UPDATE, 2PM: Following their West Coast brethren, the Writers Guild Of America East today also came out against the proposed Comcast purchase of Time Warner Cable. Claiming that “Comcast/NBCUniversal want to further reduce competition at the …
Looks like not everyone in Hollywood is on the same page when it comes to combating copyright infringement. Specifically, the Writers Guild of America West thinks that the multimillion-dollar damages the Motion Picture Association of America wants extracted from file-sharing sites “has little additional deterrent effect” and “high statutory penalties are not only often unreasonable but unpayable.” The strong comments from the WGAW comes in a submission the guild made on January 17 (read it here) to the Commerce Department on its paper on Copyright Policy, Creativity, and Innovation in the Digital Economy. Citing that “television and film are controlled by a handful of media companies who decide what content consumers have access to,” the guild’s remarks are a clear slap to the MPAA and the studios from the representatives of more than 8,000 frontline content creators.
No surprise the MPAA does not agree with that POV. “The deterrence provided by the current range of statutory damages is of vital importance to MPAA’s members and other copyright owners, especially in the online environment,” says the studio lobbying group in its own submission (read it here).
Los Angeles – Acclaimed screenwriter-director-actor Paul Mazursky is set to receive the Writers Guild of America, West’s 2014 Screen Laurel Award, honoring lifetime achievement in outstanding writing for motion pictures. The award will be presented to Mazursky, among other honorees, at the WGAW’s 2014 Writers Guild Awards West Coast ceremony to be held on Saturday, February 1, 2014, at the JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. LIVE.
“Paul Mazursky’s talents as an actor (he was in Stanley Kubrick’s first film) and filmmaker (one of the signature directors of the 1970s) should not be allowed to obscure a central fact: he is among our greatest living screenwriters. Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, Blume in Love, Harry and Tonto, Next Stop, Greenwich Village, An Unmarried Woman – five films in six years, any of which can make you laugh and cry, break and mend your heart. His voice is strong, unique, hilarious, wise, unmistakable. He is fearless about his characters’ flaws, but always has the generosity of spirit to make us see the ways in which they are far more like us than not. His work in the ’80s and ’90s – Down and Out in Beverly Hills, Scenes from a Mall – only deepens that generosity. And his adaptations of Shakespeare (Tempest) and I. B. Singer (Enemies: A Love Story) are at once unflinching and celebratory. With appreciation and respect, we take this moment to celebrate an American master,” said WGAW Vice President Howard A. Rodman.
Related: R.I.P. Thomas T.S. Cook
Los Angeles – The Writers Guild of America, West has named the late OscarTM and Emmy-nominated and Writers Guild Award-winning writer Thomas S. Cook as its 2014 Morgan Cox Award honoree in recognition of his Guild service. The WGAW’s honorary award will be presented posthumously to Cook at the 2014 Writers Guild Awards West Coast ceremony to be held on Saturday, February 1, 2014, in Los Angeles at the JW Marriott L.A. LIVE.
“Tom was a beloved member of this Guild, renowned both for the remarkable work he produced and for his unending commitment to give something of himself back. His service touched on every corner of our mission and lasted over three wonderful decades. Even in his final days, as a Trustee of our Health and Pension Fund, he never forgot the needs of his fellow writers, and we, in turn, will never forget him,” said WGAW President Christopher Keyser.
Born in Cleveland, Ohio, on August 25, 1947, Cook passed away on January 5, 2013 at his home in Hollywood after a battle with cancer at age 65.
EXCLUSIVE: With the new The Tonight Show launch coming in February, NBC is looking to ramp up Jimmy Fallon‘s writing staff. It is also looking for a lot of free work from potential scribes in guidelines that went out about a month ago. Though not an uncommon practice, such requests are prohibited under WGA rules. In this case, the extensive call for submission packets has triggered a complaint to WGA West filed last week, I’ve learned. The writers are concerned that the more evergreen material could end up on the show even if the writer who submitted it ends up not being hired. The guild is contacting NBCUniversal about the matter. Here’s Fallon‘s submission request:
Below are guidelines for Late Night with Fallon sketch submissions:
Applicants should come up with 3 ideas for low-production desk pieces. We’re not looking for scripts for each of them, just a good title, a few sentences that describe the bit and a few examples of what the jokes would be.
STEP 2: ADDITIONAL SKETCH IDEAS
We’re looking for 3 ideas for in-studio character pieces, audience plants, games, or ideas for pre-taped shorts or television parodies. Again, this entails a few sentences that describe the bit and a few examples of what the jokes would be.
STEP 3: ONE FULL SCRIPT
Choose your favorite sketch idea from the steps above and write one full script for it.
STEP 4: MONOLOGUE JOKES
We’d like to see 10 monologue jokes to get a sense of joke writing style.
The final results are in for the WGA West’s officers and Board of Director elections, and nothing has changed at the top. Why would it? The election had almost no challengers. With the voting period concluding yesterday …
Related: 2014 WGA Awards Set For February 1
Los Angeles and New York – The Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) and Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) today announced that submissions are now open for the 2014 WGA Documentary Screenplay Award, honoring outstanding achievement in documentary feature writing. This year marks the addition of a new eligibility requirement for the award: theatrical documentaries must be produced under the jurisdiction of the WGA or an affiliate Guild to be eligible for consideration. Submissions for the WGA’s doc writing award may be received from August 19 through November 15, 2013.
