The WGAW is kicking butt. Yeah, baby!

We’re kinda, you know, biased about the Writers Guild of America. (In its favor, natch, cuz…Writers Guild, you know?) So we’ll let Deadline.Com tell you all about the latest in Guild contract enforcement. The folks there are notoriously neutral, right?

Hallmarkpicket221415by David Robb

The WGA is preparing to bar prolific TV movie producer Larry Levinson from ever using guild writers again unless he pays up on millions he allegedly owes in unpaid residuals. In the past 20 years,Larry Levinson Productions has produced nearly 200 family-oriented TV movies, most of which were made for theHallmark Channel or in association with Hallmark Entertainment. The guild is currently pursuing arbitration claims against Levinson’s various production entities for unpaid residuals and interest owed on 38 of those TV movies. In a recent letter to a group of writers who Levinson allegedly stiffed, the guild stated that “Levinson continues to demonstrate an egregious, ongoing failure to pay residuals.” An arbitration hearing is set for August 14.

In its notice of arbitration (read it here), the WGA claimed that two of Levinson’s companies, Hardstone Entertainment and Branwen Productions, violated the guild’s contract by failing to pay residuals on dozens of TV movies; by failing to report the gross receipts of the movies and how often they were rerun on television; and by failing to make pension and health contributions on those unpaid residuals.

Hallmark’s parent company Crown Media Holdings is also named as a respondent in the notice, which claimed that Crown Media was “at all material times signatory to or otherwise bound” by the guild’s contract. In a statement to Deadline, Crown Media said: “It is common when the WGA files an action to compel payment of residuals to take the position that the exhibitors, along with the producer(s), are jointly and severally liable. Crown Media, however, is current in all its obligations for residual payments to WGA members associated with the films at issue in this case.”

The guild’s current contract expires May 1. If Levinson doesn’t pay up, the guild says, it won’t let him sign a new deal, which would keep him from hiring WGA writers. In a letter dated March 19, WGA West secretary-treasurer Carl Gottlieb, writing on behalf of the guild’s board of directors, told the Levinson writers that “the guild will not enter into an agreement with any Levinson company until it fully complies with its past residuals obligations — including accrued interest — and provides assurances that its scofflaw behavior will not continue in the future.

Read it all

Love & Money Dept – TV Writing Deals for 4/28/14

Latest News About Writers Who Are Doing Better Than We Are
by munchman

  • David Manson (HOUSE OF CARDS) has a new overall deal with FG Productions, where’s going to do the usual developing and stuff. (Word is that the company is absolutely bonkers in love with his FX drama pilot HOKE, so this is a pre-emptive move to keep our hero – no relation to either Marilyn or Charlie Manson as far as we know – in the fold before he gets way too hot for their budget. Munchy congrats, Davey!)
  • Jason Aaron (Scalped graphic novel series) has sold that very series to WGN, which is developing it into a TV series for WGN America. (There’s an insider word here too: Jason’s a Prairie Village, Kansas resident who, we understand, is now going to storm the big city. That’s right, he’s coming to – wait for it – Wichita! Congrats on the deal and the new address, Jase!)
  • The latest news about Chris Albrecht who, okay, isn’t a writer but certainly has made a bunch of ’em rich as CEO of HBO and, now, Starz, puts the writing deals we talk about her into perspective: Dude may indeed have contributed to the wealth of all kinds of talented wordsmiths, but he himself personally made over $30 million last year just by, well, musing around, it seems to Yer Friendly Neighborhood munchman. Muse me, Chrissy baby! Muse me!)

Felicia Day Shares Some Creative – and Personal – Wisdom

felicia-day-supernatural-600x400

See, in addition to being a Big Deal TV star and interweb series star and writer, producer, and director, Ms. Day also has a fun and inspiring Tumblr blog. Where we came across this meme-like advice from another superwoman, Debbie Millman. (Yeah, we hear you. It’s complicated. Sorry:)

“Try not to compromise. So many people don’t do what they really want in their hearts because they feel like they’re not good enough, or they’re not smart enough, or they’re not talented enough… anything. And that doesn’t matter. In order for you to live a remarkable life — in order for you to live a life that is fulfilling — you need to be able to go after what you want. And if you don’t, you’re not going to achieve it — ever.

