Nikki Finke's DEADLINE HOLLYWOOD DAILY reprinted a letter on Tuesday evening from 19 WGA animation writers to the striking writers over at embattled Sony show SIT DOWN, SHUT UP:
"July 1, 2008To Our Fellow Writers,
We are writing to you regarding a new Fox primetime animated show called SIT DOWN, SHUT UP, produced by Sony. We, the undersigned, are all members of the WGA who have written for animation, and created and run animated shows. And we've done it under a WGA contract. Sony is refusing to give the writers a WGA contract for their work on the show and the writers are refusing to accept employment without one.
Sony should know that we applaud the actions of these writers. We would not work on this show and we will dissuade all other writers from taking these jobs if they are offered. We are all part of this fight, and we must stick together. We support the writers of SIT DOWN, SHUT UP who stood up and spoke out.
Rich Appel, co-creator/showrunner, THE CLEVELAND SHOWJonathan Aibel, former showrunner, KING OF THE HILLJohn Altschuler, creator/showrunner, THE GOODE FAMILYMike Barker, executive producer, AMERICAN DADGlenn Berger, former showrunner, KING OF THE HILLDavid X. Cohen, showrunner, FUTURAMAJim Dauterive, co-showrunner, KING OF THE HILLDavid A. Goodman, showrunner, FAMILY GUYAl JeanDave Krinsky, creator/showrunner, THE GOODE FAMILYSeth MacFarlane, creator, FAMILY GUY, AMERICAN DAD, THE CLEVELAND SHOWDavid Mirkin, former showrunner, THE SIMPSONSMike Reiss, former showrunner, THE SIMPSONMike Scully, producer, THE SIMPSONSChris Sheridan, showrunner, FAMILY GUYSam Simon, executive producer, THE SIMPSONSGarland Marie Testa, co-showrunner, KING OF THE HILLMatt Weitzman, co-creator, AMERICAN DADDavid Zuckerman, former showrunner, FAMILY GUY"
Finke broke the news last month that the show had been shut down due to contract and guild issues with the staff.
Sony's last move was on June 23, when they presented new financial packages to the WGA writers of SIT DOWN, but keeping the animated series an IATSE show. A Sony insider told Finke that if the WGA writers won't agree to it, then "the show won't go forward."
SIT DOWN was scheduled to debut midseason on Fox in the coved 8:30 p.m. slot between THE SIMPSON and FAMILY GUY. The WGA writers worked without a contract or paycheck based on an assumption that Sony would make the show a Writers Guild show.
Sony and the IATSE rushed out checks on IATSE time sheets to the writers' agents hoping to resolve the stand-off through an "all-too-obvious ploy," Finke reports. However, the writers instructed their agents to mark the checks "Return to Sender."
The WGA, meanwhile, found a loophole in the IATSE Local 839 contract that also could have resolved the standoff, Finke reports. It's a provision that if workers appropriate to the task at hand cannot be found within IATSE, then the show can subcontract the work with no penalty as long as the deals are made the same or better than IATSE's.
"It's a fully legitimate solution which provides Sony a fig leaf by letting them call this an IATSE show even though the writers are hired under the WGA," another insider told Finke "But Sony doesn't want to do it. The studio would rather flush away some of the best animation real estate on TV."
The reason is that Sony keeps telling the WGA that the studio can't fire the 14 IATSE writers in order to hire the 14 WGA writers without being sued. But the WGA keeps responding, "Of course you can. They're the same people," according to Finke.
Most of the WGA writers attached to SIT DOWN are already looking for other work.