Date: 24th October 2000

Writers Claim Age Discrimination, File Suit

A group of TV writers has filed a $200-million lawsuit against TV networks, studios, production companies, talent agencies and other entertainment firms alleging that they are victims of a "systematic pattern or practice" of age discrimination. The 28 writers, who are seeking class-action status for their suit, name 50 defendants, including Viacom (which owns CBS), NBC, Disney, Time Warner, Fox, the William Morris Agency, International Creative Management, Creative Artists Agency and the Carsey-Werner Co. They claim that the TV networks have engaged in a purge of writing staffs of those above age 40 in an effort to attract a younger audience. Talent agencies, they charge in the lawsuit, have abetted the networks' discrimination by refusing to represent older writers. The group cites statistics indicating that only 5 percent of shows broadcast in the 1997-98 season hired writers over 50, despite the fact that writers in that age bracket account for about one-third of the membership of the Writers Guild of America.

Source: Studio Briefing