WGA Rips Joan Rivers for 'Derisive and Crude Comments' on Fashion Police Writers
The Writers Guild reacted with outrage Thursday to comments by Joan Rivers that appear to disparage striking writers on the E! show Fashion Police and to represent a turnabout from a supportive position Rivers agreed to as part of a settlement of charges against her six weeks ago.
As earlier reported, Rivers sided in an interview on Splitsider with the network's position that a union election be held before any negotiations take place between E! and the WGAE, with Rivers quoted as saying "E! is right. They wanted writers to take a vote before they went out and decided to strike, and the WGA wanted them to negotiate to not take a vote."
That appears to be at odds with a position she took in connection with dismissal of the charges, when she said in a statement, "It's time for both sides to sit down at the table and negotiate. Forget about [holding a union representation] election."
In addition, Rivers referred in the interview to "these poor schmuck writers," and added "You know, you want to go like, 'You asshole, you're stupid! Everyone get together. Calm down.' ... Everyone is posturing, like, 'My d--k is bigger than your d--k.' ... And ... you know, they're all idiots."
Rivers' comments outraged the union. In a statement mailed to The Hollywood Reporter, WGA East president Michael Winship said, "The Writers Guild of America, East, has been made aware of Ms. Joan River's recent derisive and crude comments about the hardworking and mistreated writers of Fashion Police, who have been on strike for months trying to gain union representation and the redress of terrible wages and working conditions. What she has said is not only reprehensible but flies in the face of a settlement with the WGAE to which she agreed. How dare she at first proclaim solidarity with fellow writers and then so crassly stab them in the back?"
Winship added, "She should be ashamed of herself, although it is clear that the concept of shame does not trouble what little conscience she has. Because the strike continues, she must continue to refuse to write, but her latest statement egregiously violates the spirit of the rest of the settlement. We are exploring all options."
On Wednesday, a group composed of the striking writers and their supporters denounced Rivers as a "hypocrite" for her comments and called on Winship to act.
The WGA West sanctioned strike has been ongoing since April. The guild is seeking pension and health benefits, residuals and what it calls "industry-standard compensation" for writers on the show. In addition, the WGAW helped writers file complaints with the California labor commissioner, alleging that E! and Rivers' Rugby Productions owe about $1.5 million in unpaid wages and overtime.
Bookmark The Hollywood Reporter’s Labor Page for the most in-depth coverage of entertainment unions and guilds.
Email: jhandel99 at gmail dot com