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R.I.P. Writer-Producer-Director John Fasano

By | Sunday July 20, 2014 @ 12:33pm PDT

R.I.P. Writer-Producer-Director John FasanoWriter/producer/director John Fasano, best known for his work in the horror genre, died in his sleep Saturday night at the age of 52, his attorney Craig Baumgarten confirmed. No cause of death was available.

Fasano was nominated for a Writers Guild Award in 1996 for writing the teleplay for The Hunchback for TNT. He also had a hand in more than 40 other film and TV projects, including writing the hit Tom Selleck TV movie Stone Cold, Iraq war TV docudramas Saving Jessica Lynch and The Hunt for Saddam, and films including Alien 3, Meggido: The Omega Code 2, Darkness Falls and Another 48 Hours. Fasano also worked as a script doctor and screenwriting guest lecturer at AFI and the Writer’s Boot Camp. He was president of the screenwriting seminar at the Sony/Canal+ Equinoxe screenwriting seminar in France. He produced and directed several independent films, typically in the horror genre, including Rock ‘n’ Roll NightmareBlack Roses and The Jitters, all released in the 1980s.

John Fasano with friend at mealFasano, who was born Aug.24, 1961, had his first taste of filmmaking when his father, a friend of director John Cassavetes, brought him along on a visit to the set of Husbands, according to a frequently quoted story in articles about him. In high school, he worked on industrial films for IBM and other companies, and graduated from SUNY-Purchase with a degree in film. He initially worked as an editor or freelance editor for a variety of specialty magazines, but his work creating posters for exploitation films led … Read More »

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WGA Awards Set For Feb. 14, 2015

By | Thursday July 17, 2014 @ 10:28am PDT

WGA Awards Set For Feb. 14, 2015It will be a very sweet Valentine’s Day indeed for the winners of the the 67th Annual WGA Awards next year. In a truly loving move, the scribes’ ceremony will be held both in LA and NYC that night at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel and the Edison Ballroom respectively. The WGA Awards come after the DGA Awards on February 7, SAG Awards on January 25 and PGA Awards on January 23th. Today we also found out the road that will get the writer to their awards with the Guild releasing a timeline.

Check out the complete WGA Awards schedule here:

2014-2015 WGA TIMELINE

Television-Radio-New Media Eligibility Period:

Long Form, Episodic, Animation, Children’s, and Short Form categories:
First broadcast or exhibited between Dec. 1, 2013 and Nov. 30, 2014

Comedy/Variety, Quiz and Audience Participation, Documentary, Daytime Drama,
News, Radio, and Promotion categories:
First broadcast or exhibited between Oct. 1, 2013 and Sept. 30, 2014

Series Eligibility Period:
First broadcast or exhibited between Dec. 1, 2013 and Nov. 30, 2014

Theatrical Screenplay Eligibility Period:
Exhibited theatrically in Los Angeles for one week during 2014

Documentary Screenplay Eligibility Period:
Exhibited theatrically in Los Angeles or New York for one week during 2014

Videogame Eligibility Period:
Originally released between Dec. 1, 2013 and Nov. 30, 2014



Fri. Oct. 10  - Deadline for submissions: Television-Radio-
New Media and Paul Selvin

Fri. Oct. 10 – Deadline for submissions: Drama, Comedy, and
New Series

Tue. Oct. 28  - Preliminary Series online voting begins


Fri. Nov. 14  - Deadline for submissions: Theatrical and
Documentary Screenplays

Mon. Nov. 24 – Deadline for submissions: Videogame Writing

Tue. Nov. 25 – Deadline for Preliminary Series online voting

Read More »

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Barry Levinson Quits WGA Over Sloppy Credit Arbitration On Screen Version Of Philip Roth’s ‘The Humbling’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Barry Levinson, a card-carrying member of humthe WGA for 40 years, has resigned over what he termed “reprehensible” treatment he was given in an arbitration of screen credit for the adaptation of the Philip Roth novel The Humbling. Levinson, who hoped to share credit with Buck Henry and Michal Zebede, said he didn’t quit because things didn’t go his way. He did it to protest the dismissive treatment he received after he read three opinions by the anonymous writers who acted as arbitrators. One that denied him credit had completely mixed up facts in the written decision, wga-logo__140128204911__140131020047__140205212542__140306212740__140307232618__140331211919citing passages that didn’t make the shooting script, and even some that only appeared in Roth’s novel. When Levinson asked the WGA to request that the arbitrator be asked to reconsider the decision and get it right, or else be replaced, the WGA dismissed Levinson’s request. That is why he quit.

