Joan Rivers and the Writers Guild of America have resolved their dispute over the “Fashion Police” host writing on a non-union show.
“As a lifetime member of the WGA, I have always supported the writers and want what’s best for them,” Rivers said in a statement. “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.
Michael Winship, WGAE President said, “We are very pleased that we have been able to resolve the charges against Ms. Rivers and will not be proceeding to a disciplinary hearing.”
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.
The guild noted that under Rivers’ SAG-AFTRA contract, she is obligated to continue hosting the program during a strike. The now-resolved dispute arose over whether her host duties included writing.
“Now that this is behind me, can we talk?” Rivers said. “Because we should talk. As a WGA member, I’ve always supported the Fashion Police writers having a contract. It’s time for both sides to sit down at the table and negotiate. Forget about the election. We all want the same thing – to get this behind us – so let’s make this deal!”
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.
E! has demanded that any unionization election would have to be administered by the National Labor Relations Board before it agrees to negotiate a contract. The WGA has asserted that the demand for an election is a stalling tactic.
A representative for parent NBCUniversal repeated E!’s contention.
“This is an issue between E! and the WGAW, and we continue to believe that an NLRB administered election prior to collective bargaining is a fair and important part of the process,” she said. “We’ve taken every possible step to expedite an election so we can move forward as quickly as possible.”