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The Writers Guild of America has signed 1,000 writers as potential members during its nascent organizing drive aimed at scribes working in the booming reality TV sector.

The WGA, which launched Nonfiction Writers Caucus and a two-page Nonfiction Organizing Contract in April, is now in the process of identifying specific production companies for an organizing campaign. Only a few of the several thousand writer slots on nonfiction cable series are covered by the Guild.

“The nonfiction sector on basic cable is starting to dwarf what we cover in network primetime,” WGA West organizing director Gerry Daley said. “The profits are staggering because the production budgets are so threadbare.”

The Guild has been touting its low-cost agreement for nonfiction series on basic cable nets with standard contract features such as health, pension and credits protection. Daley said the WGA is in talks with about half a dozen production companies to sign the pact.

Scribes joining the caucus will receive waiver of their initiation fee if they are at a company where a drive succeeds along with a six-month amnesty for any work performed for a non-signatory employer. The WGA also is allowing members to take jobs with nonsignatories for basic cable as long as they agree to tell the Guild and help organize the production company.

WGA West prexy Victoria Riskin told members earlier this year that expanding guild jurisdiction to the reality TV sector would be a major priority in upcoming negotiations with studios and nets. Current contract expires May 1, 2004.

Riskin also accused the entertainment congloms of duplicitous behavior on the reality TV front, saying they form “doppelganger” companies with the sole purpose of avoiding WGA contracts.