E! "Fashion Police" writers filed claims with the state of California earlier this month for alleged back wages, and now they’re going on strike.
The Writers Guild of America issued a press release Wednesday announcing the strike, two weeks after the writers filed their initial claims. A total of 12 “Fashion Police” writers are now on strike. The WGA instructed members of the writers guild to not work on the show, and warned non-members that working on the show could endanger future membership in the guild.
“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,” “Fashion Police” writer Ned Rice said in the WGA statement.
The strike is against both E! and ‘Fashion Police’ host Joan Rivers’ production company, Rugby Productions. However, E! said, in an internal memo from E! network president Suzanne Kolb cited by Deadline Hollywood, that Rivers “has gone on record repeatedly that she supports the Fashion Police writers and wants a fair agreement for them.”
“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,” Kolb wrote. Kolb said that management is prepared to sit down with writers and that, “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 striking writers responded in a statement, calling the potential election cited by E! “a well-known stalling tactic.” In an email to KPCC, striking writer Eliza Skinner wrote, "They have not been standard in the entertainment industry, largely because most entertainment projects — like pilots — take less time than an election. To agree to one would set a dangerous standard."
The striking writers also called out Rivers, writing, “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.”
"We are very excited to hear that Joan wants to support us," Skinner wrote in her email to KPCC. "Most of us work there because we love Joan and enjoy working with her. We hope that she takes actions to stand with us."
The WGA also sent a letter to members about the strike, encouraging them to spread word about it to non-members.
“If the stand-up and comedy-variety writing communities support this strike, the show cannot go on, at least with its current format and quality,” the WGA wrote in its letter.
Striking writer Jackie Beat put out a video asking other writers to do just that.
Beat specifically thanked Rivers for helping out with fundraising for double-hip replacement surgery Beat is undergoing Thursday, but added, “if I was being paid properly and if I had medical insurance,” Beat wouldn’t have needed that support.
Skinner wrote a blog post also asking other writers not to cross picket lines which has received hundreds of likes and reblogs.
The writers are seeking payment for what they say is unpaid time, both regular and overtime hours. How much money did those claims seek? A cool $1.5 million.
This story has been updated.