Legislative play bill

Solons stage revival of playwrights' pact plan

Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) will reintroduce legislation that allows playwrights to collectively negotiate a new standard contract for Broadway productions of their works.

The Playwrights Licensing AntiTrust Initiative Act of 2004 will be introduced Wednesday in the Senate. Arthur Miller, Stephen Sondheim and Wendy Wasserstein will speak in favor of the legislation.

On the opposing side, producer Roger Berlind (“Wonderful Town”) and Gerald Schoenfeld, chairman of the Shubert Organization, are scheduled to appear.

Hatch, together with Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), introduced a similar bill two years ago. It was called the Playwrights Licensing Release Act of 2002.

New bill would modify current antitrust laws by authorizing collective negotiations between playwrights and producers regarding the development, licensing and production of plays. It gives the parties the ability to negotiate a new standard contract without the threat of antitrust action.

Unlike actors, directors, choreographers and other legit creatives, playwrights are not considered employees of producers and therefore not covered by the National Labor Relations Act. As copyright holders, they are deemed individual contractors, whereas writers for movies and television are deemed employees of the studios, which retain copyright.

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