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Tyler Perry settles with WGA West

Writers resolve TBS contract quarrel

12/1/8Tyler Perry has come to terms with the Writers Guild of America West on a contract covering scribes on his TBS comedy skeins “House of Payne” and “Meet the Browns.”

Deal, announced Wednesday, came after five months of negotiations. The WGA West played hardball with the indie mogul in October, sending pickets to the opening of Perry’s studio facility in Atlanta.

The guild also accused Perry of firing four scribes around the same time because they were pushing for WGA coverage. Perry denied the charge, saying the four were let go because he was unhappy with the quality of their work on “Payne” and the upcoming spinoff “Browns” (Daily Variety, Oct. 3).

The WGA acknowledged in announcing the pact that it does not involve the reinstatement of the four scribes, three of whom were guild members.

At the time the WGA went public with its fight against Perry, the guild said Perry and his biz reps were resisting the WGA’s contract terms; Perry’s reps countered that the talks had snagged on a narrow issue of residual payments to writers if the shows’ reruns were to air on broadcast TV. (“House of Payne” has aired in both firstrun syndication and on TBS.)

Vic Bulluck, exec director of the NAACP’s Hollywood bureau, was credited by the guild and Perry as “instrumental” in helping the sides bridge the gap after the October skirmishes. Attorney Matt Johnson of Ziffren Brittenham handled the negotiations for Tyler Perry Studios.

Perry and WGA West prexy Patric Verrone emphasized the unique role that Perry plays in the biz as a prominent African-American multihyphenate and one of the few truly indie producers. Perry finances and owns both TBS series outright.

“With a continued focus on fostering young, diverse talent, we are eager to continue our dialogue with the WGA to dramatically increase the number of minority writers working in Hollywood today,” Perry said in a statement.

Verrone cited Perry’s impressive track record in film and TV “at a time when true independent producers like Mr. Perry are rare in this business.”

Perry noted the WGA deal comes after he has already completed deals with SAG, DGA, the Teamsters and IATSE. Perry, who writes and directs his feature films, is a member of SAG and DGA but not WGA.

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