Verrone faces familiar foe

Kiernan added to WGAW ballot

Long expected to seek another term as WGA West president, incumbent Patric Verrone now knows that a newswriter who won her board seat with his endorsement might be his sole challenger.

Under the guild's constitution, the WGAW nominating committee must place at least two names on the ballot for the top elected position, and KNX-AM Los Angeles writer Kathy Kiernan said an unspecified member of the nominating committee has asked her to step forward.

Verrone and Kiernan were the sole contenders for the president's post among candidates announced Friday by the committee. Although other prospective candidates for president or other offices have until July 20 to file, WGAW watchers suggested that it's unlikely another Verrone rival will emerge.

That would leave only Kiernan to challenge, boasting a relatively meager natural base of support in the WGAW. Most newswriters are members of the WGA East.

"I'm hoping to be able to bring some attention to writers who have not had a big share of the spotlight previously, such as daytime writers, writers on games, new media and of course newswriters," Kiernan said. "I do think Patric is doing a good job, but I have some issues that need more attention."

Verrone, who was traveling, e-mailed a statement on his re-election bid, saying, "I want to thank the committee for this nomination and I look forward to a substantive campaign and hopefully the opportunity to serve my fellow writers for two more years."

A longtime animation writer for "Futurama," "The Simpsons" and other shows, Verrone can point to recent agreements covering writers on a half-dozen Comedy Central shows among accomplishments during his tenure. On the other hand, a quest to organize reality TV writer-producers has been largely unsuccessful.

Soon after taking office in September 2005, Verrone fired longtime WGAW executive director John McLean and placed organizing exec David Young in the job, initially on an interim basis. Together, Verrone and Young are viewed by industry bosses as more militant than their recent predecessors, but the WGA leaders insist their calls for worker gains, like higher digital media residuals, are no more than a demand for fair treatment by studios and networks.

On July 16, the WGAW and WGAE begin talks with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers on a new contract for movie writers and most primetime scribes. The current pact expires Oct. 31, with negotiations expected to feature hot-button issues including a demand for guaranteed payments for content reused over the Internet and other new-media platforms.

Meanwhile, WGAE president Chris Albers said June 11 that he won't be seeking re-election.

Two TV newswriter-producers will compete to succeed Albers, a writer for "Late Night With Conan O'Brien." One candidate, Michael Winship, has TV credits including a stint with PBS' "Now With Bill Moyers," while rival Tom Phillips has held positions at CBS News and elsewhere.

WGAW members will vote for officers by mail or in person at a Sept. 17 membership meeting; the WGAE has set a Sept. 20 membership meeting. Results of balloting in all races will be announced soon after voting is tabulated at the respective guilds.

Other candidates announced to date for WGAW offices include incumbent vp David N. Weiss and challenger Walter Halsey Davis. Incumbent secretary-treasurer Elias Davis is unopposed to date.

About 18 candidates are nominated for eight open board seats. Those include Sally Sussman Morina, Robert Adetuyi, Nick Kazan, Peter Lefcourt (incumbent), Peter Murrieta, Joan Meyerson (incumbent), Robert King (incumbent), Stephanie Liss, Robert Boris, Dan Wilcox (incumbent), Jim Cooper, Jeff Kleeman, Sonya Steele, Howard A. Rodman (incumbent), Naomi Foner Gyllenhaal, Roberto Orci, Phil Alden Robinson (incumbent) and Tom Schulman (incumbent).