Related: Barry Levinson & Al Pacino To Team On ‘The Humbling’

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WGA Urges FCC to Block Comcast- Time Warner Cable Merger

By | Sunday March 23, 2014 @ 6:54am PDT

WGABy David Robb, Special To Deadline

RELATED: WGA West & WGA East Slam Merger Of Comcast And Time Warner Cable

EXCLUSIVE: The Writers Guild of America has offered a chilling picture of the future of television to the Federal Communications Commission in a bid to block the proposed Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger.

In February, Comcast agreed to buy Time Warner Cable for $45 billion in a deal that would combine the two largest cable companies in the United States. The deal must still be approved by the FCC.

“The FCC should deny the proposed merger,” the WGA said in a brief filed with the FCC on Friday, noting that the merged entity “would control almost 30%” of the cable and satellite TV market.

Such a merger, the guild argued, “would give too much power over broadcast and cable networks. Comcast’s ability to blackout one-third of television viewers would force networks to agree to terms and rates set by Comcast, harming investment in programming.”

COMCASTA merged Comcast-Time Warner would also control approximately 30% of the broadband Internet market, the guild said, “giving the company the means to limit competition from online video providers like Netflix and Amazon. Comcast has already demonstrated its inclination for anti-competitive behavior by exempting its own streaming service from data caps when watched on an Xbox, while applying data caps to competing services.”

In economic terms, the guild told … Read More »

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WGA Awards: ‘Captain Phillips’ & ‘Her’ Win Top Film Awards; ‘Breaking Bad’, ‘Veep’ & ‘House Of Cards’ Score On TV Side

By | Saturday February 1, 2014 @ 5:49pm PST

WGA Award WinnersUPDATED WITH FULL LIST OF WINNERS: The 66th annual WGA Awards were handed out tonight in “simultaneous” ceremonies on both coasts — the WGA West is at the JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. LIVE and the WGA East at the Edison Ballroom. Like last year, the NY crew announced its main awards well ahead of the LA ceremony. In the end, Billy Ray was the somewhat surprising winner of the Adapted Screenplay award for Sony’s Captain Phillips while Spike Jonze took the Original Screenplay honor for Warner Bros’ Her. If the time snafu sounds familiar it is; last year the LA event lagged NYC’s by almost an hour, meaning award winners were being announced first by WGAE and then trickled into the WGAW audience to ruin the suspense. Tonight, word began filtering into the JW Marriott of the main winners about 2 hours into the show. Ray and Jonze, who were in LA, came to the podium a good 40+ minutes after their awards were unveiled at the Edison and pretended to look surprised — all of the final big awards seemed to lose steam as most in the room new the winners.

2014 Writers Guild Awards L.A. Ceremony - InsideOn the TV side, Breaking Bad won both the Best Drama and Episodic Drama categories for the second time in three years and the third consecutive Best Drama trophy for the series’ final installment. House Of Cards picked up the first WGA Award for Netflix, taking the New Series honor. The streaming service led the network pack this year with six nominations as the guild amended its rules this year to allow eligibility for Netflix series that have been produced for initial exhibition in New Media. Veep won its first major series award with its Comedy Series win tonight over the likes of Modern Family, which was looking to take back the crown after losing last year to FX’s Louie.  The fellow HBO comedy Veep launched, Girls, won the New Series award last year.

Related: WGA Awards: Writers Hopeful As They Head Into Contract Negotiations With Producers

2014 Writers Guild Awards L.A. Ceremony - Inside“Every writer deserves the kind of luck I’ve had. I owe quite a debt to Captain Richard Phillips,” said Ray, who was also nominated for an Oscar. “Capt. Phillps wrote this story, I just wrote it down.” The feature film competition this year was almost as interesting for what’s not in the running vs. what is. The most notable absences were Oscar Adapted Screenplay favorite John Ridley for 12 Years A Slave and fellow nominees Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope for Philomena – the guild only includes screenplays that were produced under its signatory agreements. Ray’s win probably vaults him into the conversation with 12 Years.

