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May 30, 2019


The WGA is involved in a serious struggle to correct conflicts of interest on the part of agencies.  With the implementation of WR23 on April 13th, after a 95% vote, writers were required to terminate agencies that are not franchised.

This is a difficult situation for writers, but not a strike; no writer is asked to leave their job, nor is any writer asked to undo a deal or a packaging agreement that was made prior to April 13th, 2019.

We are now being asked by a histrionic, biased trade press to question if a packaging deal that was in place months or years ago, or a writer deal with an agency-affiliated studio, in place before April 13th, is something that constitutes a violation of WR23, or at least bad “optics.”

This is invidious propaganda, fed in this case by information available only to WME, that attempts to frame WGA member leadership, in this case Chris Keyser.

If the inferences were true, the Guild would be asking every showrunner/creator with a packaging deal in place prior to April 13th to renege on that deal.  There is no legal basis for doing that.  Should we expect Chris Keyser to breach an existing contract because he has given thousands of volunteer hours to the WGA on behalf of writers?

In this particular case, Chris and another writer, both repped by CAA, started talking about the project nearly two years ago.  Well over a year ago, they started talking to Chernin about the project.  Chernin made a deal to acquire the book rights, and in July of 2018, negotiated an if/come deal to fully develop a series.  Endeavor Content had no creative involvement at the time, but did show up on the deal memo, which was finished last July. 

Likewise, there are currently many deals in place for projects at Wiip and Endeavor Content.  Writers are either working on these shows, if there is a pickup, or pitching them to various studios in search of a pickup.  Shall we allow the agencies to slowly name each of the showrunners involved, particularly if they are active in WGA service, and act as if they have done something immoral or in violation of WR23 or the spirit of our campaign?  Shall we ask about optics, suggest every such writer recuse themselves from guild service?  Earlier this week, Variety contacted another prominent member of the WGA Negotiation Committee, having been fed by UTA a story that it was hypocritical for this writer to be involved with an upcoming packaged show where the deal was made two years ago. 

Believe me, if this is going to be our standard, I know a significant group of writers who are in the queue to be hoisted on the same ridiculous charge of being conflicted.  These writers asked me over the last year, knowing the agency campaign was brewing, if they should alone, as individuals, attempt to refuse agency demands for packaging and have their show dropped by the agency, or refuse a deal being offered them at an affiliated studio like Wiip or Endeavor Content.

I always said no, this isn’t about one writer, and if we do take action it will be all together, on a date certain, after AMBA expiration.  That’s the only way a union can act with power and fairness.

That’s what we’re doing now, and we’re succeeding.  And we will succeed in overcoming this or any other ad hominem attack on our elected and appointed leadership.  Maybe I’m next, but at least I get paid to have my morals and intelligence questioned.

I ask you as members to see through the lies and to reject the phony legitimacy of manipulated “optics.”  Writers are willing to consider any criticism of the Guild, and that is a great characteristic.

But let’s make sure that we’re thinking with great moral clarity.  I’ve never been around a group of folks in my life who are better at that than writers.  Thank you-

David Young 
WGAW Executive Director
Writers Guild of America West
7000 West Third Street, Los Angeles, CA 90048
Phone (323) 951-4000 • Fax (323) 782-4800 •

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