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WGAW Announces 2014 Diversity Screenwriting Honorees

By | Wednesday February 26, 2014 @ 11:23am PST

WGAWNine WGAW screenwriters made the cut for this year’s Feature Access Project, the org’s program designed to promote diversity and raise the profile of minority writers within the entertainment industry. Radha Bharadwaj (Final Boarding), Soo-Hyun Chung (Faith), Q.Terah Jackson III (Rustin), Joy Kecken (All-In), Tianna Majumdar-Langham & Chris Bessounian (Guns and Saris), LaToya Morgan (Same River Twice), Nayan Padrai (Billion Dollar Raja), and Galen Tong (The Monkey King) are 2014′s FAP winners. Entries were selected from blind submissions by a panel of WGAW members recruited by the FAP Advisory Committee. The program is now in its second year.

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WGAW Honors Alex Gibney For Docu ‘We Steal Secrets: The Story Of WikiLeaks’

By | Wednesday January 15, 2014 @ 10:52am PST

wgaawards15Los Angeles – Three-time Writers Guild Award-winning documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney has been named the WGAW’s 2014 Paul Selvin Award honoree for his screenplay for the documentary film We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks, the first time in Writers Guild Awards history that a documentary has received the Selvin Award.

Gibney and his work will be recognized, along with other honorees, at the 2014 Writers Guild Awards West Coast ceremony to be held on Saturday, February 1, at the JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. LIVE. Named after the late Paul Selvin, who served as counsel to the WGAW, the award is given to a WGA member whose script best embodies the spirit of constitutional and civil rights and liberties, which are indispensable to the survival of free writers everywhere – and to whose defense Selvin committed his professional life.

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Final Draft Extends Domination, Re-Ups WGAW Pact Ahead Of Final Draft 9 Debut

By | Wednesday November 6, 2013 @ 2:01pm PST

EXCLUSIVE: Final Draft, Inc. and the Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) have renewed the vows that helped make Final Draft the #1 market dominant scripting software used by screenwriters and wannabe scribes everywhere. The deal, first inked in 2006 and then re-upped in 2008, will continue for another 3-year term under the latest re-up. WGAW will keep endorsing Final Draft over other competitors on its otherwise sparse WGAW script registry site, where Final Draft’s logo gets eyeballs from everyone registering screen- and teleplays online. The two are are also collaborating off the page. They’ll partner on an instructional event for writers to be held at the WGA Theater to teach WGAW members how to use the software’s latest version, Final Draft 9, which will debut in Q1 2014. And for the first time, the grand prize winner of Final Draft’s Big Break Screenwriting Contest in the feature film category will become eligible to join the WGAW’s Independent Writers Caucus.

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WGAW Expels ‘Fashion Police’ Scribe For Writing During Strike

By | Monday October 14, 2013 @ 10:44am PDT

Joan Rivers escaped the Writers Guild of America’s wrath but Fashion Police scribe Larry Amoros has not. After a September 30 hearing, the WGAW board voted on October 11 to expel the guild member for writing for the E! Network’s series during a Guild-sanctioned strike. Amoros has also been hit with a fine of $14,000.00. (UPDATE: Amoros says that he wasn’t actually expelled because the long non-active union member resigned from the WGAW on September 21. Amoros claims the WGAW went after him when he refused to participate in a “witch hunt” against Rivers and others on the E! show.“The purpose is transparent — throw the striking writers, who have been out of work for more than six months, a bone,” Amoros added in a statement Monday. In response, the WGAW says “the disciplinary action was based on conduct he committed before he decided to resign.”) This is the first time the WGAW has expelled a member in recent years. Back in April, writers for the Joan Rivers-hosted panel series walked off the job to protest E!’s unfair labor practices and to gain a WGA contract. WGAW sanctioned the strike and all members were notified that they were prohibited from writing for the show until E! agreed to cover the writers under a Guild contract. Rivers settled with WGA East over the dispute earlier this month. Former writers for the show have been on strike since mid-April … Read More »

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WGAW Lists 2013 Final Election Candidates: Incumbent President Chris Keyser Still Unopposed

By | Tuesday July 23, 2013 @ 6:13pm PDT

Los Angeles – The Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) has announced the final slate of candidates for the 2013 WGAW Officers and Board of Directors election.

