A group of 150 current and recent writers, producers, and associate producers working at reality TV producer Sharp Entertainment filed today for an National Labor Relations Board election to join the Writers Guild of America East. They seek to establish basic standards including health care, minimum rates, overtime compensation, grievance procedures, and fair credits. The union-seekers are staffers at Sharp’s Pawn Stars, Doomsday Preppers, Fatal Encounters and other programs. Sharp’s hit nonfiction shows include Property Wars and Man Vs. Food. “We’ve come to see union representation and collective bargaining, both at Sharp Entertainment and throughout the industry, as our best chance at building sustainable careers. [A] strong majority of producers and APs working at Sharp Entertainment have now signed union cards designating the WGAE as our collective bargaining agent,” organizers wrote in an open letter.
Related: 2013 WGAW Awards Announce Talent
The 8 PM ET East Coast ceremony will be held tonight at NYC’s B.B. King Blues Jazz Club to honor outstanding achievement in writing in film, television, radio, new media, and other awards categories. The WGAE will also present several honorary and service award. The annual East Coast nominees, honorees and presenters include actor and award ceremony host Richard Kind, Girls’ Lena Dunham and Alex Karpovsky, Louie’s Louis C.K., Boardwalk Empire’s Bobby Cannavale, Beasts Of The Southern Wild writer Lucy Alibar, Bored To Death writer Jonathan Ames, The Simpsons’ Mike Reiss, actress Gina Gershon, Sesame Street’s Sonia Manzano, Life Of Pi writer David Magee, Minority Report writer Scott Frank, CBS Sunday Morning’s Nancy Giles, Not Fade Away actress Lisa Lampanelli, comedian W. Kamau Bell, Sleepwalk With Me’s Mike Birbiglia, as well as writers from television shows Saturday Night Live, The Daily Show and The Colbert Report.
Lion Television and Optomen Productions have become the first non-fiction TV producers to offer writer-producers company-paid health benefits, paid time off, grievance and arbitration provisions, and compensation minimums, according to WGA East. The collective bargaining agreements come after WGAE landed Lion in May 2011 and Optomen in August 2011, and guild brass are calling them first-of-their-kind agreements for the reality industry. “We are very pleased to have reached agreement with Lion and Optomen,” WGAE executive director Lowell Peterson said in announcing the deal. “This is a part of the television industry that has historically been non-union, and these agreements demonstrate that people who join with the WGAE get, not just a community of creative professionals, but tangible improvements in their working conditions.” WGAE says it remains in negotiations with non-fiction TV producer Atlas Media after it voted to join up, and it will begin talks with a fourth, ITV Studios, when the National Labor Relations Board resolves an appeal.
WGA Awards: ‘The Descendants’, Woody Allen, ‘Breaking Bad’, ‘Modern Family’, ‘Homeland’, ‘Colbert Report’, ‘Cinema Verite’, ‘Too Big To Fail’
BREAKING… Refresh for latest…
Los Angeles and New York – The Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) and the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) are announcing the winners for outstanding achievement in writing for the screen during 2011. Winners will be honored at the 2012 Writers Guild Awards tonight during simultaneous ceremonies at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles and at B.B. King Blues Club in New York City. Woody Allen won Original Screenplay for his Midnight In Paris. UPDATE: His sister and producer Letty Aronson accepted on his behalf at the WGAE event.
The Descendants won Adapted Screenplay for Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash. All three took the stage at the WGAW event. “I wrote some funny lines for the woman in the coma that Nat and Alexander didn’t like,” said Rash.
Faxon recognized The Groundlings improv theater for fostering his talent. Payne directed his acknowledgement to The Descendants author Kaui Hart Hemmings who was sitting in the audience: “Nice thing about doing adaptation is inhabiting a story that we never lived in. Thank you to the novelists for letting us in your life.”
Breaking Bad‘s Vince Gilligan accepted the television Drama Series honor saying, “We wouldn’t have a show without Bryan Cranston.”
The writers of Modern Family won for Comedy Series, and Steven Levitan exclaimed, “We are concerned that people are sick of us [winning]. Perhaps you can focus your backlash elsewhere. As such, we asked our writers to each say why they don”t feel like winners tonight.” At which point a number of Modern Family scribes described their deepest regrets:
“I worry about the future happiness of my children, particularly the fat one.”
