Starz and Lionsgate have suspended producer Ian Woolf from the drama series “BMF” following an alleged altercation with two striking Writers Guild of America writers in Atlanta on Thursday.
According to a series of tweets posted by WGA member Brian Egeston and strike captain Gabriel Alejandro Garza, the pair were on a public sidewalk, not impeding traffic, when Woolf pointed an SUV he was driving toward Egeston “as though it were a weapon and slammed the breaks within six feet of writers.”
Garza said that Woolf looked directly at him as he “hit the accelerator one more time, followed by the brakes, and skid even closer to us.” According to the pair, Woolf said that he was trying to scare them. Garza noted that they have a recording of Woolf’s explanation.
“I would implore you, in hindsight, to consider the ramifications of killing an African-American man in the streets of the city too busy to hate, while being the producer of an African-American TV show, created by an African American man, run by an African-American Man,” Egeston wrote in an open letter to Woolf posted on Twitter on Thursday. “Mr. Woolf, your actions purveyed a deep generational hate for us. And that, sir, is a travesty for which you must be held accountable. If not by your superiors and peers, then by the people of Atlanta because the South will have something to say about what you did today. Should you choose to remain in our city, where I will remind you that you are a guest, I beg of you to lead with love and refrain from being a drum major for hate and potential manslaughter.”
TV writer Tom Smuts, who is married to WGA president Meredith Stiehm, said he was there when the incident occurred.
“In the past five weeks coordinating production pickets in Los Angeles and Georgia, no one else has treated us like that,” he tweeted. “And we in the WGA and Teamsters will stay here in solidarity – in Los Angeles, New York, New Mexico, Georgia and wherever else we need to be – until our labor and dignity are respected again.”
A Lionsgate spokesperson told TheWrap that the company takes “acts of intimidation and threats of violence seriously” and that they are investigating the incident “thoroughly.”
“As we continue to investigate, we have sent home the individual involved,” the studio added.
A WGA spokesperson told TheWrap it is “working closely with members who were endangered during this incident to hold this individual accountable.”
“Workers should not be threatened with physical harm when exercising their right to publicly protest and picket against unfair wages and working conditions,” the guild said. “Anyone who harms or threatens to harm a member or supporter of the Writers Guild on a picket line should be held responsible for their actions.”
“BMF” is executive produced by Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson (co-creator of the Power Universe, For Life), alongside showrunner, executive producer and writer Randy Huggins (Star, Rebel, Power). The show is produced through Jackson’s G-Unit Film and Television in association with Lionsgate Television for Starz.
In addition to “BMF,” Woolf’s other producing credits include “Queens,” “Mr. Mercedes,” “SEAL Team,” and “Criminal Minds.” Woolf did not immediately return TheWrap’s request for comment.
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