Patric Verrone’s Campaign E-Mailers To WGA Members Raise Questions

By | Tuesday April 15, 2014 @ 8:31am PDT

verroneEXCLUSIVE: Thousands of emails sent to Writers Guild members from former WGA President Patric Verrone soliciting donations for his run for a seat in the California state senate are raising questions about how he got those email addresses and about the ethics of using his years of service to the guild to acquire them. Verrone, who led the guild in a contentious 14-week strike six years ago, is in a tight primary race to represent California’s 26th senatorial district. Numerous guild members report that they have received emails from Verrone soliciting donations and giving updates on his campaign. The WGA says it didn’t supply Verrone with a mailing list.

Related: Patric Verrone Eyeing California State Senate Seat With ‘I Won The Strike’ Boast

wgaw“We have had some members ask about this and we have made it clear that we have not provided him with a mailing list,” said WGA spokesman Neal Sacharow. “Outside of official guild business, we allow use of our list in two instances. As required by federal law, guild members may use the list in connection with internal union election campaigns. We also make the list available during awards season to studios, networks and certain publications for the purpose of mailing screeners or other awards-related communications. In both of those situations, we do not provide the list itself but rather, arrange for the mailing through a guild-approved mail house.”

Verrone told Deadline that he sent his campaign emails to “a couple of thousand” WGA members. Asked if a “couple of thousand” is two or three thousand, he said, “between two and three thousand.” He also acknowledged that he came by those email addresses in the course of his service to the guild. pv“I was president and secretary-treasurer and a board member for all those years,” he said. “I communicated with hundreds of members and they communicated with me. I have their email addresses. I didn’t get anything from the Writers Guild.” Read More »

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WGA Diversity Report: Women Writers See Gains In TV, Slide On Film Side

By | Monday April 14, 2014 @ 10:53am PDT

WGAThe WGA West 2014 Hollywood Writers Report has uncovered modest gains for minority and women TV writers but on the film side employment in these circles is continuing its slide, offsetting overall gains. The full study, titled “Turning Missed Opportunities Into Realized Ones” –  the ninth in a series of semi-annual reports commissioned by the guild — will be published in June. But some details were unveiled today in the Executive Summary (read it here) that analyzes employment patterns for writers working on broadcast and cable TV shows and theatrical features during the 2011-2012 season, highlighting women, minority, and older writers. Among them:

Typewriter· Women remained underrepresented by a factor of nearly 2-to-1 among TV writers in 2012, claiming 27% of sector employment, and they earned about 92 cents for every dollar earned by white males in 2012 — up slightly from 91 cents in 2009. Women screenwriters accounted for 15% of sector employment (down from 17% in 2009) , and they earned 77 cents for every dollar earned by white male film writers in 2012, down from 82 cents in 2009.

· Minority TV writers posted an increase in employment share (from 10% in 2009 to 11% in 2012), also closing the earnings gap “a bit.” Data also show that minorities watch a disproportionate share of television and theatrical films, while increases in their consumer spending outpace the rest of the nation. On the film side, the minority share of film employment was steady at 5% compared by 2009.

· Older writers — especially ages 41-50 — claimed the largest share of employment in TV and film, as well as the highest earnings in each sector. The relative status of older writers tends to decline “rather rapidly” beyond 60. Read More »

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SAG-AFTRA Sets May 5 For Start Of New Contract Talks With AMPTP

By | Sunday April 13, 2014 @ 4:41pm PDT

SAG_AFTRA_Logo__130627231650__130712010638__130731223802__130917164007__131120210226__131231053636__140304171223__140306020458SAG-AFTRA said today that they’ll sit down with the studios and networks on May 5 to start negotiations on a new 3-year contract.  This is the first truly big contract to be worked out by the union since SAG and AFTRA … Read More »

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WGA Sets New Contract Ratification Vote Online, By Mail & In Person

By | Tuesday April 8, 2014 @ 9:59am PDT

wga-logo__140128204911__140131020047__140205212542__140306212740__140307232618__140331211919Less than a week after reaching an agreement on a new three-year contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and TV Producers, the WGA today announced it’s bringing the contract to a membership vote (see the email to members below). “This year, ballots may be cast online, by mail (for those requesting a paper ballot) or at membership meetings in New York and Los Angeles on April 29, 2014,” said WGA West President Chris Keyser and Michael Winship, President, WGA East in an email to members. The union’s current contract expires on May 1. The duo also revealed that both the WGA West Board and the WGA East Council have unsurprisingly approved the new contract. Read More »

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New WGA Deal Contains Changes In Options & Exclusivity Rules, Increases In Compensation Rates & Cable Script Minimums, 0.5% Pension Increase, No Rollbacks

By | Wednesday April 2, 2014 @ 6:20pm PDT

Writers Guild New ContractWith the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and TV Producers reaching an agreement on a new three-year contract late last night, the union this afternoon filled in its members  on what actually is in the deal via … Read More »

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WGA & AMPTP Reach Tentative New 3-Year Deal

By | Wednesday April 2, 2014 @ 9:45am PDT

WGA Labor ContractAfter two final days back at the negotiating table this week, the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and TV Producers late last night reached a deal on a new three-year contract. No details of the agreement have been revealed as both parties want to reach out to respective members later today before going public, I’m told. The current contract expires May 1, which means the longer-than-expected talks leave the union having to pull together a ratification vote lickety-split.

Already agreeing on everything but the chestnut issues of options and exclusivity, the two sides took an 18-day break before returning to talks at AMPTP headquarters in Sherman Oaks on Monday. As I reported on March 6, even with the scribes taking a stronger line than during the last negotiations and the studios/networks more divided than last time, the sides were “very close” to a deal even before they took their first temporary recess from February 15-March 4. That break came after an initial two weeks AMPTPof talks that started February 3. Though no one was thumping the table and calling for a strike, talks started with a lot of tension after the studios and networks requested $60 million in rollbacks from the health and pension plans, residuals and targeted screenplay minimums on just before the talks got underway. Still, as widely anticipated under Hollywood’s pattern bargaining system, the final deal worked out is expected to be similar to the agreement the DGA made with the studios and networks.

Related:
Writers Rally As Talks Resume: A Deadline Survey
Why Options & Exclusivity Issue Is So Important To WGA

corona__140328221654-275x169Now only SAG-AFTRA among the major Hollywood guilds is left to work out a new contract. The actors union, which will be entering their first such negotiations since merging in 2012, are still going through final stages of mandated wages and working conditions meetings with members. Read More »

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Deadline’s Best Film Stories Of The Week

NoahBiblical and Faith-Based Movies: In Hollywood to Stay?
By Anita Busch
After this weekend’s successful opening for Noahis there any doubt anymore that if Hollywood builds it, they will come?

 

Writers Rail As Talks Resume: A Deadline Survey
By Mike Fleming, Jr.
As talks are about to resume Monday on the final elements that many hope will lead to a new deal for the Writers Guild Of America, we wanted to lend some perspective and give voice to the TV and feature writers whose fortunes will be tied directly to the deal their union makes. Deadline spoke with 10 film and TV scribes and asked them the following questions: Read More »

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Deadline’s Best TV Stories Of The Week

By | Sunday March 30, 2014 @ 5:37pm PDT

The Art of War‘The Good Wife’ Bombshell: Story Behind The Shocking Exit, Showrunners Speak
By Nellie Andreeva
The Good Wife creators/showrunners Michelle and Robert King, discuss a major character’s exit, its impact on the show and what lies ahead.

