Fox’s animated series “Sit Down, Shut Up” is moving forward — but without one of its two showrunners.
Bill Oakley has departed “Sit Down, Shut Up” now that the bulk of the show’s writing staff have agreed to terms offered by producer Sony Pictures TV that will keep it under the jurisdiction of IATSE’s Animation Guild.
That means Oakley and his longtime writing partner Josh Weinstein have split — at least for now. Weinstein has opted to remain with “Sit Down, Shut Up.” Mitch Hurwitz also continues as exec producer.
Weinsten led the list of scribes — which also include Rich Rinaldi, Aisha Muharrar, Alex Herschlag, Laura Gutin, Dan Fybel, Aaron Ehasz, Michael Colton and John Aboud — who sent out a press release explaining their decision to stick with the show, even though it won’t be repped by the Writers Guild.
“This contract is a compromise,” they wrote, “an improvement over the standard (Animation Guild) terms we were initially offered, but not full WGA coverage … Reaching a deal will allow this program to move forward, providing jobs for many writers, animators, actors and production staff.”
Besides Oakley, one other “Sit Down” scribe also opted not to return.
In a statement, the WGA expressed disappointment that most of the writers chose to return — but said they did so after Sony gave each scribe a $200,000 blind script deal and “WGA equivalent residuals.”
“We understand why they did so but wish they hadn’t,” the guild said. “Had they stuck together, we believe that they would have won WGA coverage for ‘Sit Down, Shut Up.’ Two WGA members refused the deal, and we and their fellow writers applaud them.”
Writers on the show had stopped working last month after learning that “Sit Down” wouldn’t be produced under WGA jurisdiction.
Writers and producers were apparently given assurances by some Sony execs that a WGA deal was in the works — but were eventually told that it wouldn’t happen. Sony, meanwhile, then claimed that the scribes should have known that “Sit Down” would be IATSE-repped, given the union’s deal with Sony’s Adelaide Prods.
In the end, the writers sticking with the show said they were given WGA parity in auditable residuals, new media, script fees and merchandising rights. Sony also agreed to send a letter to the Intl. Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees confirming that future writers on the show would be given similar terms.
All of Fox’s other animated primetime series — as well as ABC’s upcoming “The Goode Family” — are covered by the WGA.