ITV’s “The Chase” was hit with the threat of a writers’ strike last week for using non-union writers on its first season, but producers of the game show are currently in active negotiations with WGA East to resolve the dispute as the show heads towards production on a second season.
“The Chase” is currently in pre-production on Season 2, two people with knowledge of its status told TheWrap. There has not yet been a formal renewal announcement by ABC, which did not respond to TheWrap’s requests for comment on this story. Of course, there would not be all that much to picket if the show was not picked up.
“The first time we were formally contacted by WGAE on this matter was last Friday, March 12th,” ITV told TheWrap. “We responded to WGAE on Monday, March 15th to discuss an arrangement that benefits the writers whom we value and support.”
Those negotiations are moving along, we’re told.
“When Writers Guild members come together to fight for each other, we can accomplish great things,” the Writers Guild of America East told TheWrap. “The Chase’ will be covered by the Writers Guild of America’s Minimum Basic Agreement just like quiz and audience participation shows ‘Jeopardy’ and ‘Who Wants to Be A Millionaire.’ ‘The Chase’ writers will get pension, residuals, and, maybe most importantly during a pandemic, health benefits. Otherwise there won’t be any Guild members on this show.”
The writers guild threatened a walkout in a petition addressed to ABC and ITV last week, saying that work on the show would stop at 9 a.m. ET on Thursday, March 18 if the network and studio failed to agree to adhere to the guild’s minimum basic agreement for writers moving forward.
Based on what we’re told by a person with knowledge of the talks, a strike is an unlikely scenario.
“The writing work on ‘The Chase’ is no different than that on a comparable Guild-covered show like ‘Jeopardy!,’ and refusing to recognize that fact is fundamentally anti-union,” the petition read. “More so, it is dangerous: denying writers healthcare contributions that they are owed is never acceptable, but doing so during a pandemic is unconscionable.”
The minimum basic agreement, negotiated between WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers every three years, provides guarantees for things like compensation, residuals and health benefits. The Writers Guild of America East organized the campaign, calling on guild members and fans of the show to pressure ABC and ITV to allow “The Chase” writers to unionize.
“It’s all fun and games until workers don’t get health insurance during a pandemic,” reads one tweet provided by the guild. “That’s why I stand with @thechaseabc writers who want health insurance and a union – Get on that @ABCNetwork @ITVStudios @WeAreITVA @ITV.”
“The Chase” is an ABC game show which pits everyday trivia fans against “Jeopardy!” champs James Holzhauer, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter. The first season of the show, which is an adaptation of a British format from ITV, debuted late last year with “The View’s” Sara Haines as host. Adam Sher, Bernie Schaeffer and Vin Rubino are the executive producers.