WGA West President Patric Verrone just sent this email to members regarding the MRC deal that has just been closed.
To My Fellow Members,
Today we are writing to tell you about another independent agreement we signed. It is with Media Rights Capital. Though not a household name, MRC is an independent film, television, and digital studio with backing from significant institutional investors, including Goldman Sachs and AT&T. Most importantly, they have over a dozen original made-for-the-Internet properties with many more to come. This is a significant signing in that it hails the paradigm shift to original content for new media, produced and distributed under a WGA contract without the involvement of a major studio or network.
This deal began as an effort to get Family Guy's Seth MacFarlane and his writers a WGA contract on fifty webisodes which are being produced for Google. It quickly developed into a negotiation with MRC that would cover all of its Internet content (including projects with Larry David, Gordon Ramsay, and Second City), as well as a full slate of independently financed feature films and television series.
Nearly three dozen active projects are covered under this agreement. The general terms are the same as the earlier independent agreements we've signed (available here: http://www.wga.org/contract_07/wwp_exec.pdf). But, unlike the other agreements, because MRC is actively producing original Internet content, this deal is a real world template for covering such content under a WGA contract and proof that the terms and conditions of this contract are fair and reasonable.
Original Internet content will now be written by WGA members with full MBA coverage, something the conglomerates told us repeatedly they couldn't afford to do.
We expect this deal to be only the first example of direct-to-new media content generated by our members through independent financing without the involvement of a media conglomerate. This is a notable advance in our strategy of using independent agreements to put competitive pressure on the conglomerates so that they return to the bargaining table (which they abandoned over a month ago) and make a fair deal that puts us all back to work. Other similar deals are in the works and we hope to report on them soon.
Patric M. Verrone
Posted by Laeta Kalogridis at 1/14/2008 12:48:00 PM