A coalition of angry producers including Arnold Kopelson, Richard Zanuck, Dawn Steel and Robert Rehme – have retained a law firm to wage war against the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and TV Producers over the issue of producers’ credit placement in films, sources said March 16.
The producers group hired lawyers Larry Stein and Joe Taylor, of the Santa Monica firm Stein, Khan and Rosenberg, to rep them in their battle over the credits. Kopelson also said a legal fund has been established by the producers to cover costs of the action. The producers are upset over a clause in the recently hammered-out WGA contract with the AMPTP that mandates the placement of the writer’s screen credit next to the director’s just before a film begins.
Producers have long had that penultimate position. When they discovered that the writers had taken that credit spot, a cadre of producers immediately met and formed a plan of attack.
The attorneys retained had no comment on the case. But sources said the lawyers will meet with WGA and AMPTP representatives over the next 10 days to see if an agreement can be negotiated without dissolving the entire labor pact.
Barring that and if no agreement can be met, sources said the lawyers will likely seek a temporary restraining order against the contract. If approved by a judge, that would void the WGA and AMPTP deal.
“We consider the new contractual credits clause contrary to the rights of all of us, and we hope to get this resolved,” said Kopelson, who is the spokesman for the producers.
WGA spokeswoman Cheryl Rhoden said that if the contract is ratified by the membership on March 28, then the clause will go into effect 60 days after that, regardless of the producers’ actions.