Thursday, January 28, 2010

Not just a young man's game...

Okay, so maybe I can be forgiven for not being the best blogger or the most prolific. But what did you expect? I’m busy putting on the greatest Expo ever!

What I’d like to share with you today is that I received a notice informing me that the television production companies have settled a lawsuit on age discrimination. (I have taken the liberty of posting it at the bottom of this blog.) This is big news. For years, I have been advising my students that unless they are fresh out of film school and are in their twenties, they didn’t have a chance in hell of ever breaking into television. “It’s a young man’s game,” I would tell them. Well, I’m here to tell you that being over 40 and writing for television is now possible. And we have the internet and digital cameras to thank for it.

The truth is, just about everyone has the ability to rent or borrow a digital camera and shoot their own films or television series. Yep, that’s right. It’s now possible to write, direct, and star in your very own shows. In fact, that’s what I’m doing right now. I wrote a script, gathered together a cinematographer, a director, a few friends, and filming is scheduled to start March 6th. I even have a few companies interested in sponsoring me. Cool, huh?

So at the rip old age of . . . well, never mind that . . . I’m going to be producing my own television series! Here’s the thing, even if I never find a network to buy my show (That won’t happen because they’d have to be idiots not to want to buy it.), I can still build a following for my series by posting the episodes on the web – where millions of people can watch it.

I hope what I’ve written today will open your minds and get you to think like a producer. YOU have the ability to be the writer, the director, and the star of your very own television series.

So start thinking about what kinds of shows you’d like to create. Who knows, one of you may end up being the next Spielberg . . . or Spelling!

Wishing you much success,


If you are age 40 or over and wrote or were interested in writing for television, a proposed settlement may affect your rights.

Seventeen television networks and studios and seven talent agencies have agreed, subject to Court approval, to settle age discrimination allegations in connection with the hiring and representation of television writers age 40 or over, in nineteen separate class action lawsuits, for a collective payment of $70,000,000. (Insurance carriers are paying approximately two-thirds of the settlement amount.) If you qualify, you may send in a claim form to get benefits and may comment on or object to the settlement. If you do not want to be part of the settlement, you can exclude yourself.

Who’s Included?

The settlement defines two classes – (a) persons age 40 or over who have previously written for television, and (b) other persons age 40 or over who have been interested in writing for television. There are various qualifications and exclusions. If you believe that you may be a settlement class member, you can get more information, including a detailed notice, at the websites or telephone numbers below.

What’s This About?

The separate lawsuits all claim that the networks, studios and talent agencies discriminate on the basis of age in their employment and representation decisions. The defendants (including ABC, APA, Carsey-Werner, CBS, Columbia TriStar Television, Inc., DW SKG TV LLC, formerly known as DreamWorks SKG TV LLC, Fox, NBC Universal, Paradigm, Shapiro-Lichtman, Sony Pictures Television Inc., Spelling Television, The Gersh Agency, The Endeavor Agency, The WB Television Network, Touchstone Television, TriStar Television, Inc., Twentieth Century Fox, UPN, UTA, Warner Bros. Television, William Morris Agency, and William Morris Endeavor Entertainment LLC) deny that they discriminate, but believe it makes sense to end the litigation, which has been pending since 2000. The Court did not decide which side was right.

What does the Settlement Provide?

Of the $70 million settlement, the lawyers representing Plaintiffs and the Settlement Class (“Class Counsel”) estimate that about $43 million will be used to pay awards to Settlement Class Members, pay taxes on those awards, fund activities beneficial to the Settlement Class Members, and fund certain reserves required under the Settlement. One-third of the Settlement will be used to pay Class Counsel’s court-approved contingent fee award. The remaining 6.7% will be used to pay and reimburse expenses related to litigation of the claims and notice and administration of this Settlement. Part of that expense portion will be contributed to fund programs for Settlement Class Members.

The share of the fund that each eligible claimant receives will be based on a formula that, once devised, will be submitted to the Court for approval. It will consider many factors, including your income from and qualifications for television writing.

How do you Ask for a Payment?

To qualify for a payment, you must submit a claim form. Call or visit a website below to get one. Claim forms are due by April 13, 2010.

What are your Other Options?

If you stay in the class, you may comment on the settlement by April 14, 2010. To preserve your right to sue any of the defendants yourself for past alleged age discrimination, you must exclude yourself by April 8, 2010. If you exclude yourself, you can’t get money from the settlement. The detailed notice explains how to exclude yourself or comment. If you do nothing, you will not receive a payment, but you will still give up any right you may have to sue defendants or their affiliates and certain others about alleged age discrimination that occurred prior to January 22, 2010.

The Court will hold a hearing in these cases, which is currently scheduled for May 5, 2010, (but which may be rescheduled) to consider whether to finally approve the settlement and the request for attorneys’ fees and costs. You may ask to speak at the hearing.

Can I consult with Class Counsel?

Yes. To consult with Class Counsel (led by Paul Sprenger of Washington DC), at no charge, contact them at the number or website below, or email them at . All communications with Class Counsel are confidential and privileged.

Claims Administrator: 1-888-730-7198
Class Counsel: 1-877-518-7090