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I have exclusively not one but two letters from AFTRA (see below) — one thanking Ellen DeGeneres for her support of the writers and the other contradicting today’s WGA East statement attacking the comedienne. (See my previous, WGAE States Ellen “Not Welcome In NY”.) But first, her rep’s statement: “Ellen has done nothing to violate the Writers Guild of America agreement. Ellen is competing with other first-run syndicated shows that are delivering original programming like Dr. Phil, Regis and Kelly, and Oprah during the competitive November sweeps period. Telepictures and Warner Bros have a contractual obligation to the affiliates to continue production and deliver original programming. They asked Ellen to come back to work to fulfill her contractual obligation as host and producer.
“As a syndicated show, the individual stations control when the show airs. If Telepictures does not deliver original episodes of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, the stations can move the show out of its time periods, or ultimately hold the company in breach of contract.
“Telepictures provides first run programming to stations they don’t control. The network controls their own schedule and programming with the late night shows as Leno, Conan, Kimmel etc. (We can’t speak to the specific deals at each network or to the specifics of other shows’ decisions to stop production).”
I should point out that AFTRA is often accused of having undercut Guild contracts for years and poaching jobs that are traditional SAG jurisdiction. But here is the first letter from AFTRA dated November 8th (and written before today’s WGAE statement) expressing “appreciation to you for your invidual act of solidarity shown to the striking writers in their efforts to negotiate a fair contract with the industry producers”:
And then today AFTRA wrote a second letter defending Ellen to the WGA East after that organization’s attack on the TV host today. This is signed by AFTRA National executive Director Kim Roberts Hedgpeth:
Finally, here is the portion of the Writers Guild’s “Minimum Basic Agreement (MBA) that addresses Ellen’s situation as it now stands: