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Despite the ongoing Writers Guild strike, Ellen DeGeneres is presently taping new episodes of her morning talk show every single day. With Letterman, Leno, Conan, Kimmel, Jon Stewart, and Stephen Colbert in reruns for the foreseeable future, Ellen’s decision to work through the strike is causing many to label her a scab. But is she really?
Well, yeah, basically. Reuters says DeGeneres is a WGA member, and by working through the strike, she is violating her contract with that union, leaving her open to financial penalties, or straight-up expulsion. (Here’s a pdf of WGA rules if you’re really interested in that sort of thing.)
While it is undeniable that DeGeneres is performing struck work by doing her show, it should be taken into consideration that her situation is far more complicated than Leno’s or Colbert’s. Whereas the hosts of those programs are beholden only to their respective networks, The Ellen DeGeneres Show is controlled by hundreds of television stations that can choose to either move the series out of choice time slots, or hold its distributor Warner Bros. Television in breach of contract. The dance-happy hostess has an unfortunate dilemma — she can either keep her show on the air, which is alienating the WGA and attracting negative publicity, or she can strike and face severe career-threatening repercussions in the syndicated marketplace. Sheesh, we’re glad we’re not her! —Matthew Perpetua
Union Rebukes Ellen DeGeneres Over Writers Strike [Reuters]
URGENT! AFTRA Defends Ellen; Rep Says She “Has Done Nothing” To Violate WGA [Deadline Hollywood]