The Officer candidates are as follows: President* – Christopher Keyser (inc.); Vice President – Timothy J. Lea, Howard A. Rodman (inc.); Secretary-Treasurer – Dan Wilcox, Carl Gottlieb (inc.). (*The second nominee designated by the nominating committee declined the nomination.)

There are 16 candidates nominated to run for eight open seats on the WGAW’s Board of Directors as follows: Thania St. John (inc.), Andrew Goldberg, Cynthia Riddle, Ari B. Rubin, Carleton Eastlake (inc.), Nancy Miller, Jonathan Fernandez, Henry Alonso Myers, Patric M. Verrone, Billy Ray (inc.), Alfredo Barrios, Jr. (inc.), Flint Dille, Lee Aronsohn, David Maples, Karen Harris, David S. Goyer (inc.).

Editors’ note: WGAW internal rules require candidates to be announced in an order determined by lot; (inc.) denotes an incumbent candidate.

The WGAW will host its annual “Candidates Night” town-hall forum, where Guild members may meet and pose questions to their Officer and BOD candidates, on Tuesday, September 3, at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel in Century City.

Guild members will receive candidate, non-candidate, and rebuttal statements, if any, with their ballots prior to the election. Candidates may mail additional campaign materials at their own expense. The voting period concludes at 12:00 p.m. (PDT) on Monday, September 16. Members may vote by mail or in person from 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. (PDT)

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WGA West Re-Ups Executive Director

By | Friday February 8, 2013 @ 2:11pm PST

Los Angeles – The Board of Directors of the Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) has unanimously voted to extend the contract of Executive Director David Young for an additional five years. Young has been in the position since 2006.

“David is a proven leader and an invaluable strategic thinker,” said WGAW President Chris Keyser. “He has helped guide us through challenging times of both technological change and economic turbulence in our industry. He has the full support of the Board of Directors and we feel very fortunate that he will lead us through the next two cycles of contract talks with the AMPTP.”

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Tony Kushner To Receive WGAW’s Paul Selvin Award For ‘Lincoln’

By | Monday January 28, 2013 @ 12:34pm PST

Los Angeles – Writers Guild and Academy Award-nominated screenwriter Tony Kushner has been chosen to receive the WGAW’s 2013 Paul Selvin Award for his adapted screenplay for Lincoln. Named after the late Selvin, who served as counsel to the Guild, the award is given to the WGA member whose script best embodies the spirit of the constitutional and civil rights and liberties, which are indispensable to the survival of free writers everywhere. Kushner will be recognized, along with other honorees, at the Writers Guild Awards ceremony on Sunday, February 17, at the JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. LIVE.

“Tony Kushner’s eloquent script for Lincoln reminds us that, though we like to think of ourselves as the land of the free, in practice, freedom and equality are never a given, and that they are won only through struggle, often by the narrowest of margins and the greatest of sacrifice. The Guild is honored to recognize it with this award,” said WGAW President Christopher Keyser.

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WGAW Names Akira Kurosawa Writing Team 2013 Jean Renoir Award Honorees

By | Thursday January 24, 2013 @ 2:27pm PST

Influential Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa and frequent collaborators Shinobu Hashimoto, Ryûzô Kikushima, and Hideo Oguni co-wrote a number of the director’s classic films together, including Throne Of Blood (1957) and The Hidden Fortress (1958), while members of the quartet worked in various combinations, sometimes with additional writers, to pen Seven Samurai (1954), Yojimbo (1961), Sanjuro (1962), High And Low (1963), Red Beard (1965), and Ran (1985). The WGAW will honor the creative team’s legacy with the Jean Renoir Award for Screenwriting Achievement, given “on an occasional basis to honor screenwriters working outside the U.S. and in other languages”, at Sunday’s ceremony in Los Angeles. Here’s the release:

Los Angeles – The Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) has named a quartet of iconic Japanese filmmakers – Akira Kurosawa, Shinobu Hashimoto, Ryûzô Kikushima, and Hideo Oguni – as honorees of its 2013 Jean Renoir Award for Screenwriting Achievement, given to an international writer(s) who has advanced the literature of motion pictures and made outstanding contributions to the profession of screenwriter.