CNN’s Piers Morgan Signs Off With Final Blast At U.S. Gun Laws (Video)
By Lisa de Moraes
Piers Morgan wrapped his three-year CNN run on Friday night with (gasp!) a full hour of discussion about the missing plane. But in his four-minute final remarks, he couldn’t resist taking a parting shot at the NRA. 
Read More »

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Writers Rail As Talks Resume – Fifth Question In A Deadline Survey

By | Friday March 28, 2014 @ 6:20pm PDT
Mike Fleming

coronaAs talks are about to resume Monday on the final elements that many hope will lead to a new deal for the Writers Guild Of America, we wanted to lend some perspective and give voice to the TV and feature writers whose fortunes will be tied directly to the deal their union makes. This is the fifth in a quick succession of five questions we asked a panel of 10 writers. Here are their responses, and hopefully other writers will be moved to comment about the issues that worry them most as their work is monetized in this fast-changing digital age. (Note: Writer #10 didn’t reply to this question.)

Related: WGA: Why Gains, Lessons From 2008′s Strike Will Keep Hollywood From Another War

DEADLINE: What tangible gains or losses did you realize through that strike, financial or other?

ragingbullWRITER #1: I support my guild 100% and I always will. I think of the WGA like a relative — I can say something strong about them but if you do we’re going to have a problem. There could have been significant gains, but the strike was mis-managed in my opinion by [Patric] Verrone. When things were turning for the writers in a positive way, that’s right when they rushed to settle. If you’re going to hold out for that many months, go all the way and make real gains. If you’re not prepared to do that, don’t go on strike at all because the studios will find a way to engineer a strategic retaliation and that came in the form of one-step deals. Honestly, we went halfway with the strike, stopped and then complained about it for years. A lot of really sneaky stuff happened in the closing weeks of the strike. I was invited to several “behind closed doors” secret meetings and I declined. The TV showrunners were put in a tough position by the studios and they didn’t all behave in the best interest of their fellow writers. Some did. A strike is like a gun — don’t take it out unless you’re really prepared to use it. And using it doesn’t mean calling a strike — it means staying on strike until you achieve what is right and what is fair. Essentially we only loaded the gun. We never really fired it. The strike isn’t the bullet. Holding out long enough to meaningfully change things for writers, that’s the real bullet and that would have taken another three months in my opinion. Three more months, and more would have been achieved. I am well aware that others will disagree with that statement but it happens to be true.

Related:
Deadline Writers Survey – Question #1
Deadline Writers Survey – Question #2
Deadline Writers Survey – Question #3
Deadline Writers Survey – Question #4

Read More »

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Writers Rail As Talks Resume – Fourth Question In A Deadline Survey

By | Friday March 28, 2014 @ 5:55pm PDT
Mike Fleming

coronaAs talks are about to resume Monday on the final elements that many hope will lead to a new deal for the Writers Guild Of America, we wanted to lend some perspective and give voice to the TV and feature writers whose fortunes will be tied directly to the deal their union makes. This is the fourth in a quick succession of five questions we asked a panel of 10 writers. Here are their responses, and hopefully other writers will be moved to comment about the issues that worry them most as their work is monetized in this fast-changing digital age.

Related: WGA: Why Gains, Lessons From 2008′s Strike Will Keep Hollywood From Another War

DEADLINE: Patric Verrone is running for California State Senate and in establishing his cred to writers said, “We won the writers strike.” Would you vote for him?

WRITER #1: Honestly, I wouldn’t vote for Patric Verrone as the President of the Tupperware Club of Paramus, New Jersey. I also find it hilarious that he used the entire (supposedly confidential) WGA mailing list to seek contributions from writers he was largely responsible for harming. Why does he get to use the WGA mailing list for his political campaign? He should be investigated for that. I felt then and I feel now that Verrone was totally out for himself. I supported the WGA and the strike but I never supported Verrone. I think Billy Ray — the guy in there negotiating now — is a smart man who cares for writers. He’s also a damn good writer.

