Writers Guild Challenger Slate Nabs A-List Showrunner Backers as Election Heats Up

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Phyllis Nagy

Phyllis Nagy for president is gaining ground even as the guild’s current strategy has started to pay dividends.

The Writers Guild of America West elections heated up Friday with the release of an open letter signed by over 300 writers supporting a slate that is challenging the current leadership and pushing for a return to negotiations with the town’s talent agencies.

The slate — Phyllis Nagy for president, Craig Mazin for vp and Nick Jones, Jr. for secretary-treasurer — now boasts support from such top showrunners and screenwriters as Greg Berlanti, Shonda Rhimes, Ryan Murphy, Ava DuVernay, John Wells, Scott Frank, Steve Levitan, Aaron Sorkin, Damien Chazelle, David Benioff, David E. Kelley and Alex Gibney.

“We firmly believe that many agency practices are in need of major reform,” said the letter, posted on Medium. “We are grateful to the present leadership for bringing these matters to the fore. And we believe this present situation is best resolved in a negotiating room and not in a courtroom.”

Currently pending in state court is a WGA lawsuit against WME, CAA, UTA and ICM Partners seeking an end to packaging fees, while antitrust litigation by the first three against the WGA is pending in federal court. Bargaining between the guild and Association of Talent Agents collapsed June 7, and no new talks are scheduled.

“Furthermore,” continued the letter, “we are facing a critical negotiation with the AMPTP, a fight that has huge financial consequences for our members especially in the area of residuals, and we believe this battle is best fought by a united, forward-thinking guild that is not entrenched in lawsuits.”

Not addressed in the missive are several recent successes for the WGA: Boutique Kaplan Stahler, literary startup Culture Creative Entertainment and mid-tier agency Buchwald all signed on to the guild’s new franchise agreement phasing out packaging fees and prohibiting affiliate production, another practice the union seeks to end. Another lit signatory was Verve, which signed on in May.

The WGA’s current leadership is seeking to sign other agencies individually as well, presumably targeting such mid-tier shops as Paradigm, APA, Gersh and Abrams.

Over 7,000 writers have fired their agents on WGA orders since April, hindering lit departments across the city, and even amongst the uncertainty, WME parent Endeavor has filed to go public in an IPO that’s under continuing attack from the guild.

Read the open letter here:

WGA Writers for Nagy, Mazin and Jones, Jr.

An Open Letter from Writers on the September 2019 WGA Election

Jul 26 ·

Signatories are listed below. Add your name!

As members of the Writers Guild of America, we firmly believe that many agency practices are in need of major reform. We are grateful to the present leadership for bringing these matters to the fore.

And we believe this present situation is best resolved in a negotiating room and not in a courtroom.

Furthermore, we are facing a critical negotiation with the AMPTP, a fight that has huge financial consequences for our members especially in the area of residuals, and we believe this battle is best fought by a united, forward-thinking guild that is not entrenched in lawsuits.

Our union is strong enough to endure honest differences of opinion voiced by writers who are loyal to the guild and its mission, who are driven by their concern for our most vulnerable members, but who believe there is a different way to achieve our shared goals.

We believe

Phyllis Nagy, for President
Craig Mazin, for Vice President
and Nick Jones, Jr. for Secretary-Treasurer

are the best and strongest voices to lead our guild into its next chapter.

We are grateful to them for being willing to serve, and we are proud to endorse them.

Signed,

WGA Writers for Nagy, Mazin and Jones, Jr.