2014 Writers Guild Awards L.A. Ceremony - InsideSaid Jonze, also an Oscar nominee:  ”This is a high honor coming from the Writers Guild. … It’s a high honor coming from writers. In a way this is like an award for pain. A specfic pain that writers know. The highs and lows of sitting there by yourself. I thank you guys for that.”

Related: 2014 WGA Award Nominations

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Brad Garrett To Host WGA Awards West

By | Tuesday January 21, 2014 @ 10:28am PST

writers-guild-awardsBrad Garrett has been tapped as host of the Writers Guild Awards in Los Angeles. A three-time Emmy winner, Garrett is perhaps best known for his role as Robert Barone on Everybody Loves Raymond. Should be interesting as host, as his stand up routines can be a bit on the raunchy side. The awards are set for Saturday at the JW Marriott L.A. Live in downtown L.A. From today’s release: Read More »

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Katie Buckland Penciled In As Next Head Of Writers Guild Foundation

By | Tuesday May 7, 2013 @ 9:39pm PDT

The Writers Guild Foundation has tapped a civil rights attorney as its next leader. Katie Buckland, former executive director of the California Women’s Law Center, a legal advocacy group targeting the civil rights of women and girls, will replace the retired Angela Kirgo, who stepped down after two decades. Earlier in her career, Buckland served Bill Clinton’s presidential campaigns and the Democratic National Committee and was communications director for the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office. Founded in 1966, the WGF works to preserve the history of screen and television writing and advancing excellence in writing.

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WGA West Demands $3M Bond From Nickelodeon Over Late Payments; Writers Could Stop Working With Network

By | Wednesday March 13, 2013 @ 12:49pm PDT

The Writers Guild of America West has demanded a $3 million bond from Nickelodeon because of “chronically late residuals payment and inadequate reporting practices.” In a March 8 dated letter I have obtained, the WGA West tells the Viacom-owned network that if the multi-million dollar bond is not posted by March 25, the guild could take further action. That action could include instructing “writers to withhold their services from any signatory Company for which Nickelodeon is the residuals payer.”  Invoking Article 42 of the guild’s Minimum Basic Agreement, the bond demand came in a letter earlier this month from the WGA West’s director of Legal Services Katherine Shannon Christovisch sent to Nickelodeon’s lawyers at LA firm Mitchell, Silberberg & Knupp. Stating that “Nickelodeon pays haphazardly, often only after the Guild initiates an arbitration claim” and “scores of writers have had to wait years to get the residuals due,” Christovisch notes that the company is falls under Article 42’s definition of not being “reliable or financially responsible residuals payers.” She adds “we have determined the adequacy of the bond by projecting, based on recent reuse history, the residuals that we project will become due in 2013.”

Sources tell me that WGA president Chris Keyser decided to act on the long simmering situation earlier thus year after members complained of increasing economic hardship because of the late … Read More »

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WGA West Donates Almost $1M To Actor’s Fund

By | Thursday September 27, 2012 @ 10:16am PDT

Los Angeles – The Writers Guild of America, West announced today that it is contributing $977,095 to The Actors Fund. The monies are specifically earmarked for emergency financial assistance needed by entertainment professionals for basic living expenses such as rent or medical bills. The Fund provides support for everyone in entertainment – writers, designers, sound technicians, dancers, directors, film editors, stagehands, electricians, and actors – with a broad spectrum of programs designed to help with the serious economic, health or employment challenges they face.

