President Calls For Redefinition of Reality by Angela Taylor
Newly-elected WGA West president Patric M. Verrone opened the February 4 Writers Guild awards with a call to include reality television writers in the Guild’s bargaining. “Technology is nothing without content,” he said.
For months WGA leadership has been attempting to organize the “story editors,” “story producers” and “plot directors” who create reality television. It is these storytellers who have made possible the bottomless pot of gold that networks have found in reality programming, yet they are made to work in conditions that violate not only Hollywood standards, but California labor laws.
Verrone’s call was accompanied by video interviews with these “non-writers” recounting 22-hour workdays, working in conditions without running water or food, even when they were provided meal breaks, and astonishingly low compensation, given the fat cash cow that is reality television.
Missing from Verrone’s remarks, but very much on everyone’s mind, is the WGA’s contention that writers should share in the haul when they twist their work to make room for product placement. Look for that issue to be a bullet point when WGA contracts come up for re-negotiation in 2007.
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