Writer’s Guild Files Complaint Against Tyler Perry
LOS ANGELES ““ The Writers Guild of America West said Thursday that it had filed an unfair labor practice complaint with the National Labor Relations Board against Tyler Perry’s production studio after it fired four writers for the popular TBS situation comedy, “House of Payne” who were seeking union representation.
Jeff Hermanson, an assistant executive director for the Writers Guild, said that the four writers, who were based in Los Angeles, were fired earlier this week after negotiations between the Writers Guild and representatives of Mr. Perry’s production company, which is based in Atlanta, broke down.
The four writers also were working on the development of a new comedy being produced by Mr. Perry, “Meet the Browns,” a spinoff of his recent film of the same name that is scheduled to premiere in January on TBS. The four writers who were fired include more than half of the seven writers working on the new series.
“House of Payne” attracts an audience of 3 million to 4 million viewers each week. It attracted attention two years ago when Mr. Perry signed a land mark distribution deal that some television trade publications said valued the series at $200 million, a stunning total for a non-broadcast series.
The deal provided for TBS to receive first rights to air 100 episodes, which would then be offered to broadcast stations for syndication beginning in the fall of 2008.
Matt Johnson, a Los Angeles attorney representing Mr. Perry said the writers’ firing had nothing to do with the contract negotiation but was instead related to “the quality of their work.”
“We continue to work toward a resolution of their contract, and after months of negotiations we have reached agreement with the Guild on every major issue but one,” that being residuals from repeats shown on broadcast television stations.
Mr. Johnson said the three other writers on the show were asked to stay and that two of them did.
The Writers Guild had been negotiating with representatives of Mr. Perry’s studio since April, Mr. Hermanson said. He said that the writers ““ Kellie Griffin, Christopher Moore, Teri Brown-Jackson and Lamont Ferrell ““ had sought a union contract because they felt they were underpaid and lacked benefits.
The writers are planning to picket this weekend in Atlanta at the opening of Tyler Perry Studios, a 28-acre production complex that Mr. Perry built outside Atlanta