E! president Suzanne Kolb wants the writers who went on strike in early April against the Joan Rivers-hosted Fashion Police to know that the WGA West is their real enemy not the network. “The WGA has convinced you that a strike is necessary in order to gain a union contract. But history at E! has shown that not to be true. You are actually losing paychecks because of the guild’s dislike of elections,” she wrote in a letter to the striking scribes that was released today. The writers have said that because a majority of them already want to be represented by the WGA, no election is required. The WGA West assisted the scribes in their complaint last month to the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. In her letter today, Kolb also made a point of deflecting any blame for the situation from WGA member Rivers, whose production company the writers added on April 10 to their complaint to the state. “Joan Rivers has been and remains emphatically supportive of you,” she wrote. “The responsibility of the show lies on my shoulders, not hers,” Kolb added. The first public remarks from Kolb on the matter didn’t seem to get to her intended audience in a timely fashion. Two writers from the show tell me that they haven’t received a copy of the letter this morning. One writer says he got the letter after it was released to the media. An E! spokesperson says the letter was sent out via email earlier today. Seeking about $1.5 million in back wages and penalties from the non-union show, the Fashion Police writers have a sold out benefit planned for tonight at LA’s Laugh Factory comedy club. But if you want a laugh now, read the full letter from Kolb here:
Let me begin by thanking you for the work you have done for Fashion Police, and for your time in reading this letter. My purpose in writing is to share with you the network’s position, as well as correct some of the false information that surrounds this issue, and most importantly reemphasize the resolution that can bring us all to the negotiating table.
First, Joan Rivers has been and remains emphatically supportive of you. And, despite what has been reported to the contrary, her company does not produce Fashion Police nor set the compensation of E! Networks Productions’ writers. The personal attacks on Joan have been grossly unfair and inaccurate as the responsibility of the show lies on my shoulders, not hers.
Additionally, I want to make it clear that E! is not anti-WGA. We have other WGA shows, and we will negotiate with the guild should you formally elect them as your representative. We require an NLRB administered election prior to collective bargaining because it is a fair and important part of the process. Although the WGA claims to have a practice of not participating in NLRB elections, they in fact participated in them for Chelsea Lately and The Soup, both of which now have guild deals. The WGA has convinced you that a strike is necessary in order to gain a union contract. But history at E! has shown that not to be true. You are actually losing paychecks because of the guild’s dislike of elections.
This leads me to ask you, why strike over an election if you believe the vote will be in favor of representation? Please reconsider striking over something as democratic as an election. There will be no resolution to this matter without one.
Last April, E! announced its first scripted slate as the reality/entertainment news-driven cable network signaled plans to enter the scripted space under its new NBCUniversal leadership. As E! is gearing up to greenlight its first three scripted pilots by Memorial Day, at its upfront today the network unveiled its new slate of scripted projects that come from well-known writers and producers. Several of the projects were originally developed for broadcast networks earlier this season. Those include dramedies Songbyrd, featuring the songs and experiences of songwriter Diane Warren, from producers Neil Meron and Craig Zadan; and Laurel Canyon, from producers Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage. Songbird, written by Krista Vernoff, was originally set up at E! sibling NBC; Laurel Canyon, penned by Karen Croner, was at ABC.
Related: E! Orders Reality Series, Ross Mathews Talk Show, Developing ‘Soup’ Spinoff
E!’s scripted slate also includes three projects inspired by literary classics. Expectations, inspired by Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, is from Oscar-winning writer Ron Bass (Rain Man) and producer Dan Jinks. Interestingly, there were two modern-day Great Expectations projects in development at the broadcast networks this season — one at the CW produced by Reese Witherspoon, and one at ABC produced by Debra Martin Chase — none of which went to pilot. The Royals, a take on William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, is written by One Tree Hill creator/exec producer Mark Schwahn who executive produces with fellow OTH executive producers Brian Robbins and Joe Davola. The Stand-In is described as a darkly psychological re-telling of Mark Twain’s The Prince & the Pauper, executive produced by Ryan Seacrest. Fortunate Son is written by Joey Falco and executive produced by Kevin Spacey and Michael De Luca, who also had a joint project on E!’s inaugural scripted slate last year. According to E!’s original plans, the network was looking to launch its first scripted series in 2013. Here are details about E! scripted shows in development, which include dramas produced by Gale Anne Hurd and Becky Hartman Edwards: Read More »
E! today at its upfront presentation unveiled a slate of new unscripted series, specials and projects in development. Newly greenlighted shows include Total Divas, about the women behind the WWE Divas; Love And Other Contact Sports: Eric And Jessie, chronicling the pending nuptials of singer Jessie James and Denver Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker; and Hello Ross, an interactive talk show hosted by Chelsea Lately‘s Ross Mathews and produced by Chelsea Handler’s production company. Hello Ross stems from a development deal E! signed with Mathews two years ago. Additionally, E! officially announced a June 2 premiere date for The Wanted Life, its new half-hour unscripted series about the personal and professional lives of pop group The Wanted, which is executive produced by Ryan Seacrest under his production deal with E!. The Wanted Life debut will follow the eighth-season premiere of E!’s top-rated series, Keeping Up With The Kardashians, also exec produced by Seacrest. To further hype his new show, Seacrest also will do a special with The Wanted to air a few days before the premiere.
