Writers Guild Accuses 'Law & Order'

Friday, February 9th 2001, 12:00 am

By: News On 6

LOS ANGELES (AP) — In the midst of early negotiations for a new movie and television contract, the Writers Guild of America has filed a labor complaint against the makers of the ``Law & Order'' TV shows.

The guild accused Wolf Films, the NBC network and related production companies of refusing to disclose information about whether it has stockpiled scripts in an effort to lessen the impact of a potential strike.

Universal City Studios Inc., Studios USA Television, USA Development and Studios USA Pictures Development also are named in the complaint, which was filed Monday with the National Labor Relations Board.

``Within the last six months, the above-named employers failed and refused to provide the charging party with information necessary and relevant to its bargaining obligations,'' according to the complaint.

The complaint relates to both the show ``Law & Order'' and its spin-off ``Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,'' WGA spokeswoman Cheryl Rhoden said.

NBC representatives and Dick Wolf, creator of the shows, did not immediately return calls for comment.

The guild also filed an additional complaint against the Wolf-produced true-crime series ``Arrest & Trial.'' Rhoden said the union wanted information about whether its writers were working under appropriate contracts.

NLRB assistant director Tony Bisceglia said the matters were under investigation but declined to discuss specifics.

It was unknown whether the complaint would influence the ongoing negotiations.

The contract for the WGA's 11,000 members expires May 1. Face-to-face negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers began two weeks ago.

The writers are demanding increased TV and movie residual payments and ``creative rights'' intended to give them more prestige and control of projects.

If current negotiations fail, they likely would be suspended until April, making a walkout far more likely.

A WGA strike in 1988 lasted 22 weeks and delayed that year's fall TV season.

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