“I write a show about relationships, half my money goes to my first wife, the other goes to the second.”
“I have 2 years left in this business, especially after they find out my real age.”
Levitan capped off, “I created the show Stacked and have to live with that.”
Actress and comedienne Rachel Dratch hosted the East Coast WGA show. At the start of the LA event, a who’s who of the film and TV industry arrived. ”Welcome to Nerd Prom,” host Zooey Deschanel greeted the guests. “Male writers, you are so hot with your minds and plaid shirts. Hit on me.” She closed the show by saying, “To all the writers who brought their parents, I hope this is enough to convince them you have real jobs.”
Soon after Deschanel closed the show by saying. “To all the writers who brought
their parents, I hope this is enough to convince them you have real jobs.”
Presenters included Tom Selleck, Lisa Kudrow, Mad Men creator Matt Weiner, Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry. In front seats are Luck creator David Milch, Oscar-nominated writer John Logan also up for a WGA nom for adapted screenplay of Hugo, Mission: Impossible 4 director Brad Bird, and Young Adult star Patton Oswalt fresh from his hosting duties last night at the ACE Eddie Awards. And Deadline Hollywood got a shout-out.
“Get ready for a bunch of F-bombs: it’s the Children’s Episodic Award” said Deschanel introducing the pair of presenters of the award, “Mad Men” Creator Matt Weiner and the show’s child star Kiernan Shipka. Shipka told Weiner that she wants to “sink her teeth into meatier roles,” and then killed the crowd with Faye Dunaway’s “No wire hangers EVER” monologue from Mommie Dearest. After she ended the speech to laughter and applause, Weiner remarked to her, ”Where were you when I was on Becker?”
Amy Poehler from Parks and Recreation and the show’s creator Michael Schur, presented comedy variety series. The two, who met on SNL, recalled their ‘woeful’ writing experiences there — how they spent hours doing Lorne Michaels imitations and crying how their parents never respected their life decesions.
The Honorary Service – Morgan Cox Award went to Patric M. Verrone. “I don’t need to tell you who he is,” said Michael Reiss of The Simpsons writing staff. “Pat is a 2-time WGA president. Thanks to him, he got me in the union, a health pension, and a copy of Written By which I read from the mailbox to the trash can. He is a gifted artist and goes to church every Sunday. Which is more than you creeps.” Best known as the leader during the WGA strike, Reiss noted how Verrone “looks like Hitler”. Verrone picked up on the joke during his acceptance speech. ”I want to thank the anonymous commentators on Deadline Hollywood who compared me to Hitler,” Verrone said. “To them I want to say – well, I don’t want to say.”
The Help screenwriter-director Tate Taylor accepted the Special Achievement - Paul Selvin Award and politely spoke out against those naysayers who criticized him and The Help book author Kathryn Stocket –
two white people — for writing a story about the African American experience of 1963. “It is a person’s right to tell a story,” said Taylor. “The Help was directed at those women in our lives. My desire to write The Help, came from my love of Carol Lee, the [African American] woman who helped raise me with my broke mother. I wrote The Help for them. When someone writes from love, truth, and honor, they have a right to tell a story. We lose if we give into society’s criticisms.”
Prior to Eric Roth receiving the Laurel Award For Screen, presented to him by Milch, a personal video clip from David Fincher played. ”I think it is important to keep Eric Roth focused on the conversation at hand. He’s a procrastinator like no other. Eric, if it is wrong for a man to love another man than I have nothing right to say to you in winning this award.” In accepting the award, Eric Roth recalled the last time he came to the Palladium: ”It was for a strike meeting. My car was stolen, and there was the screenplay that I had just written left in it… When the car was recovered, the cops said it was used in a bank robbery. All the stuff was stolen out of my car except for that screenplay. There was a note left onot from the robbers that said, ’Characters can be stronger’.”
Following a thirtysomething clip, Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick accepted the Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award For Television and warmly recalled the joys of writing together, having first worked on the ABC show Family. Herskovitz reflected, ”When you are a 27, you can’t imagine a career. And at 57 you can’t remember it.” Zwick said, “There’s a lot to be said about writing with someone else. It has allowed us to do together what we are afraid to do alone.”