Related:
Deadline Writers Survey – Question #1
Deadline Writers Survey – Question #2
Deadline Writers Survey – Question #3
Deadline Writers Survey – Question #5

rodserlingWRITER #2: The strike was “lost” before we hit the picket lines. Verrone and [Executive Director David] Young seem to have wanted the strike whether or not it was winnable or smart, to flex guild muscles, and to establish a sense of leadership that, in the end, revealed itself to be divorced from the daily realities of our industry. Meanwhile, the studios, wanting to cut overhead, saw the strike as a way to accelerate the ways the business was already contracting. For them the strike couldn’t come fast enough. No working writer I know thought the strike was any kind of success. We limped to its conclusion, beaten, humiliated and humbled, a lot poorer. Verrone, who pulled salary while we went eight months or more without income, was only too happy to wave the banner while leading us into machine gun fire. In the end, Verrone seemed about Verrone. Can’t see a circumstance in which I’d support his candidacy for state senate.

WRITER #3: I think Patric put in a good effort to try to get something from the strike and had some smaller victories. But as I said in Question 3, he was hamstrung by the fact that the high-end writers didn’t want to strike. Also I think Patric was very ambitious to try to unionize feature animation. But when the AAA-list screenwriters say “sure we’ll strike” and immediately book millions in high-end feature animation jobs, that goal proves impossible. Sure it’s mildly disingenuous for him to make the claim that he won the strike, but in the world of politics, I believe that statement is probably more honest than what his opponents will claim. I’d consider voting for him, however I haven’t seen what the rest of his platform is besides labor. Read More »

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Writers Rail As Talks Resume – Third Question In A Deadline Survey

By | Friday March 28, 2014 @ 5:21pm PDT
Mike Fleming

coronaAs talks are about to resume Monday on the final elements that many hope will lead to a new deal for the Writers Guild Of America, we wanted to lend some perspective and give voice to the TV and feature writers whose fortunes will be tied directly to the deal their union makes. This is the third in a quick succession of five questions we asked a panel of 10 writers. Here are their responses, and hopefully other writers will be moved to comment about the issues that worry them most as their work is monetized in this fast-changing digital age.

Related: WGA: Why Gains, Lessons From 2008′s Strike Will Keep Hollywood From Another War

DEADLINE: How are you feeling about the deal that the WGA is considering, and what concerns do you have that aren’t addressed in it?

WRITER #1: I trust that small gains will be made and a strike will be averted and at this stage of the business that’s all that can really be expected. That is actually a success in 2014.

Related:
Deadline Writers Survey – Question #1
Deadline Writers Survey – Question #2
Deadline Writers Survey – Question #4
Deadline Writers Survey – Question #5

qtwritingWRITER #2: Writers on short-­order shows now find themselves working for half a year or less, stuck on unpaid hiatus for open-­ended periods while waiting to see if their show -­- and their contract -­‐ will be renewed. During this period they are virtually unemployable because studios demand “exclusivity” and “first position,” preventing writers from seeking other work, their ability to make a living cut off.

WRITER #3: I personally don’t have a lot of hope for any kind of decent deal these days. The companies have consolidated so much power and the Writers Guild is a two-tiered union. During the last strike, the super-A-list-high writers (who also function as TV producers on many things) decided that they had enough of the strike and called it (In a secret meeting at Aaron Sorkin’s house!). If we had held out until the actors’ contracts were up and then they joined us, it’s possible we’d be looking at much better splits for streaming, DVD and digital downloads. But if the top of the union doesn’t have the interests of the mid and lower levels in mind then we can’t get anything. So we might get thrown a few scraps, but I don’t think we have the leverage to demand anything significant. Read More »

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Writers Rail As Talks Resume – Second Question In A Deadline Survey

By | Friday March 28, 2014 @ 4:36pm PDT
Mike Fleming

coronaAs talks are about to resume Monday on the final elements that many hope will lead to a new deal for the Writers Guild Of America, we wanted to lend some perspective and give voice to the TV and feature writers whose fortunes will be tied directly to the deal their union makes. This is the second in a quick succession of five questions we asked a panel of 10 writers. Here are their responses, and hopefully other writers will be moved to comment about the issues that worry them most as their work is monetized in this fast-changing digital age.

