On the heels of the Tyler Perry's House of Payne labor controversy—in which WGA heads Patric Verrone and Michael Winship filed an angry grievance with the National Labor Relations Board, demanding restitution for "an abused writing staff forced to churn out sitcom dialogue with a pistol pressed to their temples by the world's wealthiest, union-busting grandma-with-a-dick,"—comes yet another fiery piece of rhetoric from the militant duo. This time, they target Fox's planned Osbourne family variety show, for which producer FremantleMedia is hoping they can get their snappy repartee wholesale. An excerpt from their letter:
Fox has ordered a primetime comedy-variety show featuring Ozzy Osbourne and his family, and has engaged FremantleMedia North America, the company behind American Idol, to produce it. Because they wanted to hire WGA members to write the show, Fremantle contacted the WGAW to see if we would agree to a sub-standard contract. Attempting to pay as little as possible to the writers on the show, Fremantle asked to treat it as “half-scripted” and pay greatly reduced writing fees to those writers who wrote skits, interview material, intros, and “outros.”
We refused to agree to such a deal because it would drastically undermine hard-won minimums and standards. [...] Accordingly, WGA East and West members may not write for the Osbourne variety show (working title: The Osbournes: Loud and Dangerous). Any members who perform writing services on that show do so at their own peril as they will be violating WGA Working Rule 8 and could be fined up to 100% of their compensation for that work.
We agree, and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our variety-show-patter-writing brothers and sisters. If they're going to conjure up golden nuggets like: "Sharon: Say goodnight, Ozzy. Ozzy: Grfbbbllhlrhhh. Audience laughter" then they sure as hell should be paid fairly for it!