A group of 25 “outraged” top-level producers, led by Arnold Kopelson and Richard Zanuck, met Feb. 23 to form their plan of attack against a Writers Guild of America contract clause that switches the placement of their credit on a pic’s final print.
Kopelson, the group’s spokesman, acknowledged the producers met at Zanuck’s home, but refused to divulge details of the discussion.
Among the producers at the A-list confab were David Brown, Zanuck and his wife, Lili Fini Zanuck, John Davis, Dawn Steel, Gale Anne Hurd, Robert Rehme, Mace Neufeld, Lauren Shuler-Donner, Larry Gordon, David Foster, Michael Turman and Michael Shamberg.
“We met to discuss the problem and to determine a plan of action,” Kopelson said. “We are taking this very seriously. This is a group of very important, very outraged people in this community. We will take action at an appropriate time and we don’t know what that action is.”
Sources said the group discussed putting together a legal defense fund with the intention of filing a class-action suit, although the intended target of the suit is unclear. The producers are talking to at least one attorney in the Washington, D.C., area to represent them.
The credits flap boils down to an issue of custom and usage based on property rights. Producers are convinced that they have a contractual right, in some instances, to credit placement.
Some producers also have existing deals with studios that mandate credit placement.
The producers were hopping mad last week when they discovered that the WGA had hammered out a contract clause with the studios’ rep, the Alliance of Motion Picture & TV Producers, that allows the writer credit to be placed immediately before the director’s credit on prints just before the film starts.
Zanuck said the group was “formulating a response” to give to the studios.