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Comedy writers want WGA support

Guild demands single contract for all shows

About three dozen writers on six Comedy Central skeins have asked to be repped by Writers Guild of America and are seeking a network-wide deal that would cover all future programming.

Thursday’s announcement by the WGA said the writers seeking Guild representation include “Mind of Mencia,” “The Sarah Silverman Program,” “Reno 911!,” “The Showbiz Show with David Spade” and upcoming series “Lil’ Bush” and “American Body Shop.”

Viacom-owned Comedy Central responded by criticizing the WGA’s demand for a single contract covering all shows.

“We have been speaking with the WGA’s leadership and we have offered to promptly begin negotiating contracts for each of our current live action shows,” the net said.  “We are dismayed that the WGA has rejected our offer and instead has precipitously chosen to take this issue public.”

Mary Fitzgerald, a writer on “American Body Shop,” said, “As a large part of the creative force behind Comedy Central’s success, we writers deserve recognition, protection and benefits. The other people working on our productions are represented by unions. It’s crazy that the writers are not.”

The WGA’s been able to make deals for Comedy Central’s New York-based “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and “The Colbert Report” but noted the majority of writers at the network are not covered by a Guild agreement.

WGA West president Patric Verrone has made organizing non-union shows a priority during his two-year tenure. The guild tried for several months last year to organize “America’s Next Top Model” by supporting a strike by the dozen writers via dozens of demonstrations and rallies but was unsuccessful as those writer slots wound up being eliminated.

Verrone said Thursday, “As a comedy writer, I applaud Comedy Central’s success. It is a literal oasis in the current TV comedy landscape. I encourage them to sign a WGA contract so they can keep the writers working there now and attract other WGA writers in the future – lest their success become a mirage,” said WGAW President Patric M. Verrone.

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