The Writers Guild of America on Wednesday warned its members not to work on Ozzy Osbourne's new comedy-variety show at Fox.
The union says the show's producer, FremantleMedia North America, offered a "sub-standard contract" asking that writers be treated as if they were working on "half-scripted" shows, which would greatly reduce their writing fees.
The writing on the show, which has a working title of "The Osbournes: Loud and Dangerous," would traditionally be covered under the guild's basic agreement, used in the past for such shows as "The Carol Burnett Show" and "Laugh-In," the WGA said.
But Fremantle, according to the WGA, wanted to treat other portions of the show as "reality content," which would not be covered. Fremantle indicated it would be responsible for writing that part of the show. The WGA refused.
While some shows produced by Fremantle have been covered by the guild contract, many others, including "American Idol" and "The Price Is Right," are not. Over the summer, the WGA went on a bus tour, dubbed the American Idol Truth Tour, which followed the show's auditions all over the U.S. and Puerto Rico, talking with the public about what it claims are substandard working conditions for writers and other behind-the-scenes employees.
Fremantle's David Shall, general counsel and executive vp of business operations, accused the WGA of continuing a campaign of "defamation and negative propaganda" against the company. The WGA, Shall said, was contacted in good faith by Fremantle with the hopes of hiring WGA writers for the "nontraditional" Osbourne show, which mixes variety with reality TV.
To retaliate against Fremantle, the WGA is ordering its members to not write for the variety show, and says those who do write could face a fine.