Related: WGA: Why Gains, Lessons From 2008′s Strike Will Keep Hollywood From Another War

DEADLINE: As a working writer, what is the biggest hardship right now facing you (i.e., one-step deals for feature writers, exclusivity clauses for TV writers), the one that gives you the greatest amount of worry for you and your WGA brethren?

WRITER #1: I think the biggest setback from the strike was one-step deals. One-step deals were a direct result of the strike — a punishment that said “you think you’re in control, we’ll show you how control works.” It’s also a real mistake for studios that has resulted in crash rewrites deep in production and some god-awful movies. The great irony is that the scripts studios routinely praise like Gravity or Inception or Chinatown or Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid all took YEARS and MANY revisions to become the classic films they are today. Some of the biggest blockbusters of all time including Star Wars and Avatar (to name just two) had five- and even 10-year writing periods. The process allowed those films to go through a critical process of treatments and rough drafts to evolve to the great films they are today. The heavy lifting work was done at the writing stage.

Related:
Deadline Writers Survey – Question #1
Deadline Writers Survey – Question #3
Deadline Writers Survey – Question #4
Deadline Writers Survey – Question #5

bfinkBut studios think bottom line numbers — they see one-step deals as providing them with the ability to cut bait when first-draft scripts don’t come in as home runs – but first drafts aren’t going to come in great except in a few rare cases. The scripts that become great films come in good or maybe even very good but not great. Almost all scripts need several drafts to reach the level where they become actually ready to film. The evil secret of one-step deals is that you sell your idea to a studio, you write it, and if a competing project at another studio comes along or a director or star falls out, the studios have a free out. As a result, good movies are dying before they are even really born. The other problem is now studios hire inexpensive writers, get a first draft, confirm that “there is a movie there” and then pay seven figures to someone like me to come in and actually write it and then often someone else during production. The result is that the voice of the original writer — the creator — is severely diluted.

The vast majority of studio screenplay contracts set strict delivery at 90 days. It doesn’t take a NASA scientist to realize that you can’t have that kind of deadline for every script — world creations like Star Wars takes longer than a 90-day romantic comedy? A complex piece like Inception cannot be done in 90 days — no matter who you are — that’s why in the published version of Inception, Chris Nolan talks about the 10 years he spent writing it. The writing process is a complete mystery to studios and executives — they all think they can do it but none of them ever do. This lack of understanding has haunted the film business and the writer-executive relationship since the first days of the film business. I read an interview with a very old screenwriter and he was talking about how things were in the 1940s and what he was saying then is exactly what writers are saying today. Nothing has really changed.

Personally, I simply refuse to make one-step deals. I won’t do it. You teach people how to treat you in life AND particularly in the film business and when you roll back your quotes or steps those slimy, filthy scumbags that work in studio business affairs make a little note of your compromise in their screwing talent ledger.  That note is there when they go to make the next deal with you and they share it with their fellow slimy, filthy, scumbag colleagues at other studios. I simply don’t do it and my representatives say right up front, we will not accept a one-step deal. Read More »

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Writers Rail As Talks Resume – First Question In A Deadline Survey

By | Friday March 28, 2014 @ 3:39pm PDT
Mike Fleming

coronaAs talks are about to resume Monday on the final elements that many hope will lead to a new deal for the Writers Guild Of America, we wanted to lend some perspective and give voice to the TV and feature writers whose fortunes will be tied directly to the deal their union makes. This is the first in a quick succession of five questions we asked a panel of 10 writers. Here are their responses, and hopefully other writers will be moved to comment about the issues that worry them most as their work is monetized in this fast-changing digital age. (Note: Writer #2 didn’t reply to this question.)

Related: WGA: Why Gains, Lessons From 2008′s Strike Will Keep Hollywood From Another War

DEADLINE: How has your ability to make a living improved or deteriorated since the WGA strike and why?

