Striking 'Fashion Police' Writers Slam Joan Rivers: 'We Were Shot Down' (Video)
The Fashion Police strike started April 17, and now the show's writers are speaking out about their disappointment with Joan Rivers' lack of support to help them receive a fair agreement, including health insurance, a pension plan and industry-standard compensation, with E! Network.
In a YouTube video posted by Writers Guild of America West, writers Jackie Beat, Dante, Eliza Skinner, Rob Nolan, Ned Rice, Todd Masterson and Bryan Cook describe how excited they felt when they initially started working for Rivers but were later disappointed by her unwillingness to help them receive standard labor benefits. The video begins with words typing across the screen reading, "Dear Joan: Can We Talk?"
Beat starts by saying how excited he was to work for Rivers, "When you're first approached to write for a legend, you know, for like Joan Rivers, you're thrilled."
"When I first started, it was amazing, yeah, for Joan Rivers. First thing I did was call my parents and say Joan Rivers is saying my words," says Dante.
Skinner, Nolan and Rice also express their appreciation for being able to work for the Fashion Police host when they started.
However, when the writers sought help from Rivers about getting a fair contract with E!, they said the 80-year-old comedian didn't give them the support they were hoping for. As Skinner puts it, "And then when we got to the point where we needed to talk about how we were treated and how we were compensated for doing all this work for her, she shut down."
Masterson adds, "We went to our meeting like normal and we were like, 'Let's just ask Joan,' so we got together and were going to ask Joan. As soon as Ned said one sentence and boom, we were shot down."
"She was completely nonreceptive to it. None of the producers was receptive to it. We were essentially told that if we tried to unionize, we would lose our jobs," says Cook.
In April, WGA announced that the Fashion Police writers filed a $1 million wage claim with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, alleging that E! broke state labor law by not paying them for working regular and overtime hours. The writers went on strike two weeks after filing the complaint.
Fashion Police, co-hosted by Rivers, Giuliana Rancic, Kelly Osbourne and George Kotsiopoulos, isn't covered by a WGA agreement. Previously, an E! rep has told The Hollywood Reporter in a statement that "Joan Rivers has gone on record repeatedly that she supports the Fashion Police writers and wants a fair agreement for them."
"The fact that Joan Rivers isn't just the star, but a member of the Writers Guild and she won't support her fellow Writers Guild member, is just astonishing to me. It's such a basic fairness issue," says Rice.
Beat ends the video stating, "Actions speak louder than words. If Joan supported the writers, this would be over."
Watch the Fashion Police writers speak below: