WGA yellin’ at Ellen. Now she’s yellin’ back…

The WGA East and Ellen DeGeneres appear to be dancing to a different beat.

Earlier this week, numerous media reports said DeGeneres boycotted her Monday show in support of scribes. As Scribe Vibe’s Michael Schneider reported Tuesday, Telepictures denied that Ellen had done any such thing. Studio claimed her absence was due to a pre-planned hiatus.

In any case, DeGeneres has been back at work, and that pissed off the WGA East. It issued a statement earlier today blasting the dance-happy host. Best line:

We find it sad that Ellen spent an entire week crying and fighting for a dog that she gave away, yet she couldn’t even stand by writers for more than one day – writers who have helped make her extremely successful.

Now, Warner Bros.-owned Telepictures is biting back. It’s issued a retort. No zingers, but the studio’s defense basically boils down to, “Hey, we’re not the only gabbers who’ve kept gabbing!” To wit:

Ellen is a daytime talk show carried on a syndicated basis across individual television stations, no different than, and in direct competition with, Oprah, Rachael Ray, (Dr.) Phil, Live with Regis and Kelly,  Martha, Tyra, Jerry, Maury, and Montel, all of which are in first run daytime syndication and are continuing in production.

The WGA’s statement and Telepictures’ retort are after the jump.

(UPDATE: As is a letter in PDF format from AFTRA, supporting Telepictures’ position. Apologies for not typing it in, but it’s been a long week.)

–Josef Adalian

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  1. Tony says:

    What I find funny is the WGA says they care so much about getting their people the money they deserve however in the end they are screwing every other below the line department. In reality more money and residuales should go to other departments to share in the pie, such as sound, lighting, grips.
    Their are lots of areas in any production that deserves a larger piece of the pie but neither writers nor actors are included in this list.
    The WGA is no diffrent then the Studios they just want more money for themselves.

  2. Shan says:

    I’m not in the entertainment industry. I am from a union family. All ten of us have benefitted from the strength of our individual unions.Most of us have had to make that most difficult of decisions. To strike or settle for what’s on the table. Most of the time the easiest decision would be to just put one”s head down and sign the contract and live with the humiliation. No one wins in the long run. Sure management thinks they’ve won,but not really. The members feel exploited and unwilling to go the extra mile. Not because there is a lack of integrity amongst the workers rather it is the lack of respect,yes,self-respect. Striking is not for the faint of heart. Just try it -go out and support the WGA members and you’ll see they ain’t doing this for the fun of it.
    It is in the best interest of management to go back to the table. To listen and really hear what the WGA is saying. An act of goodwill goes along way under these circumstances.
    Management must remember that we are not in 1988!
    Call in Ahnold if he can help.
    Just one small point for management to remember it is called ‘show business,emphasis on business.
    Keep The faith WGA.

  3. JK says:

    Joe, you’re an arrogant ass. You’re EXACTLY the reason why the writers are coming across as the bad guys in this little drama. For goodness sake; you guys and gals are up against huge conglomerates – you are the Davids in this strike – you should have the public firmly on your side. Instead, the grumbling on the street is that a bunch of arrogant jerks are damanding more and more. You are the kind of person that feeds that idea.
    And people who ‘invent the car’ DON’T get royalties. They get paid a set fee and if their car is a success, the next time their contract comes up, they get more money. If you managed to take a look down from your ivory tower to see the little people, you might know that.

  4. Peter says:

    Hi Lauren. I’m one of these evil, greedy, overpaid writers, trying to con the poor moguls out of a few more cents and trying to wreck the lives of everyone else in the busines. So please educate me on your plans for a radical revamp of the whole concept of royalties. What’s that, Lauren? I presume you have one? Come on – what are your proposals for depriving songwriters, musicians, artists and authors of the cash they currently receive for publishing and reuse of their work? That is what you want, yes? Mick Jagger must be quaking in his boots – Lauren’s coming to take back his song royalties!
    And as for your ‘car worker’ analogy, we’re not the car worker. We invent the car! Damn right we deserve a royalty. The worker can have one too – the day he comes up with a better car than mine.

  5. Lynnbo says:

    Lauren:
    A residual is NOT a bonus-it is a deferred payment agreed upon at the onset of the project. Writers submit their work without knowing if it is going to be a mega hit or a flop. Companies accept the scripts on the same basis. It is a crap shoot for both sides. If the show/movie flops, the writers get what they were paid up front, more often than not far below what you would expect a professional to be paid. Residuals are the “let’s make a deal” of the business. If the show/movie is a hit, then the writers are compensated for their part in the process.
    If the “new media” is making a profit for big business, then why shouldn’t the very people who created the product be compensated? Do you think the corporations would rather pay the writers up front a fair wage and take a chance on paying for flops? I’m looking out the window and don’t see any pigs flying…..The “new media” is here to stay and the people who create it should be paid.

  6. Lauren says:

    Excuse me…one simple question here. Why should anybody get residuals? What other industry does this? If a producer, director, actor and writer receive residuals, well, what about the crew? Don’t tell me they are less talented or don’t work as hard. Should a writer be paid residuals everytime somebody checks out his or her book from a library? Should an airline crew get a residual payment for flying back and forth? What about the factory worker who builds a car…should the worker get a residual each time the car is driven? Please!!! Enough.