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WGA Screenwriter Survey: Scripters’ Status “Significantly Deteriorated”

EXCLUSIVE… FINDINGS INCLUDED: The major findings of the newly released 2011 WGA Screenwriter Survey (click here for full report) are that “screenwriters believe their status in the Writers Guild of Americaindustry has significantly deteriorated over the past several years. The most flagrant studio practices contributing to this decline, ranked in order of frequency, are: free rewrites, sweepstakes pitching or bake-offs, late payment, free prewrites, and idea theft.” The Writers Guild findings included:

– One-in-four screenwriters reported leaving prepared materials behind as part of their pitch

– Three-quarters were asked to revise those pitch materials for the major studios, while requests at the smaller studios happened half of the time

– Producers were more likely to ask for revisions, but three-in-ten reported major studio representatives requested revisions to pitch materials

– A majority were asked by the major studios to work before being paid for commencement

– Most screenwriters received only 1 or 2 guaranteed steps in their deals from the studios

– Optional steps were common in these deals

– Nearly two-thirds say the major studios and over half say the smaller studios never exercised any optional steps in their deals

– Almost half were asked to do uncompensated rewrites at a major studio, with four-in-ten saying the studio representative made the request

– Smaller studios were somewhat less likely to ask for uncompensated rewrites, but a greater share of the requests came from studio representatives

– A majority of those working at major studios did the uncompensated rewrites because they felt it necessary to keep their current job or get hired in the future

– Nearly a quarter believe they were paid late by the major studios in 2011

According to a statement from WGAW Board Member David S. Goyer to me on the declining business conditions screenwriters face:

“Less movies are being made and that means fewer jobs. This means more competition between writers and the pressures become enormous. In this type of environment screenwriters rightly feel like they are being exploited. I’ve had to do free rewrites, often been expected to start work before any type of payment is made, and I’ve frequently been paid late by major studios. I think those qualify as symptoms of business conditions in decline.”

On the issue of one-step deals, WGA Board Member Bill Ray made this statement to me:

“One-step deals are a danger on several fronts. First, they are a fairly blatant means of getting writers to do several steps for free. Second, they artificially empower producers who can now convince writers to do a ‘producer’s draft’ by claiming to be speaking for the studio when that producer may in fact have no idea what the studio wants. Third, one-step deals yield timid scripts. Writers aren’t going to be very likely to take chances with material if they’re writing with a sword hanging over their heads. Good scripts take time. They also require some experimentation – the drafts that help you find your story. Contracts ought to reflect that, just as they used to. Lastly, perhaps most practically: would you really want your project written by a writer who’s so anxious about being fired that he or she is spending all their time booking their next job instead of throwing themselves into the one you’ve hired them for?”

Here is the email that went out today: Read More »

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Frank Pierson: Writer, Director & Industry Leader Never Had “Failure To Communicate”

By | Monday July 23, 2012 @ 2:38pm PDT
Pete Hammond

Frank Pierson had a magical way with words, so it is ironic that the most famous movie line he ever wrote is: “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate”. Frank Pierson never suffered “failure to communicate”. That iconic phrase uttered by Strother Martin to Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke (1967) – one of Newman’s greatest movies EVER — was even voted by the American Film Institute as the No. 11 greatest movie quote of all time. It’s even now part of a Guns N’ Roses song, “Civil War”. But Pierson, who died today at age 87 after a short illness, didn’t even know if he would be allowed to keep it in the script that also has Donn Pearce credited; he was author of the original book in which the line doesn’t exist. Isn’t that always the way with such immortal lines? Thank God it was left in. It’s hard to imagine this great film without it.

Pierson was nominated for an Oscar in the adapted screenplay category for Cool Hand Luke. It was his second nomination there: Two years earlier, his script for the classic comedy Western Cat Ballou landed him his first nomination, even though, as he said, he was the “11th writer” on the project. But he was the one (with inspiration from the film’s “10th writer”, Walter Newman) who finally cracked it. turning the dramatic Western into a comedy. It won Lee Marvin the Best Actor Oscar and made a star out of a drunken cross-legged horse to whom Marvin offered half his Oscar. It too contained another now-famous line said by a young Jane Fonda: “You won’t make me cry. You’ll never make me cry”. And of course his Oscar-winning original screenplay Dog Day Afternoon (1975) saw Al Pacino chanting another famous phrase, “Attica! Attica!” According to movie lore though, that may have been improvised on set, but there can be no doubt whenever Pierson’s name was on a script it was bound to contain immortal bits of dialogue to go with great screenplay structure and high-class writing.

