The Writers Guild of America, which has been on strike since early May, is apparently in damage-control mode. According to a new report in The Hollywood Reporter, one of the most powerful showrunners in Hollywood, Ryan Murphy, recently threatened litigation against a union strike captain.

In order to understand what prompted the dust-up, it’s important to know that one of the WGA’s most powerful tools has been its ability to shut down TV shows by picketing productions. If even one person is picketing the entrance to a studio, Teamsters will almost always likely turn away instead of delivering important production equipment. At a time when there are virtually no scripted shows in production, Murphy has three in motion—American Horror Story, American Sports Story, and anthology American Horror Stories—which has made his projects have been a target. (Remember when AHS star Kim Kardashian caught flack for tweeting from the set during a writers strike?)

Warren Leight, an executive producer on Law & Order: SVU and strike captain for the guild’s East Coast branch, is one of the people leading the rapid response team that’s been targeting productions around the greater New York area. In late June, he tweeted that crewmembers on American Horror Story, which has been filming at Silvercup Studios, told him that they’d be “blackballed in Murphy-land” if they refused to cross the picket lines. A spokesperson for Murphy called the claims “categorically false,” and a lawyer representing him sent a letter to WGA East leadership threatening litigation against Leight, THR reports. Murphy’s lawyer did not respond to a request for comment.

Leight subsequently deleted the tweet, issued an apology, and reportedly forfeited his leadership roles within the WGA East. Vanity Fair reached out to Leight and a WGA East spokesperson for comment. Now, WGA East has apparently had to remind its leadership that they shouldn’t be going after fellow writers, but rather focusing on fighting the Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers, with whom they’ve yet to agree on a new contract. “If we turn on each other, the AMPTP wins,” reads the WGA East memo, which THR obtained and published.

In the same memo, WGA East said it would continue to picket his shows and investigate any leads about members violating strike rules. Murphy’s shows are allowed to remain in production as long as they’re using scripts written before the strike, and Murphy can continue working in his capacity as a producer, but a source close to the Dahmer cocreator says he’s been staying away from set in an effort to adhere to strike protocols.


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