E!’s unscripted development slate include The Soup Investigates, a spinoff series of E!’s The Soup, a pop culture-themed spoof of the investigative TV genre featuring The Soup host Joel McHale and a team of reporters. E! also has put in development a sketch comedy show starring comedian James Davis and produced by Funny Or Die, a comedic show exploring pop culture stereotypes produced by Jack Osbourne, and Vin Di Bona and a parlor game-style game show from Shine America. E!’s new slate comes a month after E! president Suzanne Kolb tapped Jeff Olde as head of programming. Here are details about all E! unscripted new series and specials as well as projects in development: Read More »
2ND UPDATE 5 PM: The striking Fashion Police writers just issued a statement in response to E!’s memo earlier today:
The election the Company is calling for is a well-known stalling tactic. By ignoring for weeks our repeated requests for negotiation of a fair deal, E! has forced us to vote with our feet. The best way our fellow Guild member Joan Rivers can show us her support is by putting down her pen until a WGA contract is in place.
UPDATE 1:20 PM: E! is reacting to this morning’s move by the writers on the cable network’s popular series Fashion Police to walk off the job in a quest for WGA representation. In an internal memo to E! staff, the network’s president Suzanne Kolb said E! brass are “disappointed” by the action and ready to sit down immediately for negotiations with WGA representatives. (full memo below). Meanwhile, Fashion Police co-host Joan Rivers, whose company co-produces the series with E!, “has gone on record repeatedly that she supports the Fashion Police writers and wants a fair agreement for them,” E! said. Read More »
UPDATE, 1:09 PM: E! has responded to the claims that Fashion Police writers have made to the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement office that the network owes them more than $1 million in back wages. “E! values our Fashion Police writers and we pay them fairly and in full legal compliance,” the network said today. The WGA West helped the reality TV scribes with the filing to the DLSE against the non-unionized show.
PREVIOUSLY, 11:38 AM: E!’s Joan Rivers-hosted fashion-dish panel show Fashion Police ran afoul of California law by not compensating its writers for all of the regular and overtime hours they’ve worked, according to a filing with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement office. Though the show is not unionized, the WGA West helped the writers with the legal paperwork and sent out this release today:
Los Angeles – Writers on E!’s Fashion Police filed claims today with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) that could result in the cable TV network having to pay more than one million dollars in back wages. The writers allege that E! has broken state labor law by not compensating them for all of the regular and overtime hours they’ve worked.
According to the writers, Fashion Police ignores the California laws that require an employer to pay hourly employees their regular wage rate for all time worked in an eight-hour period. In addition, the law requires paying overtime for employment beyond eight hours in any workday or more than 40 hours in any workweek.
Read More »
VH1‘s EVP Original Programming & Production Jeff Olde, who is leaving the Viacom network after seven years, is headed to NBCUniversal’s E!, where he will be named EVP Program Development. Olde will join E! in the summer, after the end of his current contract with VH1. He will oversee original programming and series development and replaces president of entertainment programming Lisa Berger, who left abruptly in January.
Related: VH1′s Head Of Programming Jeff Olde To Depart
In addition to his extensive unscripted background, Olde spearheaded VH1′s successful push into scripted series, which will come handy as E! too is looking to expand its reality brand into scripted series. “Jeff is an incredibly gifted executive with deep industry relationships and a unique creative expertise,” said E! President Suzanne Kolb to whom Olde will report. “His passion for pop culture and proven track record for serving the audience will be invaluable to our long-term growth.” At E!, Olde will take on oversight of E!’s core franchises including The Soup, Chelsea Lately, Fashion Police, Keeping Up With The Kardashians and Kourtney & Kim Take Miami. He will also oversee E!’s scripted series development.
