Friday 21 November 2008

WGA Members Arrested

Nikki Finke reports on the recent arrest of Writers Guild of America West activists in a shopping mall in Hollywood. Their crime: passing out leaflets during American Idol's auditions that informed the public that "FremantleMedia refuses to treat its writers fairly".

The WGAW insists they did not interfere with or obstruct the shopping mall's operations or the activities of FremantleMedia. But the guild members were turned over to the LAPD, and later released after posting bond. Writers Guild General Counsel Tony Segall said the guild was considering legal action against the operators of the Hollywood & Highland Center for false arrest. The California Supreme Court has held that the state constitution guarantees the right of expression of ideas in shopping malls on the grounds that they're the contemporary equivalent of the town square. The WGAW notes that other labor unions and community groups have held public actions such as leafleting and picketing inside the Hollywood & Highland shopping complex without incident.

Thursday's protest was part of the WGA's ongoing campaign of rallies, briefings, and a nationwide tour to bring attention to what the guild claims are "the substandard industry practices" of American Idol producer FremantleMedia. The American Idol Truth Tour shadowed AI auditions this past summer in several major U.S. cities -- including San Francisco, New York, Phoenix, and San Juan, Puerto Rico -- to demand that FremantleMedia provide its writers and other workers with industry standard pay and benefits. But yesterday was the first time American Idol Truth Tour participants had been arrested. "We will continue to exercise our First Amendment rights despite the heavy-handed treatment we received," said the WGAW's Hermanson. "The public has a right to know that the top-rated show on television does not provide their writers with basic necessities like health care."

No comments: