6/15/08

Writers union out on strike v. Sony

Related story: "Sit Down, Shut Up And Walk Out"

Sony on Friday responded to the walkout by the writers for Sony Pictures TV's upcoming animated series for Fox "Sit Down, Shut Up." The writers, who are members of the WGA, left the show Thursday, claiming that they were misled by Sony TV that they would be covered by the WGA, while the studio had made arrangements with another union, IATSE.

The conflict highlights the ongoing tension between the two unions over jurisdiction in primetime animated series. The writers on all other animated Fox series, produced by 20th Century Fox TV, are represented by the WGA. (20th TV also co-produces "Sit Down," but Sony TV, which developed the comedy with studio-based writer Mitch Hurwitz, is the lead production entity.)

Sony TV is producing "Sit Down" through its animation division Adelaide Prods.

"The producer, Adelaide Prods., has been a signatory to the IATSE bargaining agreement for at least 10 years, and has been producing animated programming under that agreement," Sony said in a statement. "All of the deals made with the writers were specifically negotiated with their agents specifying that this program would be covered by the IATSE bargaining agreement."

Other industry sources also confirmed that the writers and the their reps had been informed early in the process that the show will be covered by IATSE, not WGA.

"The writers of 'Sit Down, Shut Up' are Writers Guild members, and they want the show to be covered by a WGA contract," the WGA said in a statement. "We have been in conversations with Sony, and hope this will be settled soon."

The labor dispute comes three months after the end of the WGA strike, during which the guild eventually dropped its attempt to win first-time jurisdiction guarantees over animation and reality TV.

"Giving up animation and reality was a heartbreaking issue for me personally," WGAW president Patric Verrone, himself an animation writer, said at the guild's end-of-strike press conference.

The walkout threatens to push back the production start for "Sit Down," which is slated to launch as part of Fox's Sunday lineup in midseason.

"This is all about the battle between IATSE and WGA," one studio executive said of the "Sit Down" fracas. "It's all bad, and the net result is the losers are the network and the viewers."

(hollywoodreporter.com)

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