Things were going along swimmingly for Arrested Development creator Mitch Hurwitz's new show Sit Down, Shut Up. Hurwitz managed to reunite some old Arrested buddies (Jason Bateman and Will Arnett) to voice the animated series, and shortly afterward, the show was picked up to series by Fox.
The light-hearted cartoon should be drawing laughs with its offbeat humor, but instead it isn't drawing much of anything. The show's writing staff walked out on the project on Friday because of something that has victimized television WAY too much recently: union disputes.
Writers on Sit Down, Shut Up were, according to them, to be represented by the Writers Guild of America (WGA), according to The Hollywood Reporter. However, Sony Pictures Television made a deal to see the show covered by The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), a guild that typically covers tradesmen and those involved in non-primetime animated shows.
By falling under the jurisdiction of the IATSE, Sit Down writers, who are members of the WGA, won't enjoy the benefits of the deals negotiated by the WGA that ended the messy writers strike earlier this year. In addition to missing out on revenue from new media, the writers would also not be able to lay claim to residuals from the show. Clearly, they would stand to lose a lot of coin if they aren't covered by WGA, and are reasonably peeved as a result.
However, it may be the writers' fault they're in this position. Sony says that no such promises were made, and that the writers' agents were informed that the IATSE would be handling the agreement. Given that there is a contract in place, there seems to be little that the writers can do.
Sit Down, Shut Up is an animated adaptation of the live-action Australian show of the same name that follows a group of teachers who put themselves before their students. Also lending voice talent to the comedy are Henry Winkler, Nick Kroll, and Maria Bamford. The program was scheduled to debut next spring.