At VH1, Olde has served as EVP Original Programming & Production since 2008, shepherding the hit unscripted franchise Mob Wives, Love & Hip Hop, T.I. & Tiny and the launch of the network’s first hourlong scripted series Single Ladies from executive producer Queen Latifah, which is currently in production on its third season; the upcoming scripted drama Hit The Floor (formerly known as Bounce); the network’s upcoming biopic TLC: Crazy, Sexy, Cool; and sketch comedy show Stevie TV. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Former Blue Bloods co-star Jennifer Esposito is eying her own show, this time on the unscripted side. I’ve learned that the actress is filming a pilot for E! that she also executive produces. The untitled … Read More »
There is a major executive change at E! Entertainment with president of entertainment programming Lisa Berger suddenly leaving her post. Berger has been at E! for nine years, overseeing the network’s original programming development, first under president Ted Harbert and, for the past year under his successor Suzanne Kolb. Berger led the network during the transition from Comcast to NBCUniversal ownership, where the cable network falls under the purview of NBCU veteran Bonnie Hammer, and was among the executives rumored for the top E! post. During her tenure at E!, Berger shepherded such hit unscripted series as The Girls Next Door, Keeping Up With The Kardashians and its offshoots and late-night staple Chelsea Lately. She most recently oversaw the network’s expansion into scripted programming. Berger, who was a creative executive at Fox Television Studios Production and MTV before joining E! as SVP Programming Development in September 2003, indicated she will likely take on another gig after a short break. “After nine wonderful years at E!, I have made the difficult decision to leave my post as President, Entertainment Programming,” she said. “My time at E! has been an amazing experience both professionally and personally, and it is hard to sum up nearly a decade of show launches, milestone moments and incredible friendships. I am extremely proud of all of our accomplishments taking the network to record heights and forever grateful to my team whose talent and dedication knows no bounds. Although it won’t be easy for me to say goodbye, I look forward to sharing the news of my next challenge in the months ahead.” Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: E! has put in development another scripted project as the network is preparing to greenlight its first scripted pilots. Shoreline, which has an Upstairs, Downstairs feel to it, is being written by Carolyn Ingber (The Mentalist) and executive produced by Switched At Birth exec producer Becky Hartman Edwards. It centers on the golden child of a small coastal town in South Carolina who, after a scandal in New York, returns home to see that a major Hollywood primetime soap, The Shore Line Yacht Club, is the biggest employer in town. An enormous class divide separates the cast and producers from the townspeople, yet their lives are continuously and irrevocably intertwined — for better or worse. Fox TV Studios is producing. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: E!‘s scripted development slate continues to grow. Its latest addition is Gallerina, an hourlong project executive produced by director-producer Mark Waters (Mean Girls, Freaky Friday) and Mike Tollin. Written by Michelle McGrath and produced by FremantleMedia North America, Gallerina centers on a young woman determined to make her name at the Bettencourt Gallery, which symbolizes LA as the prestigious new center of the art world. Navigating the collision of moneyed elite, emerging artists and established players, not to mention the gallery’s womanizing namesake and her iconic mother, will put both her brains and morals to the test. Watermark’s Waters and Jessica Tuchinsky are executive producing alongside Tollin, while Tollin Prods’ Ben Spector serves as co-executive producer. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: E! has added another project to its scripted development slate: a high-concept romantic drama from feature writer-directors Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont (Can’t Hardly Wait). The project, from E! sibling Universal Cable Prods. and Aaron Kaplan’s Kapital Entertainment, centers on a young entertainment lawyer who dies but is determined to pursue a romance with a woman who’s still alive — while he exists in limbo in New York City, working for the department that judges the recently departed. Elfont, Deborah Kaplan and Aaron Kaplan (no relation) executive produce. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: E! has greenlit a second season of breakout reality series Married To Jonas, which is executive produced by E! MVP Ryan Seacrest, producer of the network’s blockbuster Keeping Up With The Kardashians franchise. Married To Jonas stars pop star Kevin Jonas of Jonas Brothers fame and his small-town Jersey girl wife Danielle.
The new season, slated to debut next spring, will follow the couple as the Jonas Brothers finish their new album and head back on tour for the first time in three years. Meanwhile, Dani explores starting her own business back in New Jersey and the Jonas and Deleasa families become even more close-knit. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: The newly minted American Idol judge will be coming to E! but she is not going to be doing the full Kardashian. “The plan is to do specials with her, not a whole series,” a … Read More »
NBC Universal is courting Ryan Seacrest as a potential replacement for Matt Lauer on the Today show, the Wall Street Journal reports. The paper says NBC News, Today show, and NBC network executives met with Seacrest on Tuesday about the possibilty of … Read More »
Stage and TV actor David Burtka has signed a talent deal with E! Entertainment that will see the stage and TV actor (and Neil Patrick Harris’ partner) join E! News as a correspondent as well as participate on the network’s … Read More »
After a long search, E! Entertainment Television has tapped former ABC Studios head of comedy Kevin Plunkett as its first-ever dedicated scripted executive. Plunkett has been named SVP Scripted Programming, overseeing all aspects of E!’s scripted development and reporting to … Read More »
James Hitchcock has joined E! Entertainment as EVP Marketing, reporting to the network’s new president Suzanne Kolb. The appointment stems from Kolb’s promotion in July to E! president, which left vacant her previous post as President, Marketing, News … Read More »