WGA Makes “Significant Move” For Deal With ATA – But Not On Key Issues Of Packaging And Producing

Read on: Deadline.

The WGA says it has made a “significant move” toward reaching a deal with the Association of Talent Agents for a new franchise agreement. The move comes ahead of the two sides returning to the bargaining table Thursday.
“It is our hope that this signif…

WGA West Set to Develop ‘Mission Statement’ to Address Sexual Harassment, Discrimination

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

The Writers Guild of America West Leadership is developing a mission statement on how to address sexual harassment and discrimination.

The labor union sent a letter to its members on Tuesday in which they said: “We are determined that not only member rights, but also member responsibilities, be clearly defined. It is also imperative that we address what so many of us perceive as an insufficient response on the part of studios and agencies.”

The WGA West went on to state that they are developing a “mission statement and a list of specific initiatives to address sexual harassment and the discrimination that goes hand in hand with it.”

Also Read: Harvey Weinstein Fires Back at Peter Jackson Over Ashley Judd, Mira Sorvino Blacklisting (Update)

In the meantime, members are encouraged to contact the Guild if they have any issues. “One thing our members have made clear is that it is difficult to know whom to contact when experiencing or witnessing harassment,” the letter said. “Sometimes it is unclear whether the problem requires a legal intervention. Sometimes a member needs to know if the union can provide support in an issue with an employer.”

Also Read: TJ Miller’s ‘The Gorburger Show’ Canceled by Comedy Central

The letter was signed by president David A. Goodman, VP Marjorie David and secretary treasurer Aaron Mendelsohn.

It also stated that a “Board subcommittee has been meeting regularly to decide on further actions we can take.”  The subcommittee’s members include: John August, Andrea Berloff, Angelina Burnett, Patti Carr, Zoanne Clack, Marjorie David, Courtney Ellinger, Glen Mazzara, Michele Mulroney, and Nicole Yorkin.

Read the letter in full below.

Dear Fellow Member,

Before everyone disperses for the holidays, we want to give you an update on work the board has been doing with regard to sexual harassment.

Helpful information on your rights is now available on the website here.

A Board subcommittee has been meeting regularly to decide on further actions we can take, its members are: John August, Andrea Berloff, Angelina Burnett, Patti Carr, Zoanne Clack, Marjorie David, Courtney Ellinger, Glen Mazzara, Michele Mulroney, and Nicole Yorkin.

We are determined that not only member rights, but also member responsibilities, be clearly defined. It is also imperative that we address what so many of us perceive as an insufficient response on the part of studios and agencies.

We are developing a mission statement and a list of specific initiatives to address sexual harassment and the discrimination that goes hand in hand with it. You will be hearing the results of this process, along with specific proposals, early in the new year. Please bear with us. We know there is work to be done, but we must be ever mindful of the regulations that govern us, and nothing can be adopted without careful vetting.

In the meantime, do not hesitate to contact the Guild.  One thing our members have made clear is that it is difficult to know whom to contact when experiencing or witnessing harassment. Sometimes it is unclear whether the problem requires a legal intervention. Sometimes a member needs to know if the union can provide support in an issue with an employer. To that end, Latifah Salom has been assigned to help members find the right staff member to contact. She can be reached at 323-782-4521 or lsalom@wga.org. Don’t hesitate to call or write.

Finally, as we move ahead, the subcommittee, David Young and our staff are consulting with WGAE as well as SAG-AFTRA, the DGA and other groups, including the Commission on Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace, headed by Anita Hill, on initiatives that can be adopted throughout the industry.

We look forward to sharing more with you in January.

Thanks,

David A. Goodman, President
Marjorie David, Vice President
Aaron Mendelsohn, Secretary-Treasurer

Related stories from TheWrap:

Meryl Streep Answers Rose McGowan’s Slam Over Harvey Weinstein: ‘It Hurt’

BBC Commissions ‘Definitive’ Harvey Weinstein Scandal Documentary

Jason Priestley Says He Punched Harvey Weinstein at a Golden Globes Party in the ’90s

Bob Iger, Kathleen Kennedy Form Hollywood Sexual Misconduct Commission Chaired by Anita Hill

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Hollywood top executives — including Disney CEO Bob Iger, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy and WME’s Ari Emanuel — have formed and are funding a special commission to combat sexual misconduct in the industry.

