Joan Rivers and the Writers Guild of America may have settled, but so far that hasn’t helped the eight striking “Fashion Police” writers at the center of the dispute, who remain out of their jobs.
As part of the agreement between the veteran talk show host and the union that was announced Monday, Rivers agreed to stop writing for the show and to urge the E! Entertainment Network to negotiate an end to the strike.
“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,” River said in a statement.
That hasn’t happened. Neither Comcast-owned E! nor the Writers Guild were talking Tuesday. The network said in a statement late Monday that its position on “Fashion Police,” one of its most highly rated shows, hadn’t changed.
“This is an issue between E! and the WGAW, and we continue to believe that an NLRB administered election prior to collective bargaining is a fair and important part of the process. We’ve taken every possible step to expedite an election so we can move forward as quickly as possible.”
Rivers was facing sanctions and possible expulsion from the Writers Guild East over allegations that she violated the union’s Working Rule 8, which prohibits writers from working on a struck show. Rivers’s was set to face a union trial next week.
Eliza Skinner, one of the striking “Fashion Police” writers, told TheWrap Tuesday that the writers were surprised when the union told them Sunday that a deal between Rivers and the WGA East had been reached, and that there would be no trial.
“We’re not sure what it means, or for that matter, whether it’s in our best interest,” she said. “I won’t say we’re disappointed, because it’s not clear where this is all going, but nothing has changed yet.”
Despite the public front, it’s possible informal talks are going on behind the scenes, but Skinner wasn’t optimistic.
“We’re not holding our breath,” Skinner said.
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.
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.