MOTION PICTURE WINNERS
Midnight in Paris, Written by Woody Allen (Sony Pictures Classics)
The Descendants, Screenplay by Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash; Based on the novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings (Fox Searchlight)
Better This World, Written by Katie Galloway & Kelly Duane de la Vega (Loteria Films)
Breaking Bad, Written by Sam Catlin, Vince Gilligan, Peter Gould, Gennifer Hutchison, George Mastras, Thomas Schnauz, Moira Walley-Beckett (AMC)
Modern Family, Written by Cindy Chupack, Paul Corrigan, Abraham Higginbotham, Ben Karlin, Elaine Ko, Carol Leifer, Steven Levitan, Christopher Lloyd, Dan O’Shannon, Jeffrey Richman, Brad Walsh, Ilana Wernick, Bill Wrubel, Danny Zuker (ABC)
(TIE) “Box Cutter” (Breaking Bad), Written by Vince Gilligan (AMC)
(TIE) “The Good Soldier” (Homeland), Written by Henry Bromell (Showtime)
“Caught in the Act” (Modern Family), Written by Steven Levitan & Jeffrey Richman (ABC)
Homeland – Written by Henry Bromell, Alexander Cary, Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon, Chip Johannessen, Gideon Raff, Meredith Stiehm (Showtime)
Good pre-holiday news for the 7 staff writers on the TBS comedy series Tyler Perry’s House Of Payne. The Writers Guild of America, East has negotiated a new collective bargaining agreement with the series’ producer Tyler Perry Studios. The new contract, a side letter to the Minimum Basic Agreement covering the major studios and networks, increases weekly minimum weekly salaries by 15% and the minimum payments writers receive for scripts by 20%. Because residuals are based on script minimums, residuals payments will also increase 20%. The new minimums increase by the MBA formula (2%) in May 2012 and May 2013, as well. The new agreement was reached under circumstances far less dramatic than those preceding the first deal between Perry and WGA in 2008, which followed more than five months of negotiations and protests by some writers who claimed that they were terminated by Perry over their unionization efforts. The writers’ actions included picketing the opening ceremony of Perry’s studio facility in Atlanta.
New York and Los Angeles – The Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) and Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) today announced a joint call for submissions for the second annual WGA New Media Writing Awards. Submissions will be accepted beginning September 19, 2011, through November 18, 2011. WGA New Media Writing Award nominees will be announced on January 11, 2012, along with Videogame Writing Award nominees. Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Writing Original New Media and Outstanding Achievement in Writing Derivative New Media will be presented at the upcoming 2012 Writers Guild Awards to be held on Sunday, February 19, 2012 at simultaneous ceremonies in Los Angeles and New York City.
New York– A National Labor Relations Board judge has issued a decision to certify the results of last December’s election making the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) the Union representing employees of ITV Studios in New York. The WGAE has called upon the production company to honor the ruling and begin immediate contract negotiations. The Administrative Law Judge handed down his decision upholding the election results late last week, ending more than nine months of legal foot dragging by the company. The UK-owned ITV Studios is responsible for the nonfiction hit “Buried Treasure” for Fox and are in production on the U.S. version of the hit crime series “Prime Suspect.”
“We urge ITV Studios to recognize the election results and join us at the negotiating table immediately. The judge’s decision makes clear what we have all known since last year, that the WGAE represents the employees who write the company’s shows,” Lowell Peterson, Executive Director, WGAE said. “It would be in everyone’s best interest for ITV to start addressing employee concerns, such as paid healthcare and pensions, instead of continuing a futile effort to delay the election results and prevent the collective bargaining process from moving forward.”
Employees who write and produce nonfiction television shows including Monsters Inside Me, Samantha Brown’s Great Weekends and Worst Cooks in America for the production company Optomen Television have voted to be represented by the Writers Guild of America, East. Staff at three other nonfiction TV production companies have already voted for Guild representation. First contract negotiations at two of the companies, Atlas Media and Lion Television are set to begin on Thursday and Monday, respectively.
