By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
SIT DOWN, SHUT UP, NOW WALK OUT!
I reported exclusively that 14 WGA writers and writer-producers on Sony’s newly ordered animated TV series for Fox prime time, called Sit Down, Shut Up!, walked off the show on June 12. It’s a dispute over who has jurisdiction over the writing staff: the Writers Guild of America or IATSE.
The problem is that all the Fox TV animated shows now being broadcast on that network are covered under the WGA contract, so the writers assumed their new show would be as well. But also, Sony kept assuring the writers that the series would be WGA-covered — even though the show’s maker is Sony Adelaide, which is steadfastly IATSE. Only recently did Sony finally reveal to the writers that the TV ’toon was to be covered by IATSE. So the studio was lying to everyone — even Sit Down, Shut Up!’s show-runner Mitch Hurwitz (of Arrested Development fame), as well as The Simpsons writers-producers Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein.
All the scribes on Sit Down, Shut Up!, a reworking of an Australian series, are pissed that they struck for four months and now Sony is taking away their right to be repped by the WGA’s new contract. This is exactly what WGA leadership was afraid would happen to ’toon writers as more big media companies turn animation over to IATSE’s jurisdiction because of the weaker terms of that union’s contract.
But Sony’s mendacity is shameful in this matter. As one of the scribes explained to me, “For two months, Sony was still saying, ‘Don’t worry about it. The show will be guild-covered.’ And then this week Sony said, ‘Sorry, the guild is off the table. You guys are going to be IATSE.’?” Those WGA writers and writer-producers who walked out have now received breach-of-contract letters. Funny thing is, they never signed their contracts.
NYT’S DAVID HALBFINGER LEAVES HOLLYWOOD
That long-in-the-works article about MGM this month turned out to be David Halbfinger’s swan song on the Hollywood beat. I’m told that TheNew York Times’ movie culture editor, Lorne Manly, was out here last week to finalize Halbfinger’s exit from the Los Angeles bureau. New York City sources say Halbfinger will be going to the Metro desk in New York to report politics.
Generally, the feeling is that Halbfinger “never got his footing” covering the movie beat and devoted too much time to the Pellicano scandal (with freelancer Allison Hope Weiner). But that dead-ended when all the Hollywood bigwigs escaped prosecution.
Halbfinger clashed repeatedly with the NYT’s veteran showbiz reporter Michael Cieply (who used to have Manly’s editing job). And since Cieply and Manly are joined at the hip.... Well, bye-bye, David. Besides, with the regular input of David Carr and last year’s addition of Brooks Barnes, there were probably too many NYT people covering Hollywood, which, in the old days, used to be adequately reported by a lone L.A. correspondent. Meanwhile, I bet Brad Grey, who was ignominiously splashed all over the NYT pages during Halbfinger’s Pellicano fixation, is a happy man today.
THUNDERDOME FOR THE TWO ACTORS UNIONS
Screen Actors Guild president Alan Rosenberg hand-delivered a letter to AFTRA’s national office in Los Angeles, addressed to his counterpart at AFTRA, Roberta Reardon, asking to hold a two-hour official SAG-AFTRA debate. I’m all for it — as long as there’s a wrestling ring, gooey mud and blind referees. Unfortunately for me, Reardon turned down the offer.
AT THE BOTTOM OF THE AGENCY — LITERALLY
I found out that Creative Artists Agency is making all its assistants park in the bottom level of the firm’s Century City garage, in horrid stack parking. Plus, there’s only one elevator that goes down there at 2000 Avenue of the Stars. And there’s a tracking system to make sure the peons park in their pen. Also, some of the assistants have been stuck in the garage because the valets lost their keys with the stack parking. (I bet the bosses’ skinny lattes contained unexpected bodily fluids the next morning....)
The internal agency muttering is that it’s yet another draconian CAA cost-cutting measure. But the ten-percentery claims the building/landlord is working to accommodate a growing tenant roster, so parking changes are affecting multiple tenants who park on certain floors of the garage. Chalk this up as one more tale about the poorly treated Industry assistants who get fucked over by their bosses.
This is why the entertainment biz is so deliciously cruel. One year, you’re the heir apparent. A few years later, you’re the has-been. So it is with HBO’s Colin Callender. I’ve been reporting that the next shoe to drop as the pay channel starts to clean house should be the overrated legend-in-his-own-mind, who recently rejected an offer from Walden Media to develop a new production slate and team. And every day there’s a rumbling that Callender is looking at this job or that one.
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