The four screenwriters, among other honorees, will be feted at the 2013 Writers Guild Awards West Coast ceremony on Sunday, February 17, at the JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. LIVE.

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WGA, Comedy Central Reach Accord

By | Wednesday January 23, 2013 @ 5:00pm PST

The Writers Guild of America West and Comedy Central have reached an agreement two months after the Guild ordered members to stop working on the cable networks shows if there was no WGA contract in place. Members were informed via email announcement. The Daily Show With Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report were not affected by the November 26 stop-work order against Central Productions. The WGA also formally announced it had signed agreements January 11th with Prospect Park that cover writers on the online resurrection of ABC’s cancelled daytime soaps One Life to Live and All My Children. Guild leaders also urged members to begin preparations for negotiating a new master contract when the current accord expires in 2014.

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WGA West Tells Members To “Stop Working” On Comedy Central Shows

By | Monday November 26, 2012 @ 6:43pm PST

UPDATE, 6:42 PM: Comedy Central has issued a response to the “stop working” email from the WGA sent out earlier today. “We’re continuing to move forward on our negotiations with the Writers Guild and are hopeful that we’ll come to an agreement soon,” they told Deadline.

PREVIOUSLY, 5:53 PM: The Writers Guild today sent out an email telling its members that they are not to work for “uncovered” Comedy Productions shows. The company is the production arm of Comedy Central. The WGA West says that the company is not a signatory to the Guild agreement despite the claim that Central Productions has been telling people it is. The Daily Show With Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report do have contracts with the WGA East and are not a part of this action. Deadline is told that only a handful of Comedy Central shows do not have full agreement with the WGA so any work stoppage would be limited. The WGA’s email today comes as the company and the Guild are in the middle of negotiations on a comprehensive contract. Read the WGA email below:

Dear Writers Guild Member,

We are writing to alert you that you must refrain from writing for Central Productions, the production arm of Comedy Central, without first contacting the WGAW contracts department (323-782-4501) to ensure that the writing is Guild-covered.  If you are currently writing on a Central Productions project, please contact us immediately.  Central Productions is not signatory to the MBA, and if there is no Guild contract in place specifically for the project you are working on, you are now required under Working Rule 8 to stop writing.

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WGAW Decries Verizon-Comcast Deal

By | Thursday August 16, 2012 @ 4:33pm PDT

FCC And Justice Department Bless Verizon Deal With Comcast

The Writers Guild West has issued a statement on today’s decisions by both the FCC and the Obama Administration’s Justice Department to bless that Verizon cable deal with Comcast. Consumer advocates say this pretty much ends prospects that cable and phone companies will vigorously compete in wired and wireless broadband:

“Consumers and content creators were dealt a blow today with the approval of the Verizon-cable company transactions. Despite the limitations put in place by the Department of Justice, some of the largest providers of video, broadband and wireless services will still be able use their power to control these markets. This amounts to a sanctioned collaboration among supposed competitors that will, in fact, reduce competition in telecommunications and close the door on the development of a robust wireless video market that could increase the variety and diversity of content offered to consumers.”

The Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) is a labor union representing writers of motion pictures, television, radio, and Internet programming, including news and documentaries. Founded in 1933, the Guild negotiates and administers contracts that protect the creative and economic rights of its members. It is involved in a wide range of programs that advance the interests of writers, and is active in public policy and legislative

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FCC Adds WGAW To Open Internet Panel

By | Friday May 25, 2012 @ 12:41pm PDT

The Writers Guild of America West has been selected by the Federal Communications Commission to participate in the commission’s first Open Internet Advisory Committee. It will assist in tracking and evaluating the FCC’s Open Internet rules. WGAW assistant executive director Charles B. Slocum will be one of 21 OIAC members.

