Film and TV Writers Lobby New York Legislators to Support TV Diversity Tax Credit

WGAE_logo_colorPress conference featured Beau Willimon (HOUSE OF CARDS), Robin Thede (THE NIGHTLY SHOW WITH LARRY WILMORE) and Writers Guild of America, East Executive Director Lowell Peterson

ALBANY, NEW YORK (MAY 10, 2016) – A diverse group of prominent Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) members today lobbied State Senators and Assembly members to modify the revenue-generating Empire State Film Production Tax Credit to include television writers and directors who are women or people of color.

At a noon press conference at the Legislative Office Building, Senator Kemp Hannon (R) and Assemblyman Keith Wright (D) urged their colleagues to support their bipartisan legislation, bills A-3376B & S-5448A. They were joined in their call to take immediate action by Writers Guild of America, East Executive Director Lowell Peterson, HOUSE OF CARDS creator Beau Willimon and THE NIGHTLY SHOW WITH LARRY WILMORE writer and on-air talent Robin Thede.

“We believe the time has come to act, to make diversity a reality in television,” said Peterson. “This incentive to hire women and people of color to write and direct television sits within the existing production tax credit, which has proved so successful at creating real employment opportunities.”

Among the WGAE members who traveled to the state capital to lobby legislators were Tom Fontana (OZ), Alison McDonald (NURSE JACKIE), Lucy Alibar (BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD), Lucy Teitler (MR. ROBOT), Lara Shapiro (THE AMERICANS), Courtney Simon (AS THE WORLD TURNS), Geri Cole (SESAME STREET), Liz Hara (SESAME STREET), Malia Scotch Marmo (HOOK), Marygrace O’Shea (LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT), Gina Gionfriddo (LAW & ORDER), Judy Tate (DAYS OF OUR LIVES), Melissa Salmons (AS THE WORLD TURNS), Lisa Cullen (THE ORDAINED) and Bonnie Datt (CONFIRMED BACHELORS).

In urging legislators to support the legislation, members drew attention to the many studies noting that not enough women and people of color are in writing and directing roles. One recent study from UCLA found that in 2014 only 29% of television writers were women i; only 13% were minorities. The Wright-Hannon TV Diversity Credit is legislation that would enable New York to lead the nation in taking real action to address these issues.

The lobbying effort comes one day after the WGAE delivered nearly 500 letters to the office of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. The letters called on the Governor to support TV diversity and New York jobs. Governor Cuomo received letters from this year’s Academy Award winner for Best Original Screenplay Tom McCarthy (SPOTLIGHT), David Simon (THE WIRE), Michael Arndt (STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS), Tina Fey (30 ROCK), Robert Carlock (UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT), Nicholas Pileggi (GOODFELLAS), Sarah Treem (THE AFFAIR), Michael H. Weber (THE FAULT IN OUR STARS), Tony Gilroy (THE BOURNE IDENTITY), Lucy Alibar (BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD), Shari Springer Berman (AMERICAN SPLENDOR), Andrew Bergman (BLAZING SADDLES), Marshall Brickman (ANNIE HALL), James Schamus (CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON), Matt Williams (HOME IMPROVEMENT), Anya Epstein (GRACEPOINT), Tom Fontana (OZ), Beau Willimon (HOUSE OF CARDS), Robin Thede (THE NIGHTLY SHOW WITH LARRY WILMORE), Paul Haggis (CRASH), Jim V. Hart (HOOK), Richard LaGravenese (THE FISHER KING), Warren Leight (LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT), Julie Martin (LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT), Rebecca Miller (PROOF), Michael Rauch (ROYAL PAINS), Theresa Rebeck (SMASH), and Jon Robin Baitz (THE SLAP).

ABOUT WRITERS GUILD OF AMERICA, EAST
The Writers Guild of America, East, AFL-CIO (WGAE) is a labor union representing writers in motion pictures, television, cable, digital media and broadcast news. The Guild negotiates and administers contracts that protect the creative and economic rights of its members; conducts programs, seminars and events on issues of interest to writers; and presents writers’ views to various bodies of government. For more information on the Writers Guild of America, East, visit wgaeast.org.

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