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News Release: May 18, 2011

WGAW Issues 2011 Hollywood Writers Report Executive Summary

Latest Industry Stats Show Gap Widens for Minority and Women Film and Television Writers

LOS ANGELES -- The Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) has released the Executive Summary of the 2011 Hollywood Writers Report: Recession and Regression. The study examines writers’ employment and earnings by ethnicity, gender, and age from 2008 through 2009 in the motion picture and television industry. As in previous years, diverse writers face significant obstacles to employment in Hollywood.

According to the report’s author Darnell Hunt, Ph.D., director of the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies and professor of sociology at UCLA, “From the initial project pitch to project completion, each phase of the production pipeline has the potential to serve as a barrier to or facilitator of increased diversity among industry writers. The WGAW is committed to working with the rest of the industry to ensure that the production pipeline is shaped less by the former and more by the latter. Diversity is not a luxury, not even in tough times. The Hollywood industry, in the final analysis, depends on increasingly diverse audiences and on the stories to which they can relate.”

The full report will be available in late summer. Some of the key findings in the summary include:

  • Women writers’ overall employment share declined, driven by a one-point loss in the film sector, where women writers’ share dipped from 18% in 2007 to 17% in 2009.
  • Although the employment share for women television writers remained stable (still a very low 28%), the earnings gap in television between male and female writers widened again – an 84% increase from the previous report, issued in 2009.
  • While the minority share of television employment rebounded to 2005 levels (still a very low 10% up from 9%), the minority share of film employment declined to the lowest level in a decade (down from 6% to 5%).
  • Despite the gain in television employment, the television earnings gap for minorities widened to the largest level in a decade. The television earnings gap for minorities more than doubled since the 2009 report.
  • The employment rate remained flat for the largest group of older writers (age 41-50) at 61%; however the employment group for the youngest group of writers (under age 31), declined by four percentage points. TV writers age 51-60 had a decline of 1%, whereas writers age 61-70 actually had an increase of 1%.

To view the 2011 Hollywood Writers Report’s Executive Summary, click here.

As part of its continuing proactive efforts to enhance employment opportunities and open doors for diverse writers, the WGAW recently announced more than a dozen 2011 Writer Access Project honorees in drama and comedy TV categories. Now in its third year, the Guild’s innovative program, coordinated by the WGAW’s Diversity Department, identifies writers with television staffing experience and makes samples of their work available to entertainment industry decision makers, including showrunners, producers, network and studio executives, agents and managers. More info on the Guild’s WAP program and this year’s honorees can be found at: http://www.wga.org/wap.

The Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) is a labor union representing writers of motion pictures, television, radio and Internet programming, including news and documentaries. Founded in 1933, the Guild negotiates and administers contracts that protect the creative and economic rights of its members. It is involved in a wide range of programs that advance the interests of writers, and is active in public policy and legislative matters on the local, national and international levels. For more information on the WGAW, please visit: www.wga.org.