The Writers Guild of America West saw total earnings rise by 4.0% in 2012 to $1.02 billion, the organization said today in its annual report. Even though the total number of writers’ reporting earnings dipped from 2011’s …
The new partnership between the Writers Guild Of America West and script service The Black List will give WGAW members discounted rates on paid Black List services, including script hosting and reader evaluations. The website in turn will promote WGAW resources and educational info. Here’s the announcement made today:
Los Angeles – The Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) and script-hosting website The Black List have formed a strategic alliance with a mutual goal to advocate on behalf of writers, as well as benefit Guild members by providing them with a credible platform to help spotlight their work within the entertainment industry.
WGAW Unveils Initial 2013 Election Candidates: Incumbent President Chris Keyser Running Unopposed For Now
There’s a big surprise today in the Writers Guild West‘s 2013 initial list of election candidates: the scribe selected to run against incumbent president Christopher Keyser declined the nomination. That means, unless someone else can be convinced to run, Keyser right now is running unopposed. He was a newcomer to WGAW leadership first elected two years ago when he defeated the polarizing Patric Verrone. Even back then, in 2011, few people stepped forward to run for the presidency: insiders told me that was because of great apathy. It seems nothing has changed even though the WGA constitution doesn’t allow for uncontested races:
Los Angeles – The Writers Guild of America, West’s Nominating Committees have announced the initial list of candidates for the 2013 WGAW Officers and Board of Directors election.
The Officer candidates are as follows: President* – Christopher Keyser (inc.); Vice President – Timothy J. Lea, Howard A. Rodman (inc.); Secretary-Treasurer – Dan Wilcox, Carl Gottlieb (inc.). (*The second nominee designated by the committee declined the nomination.)
There are 16 candidates nominated to run for eight open seats on the WGAW’s Board of Directors as follows: Thania St. John (inc.), Andrew Goldberg, Cynthia Riddle, Ari B. Rubin, Carleton Eastlake (inc.), Nancy Miller, Jonathan Fernandez, Henry Alonso Myers, Patric M. Verrone, Billy Ray (inc.), Alfredo Barrios, Jr. (inc.), Flint Dille, Lee Aronsohn, David Maples, Karen Harris, David S. Goyer (inc.).
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.
Diane Haithman contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.
Ten scribes have been named winners of the WGA West‘s 2013 Writer Access Project program, which recognizes “diverse television writers” in comedy and drama script categories. The honorees: Michael DiGaetano, Joey Manderino Joseph Neustein and Lena Waithe for comedy; and Sherry Carnes, Dawn Comer Jefferson, Margaux Froley, Geetika Lizardi, Leslie Valdes and Thomas Wong for drama. (See their background info here.)
The program, run by the WGA West Diversity Department, identifies writers with TV staffing experience and makes samples of their work available to showrunners, producers, network and studio executives, and agents and managers, to provide increased access. Qualified guild members were invited to submit their work in one of five diversity categories: minority writers; writers with disabilities; women writers; writers age 55 and over; and gay and lesbian writers. The scripts were read and scored on a blind submission basis by WGAW members serving as judges, including showrunners and producers.
Diane Haithman contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.
While incremental job gains for minority and women TV writers have been made in the last decade-plus, staffing levels remain “widely disproportionate” to the demographics of the U.S. population, says WGA West. The not-too-surprising results of the guild’s most recent TV staffing report were revealed during a press conference this morning at WGAW headquarters. The 2013 TV Staffing Brief (read the full report here) highlights three traditionally underemployed groups in the TV industry: women, minority and older writers.
Sociology professor Darnell Hunt, author of the report and director of the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA, said that while women have seen a 5% increase in writing staff jobs between 1999-2000 and 2011-2012, at the current rate of growth it would take women “42 years to catch up with men” in terms of TV writing staff jobs.
Other stats from the report: Minority writers nearly doubled their share of staff writing positions during that same period, from 7.5% to 15.6%, but still remain severely underrepresented compared to the population at large. Among the ranks of TV executive producer in the 2011-2012 season, women were underrepresented by factor of more than 2 to 1 “among writers who run TV shows” and minorities were underrepresented by a factor of nearly 5 to 1.
In the 2010-2011 season, just 9% of pilots had “at least one minority writer attached” and 24% of pilots had at least one woman writer attached.
For the first time in 2011-12, writers over 40 claimed a majority share of TV staff positions.
UPDATE, 3:56 PM: The issue at WGA West headquarters has been resolved, I have learned. Whatever it was it was obviously not that big a deal — there was no evacuation of staff from the …
Tom Stoppard, the screenwriter and playwright whose latest feature film work is this year’s Anna Karenina, has been named the winner of the WGA West‘s 2013 Laurel Award for Screen, the guild’s lifetime achievement award for movies. He will receive the honor February 17 during the WGA Awards‘ West Coast ceremony at the JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. LIVE. Previous recipients include David Mamet, Lawrence Kasdan, Robert Benton, Barry Levinson, Steven Zaillian, and Eric Roth last year.
Stoppard has adapted everyone from Nabokov and le Carre to Doctorow and Tolstoy. He wrote and won an Oscar for 1998′s Best Picture winner Shakespeare In Love and was nominated for co-writing 1986′s Brazil. He also won four Best Play Tony Awards in his career, which began in 1960 as a London playwright before jumping into television in 1965. Here’s the WGA West’s full release: