Some WGA writers make the big bucks



According to a NY Times story, some of the Writers Guild’s 12,000 members make quite a bit of money for their trade. For example, writer-producers like Shonda Rhimes, the creator of "Grey’s Anatomy" and "Private Practice," takes home up to 5 million a year. On the other extreme are junior writers, who if they work at, all make 50,000 or less. About 48% of West Coast members are unemployed, according to guild statistics, so it really depends on "getting that gig" for many.

The pay scale varies quite a bit for the project, as well, said the story. Under the previous contract, the six major studios must pay a minimum of 106,000 for an original screenplay, while networks must pay at least 20,956 for a teleplay for a prime-time comedy and 30,823 for a prime-time drama. The writer of a major studio release can expect a paycheck of at least 1 million, according to union members, while "name" screenwriters might earn in the 4 million range per picture. The average working writer in Hollywood takes home about 200,000 a year, according to AMPTP.