The commission is chaired by Anita Hill, who made headlines with sexual harassment accusations against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas during Thomas’ confirmation hearings in the early 1990s.

“We will be focusing on issues ranging from power disparity, equity and fairness, safety, sexual harassment guidelines, education and training, reporting and enforcement, ongoing research, and data collection,” said Ms. Hill in a late Friday statement. “It is time to end the culture of silence. I’ve been at this work for 26 years. This moment presents us with an unprecedented opportunity to make real change.”

Also Read: Did Minnie Driver Drag Matt Damon Over Sexual Misconduct Comments?

Dubbed The Commission on Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace, it also includes members Bryan Lourd, Co- Chairman, Creative Artists Agency; Jeff Shell, Chairman, Universal Filmed Entertainment Group; Jim Gianopulos, Chairman/CEO, Paramount; Leslie Moonves, Chairman/CEO. CBS Corp.; Carol Lombardini, President, Alliance Motion Picture and Television Producers; and Chris Silbermann, Founding Partner, ICM Partners, among others. (See full list below). 

The Commission aims to “lead the entertainment industry toward alignment in achieving safer, fairer, more equitable and accountable workplaces — particularly for women and marginalized people,” according to a statement obtained by TheWrap. The goal is “to tackle the broad culture of abuse and power disparity.”

“The Commission will not seek just one solution, but a comprehensive strategy to address the complex and inter-related causes of the problems of parity and power,” Kennedy said. “The fact that so many industry leaders–across film, television, music, digital, unions, agencies, ATA, AMPAS, television academy and guilds–came together, in one room, to explore solutions speaks to a new era.”

Also Read: Warner Bros. Records EVP Jeff Fenster to Be Disciplined Over Sexual Misconduct Accusation (Report)

The commission will reconvene immediately after the first of the year.

In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein sexual misconduct scandal, women and men alike have been more vocal about speaking out against unwanted sexual advances and contact. And Hollywood and media figures have been at the center of the storm of news coverage for several weeks, now. The accusations have been many, and the reaction and fallout has been swift across the industry.

See the full list of committee members here:

Ari Emanuel, Co-Chair, William Morris Endeavor; Bob Iger, Chairman/CEO, Disney; Bryan Lourd, Co-Chairman, Creative Artists Agency; Carol Lombardini, President, Alliance Motion Picture and Television Producers; Chris Silbermann, Founding Partner, ICM Partners; David Young, Executive Director, Writers Guild of America; Dawn Hudson, CEO, Academy Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences; Gabrielle Carteris, President, Screen Actors Guild / AFTRA; Jeff Blackburn, SVP Business Development, Amazon; Jeff Shell, Chairman, Universal Filmed Entertainment Group; Jeremy Zimmer, CEO, United Talent Agency; Jim Gianopulos, Chairman/CEO, Paramount; Karen Stuart, Executive Director, Association of Talent Agents; Kevin Tsujihara, Chairman/CEO, Warner Bros; Maury McIntyre, President/COO, Television Academy; Mike Miller, 4th International VP/Dept. Director, Motion Picture & TV Production/IATSE; Russ Hollander, Executive Director, Directors Guild of America; Sir Lucian Grainge, Chairman/CEO, Universal Music Group; Susan Sprung, Associate Executive Director, Producers Guild of America; Ted Sarandos, Chief Content Officer, Netflix; Tony Vinciquerra, Chairman/CEO, Sony; Julie Greenwald, Chairman/COO, Atlantic Records; Leslie Moonves, Chairman/CEO. CBS Corp., Neil Portnow, President, Recording Academy NARAS.   

Related stories from TheWrap:

Tavis Smiley Dropped by Live Entertainment Producer Amid Sexual Misconduct Allegations

Matt Damon’s Take on Sexual Misconduct Gets Twitter Riled Up: ‘Extremely Disappointed’

Mario Batali Out at ‘The Chew’ After Review of Sexual Misconduct Accusations Against Him

What’s at Stake If Hollywood Writers Strike: Late Night, Scripted TV, Time Warner Deal

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

A billion-dollar merger, a devastating TV ratings drop and hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake as a writers’ strike looms if the Writers Guild of America cannot negotiate a new contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers when the current pact expires at midnight on May 1.

