New York-based--Gothamites are said to be much more sympathetic to AFTRA than Angelenos--and each of them could not decide which way to vote, meaning SAG's Vote No party has had a real effect on actors' mindsets.

Out West, a Los Angeles-based actor I converse with regularly told me Thursday that no one he has talked to is voting for ratification. Then again, as an Upper East Side liberal remarked to a conservative pundit on the day after Nixon's landslide victory in '72, "I can't understand why McGovern lost. Everyone I know voted for him." (I posit that every American narrative since the postwar era can fit snugly into a metaphor encompassing Richard Nixon, Elvis Presley, The Godfather, or the Fall of Saigon. Some people, such as Henry Kissinger, fit into all four.) Nixon

At any rate, every actor will eventually go back to work. (When they will is a matter we will leave for another time.) With the commercials and interactive games contracts still to be negotiated over the next six months, a lot is still at stake. Based on the enmity involved during the past year, what can anyone expect for future negotiations between these two unions? The news analysis in Back Stage's July 10-16 issue will offer a glimpse of the short-term outlook--and it's not necessarily what one would expect.

Question of the Day: Will the unions negotiate subsequent contracts together or separately? Write us something in the comments field below.

Bonus Question: What does your life compare most favorably to at present: Nixon, Presley, The Godfather, or Saigon? Why or why not?

Note to Readers: The ratification vote will probably be announced too late to be included in our print edition, so check back with Strike Watch throughout the day for updates, and throughout the week for further news and analysis.

--Andrew Salomon

Dig This


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Great Expectations--Or, You Know, Not:


I foresee a circumstance where the Commercials contract is extended on the same terms for another six months to a year, rather than to attempt negotiation under the current fractious circumstances.


The comments to this entry are closed.