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?
by 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.