  7. Mary says:

    What troubles me is the fact that those who are making comments like those above either haven’t taken the time to educate themselves on the reasons the WGA went on strike, the very small amount they are asking for and why, or they simply don’t care.
    They aren’t asking for a raise in salary, they are asking to be paid, 8 cents per download of an episode. At present they get nothing for programs that are sold online. They get 2.5 cents per dvd that is sold. That number reflects the 80% cut they took back in the ’80s the industry asked them to make just to help get the videotape distribution off the ground. They were told they would be compensated for all they gave up.. yet they haven’t. Profits have risen, but their compensation hasn’t.
    These professionals do not work year round. Roughly 50% of these writers are unemployed for a good portion of the year. The small amount they are asking for would help put food on their tables, pay for health insurance, help them to pay their mortgages. These aren’t wealthy people, the vast majority of them are middle class.
    Honestly, if you were concerned by the greedy corporate interests who imported toxic pet food, poisonous and contaminated food, medicines, vitamins, toothpaste, lead contaminated children’s toys, how can you fail to understand that the same mindset is at play in the refusal to address these writers legitimate request?
    I’m not a WGA member, nor do I work in the entertainment industry. I’m an average American working woman. My dad was a union laborer, my late husband was an AFSCME member, so I understand the importance of unions to workers. I also understand how increasingly hard it is to get by in this lousy economy.. it’s because of this that I recognize the fact that these writers aren’t our enemies, we’re all workers in this together.

  8. G says:

    Personally, I find it appaling that the writers guild could even suggest that the rest of the crew come out and support them. While I understand what they are trying to do, I make a pittance in comparision to what they make. Residuals? As if! When the writers start fighting to help the rest of the non-union crew get raises, then I’d consider going to bat for them. Until then, I’ll continue as long as I possibly can to scrape out a living while the writers can picket comfortably with their reisidual income still rolling in. How dare you ask us to support you in your selfish quest to take even more of the money out of our already dwindling budgets. The only thing that will come of them getting more money is the rest of us who can really use it getting less!

  9. Susie McGreger says:

    Charlee —
    Ellen is the only smart cookie right now it seems and I’m very proud of her, she is a true professional, a wonderful writer, actor and comedienne. She has a responsibility to fulfill and she’s doing it. I’m not fond of cowards, this is a business of taking risks, one must take many risks to make it in the biz and only the strong will survive.
    We ought to be boycotting the unions, they actually hinder members from working, rather then help. A person must make a large quota in salary to receive any benefits.
    When and if the actors strike, well they can all be replaced too, they lke many writers are a dime a dozen.

  10. Charlee says:

    Susie McGreger —
    The writers are on strike right now. However, if the writers had not gone on strike, the actors would go on strike in June ’08 when their contracts expire. If the writers had rolled over and signed new contracts with the studios, it would be up to the actors and then the directors guild’s to strike. This is a trickle down effect. It’s like a court precedent — the writers’ strike effects the rest of the industry. So it is right for the actors to stand up with their writers because it could have been the other way around and the actors would be on the chopping block right now. Do some research before just jumping to conclusions and blaming the writers for the downfall of society.
    It’s just too bad that Ellen doesn’t feel she can stand with her writers for more than a day. But it’s also understandable that she has signed a contract and doesn’t feel that she can break it. The entire industry is hurting right now and the only people to blame are the money-hungry media conglomerates. It shows a great respect for the writers that their actors are standing by their sides. Good for them.

  11. Susie McGreger says:

    Ellen DeGeneres is doing what all variety talk shows like Leno, etc., who are writers themselves ought to be doing. The ol’ adage in the business ahs always been… “The Show Must Go On!” This is the professional thing to do, as Ellen being a talk show host, and all others similar to her should… follow in her footsteps and do this themsleves, especially if they have the talent and knowhow to. The writers don’t seem to care about anybody but themselves and money which they have no idea what the amount might even be at this premature time in DVD downloading history.
    Afterall, the writers are on strike, not the talent before the public eye. I am ashamed of the actors protesting with the writers guild and making all others in the industry and their fans suffer. They are betraying the very people who got them their names and positions, to begin with.

  12. ScreenPlay says:

    Ellen explained she was doing her show after a day of support because of all the audience members who travel across country with reservations in regard to airlines, hotels, vacations etc. Ellen has always cared for her audience. She can write her own material as well, where many cannot and comes down to the truth of it all..there are few good shows with good writing these days!! The writing per networks has gone downhill for a long time. Only a few shows will survive each year for any type of long run at all..that does not say much for the production, direction and writing of said failed shows which the people are just turning off. Movie scripts fall into this failure to deliver problem as well. English writers and other International writers/scripts seem to be taking home the awards. Points one should ponder!
    I support Ellen in her consideration of her viewers, clients and all the people other than said writers who put together a show. Their lives/income to the family etc are effected as well and will never see an increase in salary for all that they do. Writers have been the downfall of most shows. The delivery by the actors also makes the writing work. Reba is one example or even Ugly Betty..writers cannot take sole responsibility for the success of their craft. Get over yourselves!!! Hollywood award shows have lost audiences for many years now because of the poor scripts with actors more caught up in political meanderings then what they are hired to do. People are sick of Hollywood as a whole, so be glad you even have a job or anyone is even watching these days. Go help another less fortunate than yourselves and understand the value of giving as Ellen has. It is her personality that makes her show and she has the respect of her viewers for the consideration of their feelings and financial output that makes her show popular with her fans. Now you have a Rosie reappearance, who has cared only for herself and a few around her and not the staff/writers/etc who puts out political garbage these days..but then it is all about the ratings. Sadly is a lunatic out there that enjoys sick, twisted, moronic, garbage like she puts out. This is why most in this country could care less over the success or failure of just about any project on the failing networks, especially the dinosaur networks these days. Because of the latter aforementioned ex-comedian of which I speak. Get over your importance.
    My opinion

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