His films as a screenwriter included some very fine underrated movies in his later career like Presumed Innocent (1990), which starred Harrison Ford, and In Country (1989) with Bruce Willis. But for me, a nifty little 1971 caper picture starring Sean Connery, The Anderson Tapes, has become a hidden gem in the filmography of both Pierson and its director Sidney Lumet. Of course, they would collaborate four years later on Dog Day Afternoon, but check out Anderson, like Dog Day a great crime/heist picture but one that almost seems forgotten 40 years later. It shouldn’t be. Read More »

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WGA West Finalizes Board Slate

By | Monday July 23, 2012 @ 2:36pm PDT

LOS ANGELES – The Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) has announced the final slate of candidates for the 2012 Board of Directors election.

There are 15 candidates nominated to run for eight open seats on the WGAW’s Board of Directors, as follows: Meg LeFauve, Marjorie David, David Shore (incumbent), Terrence Coli, John Aboud, Eric Small, Jordan Mechner, Barbara Turner, Michael Oates Palmer, Scott Alexander, Alexander Cary, David A. Goodman (inc.), Katherine Fugate (inc.), Kathy Kiernan (inc.), Chip Johannessen. (Previously announced Board candidates Patrick Sean Smith and Zoanne Clack withdrew their candidacies.)

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R.I.P. Frank Pierson

Frank Pierson DeadExceptional Academy Award-winning screenwriter and director Frank Pierson, who became presidents of both the Writers Guild, West, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences, died today in Los Angeles of natural causes following a short illness, according to his manager. He was 87. Gentlemanly yet ornery, meticulous yet creative, Pierson compiled a remarkable writing resume, starting in the 1950s with television shows like Have Gun, Will Travel and Playhouse 90, followed by five decades of seminal films like Cat Ballou (screenplay by Walter Newman and Frank R. Pierson), Dog Day Afternoon (screenplay by Frank Pierson), A Star Is Born (screenplay by Joan Didion & John Gregory Dunne and Frank Pierson), In Country (screenplay by Frank Pierson and Cynthia Cidre), and Presumed Innocent (screenplay by Frank Pierson and Alan J. Pakula). Even in his later years, he worked for HBO on telemovies, AMC as a writer/consulting producer on Mad Men, and on CBS in the same function for The Good Wife. Phil Robinson of the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences’ Governors Writers Branch said today: “Young rock ‘n rollers always look to the old bluesmen as models of how to keep their art strong and rebellious into older years.  For screenwriters, Frank has been our old blues master for a long time. He’s always shown us – better than anyone else – how to do it with class, grace, humor, strength, brilliance, generosity, and … Read More »

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R.I.P. Stephen Lord

By | Friday May 11, 2012 @ 2:43pm PDT

Television writer Stephen Lord has died. The Writers Guild announced today that Lord died May 5 in his home in Sherman Oaks, CA surrounded by his family. The writer, whose real name was Stephen Loyacano, was 85.  In a career that went from the 1950’s to the early 1990’s, Lord worked on a wide variety of shows. His credits include CHiPs, Fantasy Island, Bonanza, Kung Fu, The Loretta Young Show, The Dick Powell Show, Matlock, Death Valley Days, Johnny Ringo, Zane Grey Theatre, Ironside, the original Outer Limits and T.J. Hooker. Lord also wrote several features including an adaptation of the Edgar Allen Poe short story classic The Fall of the House of Usher. 

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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.”


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

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

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


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

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)

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

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

HomelandWritten by Henry Bromell, Alexander Cary, Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon, Chip Johannessen, Gideon Raff, Meredith Stiehm (Showtime)
Read More »

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At Mostly Blasé WGA Panel, Nominated Screenwriters Give Hints Of Discord

By | Friday February 17, 2012 @ 12:49pm PST

Perhaps a victim of too many participants and too little time, a panel featuring the WGA screenwriting nominees Thursday night at the guild’s Beverly Hills theater was heavy on niceties with only traces of insight. Three Moneyball writers — Aaron Sorkin, Stan Chervin and Steven Zaillian (who also wrote The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) — were joined by The Descendants’ writer-director Alexander Payne, Hugo‘s John Logan, Bridesmaids‘ Annie Mumolo, 50/50‘s Will Reiser and The Help‘s Tate Taylor for an hour-plus discussion mostly peppered with practical advice dished to a large audience of new or aspiring screenwriters. The event was billed as a pre-cursor to Sunday’s WGA Awards, featuring the WGA’s and Oscar’s nominees for original and adapted screenplay.

