Anon mailers fuel WGAW election conflict

The hotly contested Writers Guild of America West election got a lot steamier Friday after an anonymous mailing surfaced that veep hopeful D.C. Fontana charged libels her slate of board candidates.

The mailing showed up the same day that ballots went out to members of the WGAW. At stake are slots for prexy, veep and secretary-treasurer as well as a handful of board positions.

The mailing used letterhead allegedly from the GROW hotline, a recorded phone message that broadcasts rhetoric against the current WGAW administration. But WGAW member Will Lorin said the mailing used the wrong words for the acronym GROW and also had an incorrect address.

The mailing listed six board candidates from Fontana’s slate, describing them with phrases like “another mental midget,””widely known as a two-fisted backstabber and not to be trusted” and “considered senile by many and a nutcase by others….”

It also gave inaccurate ages and WGA credits for candidates Robert J. Elisberg, Rocci Chatfield, Doris Silverton, John Boni, Jack Sowards and Mel Sherer.

Fontana said the “pack of lies” was more than just a harmless prank from the opposition. “In my 33 years in the Guild, it is the absolute worst and most vile piece of campaign literature I have ever seen,” she said. “Not only that, it’s badly written.”

Current WGA veep Carl Gottlieb, who is running against Fontana, said he was appalled: “It’s the kind of dirty tricks that you don’t like to see and there’s just enough truth or plausibility in it to be truly hurtful to the slate that it attacks.”

WGA prexy Del Reisman, who is not running for re-election, called the mailing a “terrible hoax that demeans writers everywhere” and urged the 6,500 voting members to stay focused on the issues.

Board member Katherine Clinch demanded the administration officially denounce the hoax through a mailing of its own: “There should be an official mailing, denouncing this, denouncing the people that have perpetrated this.”

No one seems to know where the mailing originated, but accusations have been flying since Friday.

Gottlieb, meanwhile, said he had no idea who would have created the letter, but added, “They might have even done it to themselves.”

The election is an important one for WGAW members, largely because the next round of contract talks will be governed by the new officers.

Fontana’s slate is anti-administration and would like to see the replacement of WGAW exec director Brian Walton, who headed up the 1988 contract extension that applies through 1995.

Gottlieb has no official slate of candidates, but represents an incumbent line of thinking that the current administration can best handle the next contract talks.

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