WRITER #1: Directly, I lost at least one job so, for me, that is a loss of over $1 million. I was fortunate to survive the strike without the terrible ramifications that hit many of my friends and colleagues. It deeply impacted a number of my friends. I know writers, talented writers, that had to mortgage their houses or lost their houses because they were not set up for a situation where there was no money coming in month after month. I loaned money to friends during the strike who were really hurting. It was a very hard time for working writers and the ramifications of the strike hurt writers to this day.

Related:
Deadline Writers Survey – Question #2
Deadline Writers Survey – Question #3
Deadline Writers Survey – Question #4
Deadline Writers Survey – Question #5

WRITER #3: I am one of the fortunate few writers to sell a spec script after the strike and use that momentum to get some decent feature and television work.  However, the amount of feature work I got off an incredibly hot script is not nearly what I would’ve expected pre-strike. It allowed me to get on a lot of lists where I could pitch for high-profile assignments. But these were always against multiple writers. I don’t think my career has deteriorated but I also think I’m the exception. In general, the feature market has been horrible post-strike. However, I don’t think this is all a function of the work stoppage. I think a lot of it has to do with new trends in the feature world (no DVD sales for tentpole movies, less studio films, studio obsession with IP over originals, etc.).

bfinkWRITER #4: My ability to make a living has improved since the strike, but I’m in a very fortunate category of the Guild: I’m a TV drama writer. There’s a lot of demand for TV dramas right now, and the strike doesn’t seem to have had any negative impact on that.  If anything, things have gotten better since the strike — there are more outlets, more creative options, more shows, more jobs, and more respect for TV drama writers than there has ever been in the years I’ve been working as a writer/producer in TV.  There might be fewer chances to make a killing, but there are more chances to make a living. Read More »

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WGA: Why Gains, Lessons From 2008′s Strike Will Keep Hollywood From Another War

Editors Note: As talks resume Monday that many hope will lead to a new deal for the Writers Guild Of America, we wanted to lend some perspective and voice to the TV and feature writers whose fortunes will be tied directly to the deal their union makes. The following is a story by preeminent Hollywood labor reporter David Robb that attempts to answer what has been an elusive question: What, exactly did the writers gain from the last strike? After that, we will run five pointed questions from a panel of established and new writers of TV, features and both. They answer anonymously, sometimes provocatively, about the issues that worry them most as their work is monetized in this fast changing digital age. Hopefully other writers can weigh in in the comment thread. — MF 

Related:
Deadline Writers Survey – Question #1
Deadline Writers Survey – Question #2
Deadline Writers Survey – Question #3
Deadline Writers Survey – Question #4
Deadline Writers Survey – Question #5

writersstrikeAs negotiators prepare to return to the bargaining table Monday to resume talks for a new WGA contract, many in the industry who saw the crippling writers strike of 2007-08 as an avoidable debacle worry about the prospect of a repeat of that disastrous walkout. Based on the variables, that concern seems misplaced. While many who suffered the last time still remember the pain and wonder if the writers gained much of anything for all that strife, consider this: The gains in new media won by striking writers six years ago is a major reason it’s all but certain that writers won’t be standing under picket signs this spring.

Related: WGA & AMPTP “Very Close” To New Labor Deal

Nearly all the major issues for a new WGA contract already have been worked out in prior rounds of bargaining, leaving only options and exclusivity to be resolved. These are vitally important issues for writers, and in a philosophical sense some compare them to free agency in baseball that came from the players union and its membership fighting in the courts and on the picket line. Unhappy writers aren’t the most predictable bunch, but producers aren’t seeking any takeaways on these issues. Without any onerous rollbacks to crusade against, the chance of a strike over options and exclusivity is widely viewed as negligible. Expect a deal as soon as next week, with modest gains for writers in these areas.

