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Mike Scully to reality producers: ‘It’s time to do the right thing’

Mikescully“Simpsons” vet Mike Scully has been an inspiration to many on the picket lines during the past five weeks.

Despite having suffered a broken ankle just days before the strike began on Nov. 5, Scully, his wife and writing partner Julie Thacker-Scully, and some of their offspring have been regulars on the 20th Century Fox line. Scully hobbled through the first few weeks on crutches, which couldn’t have been what his doctor ordered, but it is what his conscience ordered.

The good news is, despite the strain he’s put on his broken bone (it’s hard to baby your ankle while picketing), Scully is off the crutches and now hobbling a little faster with the aid of one of those velcro strap-on cast supporters with an running shoe-type heel.

“I’m guardedly optimistic,” Scully said Thursday morning, of the state of the guild’s talks with the studios and the state of his ankle.

Scully and Thacker-Scully are like so many TV scribes on the lines — they were just about to hold the table read on an animated rendition on a live-action comedy pilot that they produced a few years back for Fox, “The Pitts,” when the strike ensued.

During their downtime of walking in circles in front of the studio where Mike has toiled for years, most recently on the summer blockbuster “Simpsons Movie,” he’s had plenty of time to think about the Big Picture. And among the things on his mind this a.m. was the issue of guild’s fight for jurisdiction over reality programming. It’s an important issue — it’s the focus of Friday’s noon-2 p.m. picket and rally outside “American Idol” producer FremantleMedia in Burbank — and the onus shouldn’t be entirely on the guild to bring it to a head with the majors, he sez.

“The people who have been the most successful in the genre — the Fremantles, the Mark Burnetts — should step up and do the right thing for their employees,” Scully observed. He drew a parallel to the collective will demonstrated by primetime animation scribes in the late 1990s who demanded, and even briefly struck, for their right for their animation labors to be covered by the WGA. (At present, WGA is seeking expanded coverage for ani writers in features and telepics, though in some cases they have to defer to existing IATSE pacts — it’s complicated.)

“It’s time that these (producers) demand that their employees are treated fairly and paid fairly,” Scully said. “It’s one way they can ensure that they will attract top talent…They should want the respect of their employees in that way. If they ever want to be seen as anything other than cheap alternative programming to scripted series…it’s time for the most successful people in the genre to step up and do the right thing. At least they shouldn’t be fighting the guild over it.”

–Cynthia Littleton

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