A Review of Catherine L. Fisk’s Writing for Hire: Unions, Hollywood and Madison Avenue
By Marc D. Alexander
Don Draper, meet Dalton Trumbo. Draper, the mythical madman of Madison Avenue, highly-paid, hard-charging, creative, alcohol-addled, and alienated. Trumbo, the iconic screenwriter, victim of the blacklist, writer of Roman Holiday, Johnny Got His Gun, Exodus, also an alcoholic. Who was the most satisfied with work and work relationships? Answer: clearly, Matthew Weiner, Don Draper’s creator, producer of one of the most successful television shows ever, beneficiary of a high income, creative control, an outstanding reputation, residuals, and unionization.
In her excellent study, Writing for Hire: Unions, Hollywood, and Madison Avenue (Harvard University Press 2016), Catherine L. Fisk, Chancellor’s Professor of Law at UCI, plunges into the history of Hollywood and Madison Avenue writers’ employment relationships. The subtitle of Professor