Thursday, November 12, 2009

Writers Were 'Warned-Off' Osbournes Show

The Osbournes' last American TV stab failed famously, with only one episode airing. I never saw it, but enough coverage was given it that I can tell you someone was pressured into getting married (I don't know if it was an actual ceremony or not, though I've no doubt getting an annulment wouldn't have been difficult, given the circumstances) and farting was somehow involved. At any rate, though it was reported at the time, I missed the news pieces noting the WGA had warned writers if they worked on the show, they did so "at their own peril."

The WGA was responding directly to production group, Fremantle. Fremantle works on many reality shows, and the WGA is specifically in a tiff with... reality shows, in general, which they say have a practice of not paying their writers fairly. In July 2008, WGA blasted American Idol for this very reason, after the Guild learned that many reality show staffers were expected to work long, erratic hours without fair compensation.

Few reality shows enter WGA contracts, whereas basically all scripted shows do. The WGA said this attempt at freezing-out Fremantle was an attempt to coerce them into signing a contract with the Guild. Both entities claim the other was responsible for ending talks, but Fremantle says the WGA not only ended talks, but then "implemented their usual mendacious strategy of feeding misleading and erroneous information to the press."

This is why I said, during the writers' strike, that I'm conflicted when it comes to unions of any kind. IRL, this type of business dealing would be considered extortion! Because, at the foundation, that's what this is, and it hurts everyone - this is no good for anyone. Not only did the Osbournes' show bomb, writers who desperately needed work were forced to forgo the job, and the WGA most likely lost some revenue as well. Who won, here?

Nobody's for overworking or underpaying writers, nor anyone else, but using mob tactics to strongarm others into "seeing things your way" isn't much better. There is a time to get tough, but the WGA has decided to paint all reality shows with the same brush and come out swinging - to the detriment of all.

© C Harris Lynn, 2009

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