Our moral for this story: Compromise, no. Sharing, si!

Send us something we don’t know and we’ll happily post it. (With credit for you and your source and all that good stuff.)

Writers Have Feelings Too, Y’know

Case in point:

Chiung-Yao

Famous Screenwriter Chiung Yao Might Have Quit Writing
by Team TVWriter™ Press Service

Prestigious Taiwanese novelist and screenwriter Chiung Yao is contemplating stopping writing altogether, due to her anger and disappointment at the recent alleged plagiarism of her work, a friend close to Chiung said on April 19.

Chiung has written an open letter to China’s State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, the top regulator of China’s TV and film industry, in which she accused screenwriter and director Yu Zheng of plagiarizing her work, specifically in the TV drama The Palace: the Lost Daughter, where Chiung alledges that the leading characters and main story line were copied from her 1993 book and TV seriesPlum Blossom Scar.

Although Chiung demanded that provincial TV station Hunan Television pull The Palace: The Lost Daughter off-air, the TV drama is still being broadcast and sources from Hunan TV said that deliberation is ongoing as to whether or not to suspend the broadcast.

Chiung Yao’s husband, Ping Xintao, has confirmed that Chiung has already quit writing. “It is a heavy blow for her. She was in the process of writing a play, but she has since ceased working on it,” Ping said. “We also hope she can take a rest for a while.”

Chiung said she is now mentally and physically exhausted and hopes people with a sense of justice will refuse to watch Yu Zheng’s TV drama.

So far, over 30 million netizens have publicly supported Chiung’s letter, where she listed the similarities between The Palace: the Lost Daughter and Plum Blossom Scar as evidence.

Ping said they appreciated fans’ support very much and disclosed that Chiung became very heart-broken and even physically sick when she saw the plagiarized work being aired.

Yu has attributed these similarities to coincidence and said that art is supposed to be carried on and developed, and it’s natural that people would emulate Qiong Yao who is the originator of Chinese romance dramas.

Qiong Yao, born in 1938, is a novelist, screenwriter, producer and lyricist based in Taiwan. Many of her works have been made and remade into movies and TV series. Qiong’s representative works includes:Romance in the Rain, The Young OnesDreams LinkThe Unforgettable CharacterThe Princess Pearl, and many more.

(Source: Chinanews.com/Translated by womenofchina.cn)

Leesa Dean: Adventures of a Web Series Newbie

cut-the-cordChapter 55 – Cutting the Cord and Shopping
by Leesa Dean

Last week, my friend Janet invited me to a networking event on the Lower East Side. Janet’s a journalist who specializes in writing about advertising (patricianly with respect to tv) and an aspiring screenwriter. She’s currently thinking of putting together her first short. She’s looking for a director/crew. I was having a little writer’s block so figured, why not.

The event was put together by an organization called Big Vision, Empty Wallet that’s pretty cool. They have a ton of resources for indie producers/filmmakers. You can subscribe and get good deals through them (on software, rental equipment, events, etc.) or just join their email list (which I did after attending the event).

I met a lot of people there who were all involved in one way or another with film projects. Some had web series. Essentially it was a big schmooze fest.

I got engaged in a conversation with a few people about the future of cable tv that was pretty interesting.

It was a discussion about the rise of Netflix/Hulu/etc., cord cutting and the impact on creators selling shows. It’s a pretty big topic. HuffPost even released this (kinda hyperbolic) article a few days ago.

A few people were saying that they felt that cable, ultimately, would die and everything would be online and that would impact creators ability to sell shows and the amount of money you get for a show.

I disagree. I think there’s no question that things will be morphing but, if anything, cable companies will just adapt and own a bigger part of the internet space and do both. Will prices ultimately have to go down for cable tv? Yes, I think. But simultaneously, they’ll probably charge more for internet access. And then there’s the whole Net Neutrality issue and how that will impact on viewing/prices.

I think this is the best time in the world to shop shows and I suspect it will continue to be that way for, at least, a number of years. You can now put web series online, or use twitter and someone might notice you. It’s democratized things a bit. And cable networks are desperate to stay relevant and be in the mix. They all have internet shows and more enhanced promos to reel people in online. That all spells opportunity from where I’m sitting.

What will be interesting to see though, is: Will agents still be relevant in a few years?