Related: Why Options & Exclusivity Issue Is So Important To WGA

amptp-wgaAs to the long discussion of whether the writers gained anything else during that strike, I spent years covering showbiz labor unions and have observed you have to look far down the road for the answer. Past writers strikes are like forest fires: They can be very destructive and suffocating, but they’re a necessary mechanism to clear out the old brush — or an antiquated contract that hasn’t kept pace with the rapidly changing way people receive entertainment content. Nearly all past entertainment industry strikes have that one thing in common: They are the result of new technologies and the uncertainty created about the revenue streams they will deliver. Read More »

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WGA West Announces Winners Of TV Writers Diversity Program

By | Monday March 17, 2014 @ 11:49am PDT

WGAWAs it did for feature film scribes in December, the WGAW today announced the 15 winners of its 2014 Writer Access Project honoring diversity in TV writing. The program first launched in 2009 aiming to help diversify TV writers rooms by highlighting writers with TV staffing experience and bring their scripts to the attention of industry figures. Eligible writers had to submit themselves in one of five categories: minority writers, writers with disabilities, women writers, 55-and-over writers, and gay and lesbian writers. “The intention of the Writer Access Project is very simple. It draws the best, experienced writers who, for whatever reason, have not been able to get their material in front of showrunners and lets their work speak for itself. The focus is put on the one thing that truly matters when hiring a writer: the words he or she puts on the page,” said 2014 WAP Drama judge Glen Mazzara (The Walking Dead). In addition to Mazzara this year’s 93 WGA member judges include David Shore (House), Adele Lim (Star Crossed), Graham Yost (Justified), Dawn Prestwich (The Killing), Andre and Maria Jacquemetton (Mad Men), Janine Sherman Barrois (Criminal Minds), Mike Royce (Enlisted), Michael Oates Palmer (Crossbones), and William Martin (Ground Floor). Scroll down for 2014′s honorees:

Related: WGA West Announces Winners Of Diversity Program’s Feature Access Project

Read More »

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Deadline’s Best TV Stories Of The Week

By | Sunday March 16, 2014 @ 5:41pm PDT

Miss Deadline’s top TV stories of the week? Catch up here:

piers1CNN To Test Michael Smerconish, Jake Tapper, Bill Weir & Don Lemon In Piers Morgan’s Time Slot; Morgan’s Last Day March 28
By Lisa DeMoraesEXCLUSIVE: Piers Morgan’s last day hosting Piers Morgan Live will be March 28, after which CNN Worldwide chief Jeff Zucker is going to try out Michael Smerconish as well as Jake Tapper, Bill Weir, and Don Lemon in the time slot for a few weeks, a source with knowledge of the situation tells Deadline.

R.I.P. Comedian David Brenner, Johnny Carson’s Favorite on ‘Tonight Show’
By The Deadline Team – Comedian David Brenner died today at his home in New York, NY. He was 78.

Nick D’Agosto & Andrew Santino To Star In CBS’ ‘HIMYM’ Spinoff ‘How I Met Your Dad’
By Nellie AndreevaMasters of Sex‘s Nick D’Agosto and Mixology‘s Andrew Santino have been cast as leads alongside Greta Gerwig, Drew Tarver and Krysta Rodriguez in CBS’ comedy pilot How I Met Your Dad, rounding out the How I Met Your Mother spinoff’s primary cast. Read More »

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Ex-WGA West Leader Patric Verrone Eyeing California State Senate Seat With ‘I Won The Strike’ Boast

By | Saturday March 15, 2014 @ 5:49pm PDT

Former WGA West President Patric VerroneFormer WGA-President Patric M. Verrone, 54, disclosed today in a letter to his fellow writers that he is running for the California State Senate. He is one of six Democratic candidates who are looking to succeed Democrat State Senator Ted Lieu, who is running for the seat vacated by Representative Henry Waxman. Verrone is a 27-year Pacific Palisades resident in the northern 26th District which runs on the coastline starting in Palo Verdes and includes Beverly Hills, West Hollywood and part of Hollywood. His campaign is centered around a theme of preserving the middle class dream here in the state, maintaining and creating quality jobs, better schools and affordable colleges. Verrone won back-to-back terms as WGA West president in 2005 and 2007 and was blocked by guild rules from seeking a third term in 2009.  He lost a 2011 bid for presidency to Christopher Keyser. Verrone mentioned that today was one of the most important days of his life, including “the day we won the writer’s strike” in his note per Variety. “As president of the Writers Guild of America, West, I did what I believe every elected leader should do. I fought for what matters, led a struggle to save thousands of good jobs, and won.”  Many of those in the industry feel that the 2007-08 WGA strike set the film and TV production business back significantly, accomplishing very little for the writers at large.
Related: WGA Negotiations Impasse Read More »

