More than 175 comedy/variety writers have signed a petition urging ITV to enter a collective bargaining agreement covering its nonfiction writer-producers — including its upcoming variety show hosted by Neil Patrick Harris.
The Writers Guild of America East, which has been in a protracted battle with ITV over unionizing the company, has warned that it will not allow its members to work on the show.
“We are one guild,” the petition states. “By refusing to agree to a guild contract protecting its nonfiction writers and producers, ITV is also showing the back of its hand to us, the men and women who would write comedy/variety shows for ITV — in particular, the men and women ITV apparently expects to write a major new series for NBC starring Neil Patrick Harris.”
In response, ITV disputed the guild’s claims.
“The ITV Studios America affiliate producing ‘Saturday Night Takeaway’ has a binding agreement with the WGA covering the writers of that series. In an entirely separate matter, the WGA has falsely claimed that a different ITV Studios America affiliate has failed to negotiate in good faith in connection with the WGA’s representation of producers and associate producers of reality programming. In truth, the negotiating parties have reached agreement on the great majority of issues, and are working together to resolve any remaining differences.”
The show was announced in October, with Harris partnering with NBC to develop a variety show based on “Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeway,” which airs on the U.K.’s ITV. NBC ordered 10 episodes from ITV Studios America, all of which will be filmed in front of a live audience.
Harris has asserted that the show will be produced under a WGA contract.
The petition has been signed by comedy/variety writers who work on “The Late Show With David Letterman,” “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart,” “Saturday Night Live,” “The Colbert Report,” “The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon” and “Inside Amy Schumer.”
“Strangely, ITV expects to hire guild members to write the Neil Patrick Harris show while simultaneously breaching its duty to negotiate a contract covering guild-represented employees who write and produce nonfiction/reality shows for major cable television networks,” said Lowell Peterson, executive director of the WGA East.
The petition in full:
We are comedy-variety writers who work under collective bargaining agreements negotiated by the Writers Guild. This enables us to build sustainable careers doing work we care about, and to focus on creating material that audiences enjoy. This is the same thing the men and women who write and produce ITV’s nonfiction television programs want, and deserve. We call upon ITV to agree to a Writers Guild contract covering its nonfiction work.
By refusing to agree to a Guild contract protecting its nonfiction writers and producers, ITV is also showing the back of its hand to us, the men and women who would write comedy/variety shows for ITV – in particular, the men and women ITV apparently expects to write a major new series for NBC starring Neil Patrick Harris.
We are one Guild – not separate unions based on genre or TV network. There is not a Guild for people who write comedy/variety, a separate Guild for daytime serial writers, a separate Guild for news writers and producers, a separate Guild for feature film writers, a separate Guild for nonfiction writers and producers. ITV cannot expect to take advantage of the talent and experience of Writers Guild members who do comedy/variety while disrespecting the talent and experience of its nonfiction writer-producers.