“Fashion Police” host Joan Rivers was back in hot water with the Writers Guild Thursday after saying “E! was right” in its stance against eight striking staffers she referred to as “poor shmuck writers.”
The host last month was brought up on charges and faced a fine and expulsion from her union, the Writers Guild of America East, for writing for the show while her team was on strike. She avoided the trial by agreeing to stop writing and urge E! to reach a settlement with her staff, but her new stance reverses that position.
“How dare she at first proclaim solidarity with fellow writers and then so crassly stab them in the back?” asked WGAE President Michael Winship in a statement issued Thursday.
“What she has said is not only reprehensible but flies in the face of a settlement with the WGAE to which she agreed,” he continued. “She should be ashamed of herself, although it is clear that the concept of shame does not trouble what little conscience she has. Because the strike continues, she must continue to refuse to write, but her latest statement egregiously violates the spirit of the rest of the settlement. We are exploring all options.”
Rivers made the comments in a interview with the comedy website Splitsider.
“I never thought I’d say this, but E! was right! They wanted writers to take a vote before they went out and decided to strike and the WGA wanted them to negotiate to not take a vote,” she said.
“Well, we didn’t ask all the writers, so it’s such a stupid sloppy mess and it’s so stupid and it’s not helping anybody” she continued. “And ‘Fashion Police’ goes out. Learn a great lesson. Life goes on! They’ve been striking; these poor shmuck writers have been out since April.”
The “Fashion Police” writing team has been on strike since April 17. The writers want the network to recognize the Writers Guild West as their bargaining representative, while the Comcast-owned network is insisting that a National Labor Relations Board election be held first.
Rivers’ latest comments are the reverse of what she said in a statement last month, as part of the settlement with the WGAE:
“It’s time for both sides to sit down at the table and negotiate. Forget about the election. We all want the same thing — to get this behind us — so let’s make this deal,” Rivers said at the time.
Weeks before going on strike, the writers filed $1.5 million in wage and hour claims with the California Division of Labor Standard Enforcement against the network and Rivers’ production company, Rugby Productions. They are seeking payment for unpaid regular and overtime hours worked.
That dispute is moving forward separately from the representation issue. A settlement meeting held at the behest of the state failed to result break the impasse, so both sides are awaiting a date for a hearing on the writers’ claims.
It’s not the first time Rivers had drawn fire during the dispute.
In a video titled “Dear Joan: Can We Talk” that was released July 9, the writers described their early hopes that Rivers’ would stand up for them in the dispute – and their ultimate disappointment that she had not.
“The fact that she’s not just a start, but that she’s a member of the Writers Guild, and she won’t support fellow Writers Guild members is just astonishing,” Ned Rice, one of the striking writers, said in the video.