Ex-Daredevil Showrunner Concerned About Disney’s Show Renaming

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Steven DeKnight, renowned as the showrunner behind Netflix’s successful Daredevil series, has recently stirred up a contentious conversation centered around Disney and what he perceives as a questionable practice. DeKnight’s concerns revolve around the possible exploitation of labor contracts through a somewhat unconventional means: renaming television series.

It’s important to clarify that DeKnight’s reservations aren’t rooted in creative disputes or dissatisfaction with the upcoming Daredevil: Born Again series. In fact, he enthusiastically expressed his support for the new creative team and his excitement about the show’s future. Instead, his unease stems from a more systemic issue he believes Disney may be engaging in – circumventing union pay increases by altering the names of their series.

The crux of this matter revolves around the labor union known as the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE). Under their contract, crew members are entitled to comprehensive benefits, including vacation and holiday pay, after working on a show for three seasons. However, DeKnight suggests that Disney could potentially reset these contractual terms by simply changing the name of a series, effectively nullifying union pay bumps that crew members would otherwise receive.

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To highlight this issue, DeKnight has coined this practice an “old Disney scam” where minor tweaks in the series’ names reset the contract terms to those of the first season. This, he argues, has implications for labor rights and workers’ financial well-being. DeKnight took to social media to air his grievances, emphasizing that it’s a problem that should be addressed collectively by all guilds and unions within the industry.

DeKnight’s personal stake in this issue is that he might not receive any compensation from Daredevil: Born Again due to the inclusion of “Born Again” in the title, which could be interpreted as an entirely new series. What puzzles him is that this is not an isolated incident but a practice he believes Disney has consistently employed over the years, primarily with Disney Channel shows.

He points to various examples, such as The Suite Life of Zack & Cody morphing into The Suite Life on Deck after three seasons, Liv & Maddie becoming Liv & Maddie: Cali Style after four seasons, and Hannah Montana evolving into Hannah Montana Forever after four seasons. He even mentioned hearing of a similar attempt with Wizards of Waverly Place, though it faced resistance from its star, Selena Gomez.

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While DeKnight acknowledges that Daredevil: Born Again may or may not have continuity with the original series, with Charlie Cox and Vincent D’onofrio reprising their roles as Daredevil and Wilson Fisk, respectively, he underscores that his primary concern lies in Disney’s persistent practice of renaming shows, which he views as corporate tactics and a form of wage theft.

For DeKnight, the issue extends beyond his personal involvement and taps into broader questions of corporate responsibility, labor rights, and contractual fairness in the entertainment industry. He firmly believes that this practice warrants collective scrutiny and decisive action.

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