Herbie J weighs in on my oldest daughter’s role model, the ever-delightful Marlo Thomas as the even more delightful Ann Marie.
LB’S NOTE TO DAUGHTER #1: You’re by far the most delightful of all to me, JLB!
by Herbie J Pilato
BONUS: Marlo Thomas talks about Ann Marie from a whole ‘nuther perspective.
Writer/producer Herbie J Pilato is the host of the TV talk show THEN AGAIN WITH HERBIE J PILATO, now streaming on Amazon Prime and the author of several pop-culture/media tie-in books. He has been part of TVWriter™ for over 20 years and is Contributing Editor Emeritus. Learn more about Herbie J HERE
Specifically, it’s that time when the Writers Guild of America sits down with the Association of Motion Picture & Television Producers (AMPTP) and tries like hell to make our TV, film, and other electronic media writing lives happier, healthier, and more fulfilling.
In other words, we’re looking for ways to be more productive and creative and make more $$$.
This week we’ll be bringing you the full text of the latest missives from the Writers Guild of America negotiating committee on the Guild’s position regarding various issues of importance to TV (and film) writers.
comedy & variety writing concerns
Comedy-variety is perhaps the oldest television genre and it’s still going strong with more new shows being produced now than in any time in recent memory. And for the past few years this genre has been quite popular on subscriber streaming platforms.
Series like Patriot Act with Hasan Minaj, I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson and The Iliza Shlesinger Sketch Show provide streaming platforms like Netflix with different types of entertaining content, which in turns helps those companies attract new subscribers.
Despite this growth, terms for comedy-variety programs produced for subscriber streaming platforms are entirely negotiable, which means there are no WGA minimums. As a result, companies are free to pay writers as little as they can get away with resulting in some of them not even earning enough over a season to qualify for WGA health insurance. In addition, residuals on a hit show barely amount to a few hundred dollars.
This is not just a problem for comedy-variety series made for subscriber streaming platforms. It could also impact the future of legacy broadcast comedy-variety series (e.g., The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel Live!) since the studios and networks are shifting programs over to a subscriber streaming delivery model where they can take advantage of these substandard provisions.
We have been successful in previous negotiations in establishing minimum terms for episodic series and feature films made for SVOD. It is time for comedy-variety shows to be treated the same way.
Another comedy-variety issue we need to address is discounted rates. Today the companies can reduce comedy-variety weekly rates (minimum rates that are already much lower than are required on episodic series) by as much as 20% below minimum in exchange for employing writers under “cycle” contracts. This greatly diminishes both initial compensation and residuals that writers receive for TV series.
Comedy-variety writing jobs make up a consistent and important source of employment for WGA members. We therefore need to ensure these jobs continue to pay the minimum rates and residuals that Guild members have worked many years to achieve.
Ashley Nicole Black
Dante W. Harper
Melissa London Hilfers
Lauren Ashley Smith
Patric M. Verrone
David A. Goodman, Ex-Officio
Marjorie David, Ex-Officio
Beau Willimon, Ex-Officio
Kathy McGee, Ex-Officio
Bob Schneider, Ex-Officio
Los Angeles – Writers Guild of America West President David A. Goodman [yesterday] issued the following statement in response to the murder of George Floyd and protests that have erupted across the nation:
“Yesterday, police fired rubber bullets at peaceful demonstrators near the location of WGAW headquarters in Los Angeles while the U.S. President tweeted anger and outrage at his political opponents and the free press. As demonstrations continue today across America, our union stands with those who peacefully protest the racist, extrajudicial murders of George Floyd and other Black people. We must see an end to institutional white supremacy and the militarization of our police departments. Staying silent during this crisis is not an option. National outrage about bigotry, discrimination, and injustice is the only way we will ever see real change.”
The Writers Guild of America West (WGAW) is a labor union representing writers of motion pictures, television, radio, and Internet programming, including news and documentaries. Founded in 1933, the Guild negotiates and administers contracts that protect the creative and economic rights of its members. It is involved in a wide range of programs that advance the interests of writers, and is active in public policy and legislative matters on the local, national, and international levels. For more information on the WGAW, please visit: www.wga.org.