This happened on Wednesday (which in cyberspace time, is EONS ago!), but I’m just now catching up on my industry news from right before Thanksgiving.
Anyway, as you may remember, last month I posted several posts about the Writers Guild taking on Tyler Perry Studios, which was producing TBS‘s hit show House of Payne without using WGA writers… and it then fired four writers who tried to unionize! The Guild fought a strong fight, including sending an army of screenwriters to the protest Payne’s grand opening in Atlanta.
Well… good news!… as of Wednesday, thanks to some help from the NAACP, Tyler Perry has agreed to cooperate with the Guild and make his TV shows union! This will ensure that writers staffed on Perry’s shows will receive health and medical benefits, pensions, and reasonable working hours and conditions– a huge, and long overdue, victory for writers!
On the downside: the four fired writers– Kellie Griffin, Christopher Moore, Teri Brown-Jackson, Lamont Ferrell— were not hired back.
Just wanted to give you that update after posting the seeds of the story last month… and here’ the official press release if you’re interested:
Atlanta, GA (November 26, 2008) — Tyler Perry Studios and the Writers
Guild of America, West today announced that they have come to an
agreement following more than five months of negotiations. Vic Bulluck,
executive director of the NAACP Hollywood Bureau, was instrumental in
bringing the two parties together.
“We are pleased to have come to a resolution with the WGA, and thank
the NAACP for their support during negotiations. We look forward to
many years working with the talented writers who are members of the
Guild.” stated Tyler Perry. “With a continued focus on fostering young,
diverse talent, we are eager to continue our dialogue with the WGA to
dramatically increase the number of minority writers working in
“At a time when true independent producers like Mr. Perry are rare in
this business, we congratulate him on his success and welcome his
decision to become signatory to a WGA contract,” said Writers Guild of
America, West President Patric M. Verrone. “I also would like to thank
Ben Jealous, NAACP national president and CEO, Vic Bulluck, executive
director NAACP Hollywood Bureau, and Clayola Brown, national president
of the A. Philip Randolph Institute, for their help during this
“The NAACP is a staunch advocate for workers rights and for nearly one
hundred years has fought for greater minority representation and
inclusion in Hollywood. We applaud Tyler Perry’s efforts to not only
promote, but to also provide work for people of color in the
entertainment industry,” stated Benjamin Jealous, president and CEO of
the NAACP. Adding, “We recognize the unique and important influence
writers have in our society. The NAACP will continue to work with the
WGA to make sure their rights are protected and that all the networks
and studios provide greater opportunity for minority writers.”
The contract with the WGA was the last union agreement outstanding for
Tyler Perry Studios, which had previously brokered deals with the
Teamsters, IATSE, SAG, DGA, and others. Acknowledging that some of the
writers on the TBS series House of PayneMeet the Browns will not be returning, Perry thanked them for their services and wished them well in their future endeavors.
Matt Johnson of Ziffrren, Brittenham negotiated the deal for Tyler Perry Studios.
Tyler Perry Studios is 100% financed by Tyler Perry in an
entrepreneurial endeavor, and is not backed by a studio or other
investors. The studio produces both Meet the Browns and House of Payne, as well as several feature films a year including the upcoming Madea Goes to Jail.
Perry recently announced the formation of another production arm, 34th
Street Films, which will develop projects written and directed by
talent other than Perry under the Tyler Perry brand.