Tyler Perry's Union Woes No Longer Concealable Beneath XXXL DressOne of the advantages of being a self-contained media emperor also happens to be one of that job's thorniest disadvantages: You are on the hook for everything. Take Tyler Perry, whose ability to print money you'll already have gleaned from reading our probing Defamer Answers study: Between grossing $225 million in three years at the box office and nabbing a $200 million deal for his syndicated series House of Payne, this weekend's opening of his new Tyler Perry Studios outside Atlanta should have been a landmark occasion for the formerly homeless hyphenate and occasional cross-dressing superstar. Instead, we hear the WGA is helping to organize a strike action on behalf of four of Perry's former writers at Payne, who have alleged they were fired Tuesday after attempting to unionize the show's staff since April to acquire health and pension benefits. Not very Christlike, Tyler!The writers said Perry warned them weeks ago to "be careful about pushing the WGA deal or you could be replaced.” Now a grievance is on file with the National Labor Relations Board, and the Tyler Perry Four are lobbying invited guests to either join them Saturday on the picket line or skip the fête altogether. This is a civil rights issue, after all, according to a release dispatched this afternoon by the WGA:
“It’s very disheartening considering that this is a studio run by African Americans. What Tyler Perry is essentially saying to us is that ‘you’re black and there’s not a lot of opportunities for you so you’ll take what I give you’ – whether it’s fair or not.” “I feel like I was slapped in the face, like we were used” said writer and WGAW member Teri Brown-Jackson. “We were good enough to create over a hundred episodes, but now when it comes to reaping the benefits of the show being syndicated and having other spin-offs from it, he decides to let us go unless we accept a horrible offer.” [...] The show’s head writer, Kellie Griffin, added, “A lot of people who fought for civil rights and social justice never really saw what eventually came out of their work. While I’d like to see something positive come out of this for us, if this fight helps future black writers get what they deserve, that’s a good thing.”
It's an age-old story, but on one hand we're shocked: All this time we thought Perry was cranking out Madea scripts 10 at a time while directing House of Payne with the free side of his brain. On the other, we really should have known that one man couldn't be responsible for so many enduring — and enduringly lucrative — masterpieces on his own, leading us to wonder if he'll have what it takes to assemble Madea's vocal, violent response in time for both his guests and his picketers by Saturday. Surely a few drones in that shiny new quip mill of his are working unpaid overtime tonight. Developing...