I’ve just been given the exclusive news that Ellen DeGeneres will not be bringing her syndicated talk show to NYC next week as planned. (The New York Post story today is wrong.) Ellen is taping her TBS special tomorrow night in Las Vegas and was supposed to catch a plane immediately afterwards for NYC.
The Ellen Degeneres Show was planning to tape in NYC next Monday and Tuesday, November 19th and 20th. Ellen is both a member of the WGA and AFTRA. Which is why the Writers Guild Of America East issued the statement it did last Friday headlined “Ellen Is Not Welcome In NY.” The guild had pledged to “certainly let Ellen know our dissatisfaction in person if she decides to proceed with the shows she has scheduled [and] make our voices heard the preceding week if she tries to pre-tape comedy segments on location.” Since then Ellen has been under fire by writers and others. The “s” word, for scab, has even been used during this controversy.
There has been a running dispute between the WGA East and AFTRA with Ellen smack in the middle because she went back on the air after honoring only one day of the writers strike. On her first day back, Ellen said she supports her writers but returned to work because of a) her crew and b) her company, which ordered her to, and c)a no-strike clause in her AFTRA contract.
But AFTRA was quick to defend Ellen, saying she had done nothing to violate the WGA agreement and noting that DeGeneres, like other first-run syndications that deliver original programming (Dr. Phil, Regis and Kelly, and Oprah), has a contractual obligation as host and producer. Also a portion of the Writers Guild’s “Minimum Basic Agreement” (MBA) supposedly excuses Ellen’s situation.
But the writers guild scolded Ellen for not making an “act of individual conscience”.
I should note here that AFTRA is often accused of having undercut Guild contracts for years and poaching jobs that are traditional union jurisdiction. But AFTRA pulled out a letter to Ellen dated November 8th (and written before today’s WGAE statement) expressing “appreciation” to Ellen “for your individual act of solidarity shown to the striking writers in their efforts to negotiate a fair contract with the industry producers.”