The National Labor Relations Board has issued a formal complaint against ITV Studios, the company behind such TV series as The First 48 and Four Weddings, charging that it wrongfully terminated a longtime producer for his support of the WGA East’s efforts to organize its employees. A hearing on the matter is expected sometime in July. “We are pleased the NLRB is pursuing this case. No one should be fired for supporting a union and seeking a voice on the job,” WGAE executive director Lowell Peterson said. “While the NLRB’s decision is good news, ITV continues to ignore its employees’ vote for guild representation. We urge ITV to reinstate the employee and to come to the bargaining table so we can negotiate a fair and equitable contract for all the employees who do the work that makes the company successful.” Employees at ITV Studios voted in December to join the WGAE as part of the union’s push to organize nonfiction TV writers; the vote, involving about 80 writers, has yet to be certified. The NLRB conducted a three-month investigation before filing its complaint. The board previously sided with the union in cases against Atlas Media (Biography) and Lion Television (Cash Cab).
NEW YORK CITY (June 16, 2011) – The Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) announced the nominees for its Council (order determined by lot) today. The term is for two years from 2011-2013. Michael Winship is running unopposed for President. There are two candidates running for Vice President: Jeremy Pikser and Matt Nelko. Bob Schneider is running unopposed for Secretary-Treasurer.
In addition to the positions of Guild officers, there are nine open Council seats (six Freelance seats and three Staff seats) in this election. The 14 candidates for the six open Freelance seats are: Robert Levi, Leslie Nipkow, Henry Bean, Tom Jennings, Bernardo Ruiz, Elliott Kalan, Daryn Strauss, Courtney Simon, Bonnie Datt, Michael Kantor, Richard Vetere, Susan Kim, Jenny Lumet, and John Marshall. The four candidates for the three open Staff seats are: Gail Lee, Duane Tollison, Sue Brown McCann, and Phil Pilato.
The WGAE annual membership meeting is scheduled for September 15, 2011.
UPDATE: Today’s statement by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers:
“Ratification of the new agreement between the AMPTP and the Writers Guild of America is a significant achievement for both parties and an important milestone for the industry. Taking into account the agreement reached with the WGA, the industry has now successfully concluded an agreement with each of the major Guilds over the past six months. Taken together, these agreements will give the industry an opportunity for a sustained period of labor peace.”
To Our Fellow Members:
We are pleased to announce that our joint memberships have ratified our new contract with the AMPTP by an overwhelming majority. With a total of 1,952 valid ballots cast, 90.7 percent voted in favor of ratification. The term of the new deal is from May 2, 2011 through May 1, 2014. We move forward knowing that the significant gains we made in employer contributions to our pension plan better enable it to meet its obligations for the foreseeable future and that we’ve secured increases for reuse payments in Pay TV and increases in minimums.
According to a joint statement from the Writers Guilds of America West and East and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, issued today, negotiations on on a new Theatrical/TV contract begin on Thursday, March 3rd. The Guilds and the AMPTP claim they will not be commenting further at this time. President John Wells, Executive Director David Young, Negotiating Committee Co-Chairs John Bowman and Billy Ray, and others will go up against the AMPTP’s Carol Lombardini. I’ll have an analysis before then.
Members of the Writers Guild of America, West and the Writers Guild of America, East have given their overwhelming approval to the Pattern of Demands for the 2011 Minimum Basic Agreement (MBA) negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) and major television networks.
A total of 2,021 valid ballots were cast in Los Angeles and New York with 1,951 (97%) writers approving the pattern.
“Our thanks to those who voted so strongly in favor, affirming the relevance and importance of the issues outlined in our pattern of demands,” said WGAW President John Wells and WGAE President Michael Winship. “This overwhelming support from our joint membership is a powerful mandate for our negotiating committee as it moves forward toward the next MBA.”
Writers Guild East Sets Awards Roster; ‘Bourne’ Scribe Tony Gilroy To Present Dad Frank Gilroy Lifetime Achievement
NEW YORK CITY – Television, film, stage, and news headliners are set to take the stage for the 2011 Writers Guild of America Awards ceremony in New York City. Kristen Schaal (The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Flight of the Conchords) will host the 63rd annual Writers Guild Awards in New York City on Saturday, February 5, 2011 at the AXA Equitable Center.
Award presenters include: Kathleen Turner, John Larroquette, Donnie Wahlberg, Judah Friedlander, Merritt Wever, Vincent Piazza, Gretchen Mol, Erica Slezak, Matthew Settle, John Hodgman, John Waters, Peter Riegert, Marshall Brickman, Jenny Lumet, and Chris Wragge. Additional presenters are expected to be added to the line-up.
* Tony Gilroy will present his father Frank Gilroy with the Hunter Award for Lifetime Achievement in Writing.
* The Television Academy Foundation’s Archive of American Television will receive the Burkey Award for contributions that have brought honor and dignity to writers.
* Marianne Pryor will receive the Jablow Award for devoted service to the Guild.
The 63rd annual Writers Guild Awards will take place on Saturday, February 5, 2011 in New York City at the AXA Equitable Center and simultaneously in Los Angeles at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel-Grand Ballroom.
UPDATE: Insiders are telling me that, contrary to this WGAE announcement (below), the WGA has not won this election — yet. One of my sources says, “Both sides are a long way from being in a position to legitimately claim a victory. A number of votes have been challenged by either LionTV or the WGA, thus they have not yet been counted. There will be a process in which the NLRB will decide which of these challenged votes to allow and which to reject. This process will take 2-3 months, at a minimum.”
When I asked the WGAE about the above, a spokeswoman emailed back: “The WGAE has won the vote — but the NLRB has not yet certified the election. That is common. Certification always comes after. There are several vote challenges. As part of its anti-union strategy, LionTV has been manipulating the voter list for several months and is now challenging some votes for reasons such as unreadable signatures. This tactic is a delaying tactic and one that is also meant to disenfranchise unit members. The WGAE did challenge votes from people, we believe, were not eligible to vote but were put on the list by Lion TV. These people include interns, supervisors, and people working offsite and not part of the bargaining unit. While we are challenging these votes, we do not believe our challenges will change the outcome of the election – that
Lion TV writers and producers have voted to join the WGAE.”
Here is the …
Los Angeles and New York – The Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) and the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) have announced nominations for outstanding achievement in writing for the screen during 2010. Winners will be honored at the 2011 Writers Guild Awards held on Saturday, February 5, 2011, at simultaneous ceremonies in Los Angeles and New York.
Black Swan, Screenplay by Mark Heyman and Andres Heinz and John McLaughlin; Story by Andres Heinz; Fox Searchlight
The Fighter, Screenplay by Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson; Story by Keith Dorrington & Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson; Paramount Pictures
Inception, Written by Christopher Nolan; Warner Bros.
The Kids Are All Right, Written by Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg; Focus Features
Please Give, Written by Nicole Holofcener; Sony Pictures Classics
127 Hours, Screenplay by Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy; Based on the book Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Aron Ralston; Fox Searchlight
I Love You Phillip Morris, Written by John Requa & Glenn Ficarra; Based on the book by Steven McVicker; Roadside Attractions
The Social Network, Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin; Based on the book The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich; Sony Pictures
The Town, Screenplay by Peter Craig and Ben Affleck & Aaron Stockard; Based on the novel Prince of Thieves by Chuck Hogan; Warner Bros.
True Grit, Screenplay by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen; Based on the novel by Charles Portis; Paramount Pictures
Enemies of the People, Written, Directed, Filmed and Produced
The Writers Guild of America West and East have sent out a “Wish List” summation of their goals for the upcoming negotiations with the major studios. Here is the missive sent to membership:
To Our Fellow Members,
Approval of a Pattern of Demands is a constitutionally-required step as we prepare to negotiate a new Minimum Basic Agreement (the current contract expires on May 1, 2011). The Pattern does not detail specific proposals that will be made during negotiations but is designed to inform the memberships of our two Guilds of the general objectives we will pursue.
We are writing to ask for your support in the form of a YES vote in favor of the enclosed Pattern of Demands. This Pattern comes to you unanimously recommended by our Negotiating Committee and is presented for membership approval by the WGA West’s Board and the WGA East’s Council.
Your sacrifices during the last negotiation and the WGA’s 100-day strike led to historic advances in the areas of new media residuals and jurisdiction over writing for new media. While there is no such single galvanizing issue in the current negotiation cycle, this does not mean there is a lack of important objectives to be achieved in the upcoming negotiations. The new MBA must address the long term financial stability of the WGA Pension Plan and Health Fund, provide increases in our wages and improve working conditions. These objectives, and a number of others, are reflected in the enclosed Pattern.
The Pattern of Demands is the result of