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Behind The Scenes

Say What?! Two Unions Ban Actors From Tyler Perry Play

Actor, director, and producer Tyler Perry has gotten into a conflict with two unions over his stage play, Madea On The Run, which is touring the country.  Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) and Actors’ Equity Association (AEA) are telling their members not to work on the show or face disciplinary action for “conduct unbecoming a member,” per SAG-AFTRA.

According to Deadline, the AEA  put the production on its “do not work” list. Apparently, Perry’s production company has yet to sign a contract with AEA. Contracts dictate how much actors will be paid, and when and if actors will receive residual payments if a project goes into syndication or is featured on another platform.  Because Perry has refused to sign the contracts, some argue that it seems that he doesn’t want to be bound to any agreements that might lower his profits from the show.

This isn’t the first time that Perry has been at odds with unions; according to Shadow and Act, the Writers Guild of America filed a complaint against Perry in 2008, claiming that he fired four writers because they were seeking union representation.  The writers worked on the sitcom, House of Payne, and were fired before the show went into syndication when residuals would have kicked in.  Perry also allegedly refused to enter into a contract that would give the writers healthcare benefits or pensions.  In an article from Shadow and Act, “Attorneys representing Perry said that the writers’ firing had nothing to do with the contract negotiation but was instead related to “the quality of their work. We continue to work toward a resolution of their contract, and after months of negotiations we have reached agreement with the Guild on every major issue but one – residuals from repeats shown on broadcast television stations.”

We are concerned that it appears Perry does not want to allow artists to share in the profits from a show built on their talent. We hope this is resolved quickly to allow recognition of the hard work and dedication theatre artists bring to every performance.

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