We are on Day Four of the strike, and so far, we have seen stars such as Drew Barrymore, Jay Leno, Lala Kent, Pete Davison, and the cast of Ted Lasso show their support for the Writers. The WGA originally announced they would be picketing MTV Movies & TV Awards on Sunday, but the award ceremony announced that it will be livestreamed instead, so the WGA canceled their plans to demonstrate.
Yesterday, according to a new report from THR’s Lesley Goldberg and Katie Kilkenny, letters were sent out earlier in the week from both Warner Bros and Walt Disney addressed to showrunners employed by the companies’ various studios, reminding striking writers-producers that they are still obligated to perform their contractual obligated non-writing services. The first letter dated May 3rd, was obtained by THR and is listed below:
We want specifically to reiterate to you as a showrunner or other writer-producer that you are not excused from performing your duties as a showrunner and/or producer on your series as a result of the WGA strike. Your personal services agreement with [the] Studio requires that you perform your showrunner and/or producing duties even if the WGA attempts to fine you for performing such services during the strike, Your duties as a showrunner and/or producer are not excused, suspended or terminated until and unless you are so notified in writing by the Studio.Bob McPhail, Assistant Chief-Council for the Disney-Owned ABC Signature
Another letter was sent from MAX (Formerly HBO Max) on May 2nd. It was similar to Disney’s letter, which said to WGA members who served in Producer Capacities: HBO/HBO Max respects your membership in the WGA and will not do anything to place you in jeopardy of violating WGA rules. However, we believe certain services, such as participating in the casting process and/or contributing to non-writing production and post-production work are clear examples of non-WGA-required services that should continue to be rendered during this time. The memo also mentioned The WGA cannot prohibit you from rendering producing services under your personal services agreement as long as you are providing non-writing services.
The Hollywood Reporter spoke to WGA exclusively and has obtained a copy of each statement from Disney, Warner Bros, and the WGA, which you can read here. The WGA strike explicitly prohibits union members from performing these activities during the 2023 work stoppage. The Rules prohibit hyphenates (members who are employed in dual capacities) from performing any writing services, including the ‘(a) through (h)’ functions. As it is stated in the rules, which puts showrunners and writer-producers in an awkward position, being caught between the dictates of their employers and their union.
While the Walt Disney Company continued its ongoing battle with the Florida Governor, it is also still dealing with The Animation Guild working on unionizing Walt Disney’s Animation Studios Production Workers, which the House of Mouse is still resisting. Warner Bros Discovery is still facing criticism for its actions in removing thirty-seven animated series, twenty-five of the shows that were listed were HBO Max Originals. The company only offered little or vague explanations as to why they were removed. A move that was described by many as a tax write-off to appease Wall Street, which was used to avoid paying creator residuals.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter
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