The “WGA strike being settled by Pearl Harbor day” line, passed along a week and a half ago, evaporated last week. Two days ago Variety‘s Dave McNary wrote that “with both sides back at the barricades, many believe the writers strike won’t be resolved until March at the earliest.” Three more months? March? What happened to the mind games being over and serious horse-trading about to begin?
Deadline Hollywood Daily‘s Nikki Finke has just posted a letter sent to WGA membership from WGA board member Tom Schulman. The gist is Schulman quoting a conversation he had at a party few years ago with “a gentleman who until recently had been for decades the chief negotiator for the companies in another segment of the entertainment industry” who told Schulman about his negotiating strategy. Schulman write it down and here it is, more or less:
“Strategy for Hardball Negotiations:
“Piss off the leaders and spokespersons for the other side. A leader who loses his temper loses something in negotiations. Why? because anger clouds judgment, and because a person who loses his temper is embarrassed, usually comes and apologizes, and always gives something away to get back into the good graces of the other side.
“The end game is the money, but hardball negotiations aren’t about money, until the end. The real game is dividing and conquering.
“Lower the expectations of the other side — divide and conquer. Raise and lower the expectations of the other side — divide and conquer. Do everything possible to destroy the credibility of the other side’s leadership — divide and conquer. Use confidantes and back-channels to go over the heads of the stronger leaders to the softer targets — divide and conquer. When you figure out the other side’s bottom line, offer a fraction — it’s surprising how many times that stands.”