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WGA Awards: ‘The Descendants’, Woody Allen, ‘Breaking Bad’, ‘Modern Family’, ‘Homeland’, ‘Colbert Report’, ‘Cinema Verite’, ‘Too Big To Fail’

By | Sunday February 19, 2012 @ 4:18pm PST
Pete Hammond

BREAKING… Refresh for latest…

Los Angeles and New York – The Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) and the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) are announcing the winners for outstanding achievement in writing for the screen during 2011. Winners will be honored at the 2012 Writers Guild Awards tonight during simultaneous ceremonies at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles and at B.B. King Blues Club in New York City. Woody Allen won Original Screenplay for his Midnight In Paris. UPDATE:  His sister and producer Letty Aronson accepted on his behalf at the WGAE event.

The Descendants won Adapted Screenplay for Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash. All three took the stage at the WGAW event. “I wrote some funny lines for the woman in the coma that Nat and Alexander didn’t like,” said Rash.
Faxon recognized The Groundlings improv theater for fostering his talent. Payne directed his acknowledgement to The Descendants author Kaui Hart Hemmings who was sitting in the audience: “Nice thing about doing adaptation is inhabiting a story that we never lived in. Thank you to the novelists for letting us in your life.”

Breaking Bad‘s Vince Gilligan accepted the television Drama Series honor saying, “We wouldn’t have a show without Bryan Cranston.”

The writers of Modern Family won for Comedy Series, and Steven Levitan exclaimed, “We are concerned that people are sick of us [winning]. Perhaps you can focus your backlash elsewhere. As such, we asked our writers to each say why they don”t feel like winners tonight.” At which point a number of Modern Family scribes described their deepest regrets:

“I worry about the future happiness of my children, particularly the fat one.”
“I write a show about relationships, half my money goes to my first wife, the other goes to the second.”
“I have 2 years left in this business, especially after they find out my real age.”
Levitan capped off, “I created the show Stacked and have to live with that.”

Actress and comedienne Rachel Dratch hosted the East Coast WGA show. At the start of the LA event, a who’s who of the film and TV industry arrived. ”Welcome to Nerd Prom,” host Zooey Deschanel greeted the guests. “Male writers, you are so hot with your minds and plaid shirts. Hit on me.” She closed the show by saying, “To all the writers who brought their parents, I hope this is enough to convince them you have real jobs.”

Soon after Deschanel closed the show by saying. “To all the writers who brought
their parents, I hope this is enough to convince them you have real jobs.”

Presenters included Tom Selleck, Lisa Kudrow, Mad Men creator Matt Weiner, Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry. In front seats are Luck creator David Milch, Oscar-nominated writer John Logan also up for a WGA nom for adapted screenplay of Hugo, Mission: Impossible 4 director Brad Bird, and Young Adult star Patton Oswalt fresh from his hosting duties last night at the ACE Eddie Awards. And Deadline Hollywood got a shout-out.

“Get ready for a bunch of F-bombs: it’s the Children’s Episodic Award” said Deschanel introducing the pair of presenters of the award, “Mad Men” Creator Matt Weiner and the show’s child star Kiernan Shipka. Shipka told Weiner that she wants to “sink her teeth into meatier roles,” and then killed the crowd with Faye Dunaway’s “No wire hangers EVER” monologue from Mommie Dearest. After she ended the speech to laughter and applause, Weiner remarked to her, ”Where were you when I was on Becker?”

Amy Poehler from Parks and Recreation and the show’s creator Michael Schur, presented comedy variety series. The two, who met on SNL, recalled their ‘woeful’ writing experiences there — how they spent hours doing Lorne Michaels imitations and crying  how their parents never respected their life decesions.

The Honorary Service – Morgan Cox Award went to Patric M. Verrone. “I don’t need to tell you who he is,” said Michael Reiss of The Simpsons writing staff. “Pat is a 2-time WGA president. Thanks to him, he got me in the union, a health pension, and a copy of Written By which I read from the mailbox to the trash can. He is a gifted artist and goes to church every Sunday. Which is more than you creeps.” Best known as the leader during the WGA strike, Reiss noted how Verrone “looks like Hitler”. Verrone picked up on the joke during his acceptance speech. ”I want to thank the anonymous commentators on Deadline Hollywood who compared me to Hitler,” Verrone said. “To them I want to say – well, I don’t want to say.”

