The ongoing writers’ strike has led to a concession from the Writers Guild of America the day before talks resumed: they are giving up their demand that producers organize reality show workers. On Tuesday, the WGA’s leadership sent a message to its members, published by Nikki Finke, that says in part,
“In order to make absolutely clear our commitment to bringing a speedy conclusion to negotiations we have decided to withdraw our proposals on reality and animation. Our organizing efforts to achieve Guild representation in these genres for writers will continue. You will hear more about this in the next two weeks.”
Last October, Variety reported that the guild was going to dump its demands to organize reality in order to avert a strike, but the WGA denied that and said its efforts are ongoing. That’s kind of what’s happened now, though, although again the WGA insists that it will still continue its unionization efforts.
That “removed a major impediment to reaching a deal similar to last week’s settlement between the production companies and the Directors Guild of America,” The New York Times reports. “Patric M. Verrone, current president of the West Coast guild, had been a staunch advocate of the demand for reality and animation jurisdiction. But production companies argued that they were powerless to grant it, in part because many writers in that area are already covered by other unions.”
Dropping their immediate demand for unionizing reality shows comes at a time when reality shows are performing better than the scripted shows they replaced, but that wouldn’t be as possible had reality show story producers been represented by the union. Then again, a strike didn’t stop America’s Next Top Model, which simply replaced its story producers with editors.