Disney Expecting Showrunners to Still Show; WGA Strike Rules Conflict?
In a letter obtained by THR, Disney is expecting showrunners to work on non-writing duties, but it could be a conflict with WGA strike rules.
Well, it looks like the writers' strike between the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) might be moving into ugly legal territory. In a letter obtained by The Hollywood Reporter (which you can see in its entirety here), Bob McPhail, Assistant Chief Counsel, ABC Signature, e-mailed a letter from Disney meant for its various studios to remind showrunners (as well as writer-producers) that they are contractually obligated to still perform their non-writing duties. With the letter came a Q&A meant to inform showrunners of what their "required" duties are – and that's where the problem comes in because some of what "The Mouse" is telling showrunners and what they're hearing from the WGA regarding strike deadlines don't seem to be lining up.
"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," the letter reads. "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." But the devil is in the details, and that's where the WGA is going to have some issues with what Disney is laying out.
For example, Disney states that a showrunner and/or writer-producer "may, along with other non-writing services, be required to perform services commonly referred to as 'a. thorough h.' services as a producer" (cutting for time, small changes to dialogue or narration written before or during production, and "changes in technical or stage directions." But that stands in direct opposition to the WGA strike rules that were sent out to its approximately 11,500 striking members: "The Rules prohibit hyphenated (members who are employed in dual capacities) from performing any writing services, including the '(a) through (h)' functions" – leaving showrunners & writers-producers in limbo until some agreed-upon path forward (which will probably require a third-party who wears robs for a living).