Labor/Employment

Q: I’m not a WGA member. I’m writing a script for a company that’s also non-WGA. I hope that at some point the project gains some traction and gets set up at a studio or other WGA signatory company. I’ve been told that if I am classified in my agreement (with the non-WGA company) as a “professional writer,” I’ll be able to get the WGA benefits if the project eventually winds up with a signatory. Is that true?

A: One of my biggest problems with people is that they tell you things. Take my parents. They told me that Santa Claus was a real, semi-obese man living in the North Pole. They also told me that the mall Santas are really Santa’s elves that have dressed up like him so that they can gather information and bring it back to the real Santa. And I believed them. Then one night after I lost a tooth and put it under my pillow for the Tooth Fairy to pick up, I woke up to find not Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in a tutu, but my dad crawling on my floor with a dollar bill in his hand. After initially thinking he may have just gotten lost on the way to Jumbos Clown Room, I realized that the whole darn thing was a sham; Santa, the Tooth Fairy, and probably even Cal Worthington.
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Congratulations! You’ve survived another mid-term election. Perhaps you’ve spent this election cycle drinking tea, or maybe you’ve spent your time supporting every Californian’s right to ingest and enjoy other types of leaves. You’ve also likely spent considerable time reviewing the U.S. Constitution looking for that pesky “separation of church and state” concept (it can be so hard to find buried in our very first amendment…).

Regardless of your personal politics, you probably haven’t emerged unscathed from the 24-hour news cycle’s obsession with the personal lives of America’s candidates. I, for one, could devote this post (and many more) to simply reiterating some of the more comical stories that have hit the papers about our government hopefuls. But I am an employment lawyer, which means that until Christine O’Donnell wrongfully terminates and then hexes her own cleaning lady for disturbing the Wiccan altar in her den, my obvious pick is the debacle surrounding Meg Whitman and her now-(in)famous housekeeper, Nicandra Diaz Santillan.

At this point, you’re either shaking your head in agreement with me while rolling your eyes at Meg’s mistake, or getting all flustered about the “lamestream media” making much ado about nothing (in which case, I would have to ask — you really think this blog is [main/lame]stream?). But do you even really know what she did — or, more importantly, why it might be wrong? My guess is: probably not.

Which is why, as we all collectively exhale at the end of another grueling election season, I offer you — the would-be candidates, the armchair political analysts, and the mildly nervous readers with housekeepers of their own — this handy-dandy guide to the Great Meg Whitman “Nannygate 2.0: Now Featuring Gloria Allred” Scandal of 2010 (Oh, you’d forgotten about Zoe Baird and Nannygate? So, apparently, had Meg.):
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Q: I’m a member of the WGA. I have a friend who’s just starting out as a producer and has an outline he really wants to develop. He’s got just a little bit of money (less than WGA minimums) to pay me to write the script, which I’m going to do in my off time just to help him out. My only concern is that I don’t want him to get in trouble with the WGA. Is that an issue?

A: I hate to get biblical on you, but I believe you’re a little too concerned about the potential splinter in your friend’s eye when you have a potential log in your own. I’m assuming that your buddy with a handwritten outline working out of his apartment is not a WGA Signatory. Since he has no contractual relationship with the WGA, there’s not much they can do to him. You, on the other hand, do have a contractual relationship with the WGA as one of its members.
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For the uninitiated, M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender is a big screen rendition of an immensely popular Nickelodeon television show called “Avatar: The Last Airbender.” Due to the release of James Cameron’s Avatar, which shattered box-office sales records worldwide, Paramount Pictures decided to scrap the first part of the show’s title for the film. Thankfully, The Last Airbender wasn’t also based on the novel by Sapphire — otherwise, we would have been in for a world of confusion. Instead, it looks like we’re just in for a world of controversy.
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I’m a mom. I’ve experienced the miracle of childbirth, and it truly is wondrous (and terrifying and, well, sticky). Yet I’ve always been confounded by the popular practice of bringing a camera into the delivery room to chronicle this incredibly private and moving moment. The purpose for many seems to be to hold uncomfortable slide shows for friends and family. That’s entertainment? Personally, I just don’t get it.

Still, during pregnancy, I found myself addicted to the plethora of childbirth reality shows, in which the process of labor and delivery (and typically the first few weeks of baby’s life) is documented with Jacques Cousteau-like surveillance, and then run five days a week on basic cable for all to see. I found it fascinating, yet couldn’t help but ask myself: why do people sign up for this? With all due respect to Andy Warhol, not everyone needs to be famous for fifteen minutes, particularly women in labor and gooey, newborn babies. Many apparently disagree, and to you I say: better you than me.
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