The Help screenwriter-director Tate Taylor accepted the Special Achievement - Paul Selvin Award and politely spoke out against those naysayers who criticized him and The Help book author Kathryn Stocket –
two white people — for writing a story about the African American experience of 1963. “It is a person’s right to tell a story,” said Taylor. “The Help was directed at those women in our lives. My desire to write The Help, came from my love of Carol Lee, the [African American] woman who helped raise me with my broke mother. I wrote The Help for them. When someone writes from love, truth, and honor, they have a right to tell a story. We lose if we give into society’s criticisms.”

Prior to Eric Roth receiving the Laurel Award For Screen, presented to him by Milch, a personal video clip from David Fincher played. ”I think it is important to keep Eric Roth focused on the conversation at hand. He’s a procrastinator like no other. Eric, if it is wrong for a man to love another man than I have nothing right to say to you in winning this award.” In accepting the award, Eric Roth recalled the last time he came to the Palladium: ”It was for a strike meeting. My car was stolen, and there was the screenplay that I had just written left in it… When the car was recovered, the cops said it was used in a bank robbery. All the stuff was stolen out of my car except for that screenplay. There was a note left onot from the robbers that said, ’Characters can be stronger’.”

Following a thirtysomething clip, Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick accepted the Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award For Television and warmly recalled the joys of writing together, having first worked on the ABC show Family. Herskovitz reflected, ”When you are a 27, you can’t imagine a career. And at 57 you can’t remember it.” Zwick said, “There’s a lot to be said about writing with someone else.  It has allowed us to do together what we are afraid to do alone.”

MOTION PICTURE WINNERS

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Midnight in Paris, Written by Woody Allen (Sony Pictures Classics)

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
The Descendants, Screenplay by Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash; Based on the novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings (Fox Searchlight)

DOCUMENTARY SCREENPLAY
Better This World, Written by Katie Galloway & Kelly Duane de la Vega (Loteria Films)

TELEVISION WINNERS

DRAMA SERIES
Breaking Bad, Written by Sam Catlin, Vince Gilligan, Peter Gould, Gennifer Hutchison, George Mastras, Thomas Schnauz, Moira Walley-Beckett (AMC)

COMEDY SERIES
Modern Family, Written by Cindy Chupack, Paul Corrigan, Abraham Higginbotham, Ben Karlin, Elaine Ko, Carol Leifer, Steven Levitan, Christopher Lloyd, Dan O’Shannon, Jeffrey Richman, Brad Walsh, Ilana Wernick, Bill Wrubel, Danny Zuker (ABC)

EPISODIC DRAMA 
(TIE) “Box Cutter” (Breaking Bad), Written by Vince Gilligan (AMC)
(TIE) “The Good Soldier” (Homeland), Written by Henry Bromell (Showtime)

EPISODIC COMEDY
“Caught in the Act” (Modern Family), Written by Steven Levitan & Jeffrey Richman (ABC)

NEW SERIES
HomelandWritten by Henry Bromell, Alexander Cary, Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon, Chip Johannessen, Gideon Raff, Meredith Stiehm (Showtime)
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Writers Guild’s New Media Writing Competition Accepting Submissions

By | Monday September 19, 2011 @ 7:06pm PDT

New York and Los Angeles – The Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) and Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) today announced a joint call for submissions for the second annual WGA New Media Writing Awards. Submissions will be accepted beginning September 19, 2011, through November 18, 2011. WGA New Media Writing Award nominees will be announced on January 11, 2012, along with Videogame Writing Award nominees. Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Writing Original New Media and Outstanding Achievement in Writing Derivative New Media will be presented at the upcoming 2012 Writers Guild Awards to be held on Sunday, February 19, 2012 at simultaneous ceremonies in Los Angeles and New York City.

