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Writers Guild of America, East signs 11 digital media companies

September 29, 2009 |  5:13 pm



Next time you're watching content online, you can be sure to look for the union label.

Furthering its push into the digital realm, the Writers Guild of America, East announced today that it had signed agreements to extend union benefits to scribes who work in nearly a dozen independent digital production companies.

The companies include Dinosaur Diorama TV, producers of such Web series as  "The Burg"; New Jill Productions, creator of "Jack & Jill," a comedy about a trashy romance novelist's personal struggles; and Kapri Productions, producer of Elena Moscat's Web series "Life After Lisa," about college life in the mid-1980s.

The new signatories have produced more than 12 series with budgets ranging from a few thousand to half a million dollars.

Under the agreements, writers who work on the shows will become guild members and thus be paid under the terms of the union's main contract. The fight to secure union coverage for those who work in new media was a central issue in the 100-day strike last year by the Writers Guild.

Since the strike ended, both east and west branches of the guild have been moving aggressively to expand into new-media production, which is largely nonunion.  The additional 11 signatories brings the total number of new-media agreements to about 40 on the East Coast. The West has inked more than two dozen deals with digital production companies.

"It's a different community of creators,'' said Lowell Peterson, executive director of the Writers Guild of America, East. "Nobody really knows how the business model will shake out, but we think we need to be at the table to ensure writers are protected."

-- Richard Verrier

Photo: Actress Stephanie Danielson in the Web series "Life After Lisa."  Credit: Kapri Productions