A few months ago, “Sit Down, Shut Up” had been shut down — and some had given up hopes it would move forward.
Now, the animated Fox laffer has a firm airdate — Sundays at 8:30 p.m. starting April 19 — and was given a lunch time showcase during Fox’s day at the TV Critics Association press tour.
Writers on the show had stopped working in June after learning that “Sit Down” wouldn’t be produced under WGA jurisdiction — but instead under IATSE’s Animation Guild.
A standoff ensued — and a resolution appeared unlikely. But most scribes opted to return to work after producer Sony Pictures TV gave each writer a $200,000 blind script deal and “WGA equivalent residuals.”
In the process, exec producer Bill Oakley departed the show — splitting with his longtime writing partner Josh Weinstein, who remains, along with fellow exec producers Mitch Hurwitz, Eric Tannenbaum and Kim Tannenbaum.
“That was a tough decision that Bill and I had to come to,” said Weinstein, who said he and Oakley had a “respectful disagreement” on whether to accept Sony’s terms. “The whole thing about myself and all the writers is we feel that primetime animated shows should be covered by the WGA. But we found ourselves staffed on a show already signed by another union.”
After five weeks out of the office, the majority of scribes opted to remain if they could be given WGA-like protections.
According to Hurwitz, the WGA was approached about handling jurisdiction over the show’s residuals, but the guild declined.
“Their approach was it was all or nothing,” Hurwitz said. “And we were of the mind that the only way to keep this show on the air and keep those jobs was to make this compromise.”
Hurwitz said the show’s writers ultimately got better compensated than they would have under the WGA — and said Sony’s “hands were tied” in trying to move the show to another guild.
Weinstein said the show’s writers “bonded over that horrible experience.”
Meanwhile, Hurwitz hinted that all sides are closer to putting together that long-rumored “Arrested Development” movie. The scribe said he was “really optimistic” that an announcement was imminent: “We have a deal more or less in place from Fox Searchlight,” he said.
Hurwitz also quipped that he has a storyline in mind: “It’s ‘Valkerie’ meets ‘Hotel for Dogs.'”