A couple of panelists did offer up moments of insidery detail. Payne tackled his screenplay for The Descendants after drafts were delivered by the project’s other writers Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, but he said he had to overlook their take on the story before warming up to the project. “I couldn’t get into the film through their drafts,” Payne said. “I respected their work very much but I had to return to the novel. I learned some of the things I didn’t want to do [with the story] through their drafts.” Payne said the novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings paved the way for his version of the screenplay, noting that this was his most “faithful adaptation” he’s done to date. “The [Hawaiian] aristocracy is very insular. They’re very suspicious of outsiders who come in and see what they want to see and leave,” he said. “My principal audience is the people who live there and I wanted people in Hawaii to believe I got it right.”

Payne said previous drafts of Descendants played up the high jinks of the younger daughter (played in the film by Amara Miller), but he said he “jettisoned that” and instead focused on the relationship between George Clooney’s character and the older daughter, played by Shailene Woodley. When writing, Payne said he likes to keep things “austere.” Though he may write a long script with details, when he’s ready to show it, minimalism wins out. “I like to keep it super austere. Ninety-one pages is the best length for a script.” Read More »

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WGA Awards Sets West Coast Team

By | Wednesday December 14, 2011 @ 2:34pm PST

Spike Jones Jr is returning to executive produce the 2012 WGA Awards’ West Coast show, set for February 19 at the Hollywood Palladium. The veteran producer has overseen four WGA West ceremonies, including the past two years. Also returning is talent producer Carole Propp and head writer Guy Nicolucci, who both worked on last year’s event. The WGA Awards will be held simultaneously in Hollywood and New York.

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WGA East Cuts Deal With ‘Daily Show’ And ‘Colbert’ Producer

New York — The Writers Guild of America, East has negotiated improvements to its collective bargaining agreements with Hello Doggie, Inc., the production company which produces the hit cable shows The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Stephen Colbert Report. The agreements significantly improve the formula for calculating residuals paid to WGAE members for basic cable replays. The WGAE estimates that residuals payments will increase approximately 20% in 2012, despite a reduction in the number of replays which began in September 2011.

“It makes a real difference when Guild members are actively engaged in negotiations – and when the employer recognizes how integral writing is to the shows’ success,” said WGAE Executive Director Lowell Peterson, who was the union’s chief negotiator.

The members working on The Daily Show and The Colbert Report ratified the new agreements on November 9th and 10th. The employer had already implemented improvements that were part of the industry-wide Minimum Basic Agreement (“MBA”) negotiated by the WGAE and the Writers Guild of America, West earlier this year. The 2012-2015 MBA includes increases to minimum compensation and increased contributions to the Producer-Writers Guild of America Pension Plan.

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R.I.P. Hal Kanter

By | Monday November 7, 2011 @ 8:34pm PST

Veteran screenwriter, producer and director Hal Kanter died Sunday of complications of pneumonia in Encino, his daughter Donna Kanter told the Los Angeles Times. He was 92. “He was considered one of the wits of the industry,” said Carl Reiner, upon learning of Kanter’s death. ”He was a funny elder statesman, and there’s nothing better.” In a career that spanned several decades, Kanter worked in radio, TV and movies. He wrote for Bob Hope and Bing Crosby and for Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin. Kanter directed Elvis Presley in Loving You which he co-wrote and he wrote the screenplaly for Blue Hawaii. He even collaborated with Tennessee Williams on the 1955 movie version of The Rose Tatoo. Among other movie credits were George Cukor’s Let’s Make Love, with Marilyn Monroe and Yves Montand and Frank Capra’s Pocketful of Miracles.

His numerous TV credits included creation of the landmark sitcom Julia, for which Diahann Carroll became the first black actress to star in her own sitcom whose character was a professional woman rather than a maid. He also worked briefly on All in the Family and was a writer and produceer on Chico and the Man. His association with the Oscars as a writer on the ceremony began in 1952 when it still on radio and continued for more than 30 years. In 1991 and ’92 he shared Emmys for writing duties on the Oscar show telecast. His other Emmy was for The George Gobel Show. Read More »

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