The WGA is currently on strike against more than 1,000 companies and individuals, according to the guild’s year-end Strike/Unfair List. Many of the companies have been out of business for decades; many of the names are familiar, and quite a few are colorful characters.
There’s Jack Abramoff, who produced the 1988 film Red Scorpion before becoming a famously crooked Washington lobbyist and spending four years in prison for fraud and tax evasion. He may have paid his debt to society, but he, like everyone else on the list, is still not square with the guild.
Lord Of War producer Christopher Eberts, currently in jail for swindling a film investor, is on the list too, and so is Peter Hoffman, Hollywood’s once-high-flying guru of exotic tax breaks who’s currently on probation for defrauding Louisiana out of more than $1 million in film tax credits.
Marvin Adell, the Detroit businessman who had dinner with Jimmy Hoffa the night before he disappeared, is also on the list. He may have picked up the tab for Jimmy’s last supper, but the guild is still waiting for him and his Adell Entertainment Corp. to settle up.
The guild doesn’t say exactly what they’re all on the list for, and it’s not always about owing writers money. Companies and individuals can find themselves on the list for many reasons including: refusing to engage in collective bargaining negotiations with the WGA; refusing to sign the guild’s contract; wrongfully failing to participate in grievance and arbitration procedures; failing to abide by the final award of an arbitrator; or engaging in conduct that violates the National Labor Relations Act or other laws designed to protect the rights of writers.
“No member may enter into a contract for the rendition of writing services with any producer whose name is contained in the then-current guild unfair list unless such producer shall have first posted a bond with the guild guaranteeing the full amount of the writer’s proposed compensation pursuant to such contract,” according to the guild.
Producer Elie Samaha, the former nightclub owner who owns the Hollywood theater once known as Grauman’s Chinese, is on the list, and so is his brother Dimitri. Irving Yablans, executive producer of the first three Halloween films, is on the list, and so are actress Bo Derek, singer Vic Damone, comic Scoey Mitchell and music impresario Irving Azoff. Charles Band, the prolific producer of the Puppet Master franchise, is on the list too, and so is Elan Sassoon, the son of the hair products tycoon.
There are also a lot of dead guys on the list. Ralph Andrews, the famed game show producer who died last year, is on the list, and so is legendary publicist Julian Myers, who died in 2013 (he repped Elvis and Marilyn Monroe). Producer Rodney Sheldon’s on the list, even though he died five years ago, and so is Lean On Me producer Norman Twain, who died in August.
There are hundreds of one-and-done production companies on the list that produced a movie and then went out of business – in some cases, decades ago. Many of these California corporations were suspended by the Franchise Tax Board long ago for failing to meet state tax requirements, including companies like Appledown Enterprises, Inc., which was suspended in 1982; the Apt Pupil Company, which was suspended in 1987; After the Rain Productions, Inc., which was suspended in 1997; and Melrose Pictures LLC, which was suspended in 2002.
And there’s a surprising number of public television and radio stations on the list including National Public Radio, KQED in San Francisco, WTTW in Chicago, WGBH Radio in Boston, WDCN in Nashville, WNED in Buffalo, and WETA and Washington, D.C.