Comments 59

WGA Negotiations Impasse: Why Options & Exclusivity Issue Is So Important To Writers

By | Friday March 14, 2014 @ 2:21pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Issues faced by TV writers again are the sticking point in the WGA negotiations amptp-wgawith the studios. In 2007, when the impasse led to a writers strike, it was residuals from series distributed online. This time around, it is the restrictive contracts for writers working in cable and on digital platforms. Under pattern bargaining, the deal between the WGA and AMPTP was expected to be similar to the recent DGA agreement with the studios with two writer-specific issues brought to the table by WGA — parity between cable and broadcast pay and the notion of exclusively and options. One of the two seem to have been resolved. “Every aspect of our contract has been negotiated and agreed upon with two exceptions — options and exclusivity — which remain points of contention between us,” negotiating committee co-chairs Chip Johannessen and Billy Ray wrote to their constituency last night. What are options and exclusivity, why are they so important to writers and what do writers seek to accomplish on them ?

While the number of scripted cable series at the time of the 2007 negotiations was a fraction of the number of such shows on broadcast, there is now parity between the two, with cable and digital scripted programming gaining an edge with rapid expansion. For instance, during calendar year 2013, broadcast networks introduced 23 new series, while cable/digital debuted almost 40, not counting kids fare. That means that soon there may be more writers working in cable and digital than in broadcast, all of them facing the underemployment problem that is at the heart of the current WGA-AMPTP stand-off.

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What has been hailed as major part of the lure of cable as a superior creative environment — shorter orders — has become a major practical problem for writers. As Johannessen and Ray pointed out in their letter, broadcast dramas employ writers for 10 months a year to produce 22 episodes, followed by a two-month unpaid hiatus before writers start work on the following season. In cable/digital, 10-13 episodes a season is the norm, though shorter orders — as few as eight or even six (HBO’s Getting On) — also are accepted.

writers_room_middle“Writers on short-order shows now find themselves working for half a year or less, then stuck on unpaid hiatus for open-ended periods while waiting to see if their show — and their contract — will be renewed,” Johannessen and Ray wrote. According to a standard cable contract, because of the long lag time between seasons, shows have an option on a writer for up to six months after the previous season finale airs or up to 9 months after the season premiere. During that time, they are not getting paid. What’s more, “during this period they are virtually unemployable because studios demand ‘exclusivity’ and ‘first position,’ preventing writers from seeking other work, their ability to make a living cut off,” the letter said. That often involves not only inability to staff on another show, but also write a pilot or work as a producer on one, and, in some cases, even write a feature. The exclusivity is strictly enforced by many studios, and any side gig usually requires an exhaustive process of seeking the studio’s permission, which may or may not be granted. Read More »

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No WGA Deal Yet, Talks Set To Resume On March 31

By | Thursday March 13, 2014 @ 6:12pm PDT

wga-logo__140128204911__140131020047__140205212542__140306212740After less than a week back at the negotiating table, the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and TV Producers have almost reached an agreement on a new 3-year contract. “Almost” being the operative word. “Last week we concluded our second round of contract talks with the AMPTP,” said Negotiating Committee Co-Chairs Chip Johannessen and Billy Ray and WGA West President Chris Keyser in a message (see below) to members today. “Every aspect of our contract has been negotiated and agreed upon with two exceptions — options and exclusivity — which remain points of contention between us.” Letting everyone in the room take a deep breath, the WGA and AMPTP now are going to take the second break of their contract talks. The two sides will come back together on March 31 and April 1 for one final session to try to reach a conclusive deal.

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