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WGA Membership Ratifies New Contract By Overwhelming Margin; AMPTP Declares “Labor Peace”

By | Wednesday April 27, 2011 @ 2:45pm PDT

UPDATE: Today’s statement by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers:

“Ratification of the new agreement between the AMPTP and the Writers Guild of America is a significant achievement for both parties and an important milestone for the industry. Taking into account the agreement reached with the WGA, the industry has now successfully concluded an agreement with each of the major Guilds over the past six months. Taken together, these agreements will give the industry an opportunity for a sustained period of labor peace.”

April 27th, 2011

To Our Fellow Members:

We are pleased to announce that our joint memberships have ratified our new contract with the AMPTP by an overwhelming majority. With a total of 1,952 valid ballots cast, 90.7 percent voted in favor of ratification. The term of the new deal is from May 2, 2011 through May 1, 2014. We move forward knowing that the significant gains we made in employer contributions to our pension plan better enable it to meet its obligations for the foreseeable future and that we’ve secured increases for reuse payments in Pay TV and increases in minimums.

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TENTATIVE WGA-AMPTP CONTRACT: Writers Guild Negotiators Cave To Studios & Networks After Only 2 Weeks; Critics Say “They Accepted Producers’ First Draft”

By | Sunday March 20, 2011 @ 7:33pm PDT

Email and phone messages already are pouring in about what they’re criticizing as this disaster of a tentative agreement (see WGA West notice to members below). It was reached at 3:30 PM today by the Writers Guild of America negotiators with the Alliance of Motion Picture And Television Producers. It took little more than 2 weeks of bargaining – and no wonder. What a joke. And it comes at a time when nearly all writers are wringing their hands and hanging by their fingernails to maintain their livelihoods under the studio and network cutbacks.

WGA West President John Wells, who is first and foremost a TV producer and patsy for Warner Bros boss and anti-guild hardliner Barry Meyer, looked after his own interests first. He kept his Southland budget down at TNT while also getting a hefty 20% bump for his Shameless writers at Showtime. ”He took care of pay cable while allowing basic cable to make no gains, despite it being the most important area as far as growth. It’s like they accepted the producers first draft,” a source just told me.

Several veteran writers are calling this the worst deal they’ve ever been handed. Clearly, the Writers Guild leadership decided it had no leverage after the Actors and Directors Guilds threw them under the bus by accepting bad contracts and even the WGA membership gave them no hand by overwhelmingly (and understandably) opposing any mention of a strike. Nor did it help that the stock market has been tanking these past two weeks despite all the Big Media companies finding their financial footing again after the depths of the economic crisis. 

Here’s more reaction: “Katherine Fugate is congratulating herself on Facebook and calling the committee heroes, but they’re zeroes.”

Also, screenwriters messaging me don’t expect the WGA to protect their interests now any more than the guild has before given the flimsy new meetings on such hated topics as sweepstakes pitching and one-step deals. And who in their right mind believes ”contract provisions [which] have been added that require each studio to send to its creative executives a bulletin stating clearly that spec writing is not to be condoned” can stop this institutionalized practice. It’s all such a WGA betrayal of screenwriters after the guild leadership went around to Hollywood agencies and pledged to work together to stop the studios’ blatant exploitation of movie scribes.

As for New Media increases, they’ve gone the way of the VCR and the DVD: what was negotiated first is what you’re stuck with now and seemingly forever if the AMPTP continues to have its way.

I had predicted Hollywood could most likely expect quick and easy negotiations. So let’s see… SAG/AFTRA spent just 6 weeks of jointly negotiating with the studios and networks on a new 3-year TV/Theatrical contract. The DGA took just three weeks and change. And the WGA could have bargained right up until its May 1st when its current contract ends. Well, why not speed talks along when your Hollywood Guilds are just rubber-stamping what crumbs the AMPTP are offering despite this rapidly improving economy. The DGA was first to make it plain early on that they weren’t going for big wages (just a 2% increase) or even a better New Media deal. Instead the DGA negotiators were focusing on increased Health Plan and Pension contributions. Same with SAG/AFTRA. Now the WGA focused on the pension plan. But all the writers I know in the guold who aren’t yet or once were big names are most concerned about losing their health insurance. There’s no mention of that today.

