Two weeks ago, while the SAG-AMPTP contract talks were still going on, The Hollywood Reporter came out with a bombshell of a story. It claimed “AFTRA is dominating the field this year with at least 50 of the 70-plus broadcast pilots to be produced coming under its jurisdiction”. I have since found out this is bullshit. Not even AFTRA knows where THR got those figures. In fact, AFTRA not only never confirmed those numbers with the union, it can’t confirm those figures. And the journalist knew this before the story came out. Nor would the reporter tell AFTRA who had provided those figures.
So I decided to discover the truth.
As background first, remember that there are many reasons to explain why a producer would elect to produce a program under an AFTRA contract, such as longstanding relationships and shifting technology. Even AFTRA readily admits that employers aren’t electing to produce under them just because SAG doesn’t have a new pact. As to scripted network pilots intended for 2009/2010 airing as potential series, AFTRA has 21 confirmed so far. SAG has signed 10% (6 of 17) so far. But SAG says there are 46 network primetime pilots announced to date that are not yet SAG’s or AFTRA’s.
The only AFTRA primetime broadcast scripted shows currently airing or about to air (some were held over from 2007 and 2008 for 2009 because of the writer’s strike) are: Rules of Engagement (on CBS), Til Death (Fox), The Reaper (CW), Gary Unmarried (CBS), 90210 (CW), Better Off Ted (the 20th Century Fox series premieres on ABC March 18), (the ABC Studios series premieres on ABC March 26),Surviving Suburbia (the MRC series starring Bob Saget premieres on ABC April 6), The Unusuals (the Sony series premieres on ABC April 8), Parks And Recreation (the Reveille/Universal Media Studios series starring Amy Poehler premieres on NBC April 9), and Harper’s Island (the CBS Paramount series premieres on CBS April 9th).
SAG claims it has 92% (47 of 51) of the scripted series on the current primetime network schedule, as well as 92% (70 of 76) of everything that has aired to date for this season whether cancelled or still on-air. SAG has 64% (9 of 14) of still-to-debut series announced for 2008/2009 that have yet to air between March 18 and the end of the season.
Here is the list of the 21 confirmed 2009/2010 AFTRA broadcast scripted pilots ordered as of February 19th when The Hollywood Reporter article was published:
Off Duty (Universal Media Studios for NBC)
Eva Adams (Sony for Fox)
My American Family (20th Century Fox for ABC)
Legally Mad (Warner Bros for NBC)
Flash Forward (ABC Studios for ABC)
Lost in the 80’s (Sony for ABC)
Let It Go (Sony for ABC)
Absolutely Fabulous (Sony for Fox)
Fish Tank (Sony for CBS)
Happiness Isn’t Everything (CBS Paramount for CBS)
Tick Tock (CBS Paramount for CBS)
Empire State (ABC Studios for ABC)
Untitled Ricky Blitt Project (formerly known as Threesome, Warner Bros for ABC)
Human Target (Warner Bros for Fox)
Reincarnation (Warner Bros for Fox)
Melrose Place (CBS Paramount for CW)
A Marriage (no studio yet for CBS)
Waiting to Die (Sony for CBS)
Light Years (CBS Paramount for CW)
The Law (ABC Studios for ABC)
The Karensky’s (Universal Media Studios for CBS)
So, as you can see, your (un)trustworthy trades are at it again. And if you don’t like this SAG-busting, then complain to CBS Inc boss Les Moonves and Sony Pictures Entertainment chairman Michael Lynton (who’s also shown himself to be a WGA-buster) because their shows dominate this AFTRA list.