The Writers Guild of America West has told TV movie producer Larry Levinson that he will not be able to use WGA writers on his shows if he does not pay up residuals.
The board of the WGA West notified Levinson last month that it would not enter into an agreement with any Levinson company until it “fully complies with its past residuals obligations — including accrued interest — and provides assurances that its scofflaw behavior will not continue in the future.”
WGA members are in the process of ratifying a new three-year contract with production companies that would go into effect on May 1.
“If, after May 1, Levinson does not sign the new minimum basic agreement (MBA) under conditions acceptable to the WGA, he will be thereafter barred from using WGA writers by operation of Working Rule 8,” the board said.
Levinson did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Recent titles he’s produced or exec produced for the Hallmark Channel include “A Lesson in Romance,” “The Santa Switch,” “The Thanksgiving House,” “I Married Who?,” “Matchmaker Santa” and “Notes From Dad.”
Levinson has been the subject of contention within the WGA for many years over residuals. In 2009, the guild filed claims against RHI Entertainment and Larry Levinson Prods. for allegedly failing to pay residuals to dozens of scribes for their work on TV movies.
Earlier this year, a group of WGA members who dubbed themselves Writers Unpaid sent an email to the WGA West board complaining about the issue.
“We are some of the writers of the over 30 made-for-Hallmark movies produced by Larry Levinson Productions for which Mr. Levinson has refused to pay the last few years of residuals, and for which the amount owed us, including countless late fees and interest, has now reached into the millions of dollars, perhaps exceeding the recent debacle with Nickelodeon,” the note began.
“We’ve been informed that the legal department has been back and forth with you a number of times on a request for a ‘Pencils Down’ order against Mr. Levinson, Larry Levinson Productions, and all of his owned and affiliated companies,” the note continued.
“We wanted to, as a unified group, add our strong and angry voices in agreement with the WGAW legal department opinion that we are well past the time for such an order, as well as our outrage at the impunity with which Larry Levinson continues to ignore and/or refuse payment, plus our dismay that this issue has been allowed to continue for so very long,” it added.
News of the board’s letter to Levinson was first reported by Deadline.