Lest you forget, the 100-day strike in 2007 resulted in the loss of 25 percent of primetime scripted programming for the 2007-08 broadcast season, according to a letter sent to shareholders from the WGA, and at least $380 million in losses (some reports even say the losses were up to $2.1 billion).

Movies like “X-Men: Origins: Wolverine” and “Transformers: The Revenge of the Fallen” were affected, while TV series like “30 Rock” and “ER” had fewer episodes.

Also Read: WGA Contract Negotiations With AMPTP to Resume Monday

Contract negotiations between the two sides over the weekend and many expect that it will go down to the wire — and possibly extend beyond the deadline.

The writers’ union voted last month to authorize a strike should its negotiating team fail to reach a deal with the AMPTP.

So what would be the impact of a strike should the WGA call for one? Well, all writing for television, feature films and digital series would come to an immediate stop. TheWrap breaks down the impact below.

1. Late Night Shows

The first shows impacted are likely to be late-night staples like “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” “The Daily Show,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” “Saturday Night Live.” And with the influx of cable offerings, there are many more late-night shows now than a decade ago.

Some shows could get by with more interviews and musical guests — but scripted skits or monologues would be limited to jokes written and performed by the host — or by writers willing to cross a picket line.

2. Daytime Soap Operas

More than half of the network daytime dramas have been canceled since the last writers strike, but the four that remain — NBC’s “Days of Our Lives,” ABC’s “General Hospital,” and CBS’ “The Young and the Restless” and “The Bold and the Beautiful” — all depend on writers cranking out scripts on a nearly constant basis.

In 2007-08, the soaps relied on so-called “financial core” writers to cross the picket line, the New York Times wrote at the time, and those scribes were joined by assistant directors, errand runners and others working off each show’s story “bible.”

The impact this year would vary. “Days of Our Lives” typically films as much as six months in advance, while other soaps work as little as three weeks ahead of air date.

Also Read: Here Is the List of Demands From the WGA as Writers’ Strike Looms

3. Fall TV Shows – and the Start of the New Season

New seasons of many scripted shows like HBO’s “Game of Thrones” and Netflix’s “Stranger Things” have already been banked or are well into production and can finish without additional rewrites. But writers typically begin their work in May or June for the fall broadcast season, so a strike would delay the start of work and could postpone the fall premieres.

If a strike were to drag on,  networks and producers may scale back the number of episodes for the season as they did in 2007-08.

4. Reruns, Sports and Reality Shows

In the absence of new programming, networks may have to rely on reruns and unscripted reality show to fill out their schedules.

That may give an advantage to networks like CBS that has lots of procedural shows like “NCIS” and “Hawaii 5-0” that are more easily repeatable than episodic shows like ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy.”

Also Read: Writers Guild to AT&T: If We Strike, Shareholders Will Suffer

5. Ratings

According to a letter sent by the WGA to the shareholders of the AT&T/Time Warner merger, the 100-day strike in November 2007 resulted “in the loss of almost 25 percent of primetime scripted programming for the 2007-2008 broadcast season. During the strike, the broadcast networks quickly ran out of new episodes to air and were forced to air reruns and increased amounts of reality programming.”

The letter added, “During the three months most affected by the strike, the major broadcast networks’ ratings declined, on average, by double digits compared to the same period in 2007. The strike-impacted ratings forced NBC to return money to advertisers rather than offer make-goods.”

The WGA believes the ratings would see a similar affect this year.

6. Feature Films

Feature films require a much longer lead time than TV, but even studio product could be impacted if a strike drags on. Studios will be unable to order routine script rewrites and polishes and might have to settle with an early draft that they didn’t intend to be the final one.
According to the Los Angeles Times, when the 2007 strike loomed, almost every studio rushed to lock down finished scripts, and almost every studio had at least two films on the schedule that had trouble meeting the accelerated deadline.

Fox, for example, issued an “urgent SOS to the major agencies looking for a quick rewrite person” to get the script for “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” into shape so that the film could start shooting in time for its release. Shooting wrapped one month later.

