I have learned that Sony late last night presented a new financial package to the WGA writers of Sit Down, Shut Up! — but it still keeps the animated series an IATSE show. A Sony insider tells me that if the WGA writers won’t agree to it then “the show won’t go forward”. There have been some other interesting developments since I first broke the news about the turmoil behind-the-scenes of this show scheduled for midseason on Fox in the coveted 8:30 PM time slot between The Simpsons and Family Guy. Remember how I told you that the WGA writers worked without a contract or paycheck based on lies from Sony that Sit Down, Shut Up! would be a Writers Guild show? Well, Sony/IATSE rushed out checks on IATSE time sheets to the writers’ agents hoping to resolve the stand-off through such an all-too-obvious ploy. But rather than deposit the checks, the writers instructed their agents to mark them “Return To Sender”.
Meanwhile, the WGA found what it considers a loophole in the IATSE Local 839 contract that also could have resolved the standoff: 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 made are 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 tells me. “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.” This has turned into one of the “back and forth crazy mindfucks” most of the participants have ever experienced, which is why many of the WGA writers are already looking for other work.