Exposé: ABC Seeks Special Waiver From WGA Allowing Them to Skirt Writer Guarantees!





Multiple sources have confirmed to Daytime Confidential.com that ABC Daytime has approached the Writers Guild of America (WGA) requesting a special waiver allowing them to disregard guarantees already promised writers as a part of their current, respective contracts, in order to cut up to 20 scripted episodes a year from each of their three soap operas— All My Children, One Life to Live and General Hospital— to be replaced with classic episodes.

"ABC is basically saying, if you don't give us the waiver, we'll have no choice but to start firing writers on each show," says one source.

The timing for ABC's move has proven to be a cause for alarm for many in the industry, considering the current Minimum Basic Agreement (MBA) between the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers (AMPTP) expires May 1, 2011.

"A lot of people are wondering if ABC is doing this now in order to strengthen their position before it's time to start negotiating a new contract with the Guild in about six months," says a network insider.

ABC reportedly gave the WGA a deadline of August to decide to allow the waiver, or they will reportedly fire at least one writer on each show. That month, the network plans to start airing its first round of "classic episodes" promoting the return of Vanessa Marcil to General Hospital.

On Tuesday, July 13—following my initial  Rumor Report on July 12 concerning ABC allegedly wanting to cut as many as 20 new, scripted episodes per year, per soap— ABC Daytime released a press release confirming classic episodes featuring General Hospital character Brenda Barrett (Marcil) and the "men in her life", Sonny (Maurice Benard), Jax (Ingo Radamacher) and Jason (Steve Burton) will "own the ABC Daytime drama block from 1:00-3:00 PM, ET on Tuesday, August 10."

"ABC is really betting the whole house on Vanessa's return," says one mole.

Promoting the return of Marcil and other "classic" ABC Daytime couples isn't the only reason for ABC Daytime's alleged decision to cut down their order of scripted episodes. As I previously reported, shaving production costs is the major factor.

"ABC sees this as something that will help to keep the soaps on the air," says a source. "People are really split. Some feel like, 'hey, whatever. Do what you need to do to keep all three soaps on the air', while others are ticked off. With SOAPnet going off in a year and a half, the soaps' employees are already losing those residuals, and they've already endured massive cuts."

One insider pointed out that daytime writers make only a fraction for their work what their primetime counterparts make, and don't have the luxury of having money coming in from DVD sales or residuals as a cushion.

"People think daytime writers make a lot of money, but they really don't," says the source. "The minimum pay for a primetime script is about 10 times more than the pay for a daytime script. When you factor in taxes, agents, managers and the cost of living in LA, most daytime writers are making a decent, middle class living, but they certainly aren't getting rich like most people think."

Keep checking back with Daytime Confidential.com as this story continues to develop...

 
 

Comments

TV Gord's picture
Member since:
18 February 2009
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3 hours 12 min

An interesting dilemma. Will the union give in to save jobs, but at the same time lose some of their power? Will they stand their ground and hope their membership will understand that some jobs may have to be sacrificed in order to maintain a strong position in the union-management negotiations?

Man, if the soaps had storylines this compelling, they might not be in the trouble they're in these days!

dkp's picture
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9 June 2009
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5 weeks 2 days

Yeah, why are the stuff going on behind the scenes of these soaps, way more interesting than what's airing? LOL

curacaoman's picture
Member since:
10 February 2009
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11 hours 32 min

ABC does need to fire writers on all three shows, but in order to HIRE NEW ONES!
The headwriters on all 3 shows need to go, then, with good stories that attract viewers, no budget cuts will be necessary!

curacaoman's picture
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10 February 2009
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11 hours 32 min

Sorry, double post!

TV Gord's picture
Member since:
18 February 2009
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3 hours 12 min

No problem, curacaoman. It was worth saying twice! Wink It IS ridiculous how they have the same few players on the chess board that they keep moving around. How much new blood do they ever recruit onto the writing teams? And do they welcome new and different ideas or do the newbies get indoctrinated to churn out the same ol' same ol'... (sigh)

craigcp's picture
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6 May 2009
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1 year 38 weeks

I wish they would do something like that on CBS remaining soaps, they are a mess, some heads need to roll there too. But their ratings are still good, lord I don't know why. CBS is slowly killing them. Just shoot them now and put them out of there misery.

Silver44's picture
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1 January 2010
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"ABC is really betting the whole house on Vanessa's return," says one mole.

This belief is what is wrong with ABC daytime and what in the end will kill it.

Member since:
6 February 2009
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2 years 48 weeks

Sorry, I hve no sympathy for the writers. No way do I buy that they are "middle class". The daytime genre is dying, either step up and be part of the solution, or get out of the way. I don't know of anyone who hasn't had their income affected in one way or the other by the current economy, why should daytime be any different?

Member since:
25 February 2009
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2 years 2 weeks

I completely agree, Kitty. I've had it with the crappy writing on Y&R, and Days isn't much better. They need new blood on all the soaps. They need to start making cuts to casts, to headwriters, and everything else they can cut.

Joan76's picture
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9 September 2009
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2 years 27 weeks

Be careful what you wish for, you may get it.