Also Read: Will Late-Night TV Go Off the Air in May? Writers Guild Threatens to Pull Plug

7. Streaming Services

If networks (including streaming giants like Netflix and Hulu) are unable to produce new episodes, the biggest beneficiaries may be services with deep archives of content that have benefited from the era of peak TV — particularly those able to schedule programming from overseas that is unaffected by the strike.

So audiences eager for new programming may decide to just play catch up with all the movies and shows that they had put off binge-watching.

8. AT&T/Time Warner Merger

According to the WGA, a strike could have significant impact on both earnings and AT&T’s pending $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner in a deal that would combine assets including the Warner Bros. studio, CNN, HBO, DirecTV and AT&T Wireless in one massive conglomerate.

“A writer’s strike could undermine AT&T’s primary reason for acquiring Time Warner, which is ownership of compelling content,” WGA West director David Young wrote in the letter sent on Thursday, obtained by TheWrap. “A strike could also delay any potential shareholder benefits from the acquisition.”

Related stories from TheWrap:

WGA Sets Dates for Key Meetings, Strike Authorization Vote

WGA West Board and Council Approve Strike-Authorization Vote

WGA Negotiating Committee Calls for Strike Vote

Writers Guild to AT&T: If We Strike, Shareholders Will Suffer

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

The Writers Guild of America West has sent AT&T and Time Warner Cable shareholders a letter, warning them of the impact a strike could have on both earnings and the pending merger between the two.

“A writer’s strike could undermine AT&T’s primary reason for acquiring Time Warner, which is ownership of compelling content,” WGA West director David Young wrote in the letter sent on Thursday, obtained by TheWrap. “A strike could also delay any potential shareholder benefits from the acquisition.”

The letter opens with the WGA explaining that a work stoppage will commence on May 2 should no agreement between the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents the entertainment industry’s employers, be reached.

Also Read: WGA Says It Will Go on Strike May 2 If No Deal

“Should this occur, writing for television, feature films and digital series will cease,” Young wrote. “This will include all writing on live-action feature films and television series made by Time Warner production entities. Time Warner employs approximately 1,000 Guild writers annually. In television, WGA members write and produce 725 episodes of television for more than 50 Time Warner-owner scripted series each year. WGA members are the creators of Time Warner’s top television brands including ‘The Big Bang Theory,’ ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘Westworld.’”

The letter added, “Late night shows made for Time Warner networks including ‘Conan,’ ‘Full Frontal with Samantha Bee,’ ‘Real Time with Bill Maher’ and ‘Last Week Tonight’ will go off the air immediately.”

And not only could the strike affect the fall television season, but it could also delay any potential shareholder benefits from AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner.

AT&T agreed to acquire Time Warner in October in an $85 billion deal that would combine assets including the Warner Bros. studio, CNN, HBO, DirecTV and AT&T Wireless in one massive conglomerate and make AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson one of the most powerful men in Hollywood.

The deal was set to create a distribution and content colossus of the digital age, bringing together premium assets including satellite TV provider DirecTV, cell phone network AT&T Wireless, the Warner Bros. movie and television studios and HBO and Turner cable channels under one, massive corporate roof.

Also Read: WGA and AMPTP to Resume Contract Negotiations April 10

“AT&T has promised that the merger will generate returns for shareholders within a year, stating, ‘The transaction will be accretive to its adjusted earnings per share and accretive to its free cash flow within 12 months after the completion of the transaction.’ Further, as AT&T continues to increase its indebtedness, a strike that reduces Time Warner revenue and profits could affect cash flow and the ability to pay dividends.”

The guild, whose contract expires May 1, had been negotiating a new contract for film and TV writers with the AMPTP, but those talks broke down toward the end of last month. The WGA’s negotiating committee called for a strike authorization vote March 24.

The two sides will reconvene at the negotiating table during the week beginning April 10, but the guild has already made contingency plans in the event that it can’t reach a deal with the producers’ alliance. Los Angeles member meetings are set for April 18 and 19, while a New York meeting will also take place on April 19. An online strike authorization vote will begin April 19 at 8:30 p.m. PT through April 24 at noon PT.

The letter to the shareholders also asserts the impact the rapid growth of international demand for content and digital syndication created by SVOD players like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu has on the TV industry.

