The stoppage comes after writers filed complaints with the state of California alleging that E! and show host Joan Rivers’ Rugby Prods., which jointly employ the scribes, have not paid $1.5 million in wages and overtime.
The Writers Guild of America, which assisted in the filing of the claims, also announced Wednesday that it is sanctioning the strike and has told the 12,000 members not to work on the show until the matter is settled.
“This is very simple,” said “Fashion Police” writer Ned Rice. “We have earned the right to be a Guild show, we deserve to be a Guild show, and we want to be a Guild show. The ball is clearly in E! and Rugby’s court right now and we’re ready to go back to work on ‘Fashion Police’ just as soon as they sign a WGA contract.”
WGA West president Chris Keyser and WGA East president Michael Winship issued a joint statement noting that “Fashion Police” is one of the network’s top-rated shows.
“Its writers are an integral part of that success,” Keyser and Winship said. “To deny them the basic guarantees that are the right of all writers is not only unjust, it is also a counterproductive business practice. All WGA members are now prohibited from working on ‘Fashion Police.’ This order will remain in effect until E! and Rugby do what is right.”
In an internal memo to E! employees, it was stated: “We are disappointed that the WGA has called a strike and some of the ‘Fashion Police’ writers have chosen to vacate their positions. It’s unfortunate given that we have taken every action to expedite an election for these writers to decide if they wish to have a bargaining representative, which is the NLRB process that E! and the Guild followed for two other shows now under WGA agreements. In fact, if the WGA had taken the same path as they did with ‘The Soup’ and ‘Chelsea Lately,’ we would be well into negotiations toward a deal at this time.”
The memo further states: “As a point of clarification, Joan Rivers has gone on record repeatedly that she supports the ‘Fashion Police’ writers and wants a fair agreement for them.”
In response, the “Fashion Police” writers issued a statement deriding the memo: “The election the Company is calling for is a well-known stalling tactic. By ignoring for weeks our repeated requests for negotiation of a fair deal, E! has forced us to vote with our feet. The best way our fellow Guild member Joan Rivers can show us her support is by putting down her pen until a WGA contract is in place.”