Member since:
25 February 2009
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2 years 2 weeks

The catch is that they must cut the right cast members. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. Getting rid of non-core characters and putting others on recurring would do the trick for me. I'll wait and see.

Member since:
12 June 2008
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48 weeks 3 days

What I want to know is actually what is the exact middle income figure that daytime writers are making less than 100k. I agree with Kitty I am not feeling sorry for them atall, you want to make primetime money then find a job in primetime. Elementary teachers make less than college professors, detectives make more than beat cops this is nothing new the higher up on the ladder the more money you put in your pocket.

Member since:
21 May 2008
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28 weeks 7 hours

Feel free to fire Bob Guza anytime!!

Member since:
22 January 2008
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7 hours 51 min

Many daytime script writers are making less than $100 K a year now. Head writers make a king and queen's ransom, but script and breakdown writers don't.

Ryan-Scott's picture
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4 May 2009
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1 hour 5 min

Headwriters make in the million range.
That's a fact.

Pathetic fact but a fact nonetheless.

curacaoman's picture
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10 February 2009
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11 hours 32 min

Fire not just Guza, fire the headwriters on all ABC soaps!
And fire the Frons while you are at it, ABC!

Member since:
1 July 2009
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7 weeks 6 hours

I say fire Frons, first!!!! I also say just don't hire new writers, hire new writers that will honor the history and integrity of the soaps. Bring in more diversity and showcase everybody, get rid of useless characters and go from there.

Member since:
8 May 2008
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6 days 14 hours

I with you, fire Frons, Guza, and the rest of the abc writers and start fresh with new, creative ones with great ideas to save this industry.

Member since:
25 February 2009
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2 years 2 weeks

Amen, Keanna! Smile I think someone mentioned on this site several months ago (I know I read it somewhere) that NBC has no daytime head-honcho. They would save money by cutting out the "middle-man" and firing Brian Frons and Barbara Bloom. They do nothing but micromanage the soaps anyway.
I agree about there needing to be more diversity, but I would say that they don't need to hire any more actors/actresses at all. They need to save money, so putting people on recurring and paring the casts would be more realistic.

swaggy's picture
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14 July 2010
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3 years 40 weeks

Maybe having 20 less shows would force the writers to speed up storylines, and the let the dead weight go.

Member since:
28 June 2009
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wow I didn't think head writers made that much -- seems sort of counter-productive to keeping the shows on the air but i guess they need to earn their pay while they still can!

nysam's picture
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28 October 2008
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Not sure where the writer researched to get his info on soap writers being "middle class". Having worked in the business head writers traditionally get $1 millon. In the hey day of soaps it was $2 million or more. The breakdown and script writers range from about $130k - $500k depending on how long they have been on their shows. They get bumps regardless of their material being good or not. Most writers only write one breakdown or script a week. It doesn't equate to a full 5 day work week. Many writers churn out their breakdowns or scripts in 2 - 3 days. They certainly aren't working the hours that the average American does of 9 - 5 (if not longer hours) Monday - Friday. On top of it most of them work from the comfort of their homes and don't have to deal with working in an office environment.

Last time I checked $130k or even $100k isn't considered middle class.

Member since:
6 February 2009
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2 years 48 weeks

Thanks nysam for your post. I knew they didn't work every day and thought what they were making was around the figures you gave.

Member since:
14 July 2010
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2 years 45 weeks

Heck, I'd be happy to write for a show for $100,000 a year. I could probably come up with something new too. But yes, please, Fire GUZA!

Member since:
15 November 2007
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3 years 40 weeks

great article. fire frons. get rid of that damn "Middle-Man". if these classic episodes about brenda that prempt AMC and OLTL bomb in the ratings then all these other classics will do so most likely and ABC will have major EGG on their face

alstonboy4315's picture
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12 February 2010
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6 weeks 6 days

Seriously, any Tom, Dick or Raheim can write a soap opera. It just takes a little common sense, insight, a sense of humor, and an ability to admit when you are wrong and change course QUICKLY, before you capsize the whole freaking ship!!

And I think that headwriters make a LITTLE more than $100,000 a year---they probably earn that per MONTH. And yes I am shaking my head in absolute disgust as I write that.

What other job do you get REWARDED for writing foolishness and displaying utter INCOMPETENCE at every turn??? I am in the wrong damned business. I need to become a soap writer. Where can I fill out an application???????

Member since:
22 January 2008
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7 hours 51 min

nysam,  most shows have forced the majority of writers to go back to WGA minimums. Some showrunners are now opting to use "half guarantees" where script writers can make as little as $70,000. Sure, there are still writers who rake it in, but as with anything, this likely won't effect them. The low writers on the totem pole will likely be the sacrificial lambs.
 

Member since:
22 January 2008
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7 hours 51 min

Head writers make around 32,000 a week.
 

EricasEvilTwin's picture
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15 July 2008
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NYSam thanks for your insight. As usual its gives us a very valuable perspective.

TV Gord's picture
Member since:
18 February 2009
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3 hours 12 min

This is why I prefer not to know what anyone makes for a living. Now, I'm pissed off. $32,000 a week for the contrived, derivative drivel that they churn out? Feh!