WGA to picket E! headquarters in ‘Fashion Police’ dispute

Comedian Joan Rivers, left, and her daughter Melissa Rivers in New York. Joan Rivers hosts the show "Fashion Police;" the writers for the show are on strike.
(Dan Hallman / Invision/Associated Press)

The Writers Guild of America, West has escalated its fight with the producers of “Fashion Police,” a show on the E! cable network.

The guild plans to hold a picket and rally outside the Wilshire Boulevard headquarters of E! Entertainment Television on Thursday morning in support of striking writers from its popular cable show, “Fashion Police.” E! is owned by Comcast Corp.

About a dozen writers for “Fashion Police,” a talk show about the fashion trends of Hollywood celebrities hosted by comedian Joan Rivers, have been on strike since April 17 in an effort to secure a union contract.


“Writers on the highly rated E! show lack health care and pension benefits and are demanding to be covered by a WGA contract,’’ the guild said in a statement.

A spokesperson for E! said the cable network was willing to negotiate if writers chose to join the union in an election overseen by the National Labor Relations Board, a process that was used by writers for other E! shows “Chelsea Lately” and “The Soup” that already have guild deals.

“I want to make it clear that E! is not anti-WGA,’’ E! President Suzanne Kolb wrote in a letter to ‘Fashion Police’ writers last week. “We have other WGA shows, and we will negotiate with the guild should you formally elect them as your representative.... The WGA has convinced you that a strike is necessary in order to gain a union contract. But history at E! has shown that not to be true.”

In a complaint filed with the state Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, the guild alleged last month Joan Rivers’ production company, Rugby Productions, has violated California labor law by refusing to pay $400,000 in back wages to writers on “Fashion Police.”

The show’s writers also have filed a similar complaint against E!, alleging the cable network owes them $1.1 million in back wages.

A recent effort to mediate the dispute failed.


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