The six-week-old peace between Joan Rivers and the Writers Guild of America East has collapsed.
The WGA East, which has been backing the strike by writers on E! network’s “Fashion Police,” blasted Rivers on Thursday for a recent interview in which she backed E!’s position — that any unionization election would have to be administered by the National Labor Relations Board before it agrees to negotiate a contract. The guild has asserted that the demand is a stalling tactic.
She referred to the striking scribes as “poor shmuck writers.” Rivers also said in the interview with Splitsider that the situation is “a stupid sloppy mess” and added, “Everyone is posturing, like, ‘My dick is bigger than your dick.’”
Rivers and the guild had announced on Oct. 7 that she would back the guild’s position and that disciplinary charges against the “Fashion Police” host would be dropped.
In a statement Thursday, WGA East president Michael Winship called the comments “derisive and crude” and added, “What she has said is not only reprehensible but flies in the face of a settlement with the WGAE to which she agreed. How dare she at first proclaim solidarity with fellow writers and then so crassly stab them in the back? She should be ashamed of herself, although it is clear that the concept of shame does not trouble what little conscience she has.”
Winship also said Rivers must continue to refuse to write, adding that her statement “egregiously” violates the spirit of the rest of the settlement.
In the Oct. 7 settlement, Rivers said, “As a lifetime member of the WGA, I have always supported the writers and want what’s best for them. In further support of the striking writers, I’ve decided not to render any writing services even though as a comedian and SAG-AFTRA host, I often write material for myself.”
Rivers had been charged with violating the WGA’s rule for allegedly writing on a struck program. The “Fashion Police” writers went on strike April 17 against the E! Network.
The WGA East had set a trial board hearing for Oct. 14 for Rivers, under which she could have been expelled or fined. As part of the agreement to drop the charges, Rivers has agreed to meet with E! to advocate for immediate contract negotiations in support of the “Fashion Police” writers.
Under Rivers’ SAG-AFTRA contract, she is obligated to continue hosting the program during a strike. The dispute arose over whether her host duties included writing.
The strike started April 17 after writers filed complaints with the state of California alleging that E! and Rivers’ Rugby Prods., which jointly employ the scribes, had not paid $1.5 million in wages and overtime. The WGA, which assisted in the filing of the claims, is sanctioning the strike and has told the 12,000 members not to work on the show until the matter is settled.
In early August, after the WGA East had disclosed that it had named three members to a trial board, Rivers responded angrily. “This is such a bunch of bullshit,” she said at the time.