Hey, wait a minute: didn’t all three guilds promising that they’d do things different and join together and fight, fight, fight for substantially more this contract go-round and their rightful share of the money pie if only members elected more “moderate” leadership than the militants of yore?

Talk about empty promises. 

The moguls behind the AMPTP always intended to negotiate with the writers last (even though their pact was expiring sooner) to ensure there would be the most Hollywood pressure (synonymous with antagonism) towards them if they negotiated too hard. Although SAG/AFTRA and the DGA traded information during their talks, they left the WGA out in the cold. True, no one wanted another strike. But was the only alternative for the WGA to wimp out like the other Guilds?

Here’s the WGA West email that went out: 

March 20, 2011 

Dear WGAW Member, 

We are pleased to inform you that our negotiators have concluded a tentative agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. Talks began on March 3 and ended today at 3:30 p.m. The three-year deal features significant gains in contributions to our pension fund, improves payments in Pay TV residuals, increases our minimums, and takes steps to address important workplace issues for screen and television writers. Your Negotiating Committee will meet tomorrow to officially vote on sending the tentative agreement to the WGAW Board of Directors and WGAE Council for approval prior to member ratification. 

Highlights of the tentative agreement include:

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WGA-AMPTP Start Contract Talks Thursday

According to a joint statement from the Writers Guilds of America West and East and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, issued today, negotiations on on a new Theatrical/TV contract begin on Thursday, March 3rd. The Guilds and the AMPTP claim they will not be commenting further at this time. President John Wells, Executive Director David Young, Negotiating Committee Co-Chairs John Bowman and Billy Ray, and others will go up against the AMPTP’s Carol Lombardini. I’ll have an analysis before then.

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WGAW: Comcast Aims “To Destroy Unions”

WGAW Board Members Chip Johannessen and Patric Verrone have issued a strongly worded message of support the Comcast writers wanting WGA representation:

To Our Fellow Members,

“If the Writers Guild didn’t exist, we’d have to invent it.” — Legendary Hollywood executive Sid Sheinberg said that back in 1988 when he was president of Universal Studios. Mr. Sheinberg didn’t say it out of some great love of the Guild. The fact is we were on strike at the time and, if there had been some way to do without us, any self-respecting studio head would have jumped at the chance. But Mr. Sheinberg understood the role that our Guild, and all the other guilds and unions, play in this industry. A role that Universal’s latest owner, Comcast, seems not to understand.

Hollywood runs on a talented pool of what is essentially freelance labor. The guilds, every bit as much as the companies, make this talent pool possible by ensuring two things: First, that when you work, you’ll be fairly compensated. And second, that your pension and health benefits follow you from job to job. Projects and shows come and go, but fair compensation and portable benefits ensure that talented people remain. This guild-based ecosystem works to everyone’s advantage, including the companies. It makes our industry possible. Because talented people won’t follow their dreams here if, after 20 years of working, they’ve got nothing to show for it. And without the talent pool,

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HAMMOND Goes Inside The WGA Awards

Pete Hammond

In accepting the Best Original Screenplay award for Inception at Saturday night’s Writers Guild Awards, winner Christopher Nolan addressed the elephant in the room by noting that not all the best screenplays were eligible for the prize. The Writers Guild, as they do every year, disqualified scripts not made under Guild agreements and this year that list included four screenplays that are nominated for Oscars including The King’s Speech, Toy Story 3, Another Year, and Winter’s Bone. Nolan noted that 9 years ago, even though he was a WGA member, he was told his script (later Oscar nominated) Memento would not be eligible for a WGA award. Nolan alluded to those “screenplays not considered but I am not going to name them for fear of boosting their chances at other shows”. He said that, hopefully, next year all scripts will be eligible “without qualification”.

I talked to WGA President John Wells at the pre-show reception about this thorny issue and he said that The Weinstein Company did in fact want to try and make King’s Speech eligible retroactively but that the producers of the film balked at the costs. (Wells’ recent film The Company Men was distributed by TWC.) He said the practice of disqualifying screenplays that don’t meet Guild production standards is one that comes up time and again at WGA Board meetings but the guild feels it’s a good way of convincing some productions to sign on to the … Read More »

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