Artist Rights

BREAKING: The Animation Guild Has Suspended ‘The Loud House’ Creator Chris Savino (EXCLUSIVE)

Chris Savino, the disgraced creator of Nickelodeon’s The Loud House, has been suspended for one year from The Animation Guild, IATSE Local 839, the trade union that represents animation artists in Los Angeles.

It’s the first time that the Guild has ever taken extensive action against one of its members over allegations of sexual harassment. The judgement against Savino, who was fired from Nickelodeon after extensive sexual misconduct allegations, was revealed tonight to Guild members at a general membership meeting.

The ruling is part of a plea bargain that the Guild made with Savino. These are the full terms of the agreement:

  • A one-year suspension from The Animation Guild, effective April 7th.
  • Forty hours of community service with an organization of the charging parties choice.
  • $4,000 fine, to be donated to an organization of the charging parties choice.
  • Certificate of Sexual Harassment training.
  • Ongoing counseling with a therapist.
  • A letter distributed to all Guild signatory studios informing them of the ruling.

Savino, through his legal counsel, pled guilty and accepted the ruling of the Trial Board, which was composed of a half-dozen Guild executive members.

The “charging parties” described above in the agreement are all Guild-represented animation artists. In other words, the charges were brought by Savino’s own colleagues.

The “charging parties” brought up Savino on charges of “disloyalty,” a union member with knowledge of the situation told Cartoon Brew this evening. The disloyalty is to the union constitution that members have to sign when they join the organization.

The language in that part of the constitution is vague – you can read it here – but since the constitution doesn’t have any specific language about sexual harassment, the disloyalty clause was the only part of the constitution where an actual violation had occurred and where Savino’s colleagues could pursue charges.

The trial for Savino was scheduled to begin on April 7, but Savino reached the plea agreement with the Trial Board on April 6. Part of the agreement was that the charging parties could address Savino if they wished, and that he would listen. He waved the right to cross-examine the parties.

So, instead of a trial, a hearing with the charging parties took place on April 7th.

The union member who spoke with Cartoon Brew tell us that this plea agreement is the best possible result, though it probably doesn’t go as far as many members would have liked. There were a number of mitigating circumstances that need to be taken into account. One of the issues is that the charges were not filed properly, something that Savino’s legal counsel recognized early on. And secondly, due to arcane loopholes in union rules, had The Animation Guild kicked Savino out of the union, a union shop could still hire him and then the union would have to pay his dues, a situation that would have been to Savino’s benefit.

“Our Guild wanted to stand up for our membership in a way that other trade unions have not,” the union member told me. “Actors who have been accused of sexual harassment were never disciplined by their trade guilds. Those guilds decided to leave these matters to the courts. The Animation Guild did not agree this was the correct course of action. Yes, Harvey Weinstein was kicked out the Producers Guild and the Motion Picture Academy, but those are honorary societies – not trade unions.”

Further, we’re told that the Guild has formed a committee to rewrite its constitution so that it can better protect its membership in the future. The constitution has not had a major overhaul in over 50 years, decades before sexual harassment was a national issue.

While this plea bargain protects the union membership for the next year, there is nothing that prevents Savino from returning to the studio system afterward, a situation that multiple union members have expressed concern about to me in recent months.

Ultimately, choosing whether or not to employ people who have a history of sexual harassment allegations is a responsibility that falls on the studios themselves. It is each studio’s job to take preventive measures to create a safe workplace environment for their artists that is free of sexual hostility and harassment.

Cartoon Brew reached out to Nickelodeon, and asked whether the studio currently has any financial or creative relationship in any capacity with Chris Savino.

“We are not working with Chris Savino,” was the entirety of the response that we received from a Nick spokesperson.

The Loud House continues production of new episodes at Nickelodeon, and the network recently announced that it is developing a Latino spinoff set in the same universe, Los Casagrandes.

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