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WGA working to put ad issue upfront

Guild takes aim at product placement

Looking to make a splash at the upfronts, the WGA West will bring out four high-profile showrunners to draw attention to writers’ complaints about increased product placement.

Scheduled to appear at a Wednesday morning news conference at the Parker Meridien in Gotham are Neil Baer (“Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”), Marc Cherry (“Desperate Housewives”), Carol Mendelsohn (“CSI: Miami,” “CSI: NY”) and former WGA West prexy John Wells (“The West Wing,” “ER”).

Writers Guild of America West prexy Patric Verrone and interim exec director David Young also are expected to attend.

The WGA West has pushed hard on the issue since last year, seeking a revamp of its contract to mandate that its members receive additional compensation when they’re required to integrate commercial products into scripts. Guild’s also disrupted panels, picketed an ad industry conference, set up Web sites mocking the practice and threatened to ask the feds to probe the legality of product placement.

The companies haven’t been impressed, and no negotiations have been scheduled to address the issue. The WGA’s current contract expires in October 2007.

WGA East president Chris Albers also may attend the event. “We’re looking at the upfronts as a real opportunity to raise awareness of a number of issues important to the Writers Guild of America East,” he said.

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