“While Time Warner has enjoyed the success of the television business, writers’ income has declined sharply in the last five years,” Young wrote. “The average pay of writer-producers working in television declined 23% over the last two years alone. The decline is driven by the growth of short order series with 13 or fewer episodes. Writers, who are primarily paid by the number of episodes produced, often work just as many weeks on short order series as they did on traditional 22-episode series but are paid for fewer episodes. Writer-producers are the only employees on a television production who do not receive additional pay for additional time worked.”

The letter says that the WGA proposal would cost Time Warner just $27.4 million over three years, which pales in comparison to the advertising revenue and carriage fees the network would get from airing these shows.

“Should a WGA strike occur, Time Warner would have to modify the foregoing representations,” the letter concluded. “A strike of the writers who create the programming that fuels both Time Warner’s film, studio and network segments has the potential to materially affect Time Warner’s revenue.”

It continued, “We ask you to contact AT&T and Time Warner management to urge the company to negotiate a fair deal that avoids a strike.”

The AMPTP declined to comment. Representatives for AT&T and Time Warner could not be reached for comment.

Related stories from TheWrap:

WGA Sets Dates for Key Meetings, Strike Authorization Vote

WGA West Board and Council Approve Strike-Authorization Vote

Why AT&T-Time Warner Deal Could Kickstart More Big Media Mergers

WGA Says It Will Resume Talks Once AMPTP Revises Proposal

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

The Writers Guild of America says it is ready to resume negotiations on April 10 once the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) revises their proposal which the WGA said failed to “address our essential economic issues.”

“We are ready to return to the bargaining table to hear a revised proposal from the AMPTP that addresses the Guild’s core issues,” David J. Young, executive director of WGAW said in a letter. “Alternatively, in the absence of such a constructive proposal from you, we are prepared to respond with a package that addresses the inadequacies of your last offer.

The two sides broke off contract talks last week, and the WGA has since initiated a strike authorization vote among its members.

Also Read: WGA West Board and Council Approve Strike-Authorization Vote

In the letter sent on Thursday following votes by the boards of both guild branches to ask members to authorize a strike, AMPTP President Carol Lombardini asked the executive directors of the WGA West and East, David Young and Lowell Peterson, respectively, to “return to the bargaining table,” after the guild broke off negotiations late last week.

Members of WGA West and WGA East had been in the midst of an initial two-week bargaining period with the AMPTP over a new contract for film and TV writers. The current contract expires May 1.

The WGA and AMPTP successfully negotiated contracts in 2010 and 2013 without resorting to a strike. But the previous negotiation resulted in a 100-day strike in 2007-08.

In a prior statement to TheWrap, a spokesperson for the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers said: “The WGA broke off negotiations at an early stage in the process in order to secure a strike vote rather than directing its efforts at reaching an agreement at the bargaining table. Keeping the industry working is in everyone’s best interests, and we are ready to return to negotiations when they are.”

Also Read: WGA Negotiating Committee Calls for Strike Vote

A letter to WGA members on Friday from its leadership argued that producers earned record profits of $51 billion in 2016 while the average salary for TV writer-producers fell 23 percent without being offset by additional compensation via script fees and residuals. Other complaints included a refusal by AMPTP for a new policy on family leave, an increase in the residual formula for video on-demand, and changes in script fees for staff writers.

The Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) is a labor union composed of the thousands of writers who write the content for television shows, movies, news programs, documentaries, animation, and Internet and new media.

See the full letter below.

March 31 , 2017

Dear Carol,

Thank you for your letter.

On Wednesday, March 23, the WGA made further cuts to its initial list of demands, reducing the economic cost of the package by almost 50%. Late Thursday, the Companies presented a Comprehensive Package Proposal that failed to address our essential economic issues. We made clear that evening that the guild rejected your proposal.

We are ready to return to the bargaining table to hear a revised proposal from the AMPTP that addresses the Guild’s core issues. Alternatively, in the absence of such a constructive proposal from you, we are prepared to respond with a package that addresses the inadequacies of your last offer.

I suggest that the parties meet from April10th -14th and seek to finalize a new agreement. I look forward to hearing from you.

Related stories from TheWrap:

AMPTP Asks Strike-Focused Writers Guild to ‘Return to the Bargaining Table’

‘Rogue One’ Alternate Ending: Writer Left Door Open to More Jyn Erso

Slate to Unionize With Writers Guild of America East